by KATHERINE STEVENS
From local bars to European venues – they’re back where it all began. Jacksonville’s recent claim to fame, the Black Kids, are no strangers to the Duval scene, having all grown up here and been a part of the inner-workings we so like to call “local indie rock.” And on Friday, September 19th they hit the stage and rocked out at Freebird Live in Jacksonville Beach.
A torrential downpour didn’t stop friends and fans from packing in to see the Black Kids’ post-international popularity. Having been around since 2006, the band has played locally more than once and just recently returned from a European tour. Decked out in their (probably soaked) dancing shoes, the crowd couldn’t help but bring even more sunshine to the neon-lit venue.
Riverside’s own Sunbears! started the party, the perfect opener for a starlit night. A black and white striped piano, skinny jeans and a sick drum set graced the stage, along with two hip twenty-somethings and a groovy sound. A screen draped and framed the back of the stage; with pictures so psychedelic I questioned whether someone had spiked my drink.
The face of drummer Jared Bowser spins ’round and ’round, then starts coming at you at warped speed. Colors so bright they’d make your own head spin blinked and danced along with the music and the cinematography. It was rad. And as if the aesthetics weren’t enough, Sunbears! proved (along with the Black Kids) that local rock is going a whole lot further than we thought.
As the Black Kids took the stage the crowd went more than wild. Hoots, hollers and shouts of “Hey Reggie!” were appropriately emitted into the drowning lights. The group came on looking hip as ever, a little more cultured and a little more sophisticated than the same people just a year and a half earlier. Their new aura comfortably fit the melodic and synthesized beats that came to follow. Just about everyone in the room knew the words to the songs, bobbing up and down to the music, waving their arms and smiling like there was no tomorrow.
“It’s nice to be home,” said Reggie as he took a swig of water between sets.
Hits like ‘I’m Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How to Dance with You’ brought home how far the Black Kids have come. As if hearing them on the radio wasn’t cool enough, hearing them in person made it clear. Even English singer-songwriter Kate Nash has released her own version of ‘I’m Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How to Dance with You.’
The show ended (after an encore or two) with ‘Hurricane Jane,’ and who doesn’t know and love ‘Hurricane Jane?’ Adrenaline peaked. Pride shone on each of their faces. Their hometown crew knew their lyrics and loved their music. It couldn’t get much better than that.
The combo of the Black Kids and the oh-so-sunny Sunbears! made for a groove-tastic Friday night. The mood was right. Duval music lovers were out. A little taste of home was within arms’ reach.
the black kids in the 904
by KATHERINE STEVENS