Q Brothers, Collaboraction, School of Rock add local flair to Kidzapalooza stage
Along with partner GQ, the Q Brothers will debut tracks from their 2020 album “Buggin’ ” at Kidzapalooza, and show off their improv and freestyle rap skills with the audience’s help.
This week, all the cool kids will be hanging out at Lollapalooza — in particular, at the Kidzapalooza Stage, where the youngest fans can partake in airbrush “tattooz,” get headshots at the rock-star photo booth, learn to beatbox, and of course enjoy daily entertainment geared for the entire family.
“There’s a lot of stimuli at Lollapalooza, and Kidzapalooza is a kind of escape from the sensory overload and the heat, and a place where kids can come and play,” says Anthony Moseley, artistic director of theater group Collaboraction and the stage’s official emcee for the weekend.
When: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. July 28-31, at Lollapalooza
Where: Grant Park
Tickets: Children 10 years of age and under get in free with a Lollapalooza-ticketed adult
As part of its Kidzapalooza programming, Collaboraction — a Chicago theater group focused on social change that’s now in its 26th season — will stage “The Light” at 3 p.m. Thursday. The multidisciplinary performance art piece (also part of “Nights Out in the Parks” programming in August) features six youth artists/activists who each take on a superhero persona to discuss important messages like body positivity, celebrating differences and mental health. The troupe includes 15-year-old twin dancers Phallon and Kyra Pierce, who currently have a sponsored bill on the Illinois House floor, The Pierce Twins Law, that would institute a new statewide high school reading list with more diverse representation.
“There’s a lot we can learn from kids,” says Moseley, “and what I love personally is that they come back every year and you get to see them grow and develop in front of your eyes.” He adds, “Music and art and the history of coming together is central to our growth and development as social beings, and by showing young people as artists/activists, we hope can inspire other young people that they can do the same.”
It’s a feeling Q Brothers love seeing, too. The 20-year-strong local collective — known for translating classic theater works from Shakespeare to Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” into hip-hop musicals way before “Hamilton” — has been part of Kidzapalooza since its inception. They will stage two shows this year, at 3 p.m. Saturday and 1:30 p.m. Sunday.
“We’ve known these families for 15 years who say to us, ‘Our kids are in college and we still listen to the song where they rap about ice cream with you guys,’ ” says Q Brothers co-founder JQ.
Along with partner GQ, the Q Brothers will perform tracks from their 2020 album “Buggin’ ” at Kidzapalooza, and show off their improv and freestyle rap skills with the audience’s help.
“The idea is that kids are just small humans and in some ways are probably more open to listening to any type of music than adults are,” says GQ. “We never dumb it down.”
Nor does the School of Rock, whose students have the chance to actually play on stage with sets at 1:30 p.m. Thursday and 3 p.m. Friday.
“Our mission is enriching lives through performance-based music education, so putting students on stage is a central part of what we do,” says Andy Levenberg, manager of music education, who estimates that more than 200 school alumni have played Kidzapalooza over the years. Some have even gone on as adults to form bands that have played the festival’s main stages, including Hippo Campus and Dr. Dog.
The School of Rock students playing Kidzapalooza this year are aged 12 to 18 and exclusively hail from some of the 19 Chicago area schools that have open enrollment all year. Their two sets this week will run the gamut, from Deep Purple and Prince to Aretha Franklin and My Chemical Romance.
“I’d encourage parents and kids to come by and check it out,” says Levenberg. “Having young people in the audience really gets the students excited because they’re playing for their peers. … And my favorite part is watching the faces of adults when students play and blow them away.”