Summerfest starts today. Some years, it's hard to decide which stages to see, and others, I've had to come up with reasons to go.
My husband and I have gone (on purpose) to see bands like the Indigo Girls, Wilco and They Might Be Giants. There are dozens of other bands we've happened upon while there, like Doctor John, Femi Kuti and MIke Doughty.
Most years, we've been able to find a few bands we're interested in, and, especially when we lived in Milwaukee, we went out to hear them. I've always enjoyed talking with people about the bands they're there to see—and it seems like we always unexpectedly run into friends there, usually in the audience for a band we didn't know we all liked.
If you haven't perused the line-up yet, the Summerfest website has a pretty slick interactive search feature. It lets you search by performer, stage, day, or music genre, and if you sign up for a free online account, you can generate your own personal schedule.
Don't want to do all the searching? Print out a copy of the pdf lineup before you go.
Want someone to tell you what to see?
Third Coast Digest has pulled together some staff recommendations. (Warning, there's strong language in this piece, but the band previews are interesting.)
The Journal Sentinel has a Summerfest Guide up, with information on headliners, news about the bands and another custom schedule generator.
OnMilwaukee.com has information about the Emerging Artists Series. Festival attendees can vote for bands from Summerfest, and help them earn prize packages of gear and merchandise.
The Onion's A.V. Club presents its Cheapskates Guide to Summerfest, with a few cost-saving tips about discounted (or free) admission, shuttles to save on parking and other ways to maximize the bang for your buck — admittedly with a booze focus. They also highlighted a Summerfest tradition: drunk dancing, with a collection of videos from YouTube.
I'm not sure we'll make it this year, but Associate Regional Editor Matt Schroeder is going with his wife. Here's his story:
I'm going to see Foo Fighters on Thursday at Summerfest, an event my wife and I have only been anticipating since we gave each other their latest CD for Christmas. Hopefully it's better than our last trip to see them at Summerfest.
When we got caught in a downpour on the grounds.
And another just as we took our seats on the lawn.
And they closed Summerfest because of dangerous lightning.
And we walked probably a mile back to our car in said storm.
And never did see the Foo Fighters.