TCD’s Summerfest 2013 Preview

The writers and editors of Third Coast Daily break down our picks for the Summerfest acts coming to town this week and next, from big stages to small.

By - Jun 24th, 2013 01:22 am


It’s that time of year again: Summerfest. It’s a word that has hovered over the city of Milwaukee for 45 years, indicating a summer tradition that brings together music, food, local establishments and a community in a way little else can. AND WE’RE EXCITED ABOUT IT.

We here at TCD will be among the many, many Milwaukeeans old and new coming together for the 11-day festival, and will be logging our thoughts and reviews on a daily basis here on the site. In advance of the festival proper though, we thought it best to give you a glimpse of what we’re looking forward to – a “TCD’s Summerfest picks,” of sorts. These recommendations are non-inclusive – there’s so many great, great acts at Summerfest we could go on for hours – but it’s where we’ll be come Summerfest time. If you’ve got your own game plan, feel free to leave it in the comments. Otherwise we’ll just look forward to seeing you there, with that Summerfest smile on our faces.

Summerfest 2013 runs Wednesday, June 26 through Sunday, July 7, excluding Monday, July 1. Festival admission is $17, $10 before 4 p.m. on weekdays, $5 for seniors and children under 10 and $39 for a three-day pass. For more information, visit the Summerfest website.

Midnight Reruns performed a live set in our offices in December, and will perform a live set at Summerfest

Midnight Reruns performed a live set in our offices in December, and will perform a live set at Summerfest July 3.

Sahan Jayasuriya, Lead Music Writer/Social Media Specialist

Sure, Summerfest might be the largest music festival in the world, featuring tons of great acts from all over. But let’s not forget about our wonderful city’s artists, many of whom will be turning out for the show as well.

The Cascio Interstate Music Stage returns for Summerfest 2013 with another great lineup of mostly local artists, including poppy songwriting sisters Vic & Gab; the ’90s rock-honoring, twang-friendly guys of The Midwestern Charm; and must-see rockers Midnight Reruns. With many more to see throughout the festival’s 11 days, the Cascio Interstate Music Stage is without a doubt the best spot this year to catch some of Milwaukee’s best new and up and coming acts.

Midnight Reruns play Wednesday, July 3 at 8:30 p.m. at the K-Nation/Cascio Interstate Music Stage. The Midwestern Charm play Sunday, July 7 at 6 p.m. at the K-Nation/Cascio Interstate Music Stage. Vic & Gab play Sunday, July 7 at 7:30 p.m. at the K-Nation/Cascio Interstate Music Stage.


I’m Not A Pilot plays June 29 at 9 p.m. at the K-Nation/Cascio Interstate Music Stage. Photo credit Danielle Burren.

Matthew Reddin, Managing Editor

I don’t ask for a lot from Summerfest, which is why I’m not as mad as I could be that there aren’t any acts this year able to ramp up my excitement to “WHAT?!? BAND XYZ IS PLAYING AT SUMMERFEST YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYY” levels. Of the artists laying down roots on the grounds-level mainstages – I don’t spend extra to get into the Marcus Amphitheatre if I can help it – the only top-tier acts I’m for sure dropping in on are Atlas Genius with Capital Cities June 27, and maaaybe MGMT July 3 … if local act Midnight Reruns doesn’t tempt me to join them instead.

See, that’s the thing I love about Summerfest: there’s so many bands packed into one space – without being so close their shows start to overlap – that more often than not you’re less struggling over which “big” band to see and more trying to decide between the popular band you like or the local/niche band you love. And if you’re extra lucky, you don’t have to decide at all. There’s one day, June 29, where my tentative plans are to catch classic ’60s band The Zombies with friends at the start of the day, bounce from venue to venue while I wait for The Mowgli’s in the afternoon and finally top it all off with I’m Not A Pilot, a local band I’ve been trying and failing to see for ages. Or maybe we’ll do something completely different. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about Summerfest in the past few years, it’s more about just being there than being there for any particular reason.

Atlas Genius and Capital Cities play Thursday, June 27, at 8 and 10 p.m. at the U.S. Cellular Connection Stage. The Mowgli’s play Saturday, June 29, at 6 p.m. at the U.S. Cellular Connection Stage. I’m Not A Pilot plays Saturday, June 29, at 9 p.m. at the K-Nation/Cascio Interstate Music Stage. MGMT plays Wednesday, July 3, at 10 p.m. at the Harley-Davidson Roadhouse. 


The Zombies, circa the groovy ’60s.

Gene Cawley, Assistant Editor

Though sometimes unfairly regarded as British Invasion also-rans, The Zombies created and performed some of the most gorgeous music of the era. Formed in 1962, the group scored British and American hits in the ’60s with “She’s Not There,” “Tell Her No” and “Time of the Season,” and their 1968 masterpiece, Odessey & Oracle, is ranked number 100 in Rolling Stone’s “The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time” list.

Now, years later, they’ve reformed, and are one of the many bands gracing the BMO Harris Pavilion this year. The band has released two albums, 2004’s As Far As I Can See… and 2011’s Breathe Out, Breathe In, since their return to stages around the world, revealing that original vocalist Colin Blunstone and keyboardist/songwriter Rod Argent have managed to maintain their sound while reinventing it for new audiences.

The Zombies play Saturday, June 29, at 2 p.m. at the BMO Harris Pavilion.


Billy Idol, still rocking that “Rebel Yell” 30 years on.

Kat Murrell, Visual Arts Editor

The decadent, self-destructive credo of “live fast and die young” is a rock myth. It doesn’t take much to find performers marking multiple decades on the road and in the recording studio, and some noted godfathers are making appearances on the Summerfest schedule.

This year marks three decades since the release of Billy Idol’s double-platinum, sophomore album Rebel Yell, and his appearance at Summerfest will be the penultimate date on his summer tour. Idol still draws a crowd with his sneering, pop-punk pedigree, and is famously teamed up with the exceptional guitar charisma of Steve Stevens. Early indications are that the set list will be packed with classic ’80s hits, peppered with new songs and maybe even some Generation X tunes.

Alice Cooper is also on the road, and will make a side trip from the “Monsters of Madness” tour with Marilyn Manson for the Summerfest gig. The special guest for the evening is instead No Quarter, a Led Zeppelin tribute band, implicitly emphasizing Alice’s 1970s roots.

Social Distortion is marking 30 years of music, and touring in support of their 2011 release Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes. It appears that there have been some hard times on tour, as a couple of recent East Coast dates were cancelled due to illness, but one hopes they will recover in good health for the remaining shows.

Billy Idol plays Thursday, June 27, at 9:45 p.m. at the BMO Harris Pavilion. Alice Cooper and No Quarter play Sunday, June 30, at 8 p.m. at the BMO Harris Pavilion. Social Distortion plays Sunday, June 30, at 10 p.m. at the Harley-Davidson Roadhouse.


The Barenaked Ladies, featuring their contemporary lineup.

Hannah McCarthy, Editorial Intern

It pains me to admit that this is my first summer in Milwaukee, and so it’s also my first experience with Summerfest.

Oddly enough, it won’t be the first time I’ve seen all the bands I plan to catch at Summerfest (except Barenaked Ladies, but that’s an entirely different story). Some people might be disappointed not seeing new bands at a festival they’ve never attended, but I’m happy that things turned out this way. I’ll be just as happy people-watching as I will hearing these performers, and since I have already seen them, I know what I’m getting into.

For all of you who are disappointed that Beyonce isn’t opening for hologram Tupac this year, I urge you to accept Summerfest itself as a worthwhile experience. How often do people have access to eleven days of music? So whether you saw Guster when they started touring in Canada two decades ago, you caught Switchfoot at the California BroAm, or even just saw Twenty One Pilots at the Rave earlier last year, come see them all again. I am equally excited for the Summerfest experience as I am to see some of my favorite bands again.

Twenty One Pilots will play Wednesday, June 26, at 8 p.m. at the U.S. Cellular Connection Stage. Switchfoot will play Friday, June 28, at 10 p.m. at the Uline Warehouse. Guster will play Thursday, July 4, 10 p.m. at the Briggs & Stratton Big Backyard. Barenaked Ladies will play Friday, July 5, at 9:45 p.m. at the BMO Harris Pavilion.

The Violent Femmes have reunited for a special Summerfest show this year.

The Violent Femmes have reunited for a special Summerfest show this year.

Ben Gucciardi, Editorial Intern

If music doesn’t bring people together, it at least succeeds in bringing them to Meier Festival Park where almost 1 million people will see over 1,000 performances on 11 different stages throughout all nine days of this ridiculous summer event. When I go to Summerfest I feel like I’m experiencing a super intense version of democracy, one where every step means facing certain juxtaposition. In no other context are you likely to find such a discursive convergence of musical taste, personal style and public intoxication.

Milwaukee legends the Violent Femmes kick off this year’s fest at the Marcus Amphitheater on June 26. General admission will run you a steep $54, so if finances are a concern, I’d definitely consider getting there early to score grass seats. This is the Femmes’ first show in Milwaukee in five years, and if our recent interview with drummer Victor DeLorenzo holds true, it could very well be their last – the group is only looking to play major shows for the foreseeable future. Indie folk stars the Avett Brothers and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros open.

Other than that, I’d keep an eye on the local stages. In particular, I have to hype Midnight Reruns, who compliment their consistently ferocious twin guitar attack with a sound highly reminiscent of The Replacements, and Faux Fir, a profoundly underrated electronic trio responsible for some of the best pop music this city has to offer.

The Violent Femmes play Wednesday, June 26, at 7 p.m. at the Marcus Amphitheater, with opening acts Ivan & Alyosha, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes, and The Avett Brothers. Faux Fir plays Wednesday, Jun 26 at 8:30 p.m. at the K-Nation/Cascio Interstate Music Stage. Midnight Reruns plays Wednesday, July 3, at 8:30 p.m. at the K-Nation/Cascio Interstate Music Stage.

Buddy Guy will be at Summerfest Photo credit

Buddy Guy will be at Summerfest July 6, playing at the Harley-Davidson Roadhouse. Photo credit Derrick Santini.

Madeline Pieschel, Editorial/Photo Intern

Sadly, I’ve never before had the opportunity to attend Summerfest, but thank goodness I’ll never have to repeat that sentence again after these next few music packed weeks. As a music lover of all genres and tastes, I plan on fully taking advantage of this lineup’s wide diversity; I’m eager to kick it old school with classics like Buddy Guy, while being able to hop back and forth between more recently formed bands, like indie sensations MGMT and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

However, I also plan on attending shows that I normally wouldn’t buy regular venue tickets for, to bands that I’m not super familiar with, because why the heck not? From the feedback I’ve gathered about Summerfest, it’s insanely easy and affordable to catch as many shows as you possibly can in the nine day long span, plus, it’s summertime, the best time of the year to explore new likings. In my eyes, the best kind of shows are those that bring the most peculiar collection of people together, something about that unity seems to make the music more powerful.  For a good dose of different culture and a unique audience I plan on attending shows like the Dark Star Orchestra, Femi Kuti & The Positive Force, and Dr. John and the Night Trippers.

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs play Wednesday, June 26, at 10 p.m. at the Harley-Davidson Roadhouse. Femi Kuti & The Positive Force play Friday, June 28, at 10 p.m. at Johnson Controls World Sound Stage. Dr. John and the Night Trippers play Sunday, June 30, at 10 p.m. at Johnson Controls World Sound Stage. Dark Star Orchestra plays Thursday, July 4, at 7:30 p.m. at the Harley-Davidson Roadhouse. Buddy Guy plays Saturday, July 6, at 10 p.m. at the Harley-Davidson Roadhouse.

Categories: Guides, Lifestyle, Music, Rock

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