Hey, Generation X'ers, we might need special glasses to read our bar receipts now, but we still know how to party. Maybe not as hard and as often, but we still got it. Go here for more Gen X bands at the Big Gig.
Minneapolis-based Semisonic – best known for its anthemic song "Closing Time" – played a rare gig on Summerfest’s U.S. Cellular Stage tonight. The band consisted of the three original members, Dan Wilson, John Munson and Jacob Slichter – along with keyboardist Andy Thompson and percussionist Ken Chastain. Wilson referred to the lineup as "the trio plus two."
Semisonic – who released its last album in 2001 – has played very few shows in recent years, and even fewer outside of Minneapolis / St. Paul. The Summerfest show is their only concert this summer other than The Basilica Block Party next weekend in Minneapolis.
The group opened with "F.N.T." and "Across The Great Divide" from 1996's "The Great Divide." They followed up with "Chemistry," "This Will Be My Year" and "Completely Pleased" that rolled right into "Delicious."
Seeing the band tonight after a couple decades of listening to their studio albums and hearing them in the background at parties revealed the romance of their music, particularly the lyrics. A stripped-down version of "Secret Smile" and a sweet tribute to fellow Minnesotan Prince contributed to the lovely vibe.
"There's always some sadness playing this, but that f-cking guy was so great," Wilson said.
Wilson was present, clearly having a good time, but also almost in a dream-state at times, with half-closed eyes and a contented grin on his face.
Wilson and Munson's friendship and mutual respect for one another was evident tonight, particularly during their mini-jam session in "Completely Pleased" and through the lyrics of "Basement Tapes," a new song that Munson described as "about being in a band with people that you love and traveling to places like Milwaukee." (Aw!)
Audience sing-a-longs – particularly to the much-anticipated "Closing Time" – brought major feel-goods for all. Fans also got to hear a song that was never released in the United States called "Ordinary Love" and another brand new tune, "You’re Not Alone," that was performed live for the first time.
A few high notes were missed, but the passion and energy were so there, making the Semisonic concert both enjoyable and historical. It also showcased how successfully Summerfest can pull off intimate shows – not just larger concerts.
Many of the bands that peaked in the '80s and '90s had 4 p.m. slots at Summerfest this year. At first, it seemed Semisonic – and their fans – would have fared better with an earlier show. But it turns out the 10 p.m. darkness along with the strong winds and cool temperatures added the perfect autumnal feel to the concert.
"You guys are awesome. Thank you. This show was so good for us, so awesome," Wilson said, seemingly not wanting to leave the stage.
Across the Great Divide
This Will Be My Year
In Another Life
You’re Not Alone
Take Me With U (Prince)
I Got You (Split Enz)
Down In Flames
If I Run
Singing In My Sleep
Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.
Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.