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Clubland: Valley band And The Kids wakes up audiences on stages, street corners

  • And the Kids perform onstage
  • And the Kids busking in Northampton

No matter how busy Northampton gets on a Saturday night, the friendly clang of a glockenspiel can cut right through the traffic and chatter. Hoofing it up Center Street, I heard the chiming bell-like tones coming from around the corner, some harmonizing ... what was going on?

A sidewalk performance by local quintet And The Kids, busking outside of Ben & Bill’s Chocolate Emporium. The musicians, who just won “Best New Band” in the Valley Advocate’s yearly Grand Band Slam, sang out, surrounded by shoppers and strollers, all stopped for the surprise street-side hootenanny. The air had a warm spark in it, the bustle put on hold for some communal music magic.

That sense of all-in-this-togetherness, both among the band members and with their audiences, is something that makes And The Kids unique in the local scene. They’re a passionate group, whether busking acoustically between trash cans and mailboxes or plugged in on a professional venue’s stage.

Or in a Holyoke parking lot, which is where the five friends performed last Wednesday afternoon, just outside the Robert F. Kennedy Children’s Action Corps’ EWT School. They were the closing act at the latest concert in the monthly series run by school director (and music fan/writer) Dave Madeloni.

Neighbors, families, teachers and EWT students past and present all gathered on picnic tables and plastic chairs to watch And The Kids, who performed in the paved lot under a small white tent, framed by chain-link fences, a basketball hoop and a bold autumnal tree with leaves the color of molten lava.

Leader Hannah Mohan, her hair like a bird’s nest, sang powerfully, full-throated and folksy.

“I like digging for rocks because / some of them have a lot in common with me / we wait for someone to find our beauty,” goes “Geology,” which took a head-bobbing reggae groove and supercharged it with Arcade Fire passion.

Everyone else in the band sings, too — Rebecca Lasaponaro on drums, Luke Averill on bass, Paul Gelineau on lead guitar and Megan Miller on keyboards and percussion (and the aforementioned glockenspiel) — all the unison and harmony makes the group’s music radiant. They’re “wake up” songs.

“I feel lucky to have even heard about this [event], let alone play it,” Mohan said during their short set, which segued into a show-stealing impromptu musical epilogue by EWT student Zach, a senior at the school who earlier that day had written some lyrics and a bassline. He’d shown the bass part to soundman Matt Robidoux (a teacher at the school, as well as a local musician in bands like Speedy Ortiz), who taught it to bassist Averill on the spot. Lasaponaro and Gelineau joined in and eased into a John Bonham/post-punk/dub groove.

Zach, sporting a tie and an untucked dress shirt, took the microphone and half-stalked, half-bounced around the tarmac in front of the band for an epic eight-minute freestyle, full of honest observations about where he was at. “I’m eighteen years old but I’m gonna go to college / get an education / be the best marine biologist,” he rhymed, later adding the awesomely old-school couplet “I’m not gonna stop the beat e_SSRqcause you know who I am / I got shoes on my feet and I’m a stylish man.”

“I’m goin’ cray-yay-yay-yay-yay-yay-yay-yay-zy!” went the catchy chorus and the band matched his energy. I remembered being in high school and feeling pretty cray-yay-yay-yay-zy, too.

“It’s the crazy dance, everybody — get up and do it with me!” he shouted before breaking off into an elbow shaking hop. Mohan and Miller danced over on the side of the band, I attempted some groovy sideways lunging out beyond the chairs and the picnic table sitters whooped it up on their benches, all in this together.

And The Kids will release its debut EP, “Nothing Came First,” with a fantasy-themed CD release party (showgoers are encouraged to dress up as anything they like) at the Iron Horse Dec. 6 at 10 p.m. Local trio Belle Amies will open.

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