Summerfest, a 12-day long extravaganza featuring literally every band ever created (actually, only featuring 700 bands, but still crazy) kicked off Thursday in
beautiful Milwaukee, with the Avett Brothers and Violent Femmes headlining for the evening, and featuring the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Gavin Degraw, and Diplo, among others. Throughout the duration of the festival, overweight Milwaukeeans and music-lovers from all over the US will gorge themselves on shitty beer, cigarettes, and those turkey legs you always find at festivals, and will hear artists from Tom Petty, to Cake, to Pretty Lights.
The festival, which began in 1968, is now the world’s largest, confirmed by the Guinness Book of World Records every year since 1999, and brings in almost 1,000,000 attendees each year. Since its inception–at the same venue it’s still held at today–Summerfest’s headliners have featured classics like The Beach Boys and Eric Clapton, legends like Whitney Houston and Bon Jovi, and country favorites like Rascall Flats and Shania Twain (remember, it’s Wisconsin).
The festival went through a brief dark period in 2000, when Britney Spears was the top headliner. It’s okay, 2000 was weird. They probably figured Y2K would kill us all and couldn’t back out of the contract when life kept going. (Alright, I guess she’s not that bad, but she doesn’t exactly hold up music-wise to some of the other top headliners that have passed through the festival throughout the years).
It’s unfortunate that Summerfest, with all the Coachellas and Bonnaroos dominating music headlines every year, doesn’t get more recognition considering its size and always-stacked lineup. Maybe it’s fact that it’s so freakin’ long, and can’t really serve as a comparison to more traditional festivals since it’s nearly impossible to attend the entire event unless you literally have no life. Or that it’s in hot, humid, boring Milwaukee and not in the warm, dry desert outside trendy Los Angeles (although having been to Bonnaroo twice, I can attest that Milwaukee probably beats Bumblefuck, TN.) It’s certainly not as glamourous, but it hasn’t let up since 1968, and that alone proves it to be a pretty incredible experience.
I mean, seriously–SEVEN HUNDRED BANDS?
BRB, quitting my job and going to Summerfest.