Stressed and sunburnt from the city of Chicago, THESIXTHIRTY.com crew decided to travel north for Milwaukee to catch the opening days of Summerfest 2015.
It’s recognized as “The World’s Largest Music Festival,” and for good reason. It was very large. Summerfest runs for 11 straight days, hosting over 800 bands and an estimated 900,000 fans. We saw a lot of them, but not all of them.
Here’s a brief but detailed recap of our time at the festival, with images and videos for your visual entertainment.
Our Summerfest Recap
Even though the 11-day extravaganza starts in earnest on Wednesday, our journey began with a bang on Tuesday night when Peter got to hang out with The Rolling Stones before they opened Summerfest at Marcus Amphitheater. If you want to read about that, you’ll have to click on the link conveniently highlighted in blue.
On Wednesday night (technically Day 1 of Summerfest), we were blessed with the presence of more awesome musicians.
While en route from Florida Georgia Line to Kaskade, we caught a glimpse of the super groovy, super funky Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue – who got a nightcap slot at Summerfest after playing an afternoon set at Lollapalooza last year. So you know they’re legit.
The performances only got better as we headed north in Henry Maier Festival Park, with Bastille and Kaskade playing closing sets at the next two stages. Literally, the stages are back-to-back to each other. You could essentially turn around and start watching another performing act if it weren’t for the beer stands in the way.
Touché Summerfest, you have mastered product placement.
As you would expect, the Chicago native Kaskade pieced together a phenomenal show to close the second night. With a setlist that ranged from classics to his new stuff, it was almost bittersweet when we decided to leave because the crowd was filled with too many high schoolers and drunk people with zero balance or music festival etiquette.
But after Bastille finished their set with “Pompeii,” we knew it was the right decision. Seriously though, this was our first time seeing Bastille live and we were definitely impressed.
By this time in our adventure, we’d learned a few rules about Summerfest which we applied to our decision-making moving forward. Here are a few things we picked up on:
- Get to the best shows early and find a picnic table to stand on.
Most of the lawns are filled with benches and picnic tables, which made it very difficult to see from the back or the sides (especially at the Harley-Davidson Roadhouse Stage and the Miller Lite Oasis Stage). However, if you get there early enough to snag a table or bench, you’ll have a perfect view of the entire crowd and performance. Or if you own a Harley, you can go watch the show from their sick ass bar patio.
2. Prepare for a long security line.
Waiting in line is annoying enough. But when there’s one entrance for 50 people and a couple dozen security guards are standing around with their metal detectors up their asses, it becomes less of an annoyance and more of a buzzkill.
Just saying, stop standing there and frisk me already.
3. Beers are $6 but don’t be fooled.
I only know this because I asked, and the beer pours were downright devastating. When we got our Lienenkugel’s from the cashier, we asked her why she didn’t fill the cup all the way. She claimed it’s because they are only supposed to pour 12-ounces, which should be illegal in all 50 states.
You’ve been warned.
4. Park on the other side of the river.
Unless you want to sit in excruciating bumper-to-bumper traffic for 25 minutes only to pay $20 for shitty parking, take this piece of advice as well.
There are plenty of parking garages within walking distance of the festival grounds. If you’re willing to walk 15-20 minutes, you should be able to find free parking later in the day (most of the street parking has a 2-hour limit, but only from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.).
Don’t say we never gave you anything.
After all, these rules allowed for what would become the best night of our time at Summerfest. We discovered our media passes didn’t allow us into Kings of Leon, before watching amazing shows from Kongos and Lindsey Sterling. But, of course, the night’s real treat was Public Enemy.
Talk about checking off the bucket list.
On our final day in Milwaukee, we decided to split up and do our own thing.
Peter discovered a wrestling match.
Chas took pictures of unethical advertising.
And Keegan took pictures in the oversized chair booth.
Other notable sets to mention include Robert Delong and these random bongo-players.
All in all, our trip to Milwaukee brought plenty of adventures. But mostly, it brought us to irresistible bars, the Potawatomi Hotel & Casino, and overwhelmingly large brick walls.
See you soon, Milwaukee.
P.S. Big shout out to the chair booth guy (below) for the free photo. #payitforward