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This week in Summerfest
Big Gig's first days bring no shortage of local, national talent to the town
The Big Gig is finally upon us, but now what? With more than 700 bands playing on 11 stages, it can be overwhelming to figure out what is worth seeing and what should be walked past briskly. That’s why you keep us around. Over the next two weeks, Music Notes will be providing you with weekly recommendations of can’t miss shows and tips on how to make the most out of each day of the world’s largest music festival.

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 27 – Lupe Fiasco at Harley Davidson Roadhouse, 10 p.m.
Yeah, Steve Miller band is christening the BMO Harris Pavilion as the stage’s inaugural headliner at the same time, but we advise avoiding having your feet stepped on by the inevitable herd of Crocs-wearing baby boomers and, instead, take advantage of Summerfest’s diverse music offerings. Hip-hop hotshot Lupe Fiasco makes his second big gig stop in as many years, this time at the Harley Davidson Roadhouse, which is just stumbling distance from JoJo’s Martini Lounge. It’s also not far from the gates, allowing for a speedy exit (in Summerfest time, of course) so you can get home early and rest up to do it all again 10 more times.

Also check out – The Fatty Acids at U.S. Cellular Connection Stage, 5:30 p.m.
It’s difficult to find a band in Milwaukee that’s better or more driven than the eclectic and oh-so-poppy sextuplet of Milwaukee musicians. If you’ve yet to see them live: 1. Shame on you! And 2. This would be a perfect opportunity to do so.

THURSDAY, JUNE 28 – Foo Fighters at Marcus Ampitheater, 7:30 p.m.
When speaking in terms of modern rock ‘n’ roll, it simply doesn’t get any better than the Foo Fighters. Dave Grohl and co. have stood the test of time, staved off the temptation of making their lucrative side bands permanent and teetered on the edge of a split. Even more impressively, the band has come out the other side an even more talented, versatile and widely accepted band, while still clutching to their sensibilities. Now owners of 11 Grammys, a canon on hit singles, and a year-old album (Wasting Light) that shows the guys still have the chops to stand at the forefront of respectable radio rock, Foo Fighters will undoubtedly treat the paying faithful at the Marcus to a night of hits and a passionate live performance. Silversun Pickups open.

Also check out – The Promise Ring at Harley Davidson Roadhouse, 10 p.m.
Technically a local show, Milwaukee’s own emo gods The Promise Ring carry with them national appeal. With members now populating lesser-known local mainstays Maritime, Snowbirds and Eric & Magill, the Ring ranks reunited for occasional shows earlier this year.  This will certainly be worth your time, especially if you’re still kicking yourself for not seeing the band during its first go-round between 1995 and 2002.

FRIDAY, JUNE 29 – The Walkmen at U.S. Cellular Connection Stage, 8 p.m.
The best thing about Summerfest is the boundless bounty of great nationally known bands on the schedule. Case in point: East coast post-punk favorites The Walkmen, who has wowed critics—both for national periodicals and jaded indie blogs—for over a decade now, only seems to be getting better with age. Its latest, Heaven (released last month), is already being considered to be among the best albums of the year (and of The Walkmen’s catalog) by both Stereogum and Pitchfork Media.

However, if you have the money and lack the musical taste, feel free to see Train and Kelly Clarkson at the Marcus Ampitheater instead. It’s your funeral.

Also check out – Elusive Parallelograms at Cascio Interstate Music Grove Stage, 6 p.m. When in doubt, always side with the great local option. In this particular situation, that’d mean strolling to the border of the Summerfest grounds to see Elusive Parallelograms, who is truly coming into its own of late, as shown by its great EP HABITS and brand new psych rock EP effort SPACES.

SATURDAY, JUNE 30 – Heartless Bastards at Potawatomi Bingo Casio Stage, 8 p.m.
When you’re a standout in the Austin music scene, you’re doing something right. Carried on the strong, bluesy pipes of vocalist Erika Wennerstrom, the Bastards creep ever closer to mainstream viability with each new album. Latest full-length, Arrow, seems to be the band’s final step en route to a long-overdue breakout. New single “Parted Ways” has quickly become a standard in the rotations of independent radio stations throughout the country.

Also check out – ZZ Top at Harley Davidson Roadhouse, 10 p.m.
Those who say the band’s success is based on their long beards or its spinning and fuzzy guitar gimmicks have obviously never heard the band. A band that transcends all ages and economic class, ZZ Top is truly a classic… and one of the few notable acts on what might be the festival’s least impressive nights of music.

SUNDAY, JULY 1 – The Beach Boys at Marcus Ampitheater, 7:30 p.m.
One of the world’s favorite bands picked a marvelous site in which to celebrate its 50th birthday. Yes, the Beach Boys are no spring chickens any more, but their vast collection of hits still sustains, even if most of the cars they reference in songs don’t even exist anymore. For those able to pony up the extra money for tickets will be delighted to see the band reunited for an unforgettable trip through their greatest hits.

Also check out – Scarlet Escape at Cascio Interstate Music Groove Stage
Of all the 700-some-odd bands to take the stage during the festival, only one of them has our own Kevin Kosterman playing guitar for them. Appleton/Milwaukee rocker Scarlet Escape is that band. Come early, as Escape is bookended by tremendous local acts as well.

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