There's no question about it: Portland, Oregon, is AMERICAN HIP FAMILY CENTRAL. Oh, yes it is. Out-hips Seattle, New York City,San Francisco, Los Angeles. The cool-per-capita here is NOTICEABLE. I have never seen more hipster/hippie folks in one's like everywhere you turn, there's a a couple or a family dressed in bohemian/vintage/ironic chic, doing awesome stuff. It's possible that male facial hair may be mandatory in the Portland city limits, from disaffected day-stubble to Fleet Foxes/Amish beardage. Women sport razory rock grrl hair of all colors and bold highlight dimensions, carefully-chosen vintage clothes with stompy boots. Skinny jeans and tats for all. Babies and kids in one-of-a-kind whimsy knitwear, soft suede booties from Germany, band shirts, pattern mismatches.

I loved it, of course. And I love a place that sponsors cool things for families to do, like You Who, a monthly kids' rock variety show. When I heard that one of my bestest favoritest bands in the whole wide WORLD would be playing a You Who show -- THE DANDY WARHOLS --it was a great reason to hop on the freeway and head down to Portland with the family for the long Memorial Day weekend. I mean, how could I miss a Dandies show played for kids, with the setlist chosen by the young daughter of bandmember Zia McCabe, played in an old converted schoolhouse? Come on! MissSeven is a fan as well; she likes to sing along to "Plan A" and "We Used To Be Friends."

The Kennedy School is AMAZING and totally unique. From the website:

Since its 1915 opening, this historic elementary school has been a beloved fixture of its Northeast Portland neighborhood. McMenamins renovated the once-abandoned scholastic gem and turned it into Portland's most unique hotel. Here you'll find 35 comfy guestrooms fashioned from former classrooms (complete with original chalkboards and cloakrooms, private baths and telephones), a restaurant, multiple small bars, a movie theater, soaking pool, gift shop and a brewery (just wait until the principal hears about this!). Extensive original artwork and historical photographs cover the walls, ceilings, doorways and hallways.
It really was something just to walk around and look at. The mosaic artwork, the big tall windows and dark warm woodwork and long halls and old photographs of former Kennedy schoolkids was funky-beautiful and I would recommend any travelers to the area to check it out.

Around noon we joined the line of INCREDIBLY COOL FAMILIES (and a few die-hard rock stragglers without kids) and entered the big old school auditorium, which maybe was once also the gym, I am guessing. Huge folk-art style murals lined the walls with comfy fat chairs around the perimeter of the room. Babies and toddlers and preschoolers were everywhere, including Zia's daughter Matilda (in a tiny red Dandy Warhols shirt) and Dandy frontman Courtney Taylor's new baby son in a car carrier. For as many kiddies as there were, the vibe was happy and mellow, as the very tall and furry You Who owls came out to dance with the little ones pre-show to the cool East Indian beats of DJ Anjali. Several boys around the age of two or three were attempting major b-boy moves, and many of the children came in costumes, from superheroes to princesses to HIPPEST BABY EVER. Miss Seven and Mr12 watched the crowd in some awe, not exactly sure what to expect. Funky Kennedy School in Portland was a LONG ASS WAY from their last concert experience, Vampire Weekend at the prim and proper DAR Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. Ha ha! It's fun to MESS WITH THEIR MINDS.

The show began with host Aaron Ross doing a Pee-Wee Herman-ish thing -- sort of the wide-eyed friendly guileless guy, which was sweet. Nothing tougher than working with kids and animals, and he did a nice job with both (if you count the giant owls).

Ivy Ross was out first with a short alphabet song, aided by some of the older kid audience members. The owls really do have some fine dance moves, I must say.

The Cardboard Songsters did a very cute number with large walking cardboard animals. I liked these animals a great deal and would display them proudly in my home.

Y La Bamba was next with a couple of sharp Latin-flavored songs with multi-players of many percussions. The lovely female singer had the best shag haircut I have ever seen, shooing Florence Henderson's RIGHT OUT.

Hip hop man of the hour Vursatyl came out with his three daughters and totally energized the crowd.

The cartoon inserts were TRIPPY.

I don't know who this was, but she sang in a high voice and a toddler kept knocking the mic stand into her mouth. Other toddlers were amused.

And then, at last...make some noise for the THE DANDY WARHOLS! Watch the kids go nuts when the bubble machine starts, and the band just keeps humming along. YAY!

The ten-song set went very well, with no major meltdowns, preschool stage diving, or projectile milk-vomiting. That I saw. Here's "Solid."

Mr12, feeling his old age in the crowd, moseyed back to a comfy chair, and MissSeven stood in front of me, tilting her head up and back to smile at me often. I imagined, or tried to anyway, how these little ones were experiencing the show, how loud and glorious and strange and colorful it all must seem to new eyes. (And no, it wasn't too loud, you finger-wagger types.)

Zia ended the show with an acapella version of "The Tattoo Song." Her voice sounded so pure and sweet, and it was a perfect ending to a great concert. You can see the rest of the Dandies' set here.

We all filed out of the big room, some furry-faced daddies patting sleepy baby backs, to get some lunch at Kennedy's Courtyard Restaurant. MissSeven immediately grabbed the crayons and got to work. There was a Dandy Warhols coloring page in the concert program BUT I TOOK IT. HA.

MissSeven: I want to be in a band and be an artist. I don't know how I am going to choose!

Me: You don't have to choose! You can do both!

MissSeven: Really?

Me: Yes! You don't have to do just one creative thing. You can do as many as you'd like to try. Lots of people do.

MissSeven: Cool.

Thanks You Who, The Kennedy School, and the Dandy Warhols and Pals for a great family trip! Back to HICKSVILLE SEATTLE for us. Heh.