After six days of Summerfest, here’s a recap of some of our favorite performances! Our very first day left us dazed after running around watching amazing acts play one after another; read about that first Friday with Five Finger Death Punch and more here! Click on the links below to see some of Tammy’s photos from the fest!
The remainder of the first week and all of the second week proved to be just as exciting as our first trip to Summerfest. We closed Week 1 out on Sunday out by watching O. A. R. jam out to an immense sea of people of all ages, arms around one another, singing some of their favorites back at the stage like “Heard The World” and “Shattered.”
Quick side story: if you know Tammy and I, you know we do hilarious, spur-of-the-moment things, and this day was no exception. After an amazing but tiring weekend at Summerfest, we were heading home to Chicago on Sunday since Tammy didn’t get a photo pass to O.A.R and we already covered everything we needed to. When we passed the half-way point home, I mindlessly muttered O.A.R’s lyrics to “Shattered,” resulting in Tammy looking at me wide-eyed, saying “NO! What are we doing?” She put “Shattered” on the speakers, and in that moment we finally snapped out of the post-Summerfest sleepy daze, our coffees kicked in, and I got off at the next exit to literally turn the car around.
Back to Summerfest, Tammy asked again for a photopass for O.A.R., and magically got granted the last one. We somehow worked our way to the front row where we rocked out, amazed by the entire band, locking in and jamming with everyone from the trumpets to the saxophone to the drums. When they came back for their encore, the crowd had playing cards in hand, ready for “Crazy Game of Poker.” When Marc sang the first notes of the song, “oh my” was exactly right. Everybody released their hands, and thousands of cards rained down on the crowd. Minutes later, when he sang the lyrics “how ‘bout a revolution,” the skies opened up and rain fell on everyone, adding to the mass sing-along, and then magically stopped raining a minute later with the end of the song. From start to finish, it made for one of the most beautiful concert experiences I’ve ever seen: a crowd so full of people that you couldn’t see where it ended, all singing along to one song, arms in the air welcoming the rain, united together by the power of music. You can say I’m pretty happy we turned the car around.
We started Week 2 of Summerfest by getting, once again-last minute photo approval and tickets to A Special Night With Dave Matthews Band, and it proved to be one of the most special nights of Summerfest. Nobody opened for Dave; instead, he graced his fans by playing two sets. He first came out for a semi-short acoustic set, playing older songs he rarely plays live like “#27,” “Stolen Away on 55th and 3rd,” and “So Damn Lucky.”
He opened the next set with the entire band playing “Minarets,” another rarity. The light show took my breath away, continuously proving that there is so much unspeakable beauty in simplicity. The lights were sharp and penetrating, but soft and calming at the same time, with an obvious geometrically-inspired origin. Every flash and every movement seemed to have been thought through for ages.
Listening and watching Dave Matthew’s Band play with such skill while the lights flew across the stage, moving like they had heartbeats and rhythm, flowing seamlessly with the rises and falls of the music, made for a concert experience that overwhelmed the senses in the best way. My favorite part of the night was when Dave played “Big Eyed Fish” right into “So Much To Say,” making the crowd react so that the entire amphitheater flowed with people dancing and singing as one.
Dave Matthew’s Band ended the extraordinary night with an encore of the Neil Young song “The Needle and the Damage Done,” “Drunken Soldier,” and “Shake Me Like a Monkey.” The crowd left with smiles on their faces and sparkles in their eyes, still riding the high that the raw purity of the music and the simplistic beauty of the show provided.
Thursday, one of my favorite acts ended up being Blackberry Smoke who played the Harley stage at 4:30. With the sun falling behind their stage, they drew a crowd larger than anybody else I had seen at the same time slot all week. Yes, even larger than the crowd that gathered to see The Pretty Reckless days earlier at the same stage. Their unique mix of country and old school rock n’ roll had hundreds of fans stopping to listen and watch, standing on the bleacher seats to get a better view. Lucky for them every member of Blackberry Smoke puts on an incredible show, getting lost in their instruments and grooving to the rhythm of the music, making everyone in the crowd want to dance along.
They played a long set full of songs off their The Whippoorwill album like “Lucky Seven,” “One Horse Town,” and “Pretty Little Lie.” Once they ended with “Ain’t Much Left of Me,” I expected the show to be over seeing as I had never seen anyone with a 4:30 slot at Summerfest play an encore. But when the crowd didn’t budge, I realized they’d have to come back, which is exactly what they did minutes later, and ended their miraculous set with “Freedom Song” in honor of the 4th being the next day.
Paramore/Fall Out Boy
The last night of our Summerfest extravaganza ended with Paramore and Fall Out Boy who both put on stunning shows. Paramore played as the sun set, with the production getting better and better as the night sky fell. Hailey took time out between songs to talk to the crowd, connecting with them on another level besides just through the music. Everything she said was powerful, especially when she talked about going after your dreams no matter what anyone says.
Fall Out Boy closed the night out with an impeccable set, playing the perfect mixture of old and new songs, throwing everyone back a few years with songs like “Dance, Dance,” “A Little Less Sixteen Candles, A Little More ‘Touch Me,’” and “Sugar, We’re Going Down.” They played a lot of amazing songs off their new album Save Rock And Roll, like “The Phoenix,” which they opened with and “Death Valley” and “Young Volcanoes.” The crowd sang back all their songs, dancing and jumping around, and nobody on stage missed a beat. Summerfest proved to be one of the most fun, exciting, rocking festivals of the year, and we can’t wait to go back next year!