Fans patiently waited for pop trio AJR to return to Milwaukee after the group's original gig was pushed back two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic ... but let’s skip to the good part.
With a new venue and AJR’s biggest Milwaukee show ahead, fans packed the American Family Insurance Amphitheater on the Summerfest grounds on Saturday night for an evening that the 11,000 in attendance will not soon forget. From the band’s opening performance of "Bummerland" to the final songs of the encore, the trio of brothers (Adam, Jack and Ryan Met) delivered an unmatched level of energy throughout the nearly 20-track setlist.
Here are five reasons why you shouldn’t have missed the "OK Orchestra" tour stop in Milwaukee last night:
1. Big “Bang!”
We’re not sure if it was perfect planning or the live music gods giving a wink to AJR’s Milwaukee fans, but last night’s performance started off with a literal bang as the Manhattan natives performed their hit song of the same name. As AJR performed “Bang!” early in their set, the lakefront fireworks next door at PrideFest lit up the sky at the same time, making for a perfect moment to kick off AJR’s performance.
2. They're one of Elton John’s favorite acts (kind of)
During the first half of their fast-paced performance, AJR took a break to catch their breath and told a hilarious story about meeting Elton John backstage at an iHeartRadio event. During the evening, Sir Elton approached the brothers to congratulate them on their massive country music collab with Justin Bieber – a record that does not exist. Afraid to correct a legend, the band took the compliment and soon watched Dan+Shay take the stage ... to perform their massive country music collab with Justin Bieber. They soon realized that Elton mixed them up with the country duo, but he later came up to them to also congratulate them on “Bang!” and some of their other successful singles. So either way, AJR has a memorable co-sign from the Rocketman himself.
You can’t miss an AJR show because one can’t help but love Ryan Met. While all members of AJR are extremely easy to root for, Ryan’s energy behind the keys and his comedic relief between songs is something that their fans would never substitute. One Ryan highlight of the evening came as he performed the band’s track “Joe” from their 2021 album “OK Orchestra," where the tour gets its name.
Although Adam, Jack and Ryan are the face of AJR, the quality of their live performance wouldn’t be possible without the talented musicians who supplement their shows. Trumpeter Arnetta Johnson specifically shines during the band’s live shows. She was first introduced to the Milwaukee crowd during the band’s performance of “3 O’Clock Things” and made a number of appearances front stage throughout the show. Johnson also appeared in a few of AJR’s music videos, including “Bummerland” and “Way Less Sad."
5. It was worth the wait
Due to COVID postponements, fans sat on their AJR tickets for over a couple years. Fortunately, with the trio’s amazing stage presence and catalog of indie pop hits, the performance was easily worth waiting for. In the time since the pandemic and the release of AJR’s “OK Orchestra” LP, the band only grew – so much so that the show moved from the BMO Harris Pavilion to the newly renovated American Family Insurance Amphitheater, allowing even more fans to enjoy the show.
AJR took time during their set to talk about their rise in Milwaukee, going from one of the smaller rooms at The Rave, to the Eagles Ballroom, to now performing at the Summerfest grounds for over 11,000 fans, each time thinking they are performing the biggest set they will ever perform in Milwaukee. The fan base has continued to grow and surprise AJR, and they have matched the growth of their fans along the years as well. Don’t be surprised if the crowds continue to grow for tours to come, especially if AJR continues to deliver shows like they did last night.
"3 O’Clock Things"
"Dear Winter / The Trick"
"Don’t Throw Out My Legos"
"100 Bad Days"
"World’s Smallest Violin"
"The Good Part"
"Burn The House Down"
"Way Less Sad"