Earlier this week, the Kings of Leon had one of their strangest gigs. And probably one their shortest. Before their sold-out show at Constitution Hall in Washington, DC, the group performed in front of a mess of preteens to film an episode of Pancake Mountain, the amusingly subversively children's rock TV show whose guests have included Jenny Lewis, Built to Spill, Deerhoof, Nellie McKay and Robert Randolph.
"We haven't started giving the band alcohol yet, so we're good," laughed the show's creator Scott Stuckey as children flooded the stage and surrounded the band. Two kids started crying as the band did a brief sound check. Bassist Jared Followill thundered some impressively heavy distorted lines while the drums heated up. The kids looked nervous. Nacho, the shaggy-haired sound tech, manned up. "We need a mommy," he announced. "Is there a mommy in the house?"
Stuckey encouraged the two kids who introduced the band: "Really give it," he said, "take the whole thing from the top." Spotting some kids stuffing fingers in their ears, the crew started handing out ear plugs, gently showing the kids how to pinch and place them in. After that, they danced like maniacs. Even when the music stopped, some kept dancing.
KOL played two songs (they would have done more, but drummer Nathan Followill was late). "My Party," was searing and vicious, especially considering it was a pre-show send-up for kids. When the band finished, they seemed bewildered and a bit uncomfortable. Caleb Followill leaned into the mike, "I'm just trying to think of something they can dance to," he said. "Should we try 'Razz'?" Minutes later, they thumped to an end, the kids shuffled off the stage, and the room cleared out for the real show. The crew wiped their brows and sighed. The tots were gone. "Just thank God they didn't play 'Sex on Fire,' " chuckled one onlooker.