You Who Is for the Children 

Great Music and Giant Barn Owls, Together at Last

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Poor breeders. With their rampant fertility, Baby Björns, and little bundles of adorable obligation, the burdens of parenthood make the activity of concert-going a rare excursion—one that suddenly involves pricey babysitters and a mindful eye on the clock. Of course, you can always pack a tiny Ziploc of Cheerios and take your child with you to a concert, but it doesn't take a Dr. Spock book to realize that kids hate Motörhead—too loud, plus in the eyes of an innocent child, Lemmy's mole is pure evil. And there is only so much Raffi and Baby Loves Disco that any sane parent can stomach.

Thankfully, there is You Who.

Despite the strong indie cred of founders and parents Chris Funk (the Decemberists) and partner Seann McKeel (former booker for venues such as Nocturnal, Acme, and the Wonder Ballroom), You Who is without question a children's show. Set to run monthly at the Kennedy School during daylight hours—it will take a break in the springtime, when the weather warms—this variety show for the shorty set is chockfull of puppets, magic, stories, sing-alongs, and "giant barn owls." But it also has music. Lots of incredible music, especially given the small confines of the space and smaller size of the event's target audience. Funk's own Decemberists kick off the inaugural show this weekend, and future guests include Quasi, Blue Giant, Explode into Colors, and a booking that might deafen an entire generation of future heshers: Red Fang.

"Initially people were like, 'We don't play kids' music,' and we said, 'We don't want you to play kids' music, just play your set,'" Funk explains. Part of the dual foundation of You Who was to establish a family-friendly affair that children will enjoy, yet simultaneously keep their parents entertained as well. Organizing an event that appeals to such varying age groups requires a lot from Funk and McKeel. Evidence of this is the pair of painstakingly assembled giant papier-mâché owl heads that lay decapitated on their dining room floor (not to brag, but it would seem that the Mercury is the preferred publication for use in paper-assembled Tytonidaes).

While many of the scheduled performers are parents themselves, that's not the case with all the bands on the You Who docket: "My niece saw Explode into Colors at the Rock 'n' Roll Camp for Girls and she was the one who said, 'Oh my god, you have to get them,'" explains McKeel. Another hurdle came in trying to attract families, first and foremost, and not just fans of the performing musicians—not to say that the Youth and Beauty Brigade that follows the Decemberists wouldn't enjoy a nice puppet show during the afternoon. You Who's pricing structure charges adults without children $5 more to attend, not exactly punishing them, but just a reminder that they aren't necessarily the intended audience. As Funk puts it, "The first hour is variety entertainment and very much tailored to children. I think people would be let down if they paid to see this concert and they thought it was something else." McKeel adds, "We didn't want a bunch of 25-year-old indie rockers not getting the comedy... which is animal impressions."

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