Melinda Rogers, the Tribune's education and communities editor, took her daughter to see The Fresh Beat Band at Abravanel Hall Monday. Here is her review:
Let's face it: When you're the parent of a toddler, your days of purchasing concert tickets for cozy venues to see the likes of Coldplay or Wilco aren't as frequent as the budget-friendlier, pre-baby days. At least in my family.Since it's rare I see a concert at all while juggling parenthood and work, I was skeptical about seeing The Fresh Beat Band"Monday at Abravanel Hall in Salt Lake. Sure, I wasn't expecting it to be the greatest show I've ever seen, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that I was entertained beyond watching my 2-year-old delight in the pop group's signature hits like "Go Bananas" and " A Friend Like You."The Fresh Beats' target audience are ages 2-to-5, although at Monday's concert a healthy representation from the 7-to-9 crowd was also on hand. Their musical tour is a spin-off from their popular Nickelodeon TV show, where the group attends music school together and works at solving problems as a team. The Fresh Beats' music videos are also a regular occurrence on Nick Jr., where songs like "Just Like a Rockstar" give pint-sized fans a chance to dance while waiting for the next episode of "Yo Gabba Gabba" to come on.It was easy to see at Monday's concert that I wasn't the only parent toe-tapping along to the catchy tunes. The high-energy show featuring Shout (Thomas Hobson), Marina (Tara Perry), Kiki (Yvette Gonzalez-Nacer) and Twist (Jon Beavers) kept the largely under-10 crowd jumping up and down in their seats and dancing in the aisles for much of the show. From peppy songs from the group's self-titled album to a preview of what will come on a new album scheduled for release later this year, it was hard not to get swept up in the perky performance. Colorful big TV screens flashing graphics that coincided with the songs and synchronized dancing gave antsy toddlers something new to look at for the majority of the show. And tweens in attendance got to practice what it will be like to hang Justin Bieber posters on their wall in a few years, with some holding up "I love Kiki" posters while clad in rhinestone-covered sunglasses and tulle skirts to mimic the singer's style.Parents were kept amused by a few jokes thrown out and, in my case, contemplating who from the group might become the next big breakout star.In particular, Hobson's vocals were impressive. While "The Fresh Beats" may be considered Nickelodeon's version to Disney's old "Mickey Mouse Club" that gave rise to the likes of Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and Justin Timberlake, Hobson seems primed to step out of the role of pre-school entertainer and into a singer/dancer on his own not far in the future. The same can be said for Beavers, whose aw-shucks personality in playing the role of the goofy Twist may lend itself well to stage credentials in New York someday.Overall, The Fresh Beats didn't disappoint, leaving their smallest fans enraptured and parents grateful for a kids music group that doesn't consist of a bunch of purple dinosaurs jumping around.