A song-based guide, in order of our excitement level, to the Big Gig shows that are well worth the price of admission.

Kendrick Lamar | July 1
Although the visceral rapper waxes poetic over jazzy production on sophomore album To Pimp a Butterfly, the pounding single “King Kunta” unleashes his anger and lyrical prowess in seemingly one breath.

The Rolling Stones. Photo by Claude Gassian.

The Rolling Stones. Photo by Claude Gassian.

The Rolling Stones | June 23
The septuagenarians lack the raw, unbridled energy captured on Exile on Main St. burner “Rip This Joint,” but don’t expect a tame performance from the libertine rock stars, either.

Lupe Fiasco | July 3
His “Superstar” status has cooled over the past few years, but the smooth-flowing rapper still lights crowds afire with the soulful mid-2000s snapshot.

Field Report | June 28
The stage better stay illuminated until hometown folkie Christopher Porterfield strums through his wistful ballad “Home (Leave The Lights On).”

Mavis Staples | June 24
Even at age 75, count on the unstoppable Staple Singer to “Take You There.”

The Flaming Lips | June 27
Do You Realize??” that the Oklahoman alt-rockers put on magically fun performances with storms of confetti, endless beach balls and a kaleidoscopic light show? Lead singer Wayne Coyne even surfs atop the crowd in a plastic bubble.

Phox | July 2
Time barely creeps forward when the Baraboo folk band traipses through “Slow Motion,” the sultry ballad from its widely acclaimed self-titled debut.

Jane’s Addiction | July 4
Summerfest hasn’t “Been Caught Stealing” Perry Farrell’s rock band from Chicago’s competing musical festival because the piercingly voiced frontman, of course, founded Lollapalooza.

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Santigold | June 26
The former Epic Records A&R, who’s written songs for Ashlee Simpson and Lily Allen, prophesied her own stardom on the electro-pop glitz of 2008’s “L.E.S. Artistes.”

The Isley Brothers | July 3
We-eee-eeell, the R&B pioneers should command the most crowd-pleasing performance, drawing multiple generations of fans ready to revisit high school dance mainstay “Shout.”

Summerfest (June 24-28, June 30-July 5). 200 N. Harbor Dr, 414-273-2680, summerfest.com

‘The Best of the ‘Fest’ appears in the June 2015 issue of Milwaukee Magazine.
Purchase a copy on newsstands at one of 400+ locations throughout Wisconsin.

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