The Violent Femmes open Summerfest
Wednesday, June 26: Violent Femmes with The Avett Brothers, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros and Ivan and Ilyosha @ Marcus Amphitheater, 7 p.m.
The story of the most vital group in the history of Milwaukee music almost came down to a lawsuit over a Wendy’s commercial. The Violent Femmes will rewrite that ending with a triumphant homecoming on the Big Gig’s opening night, supported by an all-star cast. This show should set the bar plenty high for the rest of Summerfest.
Also: Yeah Yeah Yeahs @ Harley-Davidson Roadhouse, 10 p.m.
Local Pick: Faux Fir @ K-Nation/Cascio Interstate Music Stage, 8:30 p.m.
Thursday, June 27: FUN. with Walk The Moon and Family Of The Year @ Marcus Amphitheater, 7:30 p.m.
Although the perennial appearance of Tom Petty says otherwise, FUN. is the ultimate Summerfest band. There has been no group as ubiquitous or ambitious this year, scattering three record-breaking singles across radio and television and winning two Grammys. The festival dubbed “the Big Gig” aspires to be larger than life, and with its soaring anthems and sky-high sound, FUN. fills the bill.
Also: Blues Traveler @ Uline Warehouse, 10 p.m.
Local Pick: Klassik @ Harley-Davidson Roadhouse, 8 p.m.
Friday, June 28: LL Cool J feat. DJ Z-Trip with Terry Sims @ BMO Harris Pavilion, 8 p.m.
LL Cool J made an unexpected return to relevancy this year thanks to a Grammy hosting gig and a somewhat troubling collaboration with Brad Paisley. Amidst all that, LL quietly dropped his 13th album, Authentic, which features the talents of everyone from Snoop Dogg to Eddie Van Halen.
Also: Cake @ Miller Lite Oasis, 10 p.m.
Local Pick: PHOX @ U.S. Cellular Connection Stage, 4:15 p.m.
Saturday, June 29: Meat Puppets @ US Cellular Connection Stage, 8 p.m.
In a notable coincidence, the career of this SST band ran parallel to festival favorites Violent Femmes between the early ’90s and 2000, when the two bands were cutting albums at an even pace. The Meat Puppets never scored a hit like the Femmes, but they were perhaps more influential, helping to mold the ’90s alt-rock sound elaborated by Nirvana and Pavement. After a 6-year silence, Meat Puppets reunited in 2007 and has released four albums, including this year’s Rat Farm.
Also: The Zombies with Et Tu Bruce’ @ BMO Harris Pavilion, 2 p.m.
Local Pick: Elusive Parallelograms @ K-Nation/Cascio Interstate Music Stage, 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, June 30: Rogue Wave and Cold War Kids @ U.S. Cellular Connection Stage, 8 and 10 p.m.
Summerfest has made an effort to book more indie rock over the last few years, with a preference for proven talent over flavor-of-the-week buzz bands. Thus, we’re given this Sunday evening double-shot of two bands that helped carve out the indie rock genre in the mid-2000s. Though their best work is probably behind them – keeping in line with pretty much every national act at the festival – the two California bands are still active: Each released a new album this year.
Also: Dr. John & The Night Trippers @ Johnson Controls World Sound Stage, 10 p.m.
Local Pick: Kiings @ Uline Warehouse, 6:30 p.m.