The Electric Commentary

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Let's talk Summerfest

The worlds biggest music festival, believe it or not, takes place every summer in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and today is opening day. If you're anywhere near Milwaukee it is well worth it to make the trip up for a weekend. Chicagoans flock up there in droves as Chicago's functional equivalent, the Taste of Chicago, pales in comparison. Where The Taste is simply a bunch of tents set up in a park, Summerfest has it's own property, with several music stages, restaurants, and, of course, bars.

This year's lineup strikes me as being weaker than usual, but even a weak Summerfest lineup still has a lot to offer. Tonight's lineup is best suited for fans of country/Midwestern rock with John Mellencamp and John Fogerty (tickets required) and Leann Rimes (free). If that's not your cup of tea (and it is certainly not my cup of tea), check out Willy Porter (free), Morris Day and the Time (free), or Pat McCurdy, who attracts sellout crowds every night and plays like 5 times a day.

I'm heading up tomorrow. What do you think? Should I pay up and see Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers with The Black Crowes, or save my cash and take in Rusted Root, or Sugar Ray, or Phantom Planet, or Survivor (Eye of the Tiger, and all)? I'm not quite sure yet.

Saturday has David Lee Roth, Talib Kweli, and Los Lobos. Sunday features Santana with Los Lonely Boys (tickets required), Howie Day (free), Lucinda Williams (free), Moby (free), Gavin DeGraw (free), or Steve Winwood (free). The 4th has Stevie Nicks with Vanessa Carlton, Bret Michaels of Poison, Ben Folds, Galactic, and Lewis Black doing standup. There is much more (and the following weekend has a much stronger lineup).

If you go, here are a few tips:

1. Take the bus.

Driving there isn't actually that bad, but getting out is. After a long hot day at the park, the typical person's bloodtype has morphed from AB+ or O- into MGD. There are several park and ride lots in the suburbs, as well as a bus that runs up and down Wisconsin Avenue all day. In addition to that, all of the downtown bars run shuttles too and from the festival. This is the way to go.

2. See the Milwaukee Art Museum first.

Even if art isn't your thing, Milwaukee has a relatively new addition to their art museum, and it is fantastic. It's also right next to Summerfest.

3. Do not stare directly at the hefty old woman in the leather tube top.

4. Get an appetizer sampler from Saz's.

They include fried cheese curds, sour cream and chive fries, and their famous mozzarella marinara. It is a thing of beauty.

5. Wear sunscreen. Reapply frequently.

6. If you have to go from one end of the park to the other end, you have two options. There is a path that runs through the middle of the fest, and there is a path along the lake. The lake is always less crowded. The lakeshore path also has picnic tables on either side, perfect for eating your sampler platter.

7. If you are ordering beer for a ladyfriend, have the bartender at the Leine's tent combine the Honey Weiss and Berry Weiss in a pitcher together.

8. People seem to like the fried eggplant from the Venice Club. It's not really my thing, but you should probably give it a try.

9. For most concerts that normally cost money at the Marcus Amphitheater they also have a few thousand free seats in the lawn areas. You just have to get there early enough.

10. If you get to a concert early and want to save a spot, save a spot on top of the picnic table, not just on the seats. After the sun goes down people will have no qualms about standing on top of your table.

11. In addition to leather tube top woman, you will encounter the following people:

a. Badly sunburned fat guy, sans shirt.

b. Gaggle of scantily clad teenagers.

c. The dreaded, sunburned fat guy hitting on scantily clad teenagers.

d. Harley rider, no hair, tats, pierced appendages, full leather even though it's 900 degrees.

e. MulletMan.

f. 45 year old woman who tanned too much when she was 25 year old woman, and now has skin like Charlton Heston's neck.

g. Frat boy who likes to start fights.

h. Blue collar guy with chip on shoulder who wants to start fights with frat boy.

i. Insane parents with stroller, still at park past 10:00 PM.

j. Stoner hippies, laying on picnic tables, next to...

k. Disaffected teenage gothic types, who got there early to get the tables under the trees.

Fortunately, a lot of perfectly normal people show up too. But you can't beat Summerfest for people-watching. You never know what you'll see.

If anyone else has a tip to offer, put it in the comments section. If I like it, I'll add it to the post.

Update #1 - From Danny:

Clean out a sunblock bottle really really good and replace the contents with rum and bring it into the park. Beer is really expensive.

4 Comments:

  • Clean out a sunblock bottle really really good and replace the contents with rum and bring it into the park. Beer is really expensive.

    By Blogger DannyNoonan, at 2:34 PM  

  • This will only be my second Summerfest, so no advice from me. I already saw the disaffected teenage goths (isn't that redundant?) at Asian Moon. I'll be weirded out if they're also at Irishfest.

    By Blogger PRB, at 4:47 PM  

  • Well, they do tend to be on the pale side, which suggest Irishness, so I wouldn't be too surprised.

    I actually think it's weird that they're at Summerfest (although I'm glad to hear it. It would be strange without them). If your whole thing is darkness and black clothing, why hang out outside all day, even if you are under trees? And why stay in the same corner of the fest, never eating anything or seeing any bands?

    I guess it's silly to ask. When one of your axioms is false, everything that comes after is valid.

    By Blogger PaulNoonan, at 4:52 PM  

  • As someone who occasionally dabbles in the seedy world of online gambling I've often wondered what the law actually is. I have a sense that it is illegal to engage in most types of on-line gambling, but that these laws were largely unenforceable. Orin Kerr tackles the question at the VC.

    ------------------------------------
    self-certified-mortgage

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:55 PM  

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