8 Takeaways from Summerfest 2014 (So Far)

So here’s the deal. Last night, I intended on reviewing Girl Talk’s set at Summerfest, but from where I was standing in the massive crowd, it was almost impossible to hear him. It didn’t help that the sound at the Miller Oasis was turned down so much that I could hear the Harley-Davidson Roadhouse from the Oasis crowd. So, instead of fighting the crowd, like I did on Wednesday for Arctic Monkeys, I decided to provide you with my takeaways from Summerfest so far. If you’ve been following along on Twitter, you’ve heard some of this, but allow me to elaborate:

1. There’s definitely a stronger police/security presence this year, and that’s a good thing.

After last year’s overcrowding issues on some of the busiest nights of the festival, it’s good to see that there’s more security and police on the grounds this year. Now, let me clarify, they aren’t much stricter than before; I even caught a cop on Chicago St. leaning on his squad car, smoking a stogie on my way out one night. I guess that doesn’t really qualify as crowd control, but the thought that if something were to go down, there’s people available is comforting. Last year, on the Saturday night that the festival was over capacity, and at MGMT’s overcrowded set, I actually had slight fear for my safety if something were to happen, for the first time in over a decade of going to Summerfest. I’m not ashamed to admit that, either. On top of that, I have yet to see a fight this year, though I’m sure that they’ve happened. Maybe that’s an effect of the security presence, no?

2. Face painting is the new “going to shows” trend.

I saw this at South by Southwest this year, and had a fear that this would be the new “thing” at going to shows: glow in the dark face paint. Yes, I’m sorry, kids who just ran out to buy their poi sets or hula hoops, it appears that face paint, is, for some reason, what all the kids are doing this year. Specifically, I’ve seen it by the EDM shows the most, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not happening elsewhere on the grounds. Whatever the case, it’s stupid. Stop doing it. Nobody wants you to be a glow in the dark tiger, anyway.

3. Unsung heroes – the bucket drummers.

These guys are out there day in, day out, providing an incredibly rhythmic use for household items, and more importantly, fueling your drunken post-Summerfest dance parties. Although, I did see one of the groups fighting amongst themselves yesterday. Throw them some change, would ya!

4. You’re not wearing enough clothes.

Look, full disclosure here; I’m 23. I feel really old at Summerfest this year. Especially when I walk into the midgate and see the inevitable running jump-hug from some high school’s freshmen. But moreso when I see the things that people wear and I have concern for their well being. Regardless of age, none of you are wearing enough clothes. It’s been a cold couple of days for the most part. You’re all going to catch pneumonia!

5. They messed up the Big Bang this year, and well, whatever.

The Big Bang isn’t the spectacle that it used to be, but that’s okay. However, it’s been mismanaged a bit. Okay, yeah, it didn’t work the first couple of nights due to the fog. However, Friday night would have been perfect. Saturday probably would have worked, too. I don’t know the forecast for Tuesday, but if it’s fog, I propose we move it all to the 3rd or 4th of July, and call those fireworks The Bigger Bang this year. All in favor, say I.

6. Kids don’t react to bands the same anymore.

I got really bummed about this at Arctic Monkeys and from the little bit of Girl Talk that I’ve seen this year. I’ve heard about it happening at Atmosphere, as well. It seems like some of the younger crowds are going to see concerts just for the sake of being at Summerfest, but not actually enjoying the show that they’re watching. In turn, they’re observing the bands, not watching a concert, resulting in a band playing to rows of people just standing there. Now look, it’s not easy to interact with the band when you’re standing on the bleachers, but you can clap along or something? If you don’t it just makes it weird for everyone. You’re at a music festival, dammit! Have fun! Also, stop standing around in the crowd and talking with each other. Go watch the show on stage that you sort of came to see!

7. Saz’s > everything.

Although I’ve heard of a chicken and waffle cone on the grounds this year, I stand my ground on this one. Saz’s rules the summer festival circuit in Wisconsin.

8. I still love Summerfest.

This is like Christmas for me.

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