July 1: Summerfest

“So I said Johnny whatcha doing tonight?
He looked at me with a face full of fright.
And I said, how ’bout a revolution?
And he said right.”
~”That was a Crazy Game of Poker” — O.A.R.

Summerfest: the largest music festival in the world. So how come I’ve never heard of it? There’s something wrong with it.

We got to Milwaukee a little after lunchtime today and checked into our hotel, which was right across the street from this sweet little park that looked over Lake Michigan. Pretty good location if you ask me. We walked down the block to a little Greek cafe and got a quick lunch.

After going back to the hotel to do some research about Chicago, we got ready to head down to Summerfest, which was only about a half mile from our hotel and right on the lake. Becca met us at the hotel and we made the short walk through a little park on the lake.

Fifteen bucks got us into the 11-day music festival that has 11 stages and a ridiculous amount of performers from noon to midnight. We walked around the perimeter first, just to get a feel of the area and see where all the stages were. Then we decided to get some food and go sit somewhere and chill. Becca was adamant that I must try a butterburger, so I did. Apparently it’s a local thing, and it was really good.

The weather was beautiful today, right around 70 and clear skies. We went to one of the little stage areas and we got to see wheelchair basketball. Those guys (and girls) were really good!! At the end of their game, they had audience members come on and try to play against “the professionals” in the wheelchairs. Even with a good eight-point handicap, the audience got beat both games, with the first team not scoring any points.

After that we saw the end of one band called Hello Dave from Chicago. They described themselves as “Chicago twang.” The music was good, but the guy was trying to hard for a southern accent.

At 7:30, we moved over to the Harley Davidson stage, where we planned to camp out for the night. First up was the Dirty Dozen Brass Band and they were amazing, as usual. They are the best jazz band that I’ve seen and are all amazing musicians. The sousaphone player tops it all, just chilling in the back and rocking a great baseline. I’ve seen them once before in Raleigh, but this show definitely topped that. We were dancing all over those bleachers.

When they left the stage, we waited an hour for O.A.R. to come on at 10. During that hour, the bleacher area around gradually started to fill. By the time the show started, you had to stand diagonally on the bleachers to be able to move at all. The whole area around the bleachers was full with people standing. Everywhere I looked it was more people.

O.A.R. rocked. I’ve seen them once before, and this show was definitely comparable. This was the first of two shows that they’re playing at the festival so they had to hold off some material for tomorrow night, but they played most of what I wanted to hear. I can only imagine what it sounds like for them on-stage to hear thousands of people yelling the lyrics back to them.

We were exhausted when they finally finished. It was almost midnight and we had been standing and dancing for about four hours. I wish I could stay around longer for more of the festival, but tomorrow it’s off to Chicago.

Until then.

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