Wisconsin Wonders: Summerfest

For my second installment in the Wisconsin Wonders series, I’ll talk up Summerfest (warning the website will HURT YOUR EYES), which kicks off tomorrow.

Most music fans in Milwaukee have a love-hate relationship with Summerfest. They book some AWFUL bands (that the rest of the city gets excited about), there’s usually drunk ‘Stallis trash falling into you on a picnic table, and getting to/from the Lakefront can be a nightmare. That said, it’s 11 DAYS of music and drinking – something you can’t find anywhere else. And despite having to avoid getting caught up in the Chevelle or Train crowd, you can usually discover great bands every night. Yes, it is possible to do all 11 days of Summerfest – or even finding yourself there 5-7. Have you seen winter there? Wisconsin’s got stamina.

Snobbish remarks aside, the diversity of music is breathtaking. I would never pay to go see REO Speedwagon, but totally worth seeing them (and the people watching) at Summerfest. I’ve caught respectable “classic” acts there too, like Ray Charles and Elvis Costello – both free with admission. You can also end up seeing bands that are the next big thing for practically free (I saw Wilco pre-YHF, there’s actually a scene with that show in I Am Trying to Break Your Heart).

Frankly, I’m a little jealous of my friends who get to go this year (even though I’m drooling over (and figuring out budgeting) the Treasure Island Music Festival lineup). There’s definitely bands worth seeing. And if you’re just wandering around the grounds, looking to catch great local music (that’s not Pat McCurdy), checking out the WMSE Cascio Music Stage is a wonderful way to discover  Wisconsin’s best non-cover bands.

Milwaukeeans, after a cursory glance at the schedule, here are my 2012 recommendations (good luck with the cloning of yourselves):

  • Nathaniel Rateliff
  • Fruit Bats
  • The Fatty Acids*
  • Ben Folds Five
  • The Promise Ring*
  • Fun.
  • The Walkmen
  • Jaill*
  • The Hives
  • Elusive Parallelograms*
  • Collections of Colonies of Bees*
  • Brendan Benson
  • Heartless Bastards
  • Givers
  • I’m Not a Pilot*
  • Robyn
  • Mayer Hawthorne
  • TUNE-YARDS (seriously, if you go to ONE show)
  • The Head and The Heart
  • Trampled by Turtles*
  • Trapper Schoepp & The Shades*
  • Bob Mould performing “Copper Blue”
  • Alberta Cross
  • Devotchka
  •  The Joy Formidable
  •  The Avett Brothers
  • Death Cab for Cutie
  • Fitz and the Tantrums
  • B-52s
  • Squeeze

*Wisconsin band

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About Meghan A.

creative & professional creative professional | communications, content & community | nasty woman | adventurer & inspiration seeker | bicyclist & feminist | walk san francisco board | current: Adobe Typekit Product Marketing Manager, former: TYPO SF magic maker
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2 Responses to Wisconsin Wonders: Summerfest

  1. Christina says:

    The are purposely torturing us this year by scheduling many of those bands at the same time on the same night. Check out July 5. Ugh!

  2. Kristen says:

    C’mon….you forgot to give a nod to The Love Monkeys (insert sarcastic font). I need to go see The Promise Ring – I wish you were here since I don’t know anyone else that would be up for that show, Meghan. Part of me really wants to go see Neil Diamond, too. And The Invaders* are SO much fun!

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