Summerfest Part 2: Ten Affirmations

Summerfest Logo
Words by Adam Lovinus

I’ve been going to Summerfest annually since when I was sneaking-cigarettes-in-the-bleachers age, and to date myself, that goes back to 1992, the summer after 5th grade. Even though I’m down there every year, multiple times, I forget the simple truths brought out by this festival, details you forget over the winter. I spent a good portion of Wednesday at the Maier Festival Grounds, and wrote down these notes — formatted chronologically, about the bands I saw and the Festival itself, documenting this purely-Milwaukee cultural phenomenon and trying to grasp exactly what the heck it is.

2:30 p.m. I came to see Soul Live, but their flight got delayed, their show pushed back two hours. Now what? Drinking beer is basic instinct at Summerfest. But it’s too early, and I have shit to do later. Hmmm. Wander around sober at Summerfest? Why the hell not?

Affirmation #1: Sobriety + Summerfest – concert destination = mindfuck central.

3:30 p.m. Walking around, checking out vendors. There’s a USMC pull-up contest. They’re bumping a Daft Punk dance party out of the back of a SUV. Semper Fi, why not? Under the woofer, was one of those swords the brandish in those commercials. And 50 yards from that, a cheesy rockabilia vendor with a not-for-sale American Les Paul custom on display, secured only by a thin plastic tie-up. How fast and stealth am I?

Affirmations #2 and #3: I want a Les Paul. Incorporate pull-ups and wind sprints into workout regimen.

3:35 p.m. Watching Delta Routine rip it the fuck up at the Cascio Stage. DR’s Nick Amadeus has gotta be the best young bluesman in this city, him and Alex Wilson. Both those cats have undeniable steez. Delta Routine plays an awesome show. Better than anything I could have seen at the festival. Amadeus tells me they’re putting out a new single this fall — taking a Beatles-y turn, they say.

Affirmation #4: When it doubt, local music will always amaze.

4 p.m. I stuck around Cascio for Black Saints. Like GNR minus whatever is redeeming about GNR. Simply didn’t feel it. Not really a fan of 80’s rock pastiche. I really hope it was pastiche.

Affirmation #5: A writer’s taste sometimes interferes with his music journalism.

4:45 p.m. Watching Soul Live. Big-time meh. I wanted it to be MMW, but they gave me … I dunno, something like Galactic without the oomph, or John Scofield without the jazz chops. I was expecting more interesting from them, more compositional and less jammy, like on their records. But they played Curtis Mayfield’s “Move on Up” though. Props right there.

Affirmation #6: A band you should like will disappoint you every now and again.

6 p.m.
Need to leave the park for a rehearsal. Wristband re-entry ends in an hour, thus I have to get a ticket to get back in. I really want to watch STS9 at 9 p.m. WTF?

Affirmation #7: Summerfest rules suck more and more each year.

9 p.m. Getting back into Summerfest because of complimentary tickets from my wonderful friends at Third Coast Digest.

Affirmation #8 Finding ways to get in Summerfest for free is part of the allure.

9:30 p.m.
Watching STS9 get digital at the Harley Stage. This band used to fill my jam band void when Phish stopped touring, but now that Phish is back at full-force, it takes more to impress me. With STS9, overall lack of dynamic is my major complaint. A lot of same-sounding stuff, and little to no tempo variation. It got boring. The light show was pretty cool if you secured bleacher space to stand on, which I didn’t. So, another big meh. Some footage …

Affirmation #9: I have no love for bands like STS9, Umphrey’s McGee and Moe now that Phish is back on the scene.

11 p.m. Eating paper-plate Schnitzel and a pickle while exiting the park, thinking how my two German grandmothers would shudder at the sight of this.

Affirmation #10: Summerfest could happen nowhere else but here. I love it.


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One Response to “Summerfest Part 2: Ten Affirmations”

  1. cal Says:

    this is funny; i just posted a very similar piece about the very same day at my site, i caught a few more acts (i was there all day), but i have to say i thought sts9 was particularly great…nothing touches phish, though. nice article!

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