Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Summerfest 2014 Superlatives

Another year, another Summerfest, another week of good times! Summerfest 2013 brought, in my opinion, a slightly down year as far as the lineup of bands. There was hope...Hell, there is always hope...that Summerfest 2014 would step it up a bit over the previous year. It did and it didn't. The reason I'm slightly disappointed is still because of the lack of acts from the hard rock and heavy metal genres, and that's only because that is my preferred music. Fortunately, I enjoy all kinds of music and Summerfest does a tremendous job at delivering music from all genres and all walks of life. One day I listen to blues. Another day I'm listening to alternative punk. Other days I'm bouncing between DJs and house music. Yes, I'm spoiled. There, I said it...I'm spoiled. I am so very lucky to have such an amazing music festival right in my back yard. Each year for the last several years, I go at least eight out of the eleven days. I have seen lots of bands. And that's not counting all of the concerts I go to at other music venues in and around Milwaukee. Believe me when I say I'm not complaining. I'm just trying to describe how different Summerfest can be year in and year out. So let's talk about Summerfest 2014...

I was highly impressed with the main headliner lineup at the Marcus Amphitheater. I thought it was loaded with top quality, highly popular bands like Lady Gaga, Fall Out Boy, Bruno Mars, One Republic, Motley Crue, Dave Matthews, Brad Paisley, Zac Brown Band, Outkast, Luke Bryan, and Usher, which this was his only performance this summer as he prepared for his next world tour. I didn't buy any tickets to these shows, though did get free tickets to see Fall Out Boy. That's a solid lineup of headliners, don't you think? The beauty and brilliance of Summerfest is that they cater to all types of music lovers. Even if there isn't a band that you absolutely want to see, you'd be hard pressed to not discover a new band that might become a new favorite. You just never know.

Like in 2013, I didn't see as many bands as I have in the past. In between live performances, there was a lot of people watching and checking out all of the other activities on the grounds. Always a great time! My brother can attest. He came back again this year, his third in a row. Three years ago, he grew tired of me talking about Summerfest and needed to experience it for himself. It seems to have become an annual thing now, which is great. With him living in CT, we don't see each other that often. It's great to spend time with him. Enough babbling, let's get on with it...

General comments and observances
  • The "B's" were back again. My brother came back to enjoy Milwaukee and Summerfest once again.
  • Despite the great Marcus lineup, no impulse purchases of tickets happened.
  • Number of days attended was nearly a repeat of last year. 9 for me. 6 for my brother.
  • The 'walk about' continued.
  • 17 bands seen this year. I only count those that where I sit and watch the whole set.
  • People watching reach epic levels, especially on the night Lady Gaga was performing. The crowd did too.
  • From the above night, first time I've seen a six foot "guy" rock six inch high heels better than most women do...meaning he walked like he's done that before. 
  • No Captain's deck tickets this year. Maybe next year?
  • First time we've ever left Summerfest to get a beer. To be fair, we went to watch the World Cup.
  • No gatherings at Mark's. I think that tradition may be dead or dormant.
  • Grilling in my garage was new this year.
  • Our Rock Band "Burnt" has been officially retired. Joe sold his Rock Band system. I think he might finally be trying to grow up. It was a good run!
  • Weather fluctuated like crazy throughout the week. From needing jeans and jackets the first three nights to shorts most of the week. Fog postponed the opening night fireworks until the following Tuesday. No melting this year.
  • Might have had our biggest crowd of friends at one stage. I think there were 16 of us at Rise Against.
  • No landscaping or building this year. 
  • New phrase uttered..."Have you ever been looked at like you are a snack?"
  • Free blue seat tickets at the BMO Harris Pavillion will be something to keep our eyes on in the future. Still the best stage on the grounds. Just need better beer vendors in that area.
  • Oh...I am still adamant that the closer you are to a stage, the more you will enjoy the show!
Like in 2013, I didn't see that many bands, so I didn't succumb myself to watching anyone that was terrible. Maybe that's a good thing. My biggest disappointment is in the lack of bands that I REALLY wanted to see and the overall lack of rock 'n' roll bands. Again, this is not a problem, as I get my hard rock and metal fill from the other venues throughout the year.

BUT...if I had to put one of the bands that I saw in this category, it just might have to be Five Finger Death Punch. They are not in this category because they played like crap. They killed all of the songs they played, even an awesome cover of LL Cool J's Mama Said Knock You Out. I'd put them here because lead singer, Ivan Moody, in my opinion, spent way too much time talking. He continued to comment about Lady Gaga, who was there the night before and also about the band on the next stage over, Atmosphere, who was nearly drowning out FFDP. I wish he would have shut his trap and played a couple more songs. 

Believe it or not, there was one. June Divided. They opened for Rise Against. I'd comment more on them, but I don't remember them.

.38 Special...awesome show! I grew up listening to this band. Definitely rocked and brought back memories.
Blackberry Smoke...I had no idea they had such a huge following. More of a country, blues, rock band that was one of the earlier openers for Rise Against. I still didn't like them much though.

Kenny Wayne Shepherd...I knew he was an amazing guitar player, but to see him live was outstanding!

Ed Kowalczyk formerly of the band Live...a friend of mine tried to tell us that Ed might be a snoozer. That he had a couple of solo albums out and might not play a lot of Live songs. Bullshit! From the opening song to the end, the setlist was littered with Live songs. Great show and absolutely deserving of this superlative!

Without a doubt, Rise Against put on the absolute best show this year...of the bands that I saw. Rise Against joins Skillet as the only bands to have won this award multiple times. If that doesn't scream "See this band!", I don't know what does. Totally in your face, non stop, kick your face in, rock music!

5. .38 Special
4. Kenny Wayne Shepherd
3. Five Finger Death Punch
2. Ed Kowalczyk (The "surprise" factor moves him to #2)
1. Rise Against

Fall Out Boy
Evan Christian
Arctic Monkeys

I suppose I could copy and past last year's PARTING SHOTS here, because I still feel the same way. I'm not going to do that though. I'm blessed and lucky to have such an amazing music festival right in my back yard. That on any given night, I can see major, national acts like George Thorogood, Joan Jett, Ludacris, Five Finger Death Punch, or Rise Against for less than $20.  I haven't purchased a concert ticket for less than $20 since high school. I said it before and I'll say it again...I'm spoiled. If any of my friends want to come out and experience the World's Largest Music Festival with me, give me a call. I've got room. Summerfest 2014 was a blast and I'm already looking forward to next year. In the meantime, more rock concerts await. Rock on!!

No comments:

Post a Comment