Inside The The World’s Largest Music Festival
By Luau Larry, PubClub.com Summerfest Correspondent
Music and Milwaukee may not seem likely to go together – after all, it’s hardly the heart of rock ‘n roll – but for 11 days in June and July it takes center stage.
Summerfest in Milwaukee is an annual event on its lakefront. Known locally as the Big Gig, there are bands day and night on 11 stages, anchored by the 23,000-seat Marcus Amphitheater. With seemingly endless live music, crowds enjoying the scene of being in a festive atmosphere and socializing in beer gardens, it is recognized as The World’s Largest Music Festival.
Summerfest 2019 Dates & Lineup
Summerfest, which has been happening for more than 50 years, attracts more than one million people each year. The 2019 dates are June 26-30 & July 2-7.
The bands are a mix of classic rock, alternate rock, EDM, even country. It used to be pretty much everything but hip-hop and rap and now that’s even party of the lineup.
There are a near mind-blowing 700+ bands on 11 stages.
Summerfest lineup will mirror those in the past, a diversion of just about every kind of music anyone would want to hear at a huge festival.
This year’s daily headliners include:
• June 26 – Thomas Rhett with special guest Dustin Lynch
• June 27 – TBD
• June 28 – Jason Aldean with special guest Kane Brown
• June 29 – Bon Iver with special guests Lord Huron & Julien Baker
• June 30 – Zac Brown Band
• July 1 – TBD
• July 3 – TBD
• July 4 – Ozzie Osborne with special guest Megadeth
• July 5 – The Killers with special guest Death Cab For Cutie
• July 6 – TBD
• July 7 – TBD
• July 8 – TBD
The rest of the lineup includes….well come back later and they will be listed here.
Past bands have included TomPetty, Elvis Costeelo, REO Speedwagon; The Tragically Hip the Go-Gos; Kenny Chesney; Alan Jackson; Styx, Train; Cheap Trick; Pink; Goo Goo Dolls, John Mellencamp, 3 Dog Night and Blondie.
And while it’s the music that brings in the crowds, it’s the open-air socializing that keeps them coming back year after year. It is by far the city’s largest singles scene. And since Milwaukee is just two hours from Chicago, an hour from Madison and easily accessable from places like Indiana and Michigan, the pool of partiers expands far beyond the host city’s limits.
Plus, the second week is wrapped around the Fourth of July making it a holiday destination for many.
There are more than 45 diverse food and beverage locations at Summerfest. Beers are still a reasonable $5 for a draft and $6 for a 16-ounce bottle and there is never a wait for a cold one because there are beer tents everywhere.
My favorite beer tent is the Lienie Lodge and my favorite stage is the Potawatomi Bingo Casino Stage and Pavilion, located between the Leinie Lodge and the Sprecher brewery and catering to mostly blues/zydeco/rock.
There’s also the Sprecker Brewery tent and for cocktail connoisseurs, there’s JoJo’s Martini Lounge.
To party properly, arrive by 6 p.m., have some food and lots of beers. Then go to the various stages and enjoy the shows. For a great view of the grounds and lakefront, the Skyglider rises above it all for just $3.
Admission is $15 weekdays, $23 on weekends, $57 for a three-day pass and $120 for all 11 days. Tickets for the American Family Insurance Amphitheater must be purchased separately and they range in price from $62-130, depending on the day and act.
Several Summefest sponsors have promotions featuring discounted tickets. These prices, by the way, have hardly changed from year to year, making Summerfest one of the world’s most affordable music festivals in addition to being the largest festivals.