Last year I got a press kit and CD from Madison's Kiddo Publishing about a group called The Figureheads, a hip hop trio who makes music for kids. (They also make music for adults, but I was more interested in their little people projects.) A few days after I received the disc, I popped it into my car CD player while driving my 4-year-old son to a playgroup. Since then, if my son's in the car, The Figurehead's first record, "The Movement," is playing.
So when I found out The Figureheads were rapping at Summerfest on July 3, I decided to break my decade-long vow not to attend Summerfest during Big Bang hoopla. Instead, I lugged my kid down to the Big Gig to catch the band he adores.
It started to rain about 15 minutes before the 2:15 p.m. show, but Kai didn't seem to care, so I shrugged it off, too. We got a great seat at the Children's Stage and watched the group -- comprised of Greg Marshall, Dave Olson and Jeremy Bryan -- play an awesome, energetic show.
The Figureheads work to build community and mentorship through music and address a series of important issues about growing up through their smart and quirky lyrics. During their 45-minute Summerfest set, The Figureheads busted out with a great combo of tunes drawing from both of their releases, including "Wallpusher," "Stir It Up," "Window" and "Just Right." They invited children on stage numerous times to dance and sing with them.
They also did a fun freestylin' tune in which three kids yelled out an object, and then the group created an impromptu rap based on the their suggestions of video games, pirates, and my son's contribution: sharks. (Sharks were on the forefront of his brain because moments before the show he got to pet a baby bamboo shark in the Discovery World tent. Luckily all fingers remain intact.)
Maybe it's because they play shows for adults as well as children, but The Figureheads have a knack for addressing kids in an easy-to-understand style, yet never talk down or come off too goofy or cartoony. They have a gift for audience participation, creating hip hop tunes that get kids to clap their hands, stamp their feet and sing along to music that is spoon-feeding them important, positive messages that they will hopefully mull over for the rest of their youth.
The only down side to this show was that they didn't play Kai's favorite song -- title track "The Movement." This was his fourth concert, but it was the first time he learned the lesson all concertgoers eventually accept: that the band doesn't always play the song you want -- and albeit a let down -- it's part of the unpredictable fun of live shows.
Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.
Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.