Is Summerfest Getting Good, or am I Getting Old?
When Devo was announced as the headliner for the Miller Lite Oasis stage at Summerfest, my initial instinct (after cursing the fact that I’ll miss them since my band’s playing in Madison that night) was to scream “Holy crap! Best Summerfest ever!” After all, when combined with Public Enemy on June 25 and peppered with sets from more current acts like The Hold Steady (July 1) and Modest Mouse (July 3), a self-respecting music snob would understandably feel the need to do a double-take (and I’d be letting down the 12-year-old me I once was if I didn’t mention Weird Al Yankovic on June 29).
Of course, when taking the entire lineup to date under consideration, calmer heads prevail and it’s plain to see that nothing’s changed over at Summerfest HQ. There’s still plenty of milquetoast State Fair, um, fare designed to appeal to mulleted Baby Boomers from Westallica (The Moody Blues? Wow, I hope they at least bring their gong) and some bland alterna-rock for their kids (come on, this has to be the first booking 311’s gotten since before 9/11, right?). And let’s not even look at the Marcus Amphitheater lineup (well, ok, let’s look—but just to relish the irony of the American Idols Live! tour headlining the Amphitheater while Milwaukee’s Idol, Danny Gokey, is relegated to a side stage. Gaze upon your future, current Idols! Er, that is, unless you end up the next Carrie Underwood, who’s headlining the Amphitheater on July 4).
So no, it’s business as usual at Summerfest, but it can’t be denied that there seem to be a lot more diamonds in the rough this year. Of course, since we’ve established that nothing at Summerfest has changed, the only logical conclusion is that I’ve changed. After all, let’s be frank—with the exceptions of The Hold Steady and Modest Mouse, the latest any of the artists I’m excited about were culturally viable in the mainstream was, what, 1995? If I’m being generous?
My god. I really am getting old. If becoming more excited about the impending Summerfest lineup with each passing year isn’t a sign that I’m sliding into gray irrelevance, I don’t know what is.
Oh well. I suppose I should just get over it, kick back with a $7 Summer Shandy and hope that Weird Al will make up for my missing Devo with a rousing rendition of “Dare to be Stupid.” Yeah, that’s the ticket. No more being snide about Summerfest for me this year. I’m going to relax and be thankful that for once, they really are providing Something for Everybody (coincidentally, the name of Devo’s new album) in Milwaukee. No more Summerfest snark from me.
I’ll save that for Verge. AFI? Weezer? Jesus Christ.