photos by Hana Simons
This Halloween I found myself in the Amsterdam Bar at 2pm to see MC Lars and Koo Koo Kangaroo. Concerts really do not get more atypical than this but nonetheless, it would have been hard to find a more fun way to spend such a spooky afternoon.
Before the show fully began, the floor was crawling with dozens of little princesses, superheroes, and monsters showing off their best dance moves to the tracks being played over the loudspeakers by none other than the old man from the movie UP (a.k.a. DJ Hamster Dance). Surrounding the perimeter of the bar was a collection of young parents enjoying their food and drink who were more than happy to let their enthused children run free. And then there were the five of us; my little group of friends that made up almost the entirety of the teenage/lower-twenties crowd. Fortunately for rapper MC Lars, this didn’t stop us or anyone else from having a great time.
Even though MC Lars played a pretty typical batch of songs, there seemed to be something a little extra heart-warming in Lars’ Joyful Smiles Tour set. While censoring his generally clean lyrics in “Where Ya Been Lars,” and “True Player For Real,” MC Lars started off the show by knowing his audience well and tailoring his work to it. The intelligent rapper not only tailored his word choice for the audience, but the songs in his setlist were built to suit both the younger and older fans alike. Adhering to the Halloween theme, Lars busted out a couple of his Edgar Allen Poe classics “Mr. Raven,” and “Flow Like Poe.” The literary songs were fun and simplistic enough musically to please the little ones. It only added to the excitement when Lars brought out his favorite stuffed friend, the Baltimore Ravens’ mascot dubbed “Mr. Raven.” Not only were the kids happy, I’m sure Lars met the older book nerds’ every desire with his poetic adaptations of the classics.
He continued this trend as he moved on to “Dragon Blood.” The Game of Thrones song was filled with more than enough references to please any fan, but how could a song about such an adult show appeal to kids? MC Lars knew the answer as he brought up a child wearing a dragon costume to make hand-dragons on stage with him. Between all of these things, a hilarious object-freestyle rap, and a whale dance during “Ahab,” the post-punk laptop rapper’s special Halloween set was nothing but a treat. -Jordan
Koo Koo Kangaroo
Honestly, I couldn’t agree with Jordan more when it comes to this show. When I got us the passes to see Koo Koo Kangaroo and MC LARS for Halloween day, it did not dawn on me that we were going on to a kids show. Nonetheless, the day came and on we went to the Amsterdam Bar and Hall in Downtown Saint Paul. The otherwise dark venue was flooded with kids and families in bright costumes, dancing to DJ Hampsterdance and getting ready for the opening act, MC LARS, to be followed by Koo Koo Kangaroo.
Prior to the show, my only real experiences with Koo Koo Kangaroo had been seeing them at the Internet Cat Video Festival and noticing that they were on the Warped Tour lineup, but not going to see them. Nothing, and I really mean nothing, would have have been able to prepare me for an hour-long set from Koo Koo. They came out on stage in their classic gold and black gear, with fanny packs, wristbands, and hats. Their regular stage garb was just as much of a costume as any other in the room.
In a set ranging from “Unibrow” to “Cat Party” and many other fan favorites, I had no time to breathe and neither did the audience or the performer. I can watch a Koo Koo Kangaroo video online for the span of the video, but after that I am done. The guys had so much energy. I wonder how they sustain it for 3 minutes, let alone a full hour. I had no choice but to stay and watch these two grown men play the most vibrant set I have ever seen. If I left, I’d be abandoning a huge effort.
With their bouncy, choreographed dance moves and an audience full of willing kids, it was almost too much for me, like the time I ate all of my Halloween candy the night of Halloween and threw up in the morning. I kept glancing back at Hana and Jordan and we all would smile at each other. Our smiles said “We are okay,” while our eyes said “This is something so new.” I wondered if they felt like I did, like my brain had watched Spongebob for too long. Shows don’t get any weirder or brighter than this, but hey, I’m always up for a new experience. Even if I wouldn’t willingly do it again. -Sararosa