[CHILDREN’S EVENTS/Music ~ SA PREMIERE ~ VIC]
The Spiegeltent at The Garden Of Unearthly Delights, Sun 14 Mar.
Melbourne’s Teeny Tiny Stevies do a great line in songs for kids – some of whom are pretty teeny themselves. Having first heard them a few years ago when I Only Go To The Toilet On The Toilet, became a big hit with my young daughter. Since then they have put out some pretty great message songs that can be easily learned, taught in school and sung in the car on road trips. Arriving in town for two back to back (and SOLD OUT) shows at The Spiegeltent in The Garden, is sadly something that wasn’t true for some of their equipment and they had to borrow some gear to do the shows.
The audience comprises of kids and parents, some of who are very little (the kids, not the parents) and it’s tricky because really little kids don’t have a much of an attention span and bigger kids don’t want to go to something too baby-ish. We love a lot of these songs, which are catchy and super positive for little kids. (There Is No) Boy Or Girl Colour, Sleep Through The Night and Getting Dressed are all terrific building block/sign post songs, helping kids navigate their teeny tiny worlds one new task at a time. The songs are really well written and tunes like the menu positive I Ate A Rainbow is a flat out kids banger:
I ate a Rainbow, yes I did
It was colourful and tasted good
The mix from where we were sitting was too rock band for a lot of the kids; the bass and drums swamped the vocals quite a bit. Sisters Bethany and Sybilla Stephen have been an acoustic Indie band (The Little Stevens) for over a decade, but took a page from The Cockroaches’ (The Wiggles) play book and started writing children friendly songs and little kids in 2015. They are really good at it and have had terrific success, signed to ABC records, written music for the Sesame Street on-line channel and toured a lot. In the ‘90s they could as there was a good market for acoustic Indie bands (and they remind me a lot of Club Hoy or Frente), glorious harmonies and catchy tunes played well.
But the show was basically a gig format with 14 songs in a little under an hour and, to me, little kids aren’t geared up for a gig with song after song (no matter how good or positive). So there were a lot of kids running around crawling under chairs, looking around, eating snacks, crying, So the gig goer in me (and fan of this style of pop) was fine but the dad in me was worried about the lack of stimuli for the audience.
The Stevies talked to the kids and there were a couple of audience participation moments but not nearly enough. Acts like The Wiggles have a lot of colour and movement and distractions (costumes, extra characters, big red cars etc) and a bigger budget to play with, but I wonder if a screen with the animated videos so many of these children love behind the band would have been a useful addition.
Heaps of great songs though many of which clearly the kids (and the parents) knew really well. Light As A Bubble, I Had You To Teach Me, Shoelaces, and the excellent Baby In Mummy’s Tummy (about the looming arrival of a sibling) are all terrific. The kid’s empowerment song The Boss Of My Own Body is a huge hit today, but really didn’t need a bass and drum solo no matter how brief.
Teeny Tiny Stevies finished up with On The Toilet which is a bit like their own Rock‘n’Roll All Night-type anthem – everybody knows it and everybody sings and there was dancing in the aisles.