Freakishly cheerful singers of infuriatingly upbeat & ear-wormy kiddie tunes. Late 20-somethings pretending to be bouncy teens involved in some sort of otherwise un-academic "music school" in a town comprised entirely of smoothie shops & primary colors. So right up my alley. Oh my god, the horror.
Ethan's been watching the "Fresh Beats" since they were called the Jump Arounds and had the original Marina before she mysteriously disappeared (perhaps hacked up & turned into a fruity concoction by Melanie, the proprietor of the Goovy Smoothie). When they first appeared on the scene (before I learned how to operate the DVR), we planned our park trips around their TV schedule--much like I did my college class schedule in regards to General Hospital's air time. They were a major fixture in our daily entertainment line up, much of which consisted of music---Music Together class, Guitar Hero, and The Jump Around/Fresh Beats. At the sound of "What a great day!", signaling the final song & dance number of the show, Ethan would stop whatever he was doing & try to get his little 3.5 year old body to do the same thing as the 25 year old 6' tall blonde kid was doing on the TV screen. We are all grateful he wasn't ever injured in these attempts.
While his ardor has cooled somewhat and we no longer have to schedule our lives around Nick Jr's programming, when he hears that the Fresh Beat Band is coming up next, he is still very much a captive audience. And these days, a better dancer.
So we bought the tickets. For the show in Stockton, which is almost 2 hours away. Because the show 20 minutes away was sold out. Well. Was sold out of seats that we thought were good enough for our special snowflake (::hanging head in shame::)
We bought the tickets in January, but having learned our lesson about sharing information with Ethan too far in advance of a fun event, we kept our pie holes shut about it. Ethan's natural impatience combined with his burgeoning interest in all things clock/calendar related has made sharing any information with him about upcoming events, from vacations to impending play dates, a "how many more hours/minutes/days/seconds until...." nightmare. So it wasn't until Friday night that we spilled it that we had a "surprise" for him on Saturday. This, as expected, began a every-5-minute "is it time for my surprise" countdown that threatened to keep him awake well into the night, brain swirling over the possibilities of said surprise. Imagined surprise went from the mundane, "Is Daddy staying home from work tomorrow?" (um, yeah, its Saturday. Let's focus on days of the week in school a bit more, shall we?) to the grandiose "Are we going to London?!" (dial it back a bit, kid. Wait. Are we?!!! Are we going to London???!!!!)
The best part of the lead up was that every time we saw a Fresh Beat show or ad on Nick Jr, I'd casually throw out a "wouldn't it be so cool to see them in concert?" and Ethan would stop what he was doing and say, "I would love that. I would love to get up on stage and sing with them." Sigh.
Somehow we managed to get through breakfast, swim lessons, a few hours of incessant questioning and outlandish guesses on Saturday morning and then it was time to head to California's armpit, Stockton. Not a fancy place, that Stockton. Not what you'd call a destination.
Ethan's reaction at the big reveal, walking up to the theater and seeing the name Fresh Beat Band in lights, was more subdued than I had expected. Perhaps because he was in a state of total shock and emotional shut down--it seemed the only way to keep his head for exploding clear off his body in sheer excitement. But once we got in to our seats and were surrounded by the other mini-music-maniacs with their Fresh Beat Band shirts and flashing glow sticks (we were grateful that Ethan didn't once ask for a shirt, because...no. But we did indulge him in the flashing glow-stick), and he saw that stage all decked out in its mod-esque shapes and primary colors, he got all fever-pitchy and excited.
The rest is a bit of a blur, but it looked a lot like this:.
At one point, the tall lanky beat-box "kid" came out into the audience (as a friend said later, they must draw straws pre-show and who ever gets the shortest one has to endure the throngs of slobbering preschooler/kindergarteners, rabid with looooooooooove and squeeeeeeee'ing delight the likes of which rivaled the panty-slinging histrionics usually found only at Elvis or Tom Jones concerts). As "Twist" neared our row, Ethan bounded out of his seat and ran, like a moth to flame to the TV-star turned "he's RIGHT IN FRONT OF MY FACE" human being. Somehow he got through the throngs of other kids and gave Twist a giant bear hug and OMFGGGGGGGGGG, Twist hugged him right back, all happy & best buddy-like, and not at all Jerry Sundusky-ish. While it freaked me out to see my kid run into a crowd of kids in a semi-dark theater and hug a total man stranger (seriously, have our discussions about stranger danger meant nothing to him???!), it was sweet to see such crazy wish-fulfillment (and to set his future expectations so freaking high--yay us!) for our little guy.
It wasn't *quite* getting up on stage and singing with them, but Ethan was content, when the lights went up and the Fresh Beats disappeared off the stage and back into the realm of the TV screen, that he'd had a pretty awesome time.