Loitering near the honor coffee with old Aretha Franklin tunes playing on the speakers before THEESastisfaction‘s second set at Town Hall today, I surveyed the crowd. It was pretty obvious most of them had never seen THEESatisfaction play before. In fact, it was pretty obvious many of them had never been to a concert before. This was one of Town Hall’s Saturday Family Concerts.
Offering adult-friendly music to families, the Saturday Family Concerts are designed to introduce children to a wide range of musical styles performed in a casual, family-friendly format. The series does make things easy for families. The hour-long show takes place at midday, hours away from the earliest bedtimes. Tickets are only $5 for adults with children ($25 for unaccompanied adults) and tickets for children 12 and under are free. Parking at Town Hall, however, can be expensive, so public transportation â€“ even with kids – is recommended.
In a symbolic gesture, the bright lights dimmed slightly and Stasia Irons and Catherine Harris-White took the stage with no more than two microphones and a laptop and the poise of women with many years their senior. At first, adults and kids kept politely to their seats, the atmosphere more school assembly than club show. But as the ladies’ dropped their clever rhymes, their honeyed harmonies weaving a pattern part soul, part 60s girl group, the youngest members of the audience began to move. Soon the open areas to the side of the stage were full of kids; little girls twirled and turned cartwheels while little boys practiced their breakdance kung fu moves, and even a few parents with one eye on the stage and one on their kids left their seats.
Despite the small size of the room, it wasn’t always easy to hear the words, which was disappointing to many who wanted their kids to absorb the positive black feminist messages that THEESatisfaction deliver. But the stripped down lo-fi sound works so well, and the duo presents with such quiet confidence, that complaining feels kind of tacky. For the last couple of songs, THEESatisfaction abandoned lyrics altogether, inviting all the children onstage to join them in a mini-dance party.
Afterwards, autographed CD in hand, my seven year old asked, â€œAre you going to write that it was really, really good?â€
â€œYes,â€ I said, â€œYes I will.â€
I will add that I am glad my daughters didn’t have to wait until they were old enough for fake IDs to see these talented women perform, and I will add that I can’t wait until I can see THEESatisfaction play again – at night, in a dark club with a beer in hand. The next chance any of us will have for that is their record release at Neumo’s on March 29 (although fans who care less about atmosphere will also have a chance to hear them at Easy Street Records on March 27).
Town Hall offers a different Family Concert each month. On March 24, Gustafer Yellowgold will perform with Seattle Rock Orchestra. April 21 will feature folk/rock musician Johnny Bregar, and on May 12, Message From Guinea will introduce families to traditional West African music.