So this 5 things is all Summerfest as we head into summer proper. I know for some, it’s “cool” to eschew the big gig and chill, but for most of us music lovers, it’s a chance to stock up on good times. So my first suggestion has less to do with seeing a particular act and more to do with taking the whole thing in as the true spectacle of humanity that it is.
Let’s face it, every day of Summerfest has music to see and if you were to show up on even the most random day, you’ll see something. If you wander around and take a lap or two, you’re probably going to see something you like that’s also new to you. If you get hungry, you’ll have your pick of spots to nosh. If you’re single, why not mingle? And shopping isn’t bad either, some of these pop-ups are only around for this festival, giving you the opportunity to buy things that you might only ever see at Summerfest. So my first pick is for you to simply go. If you wonder what shows to see specifically, your choices are probably as good as mine but I do have my druthers…
So every day of Summerfest means choices. Tonight has a some really great options to make you feel conflicted. If you go early, take your pick of these worthy options for the early headliner ticket; the 4 p.m. spot has 10,000 Maniacs, Steve Earle, X and Andrew WK. Those are all good choices as far as I’m concerned, the really difficult choices start happening when you look at the various stages and their headliners. Do you see Bone Thugs with Vincent VanGREAT opening or St. Paul & The Broken Bones or perhaps even Elle King? Idk, but for my attention and money, I’d get to the Harley Davidson Roadhouse for Lizzo at 10 p.m. She’s easily the biggest name on campus if you’re not already at the Outlaw Music Festival at the American Family Insurance Amphitheater. Lizzo has anthemic songs and the gravitas to steal all the thunder.
Pick: Lizzo at 10 p.m. @ Harley-Davidson Roadhouse
Friday’s pick is a little easier, at least for me. Good options all over the place; T-Pain is an option and Collective Soul is around if you’re looking for a classic. Erstwhile Milwaukeeans GGOOLLDD might be where you wanna be, especially after you hear their session we’re hosting here at 88Nine Friday after noon. In the end, however, I think the best shot for a memorable spot of music is at the BMO Harris Pavilion to see Brandi Carlile and Milwaukee’s own Abby Jeanne opening for her.
Pick: Abby Jeanne / Brandi Carlile at 8 p.m. @ BMO Harris Pavilion
Saturday has some interesting options as well. Chicago will be turning the BMO into a classic rock destination and is a great option if you want to catch a legend. Ra Ra Riot and Third Eye Blind are in the running over at the Briggs & Stratton Big Backyard starting at 8 p.m. My money is on a lesser-known but definitely dope dude from the band Vulfpeck; Corey Wong over on our stage.
Pick: Corey Wong at 10 p.m. @ Johnson Controls World Sound Stage
The weekend finishes with a flourish (and a few more tough choices.) While none of these acts are super huge, you might peep Lake Street Dive at Uline or perhaps Catfish and the Bottlemen at Briggs or even the De La Buena/Los Lonely Boys show on our stage at Johnson Controls. My pick is to see the enchanting chanteuse Adia Victoria and stay for the headlining band The National for a perfect end to your Sunday Funday.
Pick: Adia Victoria/The National at 8:30 p.m. @ Miller Lite Oasis