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What's the best day to go to the best Summerfest ever? We found out with our very "scientific" ranking system.

Summerfest is back and it’s better than ever. Have you peeked at the line-up yet? It’s quite impressive from top-to-bottom. It’s positioned to be the best Big Gig of all time.

But still, going to Summerfest can be a draining affair. Going multiple days in a row will suck the life out of you — like sitting out in the sun too long and then sweating in a sauna for a few hours after. You can’t hang out there every day, can you? So in an effort to narrow down this impressive selection of shows, we’ve ranked each day from best to worst using our super “scientific” point system.

We picked six bands from each day (the American Family Insurance Amphitheater headliner, the three highest-rated Ground Stage headliners, the highest-rated opening act, and the highest-rated local band). Each are graded on a metric* of Relevance (released an album recently and/or considered in prime form?), Rarity (play out often?) and Performance (good live show?). All the points the bands or artists accumulate form a total score for that day — the higher the score, the better the day.

Here we go.

*Rating system: 1-10; 10 being the highest score (Relevance + Rareness + Performance = Overall Score.)


11. Saturday, June 30

This is actually what your typical Summerfest day would be like during a normal year — some old stand-bys like Buddy Guy and Third Eye Blind, and a big country act over at the amphitheater — but this isn’t a normal year, so this one’s the worst even though it isn’t all that bad. But, hey, it’s the first Saturday of Summerfest. Does anyone really care about who’s playing? It’s more about the atmosphere, the lake breeze and of course, the combo platter from Saz’s.

American Family Insurance Amphitheater Headliner:

Florida Georgia Line (6-6-6: 18), 7:30 p.m.

Ground Stage Headliners:

➞ Third Eye Blind (5-5-8: 18) at Miller Lite Oasis Stage, 10:15 p.m.

Trapper Schoepp and the Shades performing at Summerfest on July 8, 2017. Photo by Meghan Quadracci.

➞ Rachel Platten (7-6-6: 19) at BMO Harris Pavilion, 9:45 p.m.

➞ Buddy Guy (4-4-9: 17) at Harley-Davidson Roadhouse, 10 p.m.

Reason to get there early: Welshly Arms (7-5-5: 17) at Briggs & Bratton Big Backyard, 8 p.m.

Hometown hero: Trapper Schoepp (8-4-8: 20) at Miller Lite Oasis Stage, 8:30 p.m.

Total Score: 109


10. Thursday, June 28

This day should be ranked much higher but the rating system sort of fails here. There’s so, so much to see during the afternoon. Not only does The Sugar Hill Gang have an early timeslot, but so do The Crystal Method (Miller Lite Oasis, 4 p.m.), Matthew Sweet (BMO Harris Pavilion, 6 p.m.), Lit (Harley-Davidson Roadhouse, 6 p.m.) and Alien Ant Farm (Harley-Davidson Roadhouse, 4 p.m.). Those are bands that would normally headline a stage at the end of the night, but they’re playing before most people get off work. There’s no day (even any weekends) that have such a stacked afternoon line-up. This one falls in the rankings because there’s only one space for an opener.

American Family Insurance Amphitheater Headliner:

James Taylor & Bonnie Raitt (3-5-8: 16), 7:30 p.m.

Ground Stage Headliners:

➞ The Wallflowers (5-8-7: 20) at BMO Harris Pavilion, 9:45 p.m.

➞ Nelly (5-6-8: 19) at U.S. Cellular Connection Stage, 10 p.m.

➞ Tory Lanez (8-6-5: 19) at Briggs & Stratton Big Backyard, 10 p.m.

Reason to get there early: The Sugarhill Gang (3-8-9: 20) at U.S. Cellular Connection Stage, 6 p.m.

Hometown hero: Dusk (8-6-8: 22) at Johnson Controls World Stage, 6:45 p.m.

Total Score: 116

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9. Tuesday, July 3

The strength of Summerfest is how it appeals to a variety of tastes. Sometimes that variety means that the many options, while varied, aren’t really that good show-by-show. That’s not true this year, especially on the day before the Fourth. You’ve got spirited blues-rock (Benjamin Booker), catchy indie-rock (Foster The People), a classic rock icon (Aerosmith singer Steven Tyler) and one of the genre’s biggest rappers (J. Cole). Plus, local R&B starlet Abby Jeanne plays an opening slot on the Johnson Controls World Stage.

Photo courtesy J. Cole.

American Family Insurance Amphitheater Headliner:

J. Cole (8-8-7: 23), 7:30 p.m.

Ground Stage Headliners:

➞ Benjamin Booker (7-7-8: 22) at Johnson Controls World Stage, 10 p.m.

➞ Foster The People (6-5-7: 18) at Miller Lite Oasis Stage, 10 p.m.

➞ Steven Tyler (4-7-7: 17) at BMO Harris Pavilion, 9:45 p.m.

Reason to get there early: Joywave (6-7-6: 19) at Briggs & Stratton Big Backyard, 8 p.m.

Hometown hero: Abby Jeanne (8-4-7: 19) at Johnson Controls World Stage, 8 p.m.

Total Score: 118


7. (tied) Friday, June 29

Some fresh faces (GoldLink, Lissie, Halsey & Logic) and a more familiar one (Social Distortion) round out the first Friday of Summerfest.

American Family Insurance Amphitheater Headliner:

Halsey & Logic (7-7-6: 20), 7:30 p.m.

Ground Stage Headliners:

➞ GoldLink (7-8-8: 23) at Miller Lite Oasis Stage, 10 p.m.

➞ Lissie (7-7-7: 21) at Johnson Controls World Stage, 10 p.m.

➞ Social Distortion (5-5-7: 17) at Harley-Davidson Roadhouse, 10 p.m.

Reason to get there early: Sunflower Bean (7-7-6: 20) at Johnson Controls World Stage, 6:45 p.m.

Hometown hero: Negative/Positive (7-5-6: 18) at Johnson Controls World Stage, 1:45 p.m.

Total Score: 119


7. (tied) Wednesday, July 4

The holiday was sure to be crowded regardless of the line-up but the Fourth of July offers some real good selections. In the mood for some ‘90s indie rock? Catch Pixies at BMO Harris Pavilion. Prefer some art-trash pop music? Well then, Kesha is on the Miller Lite Oasis Stage. Like singing along to songs that play on every jukebox in every bar across America? Then go see Journey and Def Leppard at The American Family Insurance Amphitheater.

American Family Insurance Amphitheater Headliner:

Journey & Def Leppard (4-5-9: 18), 7:30 p.m.

Ground Stage Headliners

➞ Kesha (8-7-9: 24) at Miller Lite Oasis Stage, 10:15 p.m.

Kesha

Kesha. Photo by Olivia Bee.

➞ Pixies (6-8-9: 23) at BMO Harris Pavilion, 9:45 p.m.

➞ Gavin DeGraw (6-6-5: 17) at Briggs & Stratton Big Backyard, 9:30 p.m.

Reason to get there early: The Wombats (6-6-5: 17) at BMO Harris Pavilion, 8 p.m.

Hometown hero: REYNA (7-5-8: 20) at Miller Lite Oasis Stage, 6:45 p.m.

Total Score: 119


6. Saturday, July 7

A big night of R&B and rap at the amphitheater with The Weeknd and one-half of Outkast, Big Boi, but there are plenty of options throughout the festival on the second Saturday, including jazzman and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert bandleader Jon Batiste who plays the Johnson Controls World Stage with the help of the The Dap Kings, the funky backing band of the late soul singer Sharon Jones.

American Family Insurance Amphitheater Headliner:

The Weeknd (8-8-9: 25) with Big Boi, 7:30 p.m.

Ground Stage Headliners:

➞ Jon Batiste with the Dap-Kings (6-6-9: 23) at Johnson Controls World Stage, 10 p.m.

➞ Jonathan Davis of Korn (6-7-7: 20) at Harley-Davidson Roadhouse, 10 p.m.

➞ Gin Blossoms (5-5-7: 17) at Uline Warehouse Stage, 10 p.m.

Reason to get there early: Candlebox (5-6-6: 17) at Harley-Davidson Roadhouse, 4 p.m.

Hometown hero: Willy Porter (6-5-7: 18) at Uline Warehouse Stage, 8 p.m.

Total Score: 120


4. (tied) Sunday, July 8

The final day of Summerfest provides the best early show of the 11-day festival — Soccer Mommy. The bedroom pop of Sophie Allison is enchanting and catchy. In a Pitchfork review of her debut album which earned a Best New Music, the singer-songwriter was compared to both Liz Phair and Taylor Swift, “but she tells her stories of love and betrayal with a welcomed pop-punk brevity and kick.”

American Family Insurance Amphitheater Headliner:

Arcade Fire (8-8-9: 25) with Manchester Orchestra, 7:30 p.m.

Ground Stage Headliners:

➞ Cheap Trick (4-4-9: 17) at BMO Harris Pavilion, 9:45 p.m.

Soccer Mommy

Photo courtesy of Soccer Mommy.

➞ Boz Scaggs (6-6-6: 18) at Briggs & Stratton Big Backyard, 9:45 p.m.

➞ Sevendust (6-5-6: 17) at Uline Warehouse Stage, 9:45 p.m.

Best Opener: Soccer Mommy (8-8-8: 24) at Johnson Controls World Stage, 4:15 p.m.

Hometown hero: Paper Holland (8-4-8: 20) at Johnson Controls World Stage, 3 p.m.

Total Score: 121


4. (tied) Sunday, July 1

Summerfest has lagged behind in its electronic music options, but it’s finally starting to catch up. The electronic-duo Chromeo headlines the Miller Lite Oasis Stage behind its brand new record, Head Over Heels, which features an impressive list of guest stars. Don’t miss an afternoon performance from singer-songwriter Nick Lowe, who offers more punch and charm than just his one famous hit, “Cruel To Be Kind.”

American Family Insurance Amphitheater Headliner:

Dave Matthews Band (5-5-7: 17), 7:30 p.m.

Ground Stage Headliners:

➞ Chromeo (8-8-7: 23) at Miller Lite Oasis Stage, 10 p.m.

➞ Spoon (8-6-8: 22) at Harley-Davidson Roadhouse, 9:45 p.m.

➞ Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo (5-6-8: 19) at BMO Harris Pavilion, 9:45 p.m.

Reason to get there early: Nick Lowe featuring Los Straitjackets (6-6-8: 20) at BMO Harris Pavilion, 4 p.m.

Hometown hero: Lex Allen (8-5-8: 21) at Johnson Controls World Stage, 8 p.m.

Total Score: 122


3. Thursday, July 5

No contemporary folk singer-songwriter conveys stories and emotions with the impact that Jason Isbell can register. If there’s any show that’ll move you, it’s this one. Or just party it up with DJ Jazzy Jeff.

American Family Insurance Amphitheater Headliner:

Shawn Mendes (7-7-5: 19) with Charli XCX, 7:30 p.m.

Ground Stage Headliners:

Jason Isbell. Photo by David McClister

➞ Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit (8-6-9: 23) at BMO Harris Pavilion, 9:45 p.m.

➞ Aminé (7-7-7: 21) at Uline Warehouse Stage, 10 p.m.

➞ DJ Jazzy Jeff (5-7-8: 20) at Johnson Controls World Stage, 10 p.m.

Reason to get there early: Jimmie Allen (6-7-7: 20) at U.S. Cellular Connection Stage, 6 p.m.

Hometown hero: Dead Horses (8-5-7: 20) at Briggs & Stratton Big Backyard, 8 p.m.

Total Score: 123


2. Wednesday, June 27

Indulge in the sweet harmonies of indie-rock darlings Grizzly Bear, or the ascending rap star Lil Uzi Vert, or the big arena rock anthems of Imagine Dragons — whose fans swarmed the Summerfest ground stage the band played just five years ago. Opening night is more than solid. If you can’t wait to get through the gates, then make sure you see the hip and funny indie-rock singer-songwriter Caroline Rose at 4 p.m. on the Johnson Controls World Stage.

American Family Insurance Amphitheater Headliner:

Imagine Dragons (8-6-8: 22), 7:30 p.m.

Ground Stage Headliners:

➞ Grizzly Bear (7-9-8: 24) at Briggs & Stratton Big Backyard, 10 p.m.

➞ Lil Uzi Vert (8-5-8: 21) at Harley-Davidson Roadhouse, 10 p.m.

➞ Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real (7-5-6: 18) at Johnson Controls World Stage, 10 p.m.

Reason to get there early: Caroline Rose (8-8-8: 24) at Johnson Controls World Stage, 5:30 p.m.

Hometown hero: Greatest Lakes (7-3-7: 17) at Briggs & Stratton Big Backyard, 8 p.m.

Total Score: 126


1. Friday, July 6

Go see Janelle Monae. Her live performances are stylish, innovative and captivating. It’s a show that could easily be over at the amphitheater (and perhaps should be), but you can see this one for the price of a general admission Summerfest ticket. Same goes for the Flaming Lips, who don’t put on performances as much as they throw one big party. Expect to be swimming in confetti and warm, catchy tunes.

Janelle Monae

Photo courtesy of Janelle Monae

American Family Insurance Amphitheater Headliner:

Blake Shelton (6-5-6: 17), 7:30 p.m.

Ground Stage Headliners:

➞ Janelle Monae (9-9-10: 28) at BMO Harris Pavilion, 9:45 p.m.

➞ The Flaming Lips (7-7-10: 24) at Harley-Davidson Roadhouse, 10 p.m.

➞ BORNS (7-6-7: 20) at Miller Lite Oasis Stage, 10 p.m.

Reason to get there early: Porcupine (6-7-7: 20) at Harley-Davidson Roadhouse, 6 p.m.

Hometown hero: B~Free (8-4-8: 20) at BMO Harris Pavilion, 8 p.m.

Total Score: 129

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