Technically speaking, Black Kids are just that—kids. The quintet from Jacksonville, Florida turned two years old in March, and have been on the national radar for less than half that time. They’ve recently become a pretty big blip, though, which may explain their indignation at the muted reception they received last night at the Bowery Ballroom. “That was the quietest intro ever,” said singer Reggie Youngblood after the group took the stage. “I think some people fell asleep.” The crowd couldn’t stay still for long, though—the first few riffs of “Hurricane Jane” saw to that.
There’s something of Huey Lewis and the News in Black Kids—a plaintive, poppy veneer overlaying a foundation of limber, free-wheeling rock. Their heavily-produced recordings supply the bubblegummy sound, but it’s the live shows that really showcase the harder stuff. Onstage, Youngblood has a soft spot for his guitar, which he takes for a ride in songs like “Listen to Your Body Tonight” and “I Want to be Your Limousine” (the band’s self-proclaimed “sexy” song). Even the more synthesized “I’ve Underestimated My Charm (Again)” starts to feel like a rock ballad when it’s performed outside the studio. And was that a subtle nod to Rage Against the Machine in the first song of the set? Maybe it’s just something in the New York City water—the same something that led Reggie to inexplicably muzzle keyboardist Ali Youngblood while she was introducing the band mid-set. Oh, right, she’s his kid sister. Play nice, you two.