“We need your help with starting this next song,” Shanti Wintergate of Play Date says into the microphone as she engages the crowd of little ones at Yost Theater in Santa Ana, California. “I want you all to imagine that you’re on stage in front of thousands of people, getting ready to rock out in your own band!” After the audience practices counting in the song by screaming in unison, “1, 2, 3, 4!” the dozens of little ones and parents alike successfully count in the band loud enough to blow Shanti all the way back to the drummer, and the enchantingly upbeat tune entitled Rad begins in perfect unison, and no person in the room (young or old!) can keep from dancing or tapping their feet to the beat.
Featured photo via Windmill Library, Las Vegas, Nevada
Play Date is a children’s rock band that creates unique live rock shows for kids and parents. #NJMOMtravels witnessed eight shows in five major cities during their Fall Tour (including Seattle, Portland, Las Vegas, and Salt Lake City), and it is clear that the culture of Play Date fans is about more than just a musical performance; it is an exciting, positive experience that families participate in together. During the show, little ones are encouraged to participate from the very first song. The Owl Song is a mellow, acoustic tune that calls for the audience to sing “hoo hoo!” during each chorus, to mimic what the owl said after Play Date met him in the woods at their home in Idaho. At Centennial Hills Library in Las Vegas, Nevada, Greg Attonito, guitarist and vocalist of Play Date and frontman of the punk rock group, The Bouncing Souls, prefaced The Owl Song by encouraging the kids that, “anybody can sing.”
What I really love about watching Play Date is how it really is all about the kids. While we swoon over two musicians that we admire, we get to let our children have that moment too. The way that Shanti and Greg interact with the kids during and after the show makes them feel so incredibly special. Music is so important to us and we are super excited that our girls have that outlet.
– Amy Sible, Mom of Saylor (7) & Novella (5) in Seattle, WA
The band even uses audience participation to write an original song during each show. During the tune Colors, Play Date confesses that they only have the chorus written so far, and will be using ideas from kids in the audience to write the verses. Enthusiastically, children in every city raised their hands and offered up their favorite colors and special things that might be their favorite colors, such as, “pink is the color of bubblegum” or “orange is the color of Daniel’s shirt.” After each brainstorming session, the band seamlessly kicks in to sing each verse, so the children can hear their own creation performed in front of their very eyes.
The fun isn’t over when the show ends. Families are encouraged to meet the band after the show by lining up to receive a free poster, get a CD autographed, and take a memorable photo with the band. (Play Date also loves giving out free high fives!) One commonality throughout this tour was in the excitement that children experienced as they met their favorite rock stars. It is the raw fandom that any parent can relate to from their own experiences as concert-goers. Each and every child gets to share a special moment with the band, by sharing their favorite song, giving a hug, or simply having a little chat. At Sugar Space Arts Warehouse in Salt Lake City, Shanti and Greg sang the rap lullaby Ninja Pajamas to one little girl after the show; it turns out this was one of her favorites that wasn’t performed that day, but needless to say, she was beaming with happiness during her own private performance that afternoon. It’s these endearing, intimate moments that make the Play Date experience a personal one.
With two full length records released entitled Imagination and We All Shine, Play Date uses their diverse careers as songwriters, musicians, and artists to bring rock and roll, indie, and pop flavors to their fans, that parents will also enjoy listening to in the car or at home.
I love that I can put on Play Date in the car, and everyone starts rockin’ out! The girls don’t even ask about turning on the DVD player anymore.
– Amanda Welge, mom of Zovi (4) & Ziah (2) in Portland, OR
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Who's ready to get #Rad in #Portland?! We're rocking the @villageballroom TODAY! Doors 3:30 / Show 4pm. 700 NE DEKUM ST. See you there! #kids #music #pdxkids #oregon #familyconcert #bows Check out the awesome Bows, Bows, Bows! We had an amazing time with everyone in #Seattle!! @town_hall_seattle
One of the best parts about being a fan of Play Date is that the friendship lasts forever. Many families choose to take home a CD or vinyl record to enjoy the music at home, and in cities across the country, you will come across families who have seen the group perform on multiple occasions. The band’s social media and web presence makes it easy for little ones to follow the adventures that Play Date gets into throughout the year, to watch fun music videos featuring Shanti and Greg, and for parents to see when the group will be back in town.
A rock concert where you leave uplifted and energized, but not exhausted. The atmosphere was colorful, engaging, and fun for adults and children alike.
– Brittany Reese, Venue Owner of Sugar Space Arts Warehouse in
Salt Lake City, Utah