Review – Koo Koo Kangaroo rock the St. Paul Winter Carnival

By Ann Treacy

Koo Koo Kangaroo is today’s musical version of Rocky and Bullwinkle’s Fractured Fairy Tales. Their songs are fun, deceptively educational and there’s a different appeal for adults and kids. They are an “interactive dance party duo” featuring Bryan (Atchison) and Neil (Olstad) and some prerecorded music.
My 12-year-old and I have been watching them longer than half their audience has been alive! We have seen them raise the roof in a suburban library, debut the Green Line at Union Depot and one of us saw them open for Frank Turner. Somehow well-suited to each setting.

This week we went to see them at the St Paul Winter Carnival Rice Park – two great Minnesota legends together.  Like the Winter Carnival, to really enjoy Koo Koo Kangaroo, you have to forget about cool and be all in. Their shows rely on audience participation. When they ask questions – shout the answers. When they demonstrate dance moves –  do them. When they ask for a chorus – belt it out. Or stand in the back with the other grandpas.

The songs are catchy; you’ll find yourself humming them at your next staff meeting. They started with newer songs at the last show. We hadn’t heard them. It didn’t matter, it was pretty easy to catch up. They are also imminently danceable. (Just try to stand still for Pop See Ko!) They have the energy and brevity of any punk rock song. They often visit grade schools; they know how to get students off their chair and moving. They can orchestrate a controlled chaos in the audience.

The real appeal is that Bryan and Neil seem to enjoy the work (they noted music is now their full-time job!) and the audience. I watched them win over a 10-year-old heckler at the front of the stage by creating an inside-aside joke with him during the show. It’s the same inside-aside joke approach that keeps the adults laughing. They have a unique ability to make everyone feel inside.

Everyone gets invited to the Cat Party and everyone has something to share.

You can see them around Minnesota through February. They’re at the Triple Rock Social Club (Feb 10), Afton Alps (Feb 12 for Rock the Cradle), Ed’s No Name (Feb 18) and a wide range of grade schools and rec centers from MacGregor to Ortonville.