The temps finally cooled off for the final day at Summerfest, but rock band Halestorm was more than ready to heat things back up Sunday night at the Summerfest Rock Stage.
The fans – many of whom had been camped out on the bleachers since mid-afternoon – welcomed lead singer Lzzy Hale and company to the stage with a near-deafening cheer, which was matched and quickly drowned out by the start of "Love Bites (So Do I)."
Lzzy's roaring vocals commanded an instant presence at center stage as she tore through Halestorm's repertoire. "Mz. Hyde," "It's Not You" and "Freak Like Me" followed in quick succession as the band took control and gained momentum.
The aggressive opener took a more melancholy turn as Lzzy took a moment to thank the fans for "getting under our skin" and segueing into "Familiar Taste of Poison." This proved to be only a breather for the group, however, as they returned in full immediately after with another fiery selection of tunes that featured more of their new material off of their second album, this year's "The Strange Case Of..."
Although Lzzy's raw, wailing vocals were a force to be reckoned with, the instrumentals held their own with heavy drums and bass and growling riffs from Joe Hottinger and Lzzy herself. "Dirty Work," another off their new album, highlighted both of their fast fingerwork, and added an especially scorching climax before Lzzy brought the tempo down once again for some solo piano time on "Break In."
Despite the concert's overall blaring pace and amplitude, "Break In" – and the subsequent "Private Parts," which reintroduced the rest of the band – provided a dulcet interlude and a perfect example of Halestorm's musical evolution since the release of their debut studio album.
No sooner did the full band re-emerge than they departed yet again, this time leaving drummer (and Lzzy's brother) Arejay Hale to work the spotlight with a commanding extended percussion solo. He progressed fervently through a variety of beats, eventually abandoning his drumsticks for his hands. The mesmerizing performance concluded with one last go-around on the drums with a pair of supersized sticks, which – to the chagrin of the closer audience members – Arejay didn't launch into the bleachers.
Halestorm returned in full to finish off their set, with a cover of Skid Row's "Slave to the Grind" kicking off the final few numbers. And, while the encore's first song – hit single "I Get Off" – would have been enough to bring the proverbial house down, Arejay, Lzzy and the rest of the band gave the Milwaukee crowd a special send-off with some cheesehead love and a toast, followed by their finale, "Here's to Us."
It was more of a "see you later," as they'll be back in August for a gig at The Rave, but it was a sweet way to bid the band – and Summerfest – a fond farewell.
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