Yo Gabba Gabba lacks televised cache in real-life setting - Reverb

Live review: Yo Gabba Gabba (Live) @ 1stBank Center

The first of two regional shows for Yo Gabba Gabba’s “There’s a Party in my City!” tour began with DJ Lance Rock striding onto stage, backed by electro-pop music and a full-stage video screen, shouting “Broomfield, are you ready to partaaaaaay?”

What does that even mean to a 3-year-old? My son, Hank, was a test case. Though he’s been to dozens of musical events from folk fests to street fairs, this was his first arena show as a target audience member.

Reviewing a kids show whose appeal is based 99% on brand recognition has critical limitations. It’s like critiquing Santa’s appearance at the mall. The Yo Gabba Gabba tour — based on the hipster retro ’80s Nick Jr. show — wins over its audience simply by showing up (read John Wenzel’s feature for Yo Gabba Gabba basics; if you’ve read this far, you’re surely familiar).

That said, producing an arena spectacle based on something often seen on a 42” HDTV screen also has challenges. You can drop thousands of balloons (and they did) and you can bring out human puppets Plex, Muno, Foofa, Brobee and Toodee to dance on stage and occasionally foray into the crowd. But staring at the stage from 200 feet, your visual field consists primarily of the backs of people’s heads (and cell phone videocameras and glowsticks).

So Yo Gabba Gabba live is no more compelling than that show on TV. During intermission, Hank could hardly be dragged away from the complimentary concourse Pac Man and Donkey Kong games (to whose graphics Yo Gabba owes a debt), and only a cotton candy bribe got us back into the arena.

But Hank got some thrills running up and down the stairs in the back of the arena, hopping from empty seat to empty seat (the arena was only two-thirds full). He lit up to recognizable songs like “Party in My Tummy” and “Hugs Are Fun.” Most of all, Hank experienced the visceral mass excitement of the concert experience that he will feel, as he grows, time and time again. Watching Yo Gabba Gabba on the couch, he gets a crystal-clear picture of a lonely party. Now, he knows that a party’s that much more exciting with thousands of like-minded people in the room.

This would be charming at $20 a ticket. At the actual price-for-two of $110 (including parking and fees), this 65-minute show must be compared with other things that excite and inspire 3-year-olds. A year-old Family Membership to the Museum of Nature and Science for $80, or the Butterfly Museum for $65. Or, for the less righteous, a DQ Blizzard every day for a month. Yo Gabba Live is less worthwhile than all of the above.

But as the Yo Gabba puppets sang goodbye, it’s hard to argue the show didn’t achieve its objective. “See you next time!” Hank called as they departed to confetti and streamers. He clutched his new prize, wider than his waistline. “Thanks for the balloon.”

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Jeremy Simon is a Lafayette freelance writer and regular contributor to Reverb.

Glenn Ross is a Denver-based photographer and new contributor to Reverb.

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