Summerfest Milwaukee Party Review
World's Largest Music Festival Rocks Midwest U.S.
Summerfest, also known at The Big Gig, is the World's Largest Music Festival.
Summerfest 2013, June 26-30 and July 2-7
By Luau Larry, PubClub.com Special 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.
Milwaukee Summerfest is a two-week summertime party.
John Mellencamp shines at Summerfest.
Steve Winwood performs at Summerfest.
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, which has been happening for more than 40 years, attracts more than one million people each year.
The bands are a mix of classic rock, alternate rock, even country. Pretty much evrything but hip-hop and rap.
There are a near mind-blowing 700+ bands on 11 stages.
Summerfest 2013 Lineup
The highlight performers are the Violent Femms (June 26), Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (June 28), New Kids On The Block (July 2), Tim McGraw (July 5) The Eagles (July 7) and John Mayer (July 6), all on the Marcus Amphitheater Stage.
The Grounds Stage lineup includes LL Cool Jay, Billy Idol, Alice Cooper, Bad Religion, Social Distortion, Dropkick Murphy, Foreigner, Loverboy, REO Speedwagon, Barenaked Ladies, The Wallers, Rick Springfield, The Go-Gos, Pat Benetar and comedian Lewis Black.
Tom Petty is back for Summerfest in 2013.
Tom Petty has the crowd Free Fallin' at Summerfest.
Past bands have included Tom Petty; 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.
GA admission is $17 ($10 Tuesday-Friday before 4 p.m.), $39 for a three-day pass, $60 for a "Power Pass" that is good for all 11 days (available at Pick 'n Save locations thru May 31). Marcus Amphitheater tickets must be purchased separately from GA tickets.
Summerfest Party Scene
Summerfest is not just about the music, it's about the party.
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.
The real attraction of Summerfest is not the music but the people.
Summerfest brings out the best in Milwaukee.
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.
PubClub.com Summerfest Correspondent Luau Larry's favorite beer tent is the Lienie Lodge, his 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 (right) rises above it all for just $3.
Admission is $8 weekdays before 8 p.m., and $15 on weekends and after 8 p.m., though several Summefest sponsors have promtions 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.
Summerfest Party Tips
• Take the shuttles to the event ($6 R/T). There are 11 park-and-ride lots around town. Out of town visitors should stay in a downtown hotel; it's within walking distance of the festival.
• Ticket Tip: Sponsors have daily admission promptions.
• Cash and credit cards accepted on the grounds.
• No backpacks, beach/folding chairs.
• Take sunscreen and a long-sleeve shirt or jacket. While it's summer, a sudden cool wind can blow in off the lake at night.
• For more information, lineups and advance ticket sales, visit the Summerfest web site.
Summerfest Photos – The Scene
The Milwaukee skyline shines duirng Summerfest.
Yeah, made it through security!
Tom Petty at Summerfest.
Milwaukee is not a Small Town but John Mellencamp appeals to Midwesterners.
John Mellencamp sings about Little Pink Houses.
PubClub.com correspondent Luau Larry is popular at Summerfest.
Here's a great way to get around the stages at Summerfest.