Who've you seen? Summerfest and other summer music

Milwaukee’s Summerfest is billed as “The World’s Largest Music Festival” (due to the dozens of ‘free’ bands that play on nine stages all day long).
Well, it might also be the friendliest… and it’s certainly the cheapest. Parking was $3 on the street, admission was $10 (if you didn’t have a can of food or a receipt from Goodwill…the free admission promo changes day-by-day). And the local microbrews were $5.

I’ve decided to make it there multiple times this year, so, on a moment’s notice yesterday, I drove a couple of hours to see the original lineup of The Zombies.
(I had no idea that Colin Blustone also did vocals for the Alan Parsons Project. Between that and Argent songs and their love of covering early rock songs, it was a Really Fun Assorted Oldies Show)

Also caught some minor bands, and then… The Mowgli’s. Wow. The most optimistic music I’ve seen. Basically seven or eight buds having a sing-along and bouncing/dancing non-stop.

That was during the day. After dark, it was a gas to wander between all the stages and listen to snippets of Imagine Dragons, Pretty Lights, Morris Day and the Time, Pat Benatar (Man, these people aren’t using walkers yet?), Cracker and Less Than Jake.

So, two questions: who else should I be sure to see? (check out the headliners, or download the brochure showing every band)
And who have you seen so far this summer?

Are we all getting too old to go to concerts? Or is it too early in the summer to have seen any bands yet?

I’ll toss in the question: What bands are you going to see this summer?

I can’t make it up for Summerfest this year but there are some great bands on the lineup. I think you’re too late to see Avett Brothers, as they’d be my biggest suggestion.

Barenaked Ladies are playing on the 4th. They’re a ton of fun live, even without Steve Page as part of the band. **Guster **plays that same day and they’re fantastic as well.

Amazing New Orleans band Big Sam’s Funky Nation plays on Saturday it looks like. I’d check them out if you can.

Just saw Jonathan Richman in Denver at the Lions Lair.
My friend had the best quote about JR…“Watching Jonathan Richman makes me feel less jaded.”

Next few shows will be my friends bands, then Riot Fest comes to town and I get to see The Replacements(!), Rocket From The Crypt, Iggy and the Stooges. Superchunk, Bad Religion, and Yo La Tengo just to name a few.

We’re seeing The Replacements at Riot Fest Chicago. Can’t wait!!!

They are in my top three missed bands. The Mats, The Clash and The Ramones.

So excited!

I would have liked to see Tom Petty last Friday at Summerfest, but I was tied up doing something even better. I was visiting friends in Tampa, and Ke$ha was performing there on Friday. I also saw Kesha three weeks earlier in Chicago and got to meet her and get my photo taken with her. This time, I hung around after Kesha finished to see Pitbull, who was also excellent (but of course not as good as Kesha…)

Saw your posts about The Replacements touring— Thanks! Called up a friend, and we might be able to see them in Chicago.

Yes, I finally get to see Guster! At Summerfest Thurs night. And, indeed, Barenaked Ladies plays right before them (Rush is on the main stage, but that costs real dollars*). I mentioned it at a coffee place and got a random group of friends and kids** excited, and we’re all going to pile in a mini-van for a road trip.

The next night is Lewis Black and Nelly (no, not a duet), but I think I’ll pass on Rick Springfield.***

  • “Canadian dollars will be accepted only the night that Rush is appearing. We are sorry for any inconvenience.”

** ages 62, 59 (me), 45, 35, 33, 15, and 13 … should be interesting

*** Maybe I’ll wander by for the encore, when he does “Jesse’s Girl”…

I went to Summerfest Weds and Thursday this week (3rd & 4th). We stayed in Glendale next to Kopps (yum!). The room was very reasonable at $140/nt for a suite. Festival tix were $17/day. I think they knock off a few bucks if you get there before 4pm or something. We parked in private lots very near the north gate. I noticed that parking rates were about double Wed compared to the following day, I guess for the expected fireworks crowds ($20 vs 10).

We didn’t get there till after dark on Weds (I drove up after work) and the fireworks sounded good but the fog was so low and thick, it only occasionally lit up the clouds.

The music was disappointing on both evenings. We went in without looking at the schedule at all and had to rely on wandering tactics.

We saw a large crowd of people waiting for Bare Naked Ladies (we couldn’t think of their radio hits) but called it quits after their first few songs.

There were huge crowds at one of the main stages for Skillet (never heard of em) but we moved on when they started playing what turned out to be their highly produced, over the top Christian rock.

We stood around for some of Dark Star Orchestra but maybe I need to be on mushrooms or something to like them. I wasn’t and didn’t.

There was a Latin themed band at one of the small stages and the people gathered were calling for an encore as we walked up so we stayed. The band came back out and someone apparently pressed play somewhere and music started. Thing is, these guys were just kind of playing along with a prerecorded track. There were two guys playing flutes and panpipes and not only were these instruments not mic’ed, they couldn’t even pretend to play properly during the sweeping pipe solos. The guitar player wasn’t synched to the strumming and there were solos from instruments not even present. The bass was booming but no one was playing it. Drums, too as I recall. People were dancing and cheering and the ‘musicians’ were grinning widely so maybe this is an established thing but these eyebrows were raised high.

In years past, I have fond memories of sidling up to a small stage and being anything from blown away (I’ll buy your CD) to content. This year, I didn’t stay in one place for more than maybe 30 minutes.

To eat:
A greek plate with a kabob, rice and a gyro. (I just got back from the store where I bought stuff to make …greek kabobs).
Reuben eggrolls (Great in the past but this time, I think they’d been fried earlier in the week and held. Very chewy wrapper).

As always, the facilities were great. The grounds were lovely, it was as clean as can be expected, security was visible present but very hands off, the vendors were organized and friendly. All of this adds up to a great time, even if the music wasn’t so hot. Oh, speaking of hot, except for the fireworks fog, the weather was certainly cooperative. Last year, it was 20-30 degrees hotter so that was nice. World-class people watching is included with the price of the ticket so there’s always that.

I went to Koppas Fulbeli Deli on my way home on Friday for a sandwich. Great as always, though I found out it has new owners and they’re not allowed to have picnic tables outside anymore.