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OK Go proved to be just as contagious live as it is on YouTube Thursday night.
OK Go proved to be just as contagious live as it is on YouTube Thursday night. (Photo: Alize Tran)

Who needs treadmills? OK Go proves it's more than just viral music videos

The OnMilwaukee.com Summer Festivals Guide is presented by Pick 'n Save, Where Wisconsin Saves on Groceries. Pick 'n Save is Wisconsin proud, and excited to help promote and feed the great Milwaukee summer that includes festivals and fun nearly every day. Click to save here!

There were no treadmills in sight on Thursday evening at the Uline Warehouse. No big Rube Goldberg machine or miles-long track of homemade instruments to drive a robot-armed Chevy through. And if there was a synchronized puppy dance, I somehow missed it.

In fact, other than some busy confetti cannons – and I mean very busy – OK Go’s 90-minute set pushed aside any sign of the viral video prop-heavy gimmickry the band is most famous for and instead relied on its power pop rock music and some charming banter to click with the Summerfest crowd. And, as it turns out, that was more than enough to deliver an awesome and entertaining evening.

Popping out on stage with little to no fanfare, the Los Angeles band (by way of Chicago) opening up the show with "Upside Down & Inside Out" and one of the night’s seemingly 114 confetti cannon showers (honestly, by the end of the gig, the audience had likely breathed in just as many tiny paper strips as oxygen molecules). It was a rocking start, but unfortunately lead singer and guitarist Damian Kulash’s instrument was a little overbearingly buzzy.

Luckily, the audio mix would clean itself up very quickly as the set went along – as fast as the next bunch of crazily infectious hooky pop rock tunes, including "You’re So Damn Hot," "The Writing’s On the Wall" and the funky groove jam "I Want You So Bad I Can’t Breathe."

OK Go has always mostly been known for its crazily inventive music videos, so much so that sometimes it seems the public forgets that those clips have some pretty awesome music playing underneath them. As a result, Thursday night’s comparatively simple show served as a nice affirmation that, as musicians, they’re really just as…

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DJ Paris Hilton hard at work at the Harley-Davidson Roadhouse Sunday night.
DJ Paris Hilton hard at work at the Harley-Davidson Roadhouse Sunday night. (Photo: Abe Van Dyke)
Hilton played for about an hour and 45 minutes on Sunday night to a packed young crowd.
Hilton played for about an hour and 45 minutes on Sunday night to a packed young crowd. (Photo: Abe Van Dyke)

One night with Paris: Inside Hilton's not so hot Summerfest DJ set

Give Paris Hilton this: After years of being accused of being famous for doing nothing, the hotel heiress, reality star and tabloid fixture is now indeed doing something, forging a career as a EDM DJ – one of the self-proclaimed highest paid ones at that.

Unfortunately, much like the "Transformers" movies, DJ Paris Hilton’s Summerfest set was one of those situations where the amount of the money involved was inversely proportionate to the amount of talent and skill on display. Also much like the "Transformers" movies, it was loud, clunky, sporadically dull despite all of the noise, unnecessarily lengthy and, by the end, left me in a little bit of pain.

So yes, consider my expectations exceeded.

After all, what was I really expecting going into Sunday night’s set at the Harley-Davidson Roadhouse? Back when DJ Paris Hilton was announced as a ground stage headliner, I first assumed that it was just some sort of ironic moniker for an EDM artist I was far too old and unhip to know. Then the truth quickly revealed itself: DJ Paris Hilton was, in fact, ACTUALLY Paris Hilton, who was ACTUALLY coming to Milwaukee and ACTUALLY going to perform something resembling music on stage. Was this some sort of "Exit Through the Gift Shop"-esque art prank? Or would the polarizing heiress end up being Deadmau5? Deadmau5 does wear that mask after all. Hmm … (update: yeah, pretty confident she’s not Deadmau5). Obviously I would have to go and find out.

Apparently I was not alone. Arriving just before 7 p.m., the stage was already well packed with young fans. At 24, I felt like one of the oldest people in attendance. I was one of maybe five people in the crowd wearing my baseball cap with the brim facing forward, and I’d place a decent bet that over 75 percent of those there had seen the "Entourage" movie – or, considering their ages, at least asked their parents for a ride and to sign them in.

While the scent of pot was strong in the air, surprisingly the smell of iro…

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Walk The Moon drew a massive crowd Saturday night and put on a show worthy of it.
Walk The Moon drew a massive crowd Saturday night and put on a show worthy of it. (Photo: Abe Van Dyke)

Walk The Moon launches a crazy Summerfest crowd into orbit

The OnMilwaukee.com Summer Festivals Guide is presented by Pick 'n Save, Where Wisconsin Saves on Groceries. Pick 'n Save is Wisconsin proud, and excited to help promote and feed the great Milwaukee summer that includes festivals and fun nearly every day. Click to save here!

The words "Imagine Dragons" were being muttered about several hours before pop rockers Walk The Moon hit the stage Saturday night, and it had nothing to do with any musical similarities.

No, there were concerns quietly bantering about that, two years after the breakout rock troupe pretty much broke Summerfest for a night with an absurdly packed crowd, a similar situation was brewing over at the U.S. Cellular Connection Stage with Walk The Moon. The stories sounded the same after all: In between getting booked for Summerfest and actually hitting the stage, both bands with a strong local contingent of fans (this marked the band’s fourth Summerfest trip) utterly exploded in popularity.

In the case of Walk The Moon, at just about the time the ground stage headliners were announced, its hit single "Shut Up And Dance" was in the process of graduating from fun poppy radio hit to world-destroying monster song of the year. Suddenly, their once reasonable ground stage digs seemed woefully insufficient.

Of course, those pre-show whispers and rumors ended up being slightly exaggerated. Summerfest seemed far from ever breaking last night. Summerfest red shirts seemed to have the show on lockdown, and ticket lines weren’t so insane that the Big Gig wound up letting people in for free, hopping turnstiles and turning the Summerfest grounds into a sweatily packed parking lot. It was certainly crowded, but it was also certainly livable.

Sorry, I said crowded when I meant to say CROWDED – all caps, all bold and in 72-point Impact font if possible. Early estimates placed the attendance for Walk The Moon at somewhere about 15,000 people – impressive considering the US Cellular Connection Stage only has a 8…

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Punch Brothers put on a rollicking old-fashioned folk hoedown Friday night at Summerfest.
Punch Brothers put on a rollicking old-fashioned folk hoedown Friday night at Summerfest. (Photo: Dan Zaitz)

Old-fashioned folk fiends Punch Brothers tap the BMO Harris Pavilion roof

The OnMilwaukee.com Summer Festivals Guide is presented by Pick 'n Save, Where Wisconsin Saves on Groceries. Pick 'n Save is Wisconsin proud, and excited to help promote and feed the great Milwaukee summer that includes festivals and fun nearly every day. Click to save here!

Over the course of human history, hundreds upon thousands of roaring rock bands and awkward dancers have attempted to "raise the roof." For the band Punch Brothers, however, it knows raising the roof is just a bit out of range for its particular brand of old-school pluck-happy folk factory tunes – and, for that matter, that it can be hard for a band to do anything less than rock out at a festival like Summerfest (just ask Bastille, who tried for just one song to slow things down with a piano ballad, only for the EDM act next door to go all Michael Bay and immediately explode gallons of confetti, lasers and bass into the air).

So Punch Brothers tried something different and set their goals somewhere new Friday night at the BMO Harris Pavilion. As the five band members crowded around a single mic, preparing to do the traditional Irish a cappella folk tune "The Auld Triangle" (which the band performed for the Coen Brothers’ "Inside Llewyn Davis" two years back), lead singer and maniacal mandolinist Chris Thile said their mission was not to raise the roof, but "tap the roof," delicately nudging the ceiling with his pointer fingers. "Can we make that a thing, Milwaukee, for folk bands at loud rock festivals?" he asked afterward.

Well, congratulations Punch Brothers; you tapped the roof Friday night at Summerfest. And then some.

Don’t let the nice suits and ties confuse you; Punch Brothers are a no-frills old-fashioned folk band, playing an energetic set list full of both original tunes and traditional numbers showing little to no resemblance to the rock-ified boom-clap sound and furious roaring crescendos of Mumford & Sons and other folk rock groups Punch Brothers is often lassoed in with.

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