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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Thursday, Aug. 21, 2014

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Imagine Dragons front man Dan Reynolds once again felt the love from Milwaukee.
Imagine Dragons front man Dan Reynolds once again felt the love from Milwaukee. (Photo: David Bernacchi)
Reynolds often engaged the Summerfest crowd.
Reynolds often engaged the Summerfest crowd. (Photo: David Bernacchi)
Percussion was an important part of the Imagine Dragons set at Summerfest.
Percussion was an important part of the Imagine Dragons set at Summerfest. (Photo: David Bernacchi)
Imagine Dragons lead singer Dan Reynolds often expressed his love for Milwaukee at Summerfest.
Imagine Dragons lead singer Dan Reynolds often expressed his love for Milwaukee at Summerfest. (Photo: David Bernacchi)

Imagine Dragons, Summerfest prove to be a perfect combination

"This is the fourth time we’ve played here this summer. The first time was in front of 200 people. … To see this many people here today, it’s overwhelming. We can’t tell you what it means to us."

This introduction to "Cha-Ching (Til We Grow Older)" by Imagine Dragons front man Dan Reynolds to a capacity crowd of nearly 20,000 – if not more – around the Miller Lite Oasis on Saturday night at Summerfest was an acknowledgement of not only the burgeoning popularity of the band, but a nod to Milwaukee as the city has consistently given its Las Vegas-based members its biggest crowds.

When the band last visited the city in March they sold out The Rave, which was – at the time – their biggest audience. It was such a show of support Reynolds’ emotion was palpable.

This crowd at Henry Maier Festival Park – again one of the largest the group has ever played before – moved the band equally.

After touring Europe and Asia, Imagine Dragons returned to the states and played in Missouri last night, but the size of the crowd energized the band so much so that after an enthusiastic opening of "Round and Round" Reynolds told the crowd, "This is the first time I’ve ever broken the head of my drum on the first song."

Reynolds addressed the fans and the city on several occasions leading into songs, and it took him a few beats to finally be able to begin the encore of "Nothing Left to Say."

Touring off their first studio release "Night Visions," jammed more than in their spring show, taking time for drum combinations between songs.

They played 13 songs, all off "Night Visions" or an earlier extended play release.

On tour they have performed several covers and other EP songs, but those were left on the road in favor of additional musicianship. If Reynolds didn’t acknowledge the crowd, the band teased it with instrumentals before grooving into the familiar intro to a song.

The baiting worked, revving the crowd up often, especially into a frenzied final thre…

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LL Cool J brought out the gusto for his Day 3 Summerfest show.
LL Cool J brought out the gusto for his Day 3 Summerfest show. (Photo: David Bernacchi)
As usual, LL Cool J played to the ladies.
As usual, LL Cool J played to the ladies. (Photo: David Bernacchi)
LL Cool J performed a mix of his hits and deep cuts at Summerfest.
LL Cool J performed a mix of his hits and deep cuts at Summerfest. (Photo: David Bernacchi)

LL Cool J mixes it up

Taking a one-day breather off headlining the Kings of the Mic Tour, veteran emcee LL Cool J breezed into Day 3 of Summerfest to play to a near capacity crowd at the BMO Harris Pavilion. The 45-year-old performed his songs with energy, but on balance the 60-minute show felt more like mixtape than a true show.

From start to finish, LL Cool J touched on 22 songs – quite a number – but he did not perform all of them start to finish. Interestingly, the start ("Mama Said Knock You Out") and the finish ("Rock The Bells") were the best parts of the show.

In between was a mix of veteran stage savvy and showmanship. He played to his age, making (too many) references to old school fashion and car choices as lead-ins to his older material. It’s an unnecessary trick – his classics are just that – but it did entertain and get people buzzing in anticipation of which "old school" song would be played.

DJ Z-Trip, who came with him off the Kings of the Mic Tour, freshened up two older tracks with interesting, high energy beats. "Rampage," which LL Cool J guested on with EPMD, was rapped over a sampling of the Monday Night Football instrumental. And, "Big Ole Butt" was played over the famous bassline of Dennis Edwards’ "Don’t Look Any Further." (If you’re a 2Pac fan, "Hit ‘Em Up")

If rap could ever have a crooner, it’d be LL Cool J with his bevy of female-friendly hits – and he did not disappoint in the theatrics. He brought out roses and tossed them to the crowd in during those songs. The performance though left many of the women I was around disappointed however, specifically when "I Need Love" and "Hey Lover" were sort of pushed together near the end of the show and broken up with a needless Michael Jackson dedication.

He also brought up about 20 women and five gentlemen to have a "house party" on the stage, and while it seemed great for them, he sort of lost the crowd. It didn’t help that he transitioned out of that to a deep cut ("Get Down") off his sec…

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The Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame is a great feature in the city and worth reviving.
The Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame is a great feature in the city and worth reviving. (Photo: Revive The Hall | Facebook)

Support the effort to revive a local treasure

A brief came across our desk here at OnMilwaukee.com about an effort to revive the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame, located on 4th Street, which brought back some fond memories.

Specifically, it reminded me about my first trip to Milwaukee in 1999 when I visited a friend at Marquette University. I remember several things about that trip – and some I don’t – but the three most distinct being a visit to a gun show at State Fair, watching a screening of "The Blair Witch Project" somewhere on the Marquette campus, and taking a stroll past the plaques on 4th Street.

I can’t really recall why my friend brought me there, but I definitely remember checking out all the plaques and names and thinking it was a unique feature to the city.

How many "Halls of Fame" are just sort of out there, free of charge, to walk past and enjoy? Well, there might be hundreds across the country for all I know, but this is definitely a cool thing to have in a pro sports city.

It surprised me to learn the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame Walk of Fame hasn’t been active since last decade. Then again, it takes a lot of effort to run such a thing, and some capital (political and financial) to bring in the proper people to make induction day a newsworthy event.

That said, I’m happy that there is a group of people out there with a desire to revive the Hall, and I encourage you to check out their cause and help support it. If there’s one thing Milwaukee does well, it’s supporting local initiatives, and this is something any sports fan can get behind.