Black Kids / May 18, 2008 / New York (Bowery Ballroom)
Black Kids are yet another group among the young crop of Internet-hyped bands that move from blog-approved praise one day to skepticism and, often, backlash the next.Black Kids are yet another group among the young crop of Internet-hyped bands that move from blog-approved praise one day to skepticism and, often, backlash the next. Meaning for this Jacksonville, Fla.-based quintet, their staying power is still up in the air after the next wave of "it" bands bursts onto and subsequently fades from the scene.
Fortunately to Black Kids' benefit, Columbia Records has their back, and the group hasn't quite yet experienced a Vampire Weekend-like full thrust into scrutiny. After word on the Web spread following the release of the band's delightfully catchy four-song EP "Wizard of Ahhhs" and a number of CMJ Music Marathon performances in Fall last year, the label came knocking and will release the group's full-length debut "Partie Traumatic" on July 22.
Although Black Kids' sets during CMJ were somewhat haphazard, the band's return to New York at Bowery Ballroom on May 18 was no doubt a step up. All the group members seemed more comfortable behind their instruments, more confident in their performing. There were glitches here and there, yes, but high-spirited standout single "I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How to Dance with You" and the sleazy opening riffs and funky bass of "I Wanna Be Your Limousine" were well executed.
For the most part, Black Kids appeared to be having a good time, particularly keyboardist Ali Youngblood, sister to guitarist and lead vocalist Reggie Youngblood. And having a good time is essentially what Black Kids' music is all about anyway: catchy hooks and melodies, tongue-in-cheek lyrics and feet-moving rhythms. Reggie Youngblood's Robert Smith-meets-Bloc Party's Kele Okereke vocals were a little much at times, but no one on the floor chugging to the beat of "Listen to Your Body Tonight" or grooving to the R&B-inflected of "Hurricane Jane" seemed to care.
They're no longer the newest of the new kids on the block, but they've still got a ways to go. Here's to hoping a swarm of blog backlash doesn't break them before they get there.