By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Jun 19, 2018 at 11:05 AM

On Friday, Summerfest will host a free performance by EDM star Diplo to christen the latest stage upgrade at the Henry Maier Festival Grounds.

The community show will be held on the new U.S. Cellular Connection Stage on the north end of the grounds, where there is also a new North Gate and other improvements.

The new work being unveiled this week was designed by Milwaukee-based Eppstein Uhen Architects.

The previous stage was demolished at the end of the festival season last year and the new stage construction was completed earlier this month.

Thanks to a new layout and orientation of the U.S. Cellular Connection, the stage's area will accommodate more patrons than it did with the previous design. The stage and production areas have also been enlarged to accommodate bigger acts.

A 27-foot LED video screen is the largest at the Henry Maier Festival Park.

A new stage sign – which will include cell phone charging stations at its base – was installed along the main walkway of the festival grounds, and more device charging stations are in benches set amid trees in a nice area with a lake view.

Patrons will be happy to hear that upgraded infrastructure should improve cell phone service in the area.

The stage itself is larger, with an expanded performance area of more than 2,400 square feet. That's more than double the previous footprint.

The backstage area has also been improved for performing artists. (You can see who is headlining the stage at this year's Summerfest here.)

Performers can write or draw on a series of wall-mounted screens backstage, and their messages and drawings will appear on the front of house video screens.

There are also selfie stations backstage and those using them can share the images right from the screens.

A production office offers the stage manager a central location, with windows on three sides, allowing better oversight of the indoor back of house.

An open-air backstage loft was added to allow for meet and greet events and artist interviews, as well as for VIP hospitality access for patrons and winners of contests.

We got a look at the new stage today. Here's what we found:

Expanded stage and performance area footprints

A new sign with charging stations

Lake view benches with charging stations

A skyline view

Upgraded dressing rooms for performers

Selfie stations for artists

Screens that allow artists to communicate via the video boards

A new production office

A meet-and-greet and VIP experience loft

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He has be heard on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories, in that station's most popular podcast.