Welcome to your complete guide for tackling day two of Summerfest!

How to Get in Free Today

If you’ve been saving Pick ‘n Save receipts from the month of May, you just might have been saving Summerfest tickets as well. Shoppers who spent more than $50 between May 1 and May 28 can redeem their ticket before 6 p.m. for four tickets.

Pick ‘n Save is also providing a 50% discount on all beverages except frozen drinks, specialty coffees and smoothies. This offer is valid until 6 p.m.

Weather Forecast

High: 74°
Low: 64°
Precipitation: 40% 
Sunset: 8:35 p.m.

Bring an umbrella today, because the forecast calls for more of last weekend’s scattered thunderstorms. But a little rain won’t hurt us, and it certainly won’t keep us from attending Summerfest.

Playing at the American Family Insurance Amphitheater

Willie Nelson

If anyone deserves the “living legend” moniker, it’s Willie Nelson. The singer-songwriter has put out around 200 albums over 6 decades, and he doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. This year, he’s sharing the Summerfest stage with other folk and rock stars – Phil Lesh and Friends, the Avett Brothers, Counting Crows, Alison Krauss, Dawes and Milwaukee’s own Trapper Schoepp.

Staff Music Picks by Generation

Boomer


4 p.m., U.S. Cellular Connection Stage

“As someone who saw X numerous times at clubs like CBGB’s in New York City in the 1980’s, imagining them playing an afternoon show at Summerfest is not dissimilar to imagining running into the band members at the Early Bird Special at The Ground Round. Oh, well. Life goes on, we all get old, and I’ll be there at 4 p.m. sharp, ready to rock.” – Carole Nicksin

Gen-X

Steve Earle & The Dukes
4 p.m., Harley-Davidson Roadhouse

Willie Nelson
10:15 p.m., American Family Insurance Ampitheater

“How crazy is it for the Summerfest schedule overlords to book Steve Earle on the same (absolutely loaded) day as the Willie Nelson-headlined Outlaw Music Festival? Or is it crazy like a fox? That an artist the caliber of Milwaukee’s own Trapper Schoepp is Outlaw’s opening act tells you all you need to know about its lineup.” – Chris Drosner 

“I’d like to see Willie Nelson play before I can’t. (Because he’s old.)” – Paul Higgins

Lizzo
10 p.m., Harley-Davidson Roadhouse

The 1992 version of me might have said ’10,000 Maniacs.’ But I can’t ride the ‘Peace Train’ anymore. No, the 2019 version of me wants to see the incredible vocalist Lizzo belt out ‘Juice.’” – Ann Christenson

Millennial

Lizzo
10 p.m., Harley-Davidson Roadhouse

“I kinda can’t believe that Lizzo is going to be playing a ground stage, instead of the spendier American Family Insurance Amphitheater, but I’m glad she is – even if I have to fight thousands of people just to catch a distant glimpse of her delivering one of her fiery flute solos. Her album Cuz I Love You is one of the best I’ve heard so far this year.” – Lindsey Anderson

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The Avett Brothers
6:30 p.m., American Family Insurance Amphitheater

“Their folk/rock sound is right up my alley and I’d love to witness the mega-talent that each band member has in person.”  – Katie Williams

Gen-Z

Steve Earle and the Dukes
4 p.m., Harley-Davidson Roadhouse

“The Hardcore Troubadour is gracing us with his presence and I don’t intend to miss it. His music gloriously captures a bygone era of Americana while also maintaining an endearing authenticity and raw power. Basically, he rocks real good.” – Matt Martinez

Lizzo
10 p.m., Harley-Davidson Roadhouse

“Lizzo is it right now. Her songs are addicting and her confidence is off the charts. Also, #midwestpride.” – Emma Fisher

“This one is in my planner already. I work 12 hours a day, but you better bet I’m staying up for her 10 p.m. concert. Her newest album, “Cuz I Love You,” is a soulful tribute to women, love and being who you are.” – Hannah Hoffmeister

Daily To-Dos

•Klement’s $1 Brat Day

Come and get your dollar brats!…with some caveats. From noon to 2 p.m. on June 27, Klement’s will be selling brats for a dollar only at the Mid Gate’s designated booth. Customers are limited to one brat per person and naturally, they’re available while supplies last. It’s also cash only so bring a billfold; the proceeds are going to a local charity. So get there quick, get there early and throw down on some dollar brats for a good cause.

• Throwback Thursday

Need something to wash down your dollar brats? From noon to 6 p.m., get beverages for half-price today as part of Pick ‘N Save’s Throwback Thursday promotion. This promotion does not include frozen drinks, specialty coffee drinks or smoothies. 

Briggs and Stratton

It’s that time of year again. The snow is melted and your lawn demands the attention it (rightfully) deserves. Go check out the mowers and blowers at Briggs and Statton every day of Summerfest from noon to 6 p.m., and while you’re at it, take some pictures with the equipment, too.


We Tried Kayaking with Crystal Knives

by Elizabeth Johnson

Photo by Elizabeth Johnson

For local EDM star-on-the-rise Spencer Mutsch, aka Crystal Knives, music means experimentation. Frequently collaborating with other artists, the producer is always open to new perspectives and musical styles. Crystal Knives performs at the Miller Lite Oasis Stage at 7:30 p.m. tonight. When I suggested we go kayaking during our interview (why not?), he greeted the proposal with this same go-with-the-flow enthusiasm. 

This was my first time kayaking in years, and Spencer’s first time ever, but we got the hang of it quickly. A quick crash course on the dock and we were off, cell phones stashed in plastic bags, just in case. (Spoiler alert: nobody fell in!)

While we were on the water, Spencer talked lyric-writing, artist collaboration and time travel.

Sarah de Warren, Spencer’s guest vocalist, joined us for the excursion; she raced ahead with ease as Spencer and I searched for the right distance between shouting and playing bumper kayaks.

As we paddled, Spencer described his production’s recent shift from a rhythmic focus to a lyrical focus. In particular, we discussed the process of creating “When I’m Okay.” These lyrics, co-written by Spencer and Sarah, contain line-by-line allusions to the Greek myth of Prometheus, the Titan who created man from clay. 

“We used that as a metaphor for the impact that another person can have on you,” Spencer explained as we floated on Lake Michigan. 

Although he’s no stranger long-distance or studio collabs, tonight will be Crystal Knives’ first live performance with a guest vocalist. Spencer said he’d like to eventually experiment with live instruments in his performances as well, expanding on the current DJ style of his performances. 

“The vocals are the first step to start testing the waters,” he said, skimming the surface of the water with his paddle. “No pun intended.”

As we made our way back to the dock, I asked Spencer who might join him on his dream collaboration.

“Can I time travel?” He asked without skipping a beat, specifying that he’d love to work with The Weeknd in 2012. “That’s when he was releasing Trilogy, which I feel like was the most raw, authentic body of work he has.” 

Just before we climbed back onto the dock, Spencer offered encouragement to other up-and-coming musicians.

“It’s not a straight line,” he said. “You just have to learn how to check your perspective and keep your eyes on the end goal.” 

Perhaps kayaking and EDM aren’t the most natural marriage. But after all, music is about experiences, shared and old and new. So maybe the water really is a perfect place to talk about music: out of your comfort zone, trying something you’ve never tried before. At least I can say with certainty that by the time my feet were back on land, I’d gained a new appreciation for the talent and dedication that goes into the genre.

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