It was another great season of Summerfest in Milwaukee this year, which saw spectacular performances, great food, and fun moments in a unique festival that seem to get bigger and more spectacular every year.
Presented by American Family Insurance, the annual music festival held at the 75-acre (30-hectare) Henry Maier Festival Park along the lakefront in Milwaukee, sees 11 days of festival fun from more than 800 acts on 11 stages, with all the great music and food in the beautiful city of Milwaukee.
Conceived in the 1960s by then mayor of Milwaukee Henry W. Maier, Summerfest originally hosted various events from concerts to film festivals. It has since attracted global attention and featured artists from a variety of music genres, as well as legendary music artists.
Dubbed as “The World’s Largest Music Festival,” this year’s festival stages were as diverse as ever, from influential and veteran music acts Steven Tyler, Pixies and Flaming Lips as well as some of today’s biggest stars Kesha, Machine Gun Kelly, Echosmith and Janelle Monae.
Summerfest 2018 Highlights
On the 4th of July at Miller Lite Oasis stage, Kesha and her pop star energy was on full display, thrilling the packed crowds with great hits and out of this world show, with the star literally sparkling as she come out from a UFO. Kesha opened the night with a wild and spirited performance of “Woman,” her single from her third studio album from last year “Rainbow.”
“Every month is Pride Month,” Kesha screamed, then sends the crowd into a dance frenzy with her chart topping hit “We R Who We R,”. Throughout the night, Kesha chatter with fans, taking in the raucous cheers that never seemed to end throughout the whole show.
By the time “Take It Off”, the party was in full swing and with some playful encouragement from Kesha, the shirts started flying to the stage. She then closed the main show set with “Blow” during which she fired up the spectacular confetti cannon.
Machine Gunn Kelly also took the stage on Thursday, July 5 at Miller Lite Oasis. Undoubtedly one of the most anticipated performers in this year’s Summmerfest, Kelly drew crowds and their energy into the festival grounds before the show even started.
Kelly, whose real name is Richard Colson Baker, opened the show with “Wild Boy”, his lead single from his 2012 label debut EP “Half Naked & Almost Famous” and immediately followed up with “Golden God,” a more recent cut from his latest album “Bloom”.
The rapper also performed “Wake + Bake” and “Mind of a Stone” back to back, occasionally smoking towards a snake prop on stage. This was followed by his chart hit collaboration with Camila Cabello “Bad Things,” and although the “Havana” singer was not on stage, the song naturally sent the excited crowd to their feet.
Friday night July 6, The Flaming Lips brought their psychedelic rock energy to the Harley-Davidson Roadhouse, performing to packed and excited fans in one of the most dynamic stages at the festival.
Throughout the night, the band played more than a dozen songs including “Fight Test”, a song from their 2003 EP of the same name, as well as “The W.A.N.D. (The Will Always Negates Defeat)” and “The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song (With All Your Power)”, both from their 2006 album “At War with the Mystics”.
Over at the BMO Harris Pavilion, Janelle Monáe took the stage and brought her Dirty Computer to the big stage. There is a real sense of a star arrival last night, and the reception was proof of it. before she emerged on stage, fans had crowded around the Pavilion where a genuine excitement has built up throughout the night.
Janelle arrived on stage, initially covered in smoke, the show slowly gets into the groove of title track. And she never let go from there. Fans erupted into a loud roar and cheers as the star fully emerged and sang Crazy, Classic, Life, a song from her ‘Computer’ album.
Apart from “Jane’s Dream” and “Stevie’s Dream”, Janelle performed everything the album had to offer and more. During the night, she also took on Q.U.E.E.N. and Electric Lady back to back, both of which are from her 2013 second studio album, The Electric Lady.
Performing with backup dancers beside her, the choreography was on point. She danced, sang and even moonwalked on stage. Even though the stage itself was elaborate and spectacular, and her outfit as loud as it gets, she really held her own.
It was also a great night of cool jazz and r&b funk on July 07, including jazz blues musician Jon Batiste who graced the Johnson Controls World Stage as one of the last, and one of the most memorable performances of the night the festival.
Jon Batiste of course is the always gleeful bandleader and musical director on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. This time, he joined forces with funk and soul band the Dap-Kings, the 11 member group who also recently performed with Kesha at the festival, as well as Amy Winehouse and Michael Bublé in the past.
Batiste looked and sounded every bit a seasoned performer and is one of the big surprises in the 11 day festival. You can tell he was very much at home on stage. He’s an incredible and exciting performer, working the stage and captivating the diverse crowd that was cheering and singing along.
Photos: AI Photo Imaging