I’d never heard of Princess Katie and/or Racer Steve before my copy of Revved Up and Ready to Rock! arrived in the mail, but they apparently have quite a loyal following, and have released a pair of CDs (Fast & Feisty and Songs for the Coolest Kids), selected songs from which are collected on this live DVD.
Katie and Steve seem to have come to kids’ music the hard way — namely, after years spent fruitlessly trying to build careers in grown-up entertainment — and as a result, the PKRS aesthetic is pleasantly adult; because their move into this arena was gradual and organic, they use a smarter and more eclectic musical approach than some acts who self-consciously aim at the youth demographic. The Princess (nee Katie O’Sullivan) has a big, elastic voice, and doesn’t rely on cutesy antics to get across — then again, in a ball gown, corset, and tiara, she doesn’t need to; she’s got plenty of appeal for the kids (and, ahem, their dads). The band, led by Racer Steve (A.K.A. Steve Borne)’s lead guitar, hops nimbly between genres from song to song, mixing rock with jazz, swing, funk, and good-old fashioned uptempo pop. They have a horn section, too, which is more than most grown-up bands can afford. Best of both worlds, right?
The songs themselves are fun and varied, but none of them knocked me out, and after watching the DVD twice (largely without my daughter, who lost interest pretty quickly during both viewings), I can’t remember a single line or melody — but Revved Up and Ready to Rock!, like the songs themselves, seem pretty squarely aimed at the 5-8-year-old demographic, and both of us are outside that bubble. There’s no arguing with the energy of the show, however, or the way Princess Katie and Racer Steve smartly break things up between songs with an ongoing puppet show that deals with Katie’s wandering pet dragon.
The production values aren’t what you’d get from, say, a They Might Be Giants DVD, but they’re still impressively high; a number of cameras were used, and the editing cuts (a little too quickly, in my opinion) between angles during the songs. They even mix in a few special effects. For PKRS fans, especially those who have either been to a show or who are bummed out because they haven’t, it’ll be a wonderfully fun way to spend an hour. For the uninitated, it may be a little underwhelming, but that’s probably par for the course with something like this.