REVIEW: Arctic Monkeys at Summerfest – 6/25/14

The opening night of Summerfest had a bit of a damper placed on it, due in part to the fog that cancelled the Big Bang fireworks display. The unseasonably cold weather didn’t help matters, but inside the Miller Lite Oasis, there was a different type of cold that took center stage. Some of the crowd had been waiting for the Arctic Monkeys since the gates opened at noon, sprinting to the first rows of aluminum bleachers, and filling up the first rows of seats rapidly. others made their way into the stage area around 9:55, and general indifference for the show stole some of the band’s shine. I looked during the day, and Arctic Monkeys were one of the most tweeted about shows carrying the #Summerfest hashtag, leading me to expect hysteria similar to Imagine Dragons’ overcrowded set at the Oasis last year. However, the crowd moreso observed the band rather than participated in the concert, and it took away from the experience as a whole. I wasn’t the only one to notice this phenomenon; Piet Levy of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel pointed out similar indifference for opener White Denim. It was clear that Arctic Monkeys were the show everyone came to see, however, if nothing more than to be at Summerfest on opening night.

To Arctic Monkeys’ credit, however, they delivered a solid show that nobody reacted to. It seemed the night was off to a solid start when they opened with recent hit “Do I Wanna Know” which launched many a smartphone into the air. This, however, seemed to be the full extent of the teenage majority of the crowd’s knowledge of the band’s catalog. They proceeded to launch into earlier upbeat songs from like “Dancing Shoes” and “Brainstorm”, which should have had the crowd bouncing along. However, they fell flat to the adolescent crowd, who seemed to be more focused on talking with each other, navigating the sea of people, and the occasionally selfie. A move to the back of the Oasis confirmed what I saw on the side of the bleachers; even a head nod was hard to pull out of the majority of people. It should be noted that many actual Arctic Monkeys fans scattered amongst the people that just wanted to be at Summerfest, were enjoying the show thoroughly. The lack of response clearly took an effect on the band, though. By the time they reached 2006’s breakout single “I Bet That You Look Good On The Dancefloor” on the set list, they were playing with noticeably less pace than the recorded version. There was very little addressing the crowd from frontman Alex Turner, and really, there didn’t need to be. The crowd didn’t deserve it. Unfortunately, this may be the reality of the concert experience in 2014. Hopefully people will put down their phones for a bit for other headliners this year, or we’re all in for a long remaining 10 days.