Milwaukee’s annual music festival lived up to its billing. In spite of heat, rain, and heavy traffic, “The World’s Largest Music Festival” undoubtedly delivered the fun, great food, big crowds and fantastic performances for 11 days on almost a dozen stages at the Henry Maier Festival Park lakefront.
Running from June 28 to July 2, and then continued on July 4 to July 9, great musical performers played from noon to midnight, bringing people from all walks of life to the beautiful city of Milwaukee, where they let go and lose themselves for awhile.
On Sunday, Summerfest came to a close on a high note with The Outlaw Music Festival at the American Family Insurance Amphitheater, featuring living legends Willie Nelson and Bob Dylan, as well as Sheryl Crow, Jason Isbell, Nathaniel Rateliff, Margo Price, and Lukas Nelson.
2017 is a landmark year for the event as it marks the 50th anniversary of the festival. When it all began in 1968, the festival was an eclectic mix of concerts, film festival, air show, and even a pageant. Since then, the event has become the famous stage for some of the world’s biggest music acts from a variety of music genres.
This year continues that tradition as festival stages featured a diverse lineup, from influential music acts Red Hot Chili Peppers and Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, to current chart-toppers The Chainsmokers and Alessia Cara, and rock icons Willie Nelson and Paul Simon.
There were plenty of highs and great performances that will be remembered long after the festival is over:
A Day To Remember packed the punk punch and was certainly one of the standouts. The phenomenal band’s set had all of the excitement reverberating up to the neighboring stages, performing some of their fan favorites “Mr. Highway’s Thinking About The End,” “All I Want,” “Naivety” and “Exposed” among others. Fans packed at Harley-Davidson Roadhouse were clearly enthralled, a reception that seemed to come as a surprise even to the lead vocalist Jeremy McKinnon who thanked the fans repeatedly right until the confetti came out.
Huey Lewis And The News brought their classic hits to excited crowd, and with a huge career-spanning set in their arsenal. The festival is clearly special for both the band and fans. As seen in the Summerfest museum inside the festival grounds, the renowned band and the event have a long history together. And this time around is clearly just as special. Fans were captivated as soon as Lewis arrived on stage with harmonica in hand, his voice as strong as ever, the crowd standing throughout their 9:45pm set and reveling the band’s classic repertoire.
Rapper Slug of Atmosphere worked the stage Friday night at Harley-Davidson Roadhouse, animated and in full control of the stage. The crowd reciprocated in kind. It was so deafening at the front of the stage I had to decompress and move to the corner railings to fully absorb the band and audience symbiosis. And it was a sight to behold. The Minneapolis hip‐hop duo was definitely one of Summerfest’s most exciting nights.
One artist that caught me by surprise was a local artist IshDARR, an act I wasn’t familiar with before the event, and going to massive festival as Summerfest, that is the best kind. The young rapper was sensational being in front of a hometown crowd and he came out in force to represent, keeping fans energized throughout his 10pm set. It is these moments of discovering promising new talents is what makes festival experiences truly special.
Here’s some of the performers on various stages of 2017 Summerfest.