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Avett Brothers fill the Amp with superb strumming, if not spectators Image

Avett Brothers fill the Amp with superb strumming, if not spectators

Published Sunday, July 5

It shouldn't have come as a surprise to see the Marcus Amphitheater a maybe generous 50 percent full - albeit an extremely enthusiastic and appreciative 50 percent - on Saturday night for The Avett Brothers. But while the bluegrass folk rock band had apparent problems filling the venue with fans, the band had no problem whatsoever completely filling the venue with strong, soulful music on the Fourth of July.

Gusto Studios is a fitting hit at Summerfest Image

Gusto Studios is a fitting hit at Summerfest

Published Saturday, July 4

It's not often that you see portraits of Dave Grohl and Vince Lombardi displayed side by side. However, the art and career of William K. Stidham are pretty well summed up by those contrasting characters on canvas.

Sylvan Esso's performance leaves audience hungry for more Image

Sylvan Esso's performance leaves audience hungry for more

Published Saturday, July 4

It can be tough for any music act to captivate an audience; but, it's especially challenging for a duo on stage with nothing more than a microphone and a set of decks. But Sylvan Esso manages to make it look like a breeze.

Bringing on a Summerfest band: an oral history Image

Bringing on a Summerfest band: an oral history

Published Friday, July 3

It's a long-standing tradition at Summerfest - and at plenty of other festivals - to use radio station DJs to introduce a headlining band. It may seem like a five-minute formality, but as usual, there's a back story to most of what the public sees while standing on the Summerfest bleachers.

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

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

Published Friday, July 3

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.

PHOX brings on the phun with solid, quirky perphormance Image

PHOX brings on the phun with solid, quirky perphormance

Published Friday, July 3

PHOX's Summerfest performance was exactly what you'd expect from a slightly irreverent indie band whose self-titled Partisan debut has been called one of the best underground-pop records of 2014.

Underwood captivates audience, including a non pop-country fan Image

Underwood captivates audience, including a non pop-country fan

Published Friday, July 3

Carrie Underwood's performance at the Marcus Amphitheater was one of her first since returning from maternity leave. But she doesn't get accolades just for being on stage as a new mom - she delivered a 21-song, 90-minute performance that kept the audience on their feet, singing along and completely engaged.

Brand New brings emotional energy to Summerfest Image

Brand New brings emotional energy to Summerfest

Published Thursday, July 2

Even with Brand New's depressing lyrical subject matter and introverted performance style, the emotion lead singer Jesse Lacey put into the vocals and the well-paced instruments made for a great show at the Miller Lite Oasis Wednesday night.

The vibes were alive and well at Lamar's swift Summerfest set Image

The vibes were alive and well at Lamar's swift Summerfest set

Published Thursday, July 2

During his Amphitheater performance Wednesday night, Kendrick Lamar noted the last time he was here, "the energy was so motherf*ckin' loud," and if that was a 10, he wanted this show to hit a 12. Well, it certainly felt like a 12, with the packed crowd bobbing their heads, swaying their arms and just generally going crazy for every verse. And even though it barely lasted 60 minutes, Lamar's vigorous fireball of a set gave them plenty to go crazy about.

Vassar gets wild under a Summerfest full moon Image

Vassar gets wild under a Summerfest full moon

Published Thursday, July 2

As soon as Phil Vassar opened his mouth to sing at the Briggs & Stratton Big Backyard Wednesday night at Summerfest, he had me. But then, in truth, he lost me.

Chilly temps can't dampen Figureheads' energy Image

Chilly temps can't dampen Figureheads' energy

Published Thursday, July 2

Jeremy Bryan is a rapper. Greg Marshall is an emcee and lyricist. Dave Olson is a beatmaker and producer. Together, they form Milwaukee's the Figureheads, a hip-hop tour de force. I sat down with Bryan, Marshall and Olson before their show on Wednesday, July 1 and talked to them about music, life and philosophy. Then I took in their live show. Here's what transpired.

The music festival experience - from the other side of the stage Image

The music festival experience - from the other side of the stage

Published Wednesday, July 1

As the drummer of Spacehog, I've played in front of big crowds at Summerfest, at least three times (or so I recall). I have some fond memories, rolling into Milwaukee, taking the opportunity to skim new music in the open air of your beautiful lakefront.