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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.