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In order to get the most out of the year’s Summerfest, Music Notes has compiled a scientific ranking of worst-to-best days to attend the Big Gig.

Just like no well-adjusted adult can stomach binge-watching all eight seasons of HBO’s Entourage, the only way to enjoy Summerfest is in small, “E.”-sized doses. Don’t believe me? Try going to all 11 days, or, heck, even six out of seven straight days. You’ll feel like a wreck after three and start to notice your body breaking down by day five. I don’t know how I made it out alive.

But Summerfest can be really fun under the right circumstances. Weather plays an important role—remember last year when nature screwed us with rain and cold?—and crowd size should be taken into consideration, for sure, unless you don’t mind impossible sight lines and getting bumped off the bleachers incessantly. But most important of all is the lineup.

A particularly good night of music helps to mask any grievances about the festival, while a bad night only inflames them. So in order to get the most out of the year’s Summerfest, Music Notes has compiled a scientific ranking of worst-to-best days to attend the Big Gig.

Six bands from each day (the Marcus Amphitheater headliner, the three highest rated Ground Stage headliners, the highest rated opening act, and the highest rated local band) are graded on a metric* of Relevance (release an album recently and/or considered in prime form?), Rareness (play out often?) and Performance (good live band?). All the points the bands or artists accumulate form a total score for that day—the higher the score, the better the day.

So, let’s get started. Here are your Summerfest Power Rankings:

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

The Rolling Stones. Photo by Claude Gassian.

The Rolling Stones. Photo by Claude Gassian.

Incomplete – Tuesday, June 23

The unofficial opening to Summerfest doesn’t qualify in the rankings because there aren’t enough bands to give the day a decent score. But, my oh my, is this one a doozy. Count yourself lucky if you scored tickets to see The Rolling Stones, who brought in the highest overall band score of 27.

Marcus Amphitheater Headliner: The Rolling Stones (8-10-9: 27), 7:30 p.m.

Total Score: 27

11. Tuesday, June 30

There’s very little reason to check out the start of the second week (reminder: the festival always takes the Monday off). But if for some reason you throw caution to the wind and go anyway, make sure to catch the local post-punk four-piece Whips. And if you’re at the Grounds in the early afternoon, please report back on Judas Beast, a Chicago-based Iron Maiden (?) cover band that sometimes throws in some Judas Priest songs, too.

Marcus Amphitheater Headliner: Linkin Park (5-9-5: 19), 7:30 p.m.

Ground Stage Headliners:

  • Gogol Bordello (5-3-8: 16) at BMO Harris Pavilion, 9:45 p.m.
  • Kip Moore (8-3-5: 16) at Miller Lite Oasis Stage, 10 p.m.
  • Flogging Molly (4-4-7: 15) at Briggs & Stratton Big Backyard Stage, 10 p.m.

Notable Opener: Judas Beast (1-1-8: 10) at Uline Warehouse Stage, 3 p.m.

Local Option: Whips (8-2-7: 17) at KNE New Music Stage, 7:15 p.m.

Total Score: 93

Mavis Staples. Photo by Chris Strong Photography.

Mavis Staples. Photo by Chris Strong Photography.

10. Wednesday, June 24

Opening night offers one legendary act—gospel singer Mavis Staples—and a jazz prodigy—Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue—but other than the fireworks, not too much to see. The best shot at catching something relevant is infectious power pop band Midnight Reruns, who are releasing the Tommy Stinson-produced Force of Nature later this year.

Marcus Amphitheater Headliner: Florida Georgia Line (8-6-3: 17), 7:30 p.m.

Ground Stage Headliners:

  • Mavis Staples (5-7-8: 20) at Johnson Control’s World Stage at 10 p.m.
  • Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue (6-5-8: 19) at Briggs & Stratton Big Backyard Stage, 10 p.m.
  • Bastille (6-6-4: 14) at Miller Lite Oasis Stage, 10 p.m.

Opener: The Soil and The Sun (6-4-5: 15)

Local: Midnight Reruns (7-2-8: 17)

Total Score: 104

9. Thursday, July 2

This second Thursday features ground stage acts that are few years past their primes—Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros and OK Go—but at least provides some good variety. If you haven’t seen them yet, check out Baraboo folk band Phox.

Marcus Amphitheater Headliner: Carrie Underwood (5-7-7: 19), 7:30 p.m.

Ground Stage Headliners:

  • OK Go (6-6-7: 19) at Uline Warehouse Stage, 10 p.m.
  • Atmosphere (5-4-7: 16) at Harley-Davidson Roadhouse Stage, 10 p.m.
  • Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros (4-5-5: 14) at BMO Harris Pavilion, 9:30 p.m.
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Opener: Phox (7-5-8: 20) at BMO Harris Pavilion, 8 p.m.

Local: The Living Statues (6-3-7: 16) at Uline Warehouse Stage, 10 p.m.

Total Score: 104

8. Sunday, July 5

SmashMouth? Yes, SmashMouth. After a decade of irrelevancy, the quirky pop band is back with a reunion tour and it couldn’t have started worse. Lead singer and all-around party boy Steve Harwell berated an audience after someone threw bread at him on stage a couple weeks ago. Whether or not anyone dares to fire a pizza cone, SmashMouth should be a satisfying show to see. If you can withstand the terrible commercial hits from the early 2000s, the band has some worthy deep cuts from debut album Fush Yu Mang.

Marcus Amphitheater Headliner: Neil Young and Promise of the Real (7-8-9: 24), 7:30 p.m.

Ground Stage Headliners:

  • SmashMouth (8-8-7: 23) at Miller Lite Oasis Stage, 10 p.m.
  • Mat Kearney (6-6-5: 17) at Briggs & Stratton Big Backyard Stage, 9:30 p.m.
  • Kansas (4-4-7: 15) at BMO Harris Pavilion, 9:45 p.m.

Opener: Tonic (2-4-5: 11) at BMO Harris Pavilion, 5 p.m.

Local: The Midwestern Charm (7-2-7: 16) at U.S. Cellular Connection Stage, 4:15 p.m.

Total Score: 106

Photo by Rachel Trachtenberg.

Photo by Rachel Trachtenberg.

7. Saturday, July 4

While some days are best spent wandering through the grounds and popping in on a few performances, today’s not one of them. Catch Trapper Schoepp, a local singer-songwriter that’s putting out the excellent, Brendan Benson-produced Rangers and Valentines this fall, then beeline to the BMO Harris Pavilion for Weird Al Yankovic—the comedic showman pulls out all the stops for his live show. Then get out of there before the Sammy Hagar crowd envelopes you and makes you one of them.

Marcus Amphitheater Headliner: The Avett Brothers (5-6-8: 19), 7:30 p.m.

Ground Stage Headliners:

  • Weird Al Yankovic (7-6-9: 22) at BMO Harris Pavilion, 9:45 p.m.
  • Jane’s Addiction (4-10-7: 21) at Harley-Davidson Roadhouse Stage, 10:15 p.m.
  • Sammy Hagar and the Circle (4-4-4: 12) at Miller Lite Oasis Stage, 9:45 p.m.

Openers: Foghat (4-5-7: 16) at BMO Harris Pavilion, 5 p.m.

Local: Trapper Schoepp (8-3-8: 19) at KNE New Music Stage, 9 p.m.

Total Score: 109

Photo by Christian San Jose

Photo by Christian San Jose

6. Wednesday, July 1

With third album, To Pimp a Butterfly, out earlier this year, there’s no Marcus Amphitheater headliner more in their prime than Kendrick Lamar. It doesn’t hurt that Lamar boasts the best opener, Schoolboy Q, either. On the side stages, R&B singer Aloe Blacc is the best bet, while Brand New and The Faint are good nostalgia picks. I haven’t really listened to We Are Harlot, but based solely on their press picture, they sound like Tame Impala.

Marcus Amphitheater Headliner: Kendrick Lamar (10-8-9: 26), 7:30 p.m.

Ground Stage Headliners:

  • Aloe Blacc (8-6-6: 20) at BMO Harris Pavilion, 9:45 p.m.
  • Brand New (7-5-6: 18) at Miller Lite Oasis Stage, 10 p.m.
  • The Faint (4-7-6: 17) at US Cellular Connection Stage, 10 p.m.

Openers: We Are Harlot (4-5-4: 13) at Harley-Davidson Roadhouse Stage, 8 p.m.

Local: The Traveling Suitcase (7-3-6: 16)

Total Score: 111

Photo by Elizabeth Weinberg.

Sylvan Esso. Photo by Elizabeth Weinberg.

5. Friday, July 3

An overall good day to wander the ground stage headliners. It’s hard to tell which stage provides the best option—The Isley Brothers’ seemingly endless cadre of hits including “Shout,” “Twist & Shout,” “This Old Heart of Mine (Is Weak for You)” or “It’s Your Thing,” Sylvan Esso’s glitch dance music, or Lupe Fiasco’s euphoric rap—so eschew camping out on a bench and instead get a taste of each. There’s perhaps no tribute band that’s gone through a more tumultuous year than U2 Zoo, which at least makes that show interesting. Will they stick to originals or give us a set of the downloaded-straight-to-your-iTunes Songs of Innocence? More likely the former, but it could be fun if U2 Zoo starts embracing their source material’s newfound role as music industry heels.

Marcus Amphitheater Headliner: Ed Sheeran (8-7-6: 21), 7:30 p.m.

Ground Stage Headliners:

  • The Isley Brothers (4-10-9: 23) at BMO Harris Pavilion, 9:45 p.m.
  • Sylvan Esso (7-6-8: 21) at Johnson Control’s World Stage, 10 p.m.
  • Lupe Fiasco (7-4-7: 18) at Miller Lite Oasis Stage, 10 p.m.
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Openers: U2 Zoo (6-2-6: 14) at Briggs & Stratton Big Backyard Stage, 6 p.m.

Local: WebsterX (8-2-7: 17) at Miller Lite Oasis Stage, 8 p.m.

Total Score: 114

Santigold.

Santigold.

4. Friday, June 26

The Punch Brothers’ new album, The Phosphorescent Blues, finds the band exploring different approaches for its experimental bluegrass, covering a Claude Debussy movement and then a sun-blistered surf rock song on consecutive tracks. The electro-pop singer Santigold may not have any new material, but since “L.E.S. Artist” doesn’t have many summer dates and has never played Milwaukee, she gets a high rarity ranking. It’s an odd booking for Summerfest but may turn out to be the best show of the festival.

Marcus Amphitheater Headliner: Keith Urban (6-7-7: 20), 7:30 p.m.

Ground Stage Headliners:

  • Punch Brothers (9-7-7: 23) at BMO Harris Pavilion, 9:45 p.m.
  • Santigold (4-10-7: 21) at Miller Lite Oasis Stage, 10:15 p.m.
  • Blind Boys of Alabama (4-8-7: 19) at Johnson Control’s World Stage, 10 p.m.

Opener: Shakey Graves (6-5-6: 17) at BMO Harris Pavilion, 8 p.m.

Local: GGOOLLDD (8-2-7: 17) at US Cellular Connection Stage, 6:45 p.m.

Total Score: 117

Photo by Travis Whitty.

Field Report. Photo by Travis Whitty.

3. Sunday, June 28

Canadian supergroup The New Pornographers just came through Milwaukee last November, touring behind its bright, neon-hued record, Brill Bruisers. But that performance only reinforced the notion that the power pop team of Neko Case, Carl Newman and Dan Bejar still sounded fresh and relevant after 15 years together. Opening for them is Milwaukee folk outfit Field Report fronted by Christopher Porterfield. And before that is giddy pop duo Mates of States. So make camp at the Miller Lite Oasis Stage all day, but perhaps venture to see what this DJ Paris Hilton is all about.

Marcus Amphitheater Headliner: Zac Brown Band (7-6-5: 18), 7:30 p.m.

Ground Stage Headliners:

  • The New Pornographers (9-6-9: 24) at Miller Lite Oasis Stage, 10 p.m.
  • Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires (6-7-8: 21) at Johnson Control’s World Stage, 10 p.m.
  • Paris Hilton (3-10-2: 15) at Harley-Davidson Roadhouse Stage, 10 p.m.

Openers: Mates of State (6-7-7: 20) at Miller Lite Oasis Stage, 6:30 p.m.

Local: Field Report (8-6-8: 22) at Miller Lite Oasis Stage, 8 p.m.

Total Score: 120

Gary Clark Jr. Photo by Nastassia Davis.

Gary Clark Jr. Photo by Nastassia Davis.

2. Thursday, June 25

There are some tough choices to make on the first Thursday. Seminal hip hop group Public Enemy? Gary Clark, Jr., the best blues guitarist under 40? The always fun folk rock band Trampled By Turtles? Or forgo the ground stage to see searing rockers Kings of Leon headline the Amphitheater? It’s like a choose-your-own-adventure book where all the outcomes have you saving the day. Fun fact: Jazz bassist Esperanza Spalding beat out Drake, Florence + The Machine, Justin Bieber and Mumford and Sons for Best New Artist at the 2011 Grammy Awards.

Marcus Amphitheater Headliner: Kings of Leon (7-8-7: 22), 7:30 p.m.

Ground Stage Headliners:

  • Public Enemy (6-9-7: 22) at Miller Lite Oasis Stage, 10 p.m.
  • Gary Clark Jr., (7-6-7: 20) at Harley-Davidson Roadhouse Stage, 10 p.m.
  • Trampled By Turtles (6-6-7: 19) at Uline Warehouse Stage, 10 p.m.

Opener: Esperanza Spalding Presents: Emily’s D+ Evolution (5-7-7: 19) at Briggs & Stratton Big Backyard Stage, 7:30 p.m.

Local: Canopies (8-4-7: 19) at KNE New Music Stage, 9 p.m.

Total Score: 121

Photo by George Salisbury.

Photo by George Salisbury.

1. Saturday, June 27

With legendary soul singer Stevie Wonder headlining the Marcus Amphitheater, the crazy stage antics of The Flaming Lips and endless confetti raining inside the BMO Harris Pavilion, the shticky yet infectious ‘90s radio pop of Third Eye Blind flooding the Briggs & Stratton Big Backyard Stage, and all the bros staying contained to the Miller Lite Oasis Stage for Sublime with Rome, the first Saturday of the festival takes the top spot. Even though this directly conflicts with Burnhearts’ Pabst Street Party, don’t miss out on Summerfest’s best day.

Marcus Amphitheater Headliner: Stevie Wonder (5-8-9: 22), 7:30 p.m.

Ground Stage Headliners:

  • The Flaming Lips (7-7-10: 24) at BMO Harris Pavilion, 9:45 p.m.
  • Third Eye Blind (6-6-8: 20) at Briggs & Stratton Big Backyard Stage, 10 p.m.
  • Sublime with Rome (4-6-7: 17) at Miller Lite Oasis Stage, 10:15 p.m.

Openers: Motion City Soundtrack (5-6-6: 17) at BMO Harris Pavilion, 5 p.m.

Local: Maritime (8-6-8: 22) at KNE New Music Stage, 7:15 p.m.

Total Score: 122

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