Summerfest 2019: Chicago, Third Eye Blind and more of the best and worst from the side stages on Day 4
On a perfect night for Summerfest, pop flashbacks mixed with country newcomers. Here's some of what we heard Saturday night on the Big Gig's side stages.
It was Saturday. It was in the (Maier Festival) park. However, I think — I know — it was not the Fourth of July; it was the 29th of June, a date rather less exalted.
That didn’t prevent the current lineup of Chicago from appearing at the BMO Harris Pavilion.
The band showed up about five minutes early (9:40 p.m.), perhaps reflecting that no one can really know what time it is, and then proved they still grasped how to mesh horns, electric guitar, drums, percussion, keyboards and soft-rock vocals into a Herb Alpert creaminess that has lasted for five decades.
Sticky ballads like “If You Leave Me Now” and “Look Away” did well (especially with the assistance of five female violinists) adjacent to peppier stuff like “Call on Me” and “Dialogue (Part I & II).” Not bad for an old summer breeze.
Robert Lamm, singer and keyboardist, 74, missed the performance. He went to a Milwaukee hospital Saturday after experiencing vertigo.
— Jon M. Gilbertson, Special to the Journal Sentinel
Third Eye Blind
When Third Eye Blind took the stage at the Briggs & Stratton Big Backyard Saturday night, they did a little group hug. With such a warm, fuzzy entrance, I didn’t expect frontman Stephan Jenkins to look like the Grim Reaper, complete with a black hood over his face.
But the look was fitting for the band's opening song “Screamer” — a “heavier” sounding tune, accompanied by lights at the rear of the stage flicking on and off in a blinding, slightly off-putting way.
It wasn’t until the set's third song — “Never Let You Go,” one of Third Eye Blind's early hits and a clear crowd favorite — that the audience seemed to really get into the show.
I couldn't help feeling the band barely sounded the same. Not until Jenkins took a few moments to talk about the band did I actually hear the voice I associated with Third Eye Blind.
— Stephanie Blaszczyk, firstname.lastname@example.org
“You know what time it is,” Walker Hayes said early Saturday night at the Miller Lite Oasis over the opening whistles of “You Broke Up With Me.”
Two years ago, hardly anyone catching Hayes at Summerfest knew this song. But the country-pop artist felt he might have a hit on his hands — he told the crowd so, part of some long bits of cocky banter between songs where he was trying desperately to prove himself.
In retrospect, maybe it was nerves, that the big break just within his reach wasn’t going to be. But Hayes' initial instincts were right, and Saturday at the Miller Lite Oasis, fans lit up and sang along, and Hayes — a more confident, less chatty performer Saturday — jumped down into the crowd to celebrate.
— Piet Levy, email@example.com
August Burns Red
“Sing along with me,” August Burns Red lead vocalist Jake Luhrs requested at least once during his band’s set Saturday night at the Harley-Davidson Roadhouse. But he rarely sang in the melodic sense; he mostly howled and screamed, and the audience enthusiastically helped him there.
Sailing across the heavy-metal spectrum, Luhrs tacked too close to the trebly screech of Rage Against the Machine’s Zack de la Rocha and not close enough to the Luciferian growl of High on Fire’s Matt Pike. Yet he also located the swaying, semi-exotic rhythms utilized by System of a Down’s Serj Tankian and Tool’s Maynard James Keenan.
The rest of the Pennsylvania quintet handled various, deliberately abrupt time and style changes with the assurance of musicians celebrating the 10th anniversary of August Burns Red’s third album, “Constellations.” The audience rode the changes almost as well as the band did.
— Jon M. Gilbertson
Mitchell Tenpenny revved it up from the start, igniting the crowd Saturday night with his opening song “Truck I Drove in High School.” As the country singer-songwriter sang about the good times, it was clear his listeners were having one already.
Tenpenny showed up to his first Summerfest in style, sporting a personalized Brewers jersey and ball cap.
Even though he was at the Miller Lite Oasis, he went right into “Mixed Drinks,” while taking a slight detour in the middle for a few lines of his cover of “Walking in Memphis.”
With a “hell, yeah and we’re happy to be here,” Tenpenny brought the crowd to its feet with “Somebody Ain’t You.” And he kept the audience excited as he played a cover of Blake Shelton’s “Ol’ Red” for everyone in the Badger State.
Staying with the theme of booze and heartbreak, Tenpenny ended his performance with his biggest hits, “Alcohol You Later” and “Drunk Me.”
— Stephanie Blaszczyk
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