Old punks don’t go out to pasture, they regenerate. After they’ve procreated, when they feel that urge to create, they can’t wait. There’s no debate. It’s never too late. And thus, it was just fate. Five such people bonded to form the children’s band known as The Not-Its. From Seattle straight to your nearest streaming device or possibly to an actual piece of music-playing hardware, such as a CD/DVD player.
With their latest release, Ready Or Not!, the group heads seamlessly into their second decade of making kids mosh, whether they are (literally) ready or not. I witnessed that firsthand at New York’s Madison Square Park earlier this summer. The quintet flew cross-country for a series of East Coast shows in scorching temperatures. When the average age of your listener is under-seven, their attention span is going to be gnat-sized as a starting point. Subtract one minute for ever degree over 80. Yet the Not-Its kept its audience rapt (with little rap) and completely under their control for 40 minutes.
The power pop sound of the Not-Its bursts forth from the opening chords of “Hide & Seek,” the first track on Ready Or Not! and continues through “Little Bug,” an ode to an insect. There’s also “Tiger Moth” and “Daddy Long Legs” later on, so somebody’s kid must have an arthropoda obsession. The highlight – from a parental supervision position – is “The Battle of Curriculum Night,” which even drew a chuckle from my 80-something mother on a long-distance listening drive:
You know there’s gonna be a fight on curriculum night
Try to work it out but the budget is tight
We gotta work together to make things right
Bandmembers Sarah Shannon (former singer Sub Pop band Velocity Girl), Danny Adamson (rhythm guitar), Tom Baisden (lead guitar), Jennie Helman (bass player) and Michael Welke (former drummer of Harvey Danger) always take the time to craft a product (I hate to refer to music with that term, but it is) which contains appeal to all ages. One of the delights – from the stage or from the back of the crowd – is watching first-time concert-goers stand there in stunned silence, processing that a “grown-up” kinda band is singing about playing in the schoolyard (“Let the Games Begin”) and challenging your friends (“Staring Contest”). And then the lightbulb goes off, and the child starts jumping up and down or following specific dance commands from the performers.
The Not-Its aren’t looking to make any grand statements or pronouncements with Ready Or Not! The CD introduces the band to new audiences and reminds fans that the Not-Its are still a group of adults who put on their ties and tutus to take the stage and bask in the busy and boisterous business of being a kid.
Here is a live video of the band performing the new song “Hide & Seek”: