Friday, May 02 2014 22:53

Addie's First Rock Show: The Aquabats! and the 20th Anniversary Tour Kick-Off in Chicago...

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Aquabats Turn 20It could be said that last night, I officially introduced my daughter to the rock and roll lifestyle. We took a trip into the big city, stayed out late on a school night, and she got ice cream at 10pm. We were living dangerously, and it was all because last night was Addie's first real concert - her first big ROCK show. And what a night it was... at age 4½, my little girl got her first "special pass," met the band, and can now say that she's been on stage at one of Chicago's finest venues, The House of Blues. THE AQUABATS! kicked-off their 20th Anniversary Tour in fine fashion, and being there with my little girl made for one unforgettable night.

When I think about first concerts, I define "real" as being a Nationally/Globally recognized act, performing in a proper venue. Now, we've been to some gigs before - having checked out a few kindie shows, and Addie did jump on-stage with my sister once, but none of these were "the experience." For me, the first real concert experience I can recall is checking out THE OAK RIDGE BOYS at the Star Plaza Theatre (then, the "Holiday" Star) when "Elvira" was a Top 40 hit and still spinning regularly at home on 7" vinyl. For Addie, seeing The Aquabats! was like seeing TV come to life, as she's been watching THE AQUABATS! SUPER SHOW! (first on the Hub Network, then on Netflix) with me for the past two years. In a huge coincidence, that show was just nominated for FIVE Daytime Emmy Awards yesterday as well.

Addie being shy with Crash McLarson and Ricky FitnessExcited about this for weeks, I wondered if Addie would get into her weird mode that happens when she meets "people from TV" in real-life, which has happened a few times in the past through special events and Daddy's job. Last night, it happened.

Standing in the upper balcony of House of Blues, Addie was all smiles and twirls, chatting up a storm as we awaited a few moments to come face-to-face with the heroes of the night - this little Aquacadet eager to meet The Aquabats! in-person. But once we entered the green room, the little one - usually at no loss for words - turned on the shy, and would barely look at Crash McLarson, Ricky Fitness, Eaglebones Falconhawk, Jimmy the Robot or The M.C. Bat Commander. It wasn't for lack of trying, though, as the 'Bats made an attempt to chat up little Addie, to snag some high-fives and pose for pics. We did manage to score a good one.


Last summer, ahead of a new run of episodes for THE AQUABATS! SUPER SHOW!, I'd interviewed Ricky Fitness (along with producer Jason deVilliers) for a feature here on the site. Having never met in person, we chatted for a few before parting ways and heading downstairs for the main event.

Koo Koo Kanga Roo!Minneapolis duo KOO KOO KANGA ROO got the shindig started in fine form - Bryan and Neil breaking out the jams and getting everyone jumping and grooving with their shiny back-pack, fanny pack, cat party action. Joining the crowd for a bit, the interaction was at times literally "in your face," and the kids loved it. With a set-closing number that included a parachute on the crowd, it was a lot like the Music and Movement classes I take my girls to. Their new record, WHOOPTY WHOOP is out May 13th via the Fun Fun Records imprint of Mike Park's Asian Man Records (review coming soon).

After learning the pain of waiting for the headline act ("Waiting is hard," Addie says), The Aquabats! finally emerged to a roaring crowd... as I, with a child on my back, captured the following:

Cranking out all the hits, the favorites, and some new gems like "Burger Rain," The Aquabats! made Chicago their home for the night, working the crowd with ease and riffing on the SMASHING PUMPKINS ("the band that just keeps on giving"), BOSTON (wrong city) and due to location, some blues. Addie was up and down, on my back, doing flips, spinning, and learning the ways of the concertgoer like a pro...

But to discuss what came next, I have to hop in the DeLorean and take things back in time a bit... to a time when I was a young Rock and Roll Gangster that was managing a Sam Goody store as part of the long-departed Musicland Group.

Working in a record store, often spinning tunes from records like THE AQUABATS! VS. THE FLOATING EYE OF DEATH! AND OTHER AMAZING ADVENTURES VOL. 1 and MYTHS, LEGENDS AND OTHER AMAZING ADVENTURES VOL. 2, I honestly had no idea that I'd even be a parent one day, much less attending an Aquabats show with my daughter. Thinking back to the first time I cranked up "Pool Party" in the mall as a new single, it's incredible to think how that was seemingly a lifetime ago, and here I was with my little one - who had been asking for "Pool Party" all night - about to go up on stage with The Aquabats! and a horde of fellow Aquacadets, to take part in "Pool Party" as the grand finale.

Addie and DaddyAs I approached the stage and got Addie after the show, Ricky Fitness and I exchanged a quick fist-bump as I took Addie's hand and escorted her from the stage, watching her smile from ear-to-ear.

It was an unforgettable first concert for my oldest, but left me pondering a little problem...

Back at home, Little Finley was with Mommy... and all I can think about now is how I need to match this experience for my youngest daughter.

THE AQUABATS! need to play Chicago in the Spring of 2017 for me to be able to pull it off.

Stay tuned...
Stock Your Battle Tram with these great items from THE AQUABATS!
James Zahn

James Zahn is best-known as The Rock Father™, a media personality, commentator, adventurer and raconteur. He is the Owner, Publisher, and Editor-in-Chief of THE ROCK FATHER™ Magazine. In January, 2019, after nearly a decade of publishing The Rock Father™ Magazine, he joined Adventure Media and Events as Senior Editor of The Toy Book—the leading trade publication for the toy industry since 1984, as well as The Pop Insider — a destination for all things pop culture, and The Toy Insider — the leading consumer guide for toys and games. He is also editor of The Toy Report, a weekly newsletter published by The Toy Book each Thursday. Zahn has over 27 years of experience in the entertainment, retail and publishing industries.

He regularly serves as a Brand Ambassador and spokesperson for several Globally-recognized pop culture and lifestyle brands in addition to consulting for a number of toy manufacturers. 

Creatively, James has directed/edited music videos, lyric videos, and album trailers for bands such as FEAR FACTORY, has appeared as an actor in feature films and commercials, written comic books, and performed in bands. He currently serves as an artist manager and video director for PRODUCT OF HATE, whose debut album was released by Napalm Records in 2016, distributed by ADA/Warner Music in the U.S. with Universal Music handling global. A new album has been completed and is set for release this year.

Zahn and/or his work have been featured in/on CNN, NBC, ABC, WGN, CBS, GCTN, G4, The Chicago Tribune, Forbes, MarketWatch, Reuters, BusinessWire, Fangoria, Starlog and more. He's appeared as a music expert on CNN's AC360 alongside Anderson Cooper, and has been interviewed by Larry King. In the past he served as a writer for the Netflix Stream Team,  Fandango Family and PBS KIDS, penned articles for Sprout and PopSugar, and was a contributor to Chicago Parent.

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