Anchored by a retro DJ and his band of singing and dancing aliens and robots, “Yo Gabba Gabba!” is children’s television teeming with both hipster cred and hip-hop props.
And now it has come to life as “Yo Gabba Gabba! Live: There’s a Party In My City.” The stage show has played at prestigious venues including the Coachella music festival and a headlining performance at the White House.
Now it comes to the INB Performing Arts Center for two shows Friday.
On the popular Nick Jr. TV show, DJ Lance Rock and his fantastic friends lead music- and dance-based activities while teaching a variety of lessons.
One of the show’s regular segments is a beatbox demonstration by rap legend Biz Markie. The “Super Music Friends Show” and “Dancey Dance” segments have featured such celebrity guests as Erykah Badu, Jack Black, Devo, Flaming Lips, The Killers, MGMT, The Roots, The Shins, Sarah Silverman and Weezer.
Just as it is on screen, the live version of “Yo Gabba Gabba!” is an interactive experience that offers music, singing, dancing and animation in a state-of-the-art production.
Along for the ride is hip-hop pioneer Biz Markie and his “Biz’s Beat of the Day” skit. There will also be featured guests onstage for “Dancey Dance” and “The Super Music Friends Show,” including singer/songwriter Keller Williams (see accompanying story).
Originally Markie was invited to be a one-time guest on the “Dancey Dance” segment. But when his back was hurting too much for him to dance, he came up with the “Biz Beat of the Day” idea on the spot. He’s been a regular on both the TV and live shows ever since.
“I love it. It’s a whole bunch of positive energy for the kids,” he said during a telephone interview.
“The tour is incredible, just seeing smiles on the kids faces and bringing joy to the masses. It’s different than entertaining adults because kids are more honest.”
Markie – who says his nephews and nieces look at him as “a Barney or something, like superhero” – says working with “Yo Gabba Gabba!” is a way for him to combat the negative imagery that dominates mainstream hip-hop.
“I think hip-hop is more corporate now than the art form that it was,” he said. “The way I look at it, a lot of things in the videos are killing hip-hop. It could still be like it was but it needs to be brought back down to all forms.
“I think radio is segregated. It should be playing all types of hip-hop, old and new, but you’re only getting new hip-hop for the most part.”