First band up was Oceans Grove at 6:30. Now many of these earlier bands are up and comers, regional or local bands trying to make a name for themselves. This band fell into that category for sure. Not very memorable. They had more of a bluesy rock, Dave Matthews type sound. They even played a cover of a Frankie Vallie song.
The second band was Of Verona. I wasn't familiar with this band either, but apparently they are one of MTV's Bands to Watch. From appearances they looked like the children of the members of the Flock of Seagulls with a good looking female singer. When they first took the stage for warm ups, I thought she was Avril Lavigne...or her twin. Most of the time I'm leery of female rock singers as not many can pull it off, but she had an amazing voice. The band's music was a little trippy with keyboards and light on the guitars. For a newer band they were pretty decent. After the show I went over to meet the band and had my picture taken with the singer.
Every year there are fireworks on opening day. Right around 9pm, the fireworks started. I had heard that they were supposed to be bigger than previous years. They were slow and unspectacular in the beginning, but the grand finale was one of the better one's I have seen in a long time. Grand finale ended with a couple minutes of rapid fire explosions. Pretty cool.
Headlining opening night was Saving Abel. They are a great band. I first discovered them at Summerfest in 2008. They had one album out and were a 7pm act. Now with two albums out they were headlining. The difference two albums and two years of touring was noticeable. They were definitely a more polished band. Excellent show playing a good mix of songs from both albums. They opened up with Tap Out, Bloody Sunday, and Hell of a Ride before rolling into New Tattoo and Stupid Girl. They rocked a couple more songs before bringing out the acoustic guitars to jam The Sex is Good and threw in a cover of Lynyrd Skynyrd's Simple Man and CCR's Have You Ever Seen the Rain?. Finished up the set with 18 Days and probably their most popular song, Addicted. Great show!
Great start to Summerfest 2011! Tonight will be a bit different. There wasn't any one headliner that I really wanted to see, so I'll probably just float around. Notable options for me are Better Than Ezra (saw them at Summerfest 2009), REO Speedwagon for some retro 80's music, Neon Trees (saw them last year), or Panic! at the Disco. So it remains to be seen which stage I end up at tonight. Maybe more than one?