Kids' music -- what is it? For better or worse (and I often can't decide), this generation of parents is redefining the term. No longer is it enough to sit in a circle with your babe on your lap and clap along as a bandana-wearing folkie sings "Little Boxes" -- and sometimes I think that's a shame. There's a lot to be said for going at the speed of children, not to mention sharing songs that comprise a children's music tradition going back a century or so.
But today's hipster parents like to rock. Kids like to rock, too, as long as the mix is not too loud, and the songs have choruses that hook their little ears, and the artists onstage engage with them. The best of the new bunch of kids' musicians -- like Farmer Jason, the Sippy Cups and that great old new folkie Dan Zanes -- play music that's complex enough for adults to enjoy, while still inviting to developing minds. (Writing about animals and holidays helps a lot -- the Sippy Cups, for example, have a song on their new EP called "The Day After Halloween.")
It's hard to strike this balance between sophistication and warmth; that's why so much neo-kids' music ends up working better for the parents than the tots. But Kidrockers, an interesting series born in New York and now coming to Echo Park, seems partly designed to give bands instruction on how to play to the junior seats.
Kidrockers features artists who usually play for grown-ups trying out the kiddie crowd. Founded by (who else?) a couple who craved live music they could enjoy along with their kids, the series has presented top-notch indie pop artists including Los Campesinos!, Ra Ra Riot and Tad Kubler of the Hold Steady.
Kidrockers makes its Los Angeles premiere this Sunday at the Echo, with sets by the Afternoons and the Deadly Syndrome. Seems like a a great bill to kick off the West Coast series -- both bands are pretty playful already, and they should do well with the pogoing pixies at their feet. Comedians Patton Oswalt and Seth Herzog host. The show is at 1 p.m.; tickets are $9 in advance and $11 at the door.
-- Ann Powers
Photo: Deadly Syndrome Credit: Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times