REVIEW: Vinyl Theatre at Summerfest, 6/25/15

The stage was set on Thursday night for one of the more sentimental performances of this year’s Summerfest, as Vinyl Theatre played the festival for the first time as Fueled By Ramen artists. This was a homecoming for the Milwaukee band, and that was apparent from the number of Vinyl Theatre shirts in the crowd, likely from friends and family. There were chants for members of the band while they sound checked before their set, as well. You could tell this was something special for everyone involved. The setting couldn’t have been any better, either; night two of Summerfest was relatively calmer than opening night, and Vinyl Theatre had the fortune of fitting in between headliner Andrew McMahon and “Renegades”-led emerging stars X Ambassadors. Many of the crowd had either stayed after the 6:45 set, or were waiting for the 10:00 slot, and that added to the large crowd that gave the guys a warm welcome home. All they had to do was deliver, and they most certainly did.

The band crammed as much of their debut album, “Electrogram”, and their 2013 EP “Gold” as they could into about an hour on the US Cellular Connections Stage. Rarely did the group ever take an extended break, if only to take the time for lead singer Keegan Calmes to flip a water bottle into his hand, drink, and put it back down before they started up again. High points of the set included the crowd really getting involved on songs like “Shine On” and “Gold”, and an especially cool moment as Calmes stood atop co-founding member Chris Senner’s keyboard for a keys-and-vocals cover of The Killers’ “When You Were Young”. Calmes explained that for a while, he wasn’t really sure what he was doing musically, until finding The Killers’ music, which tugged at the heartstrings of the crowd, who felt obligated to sing along in full voice. The group closed out with breakout single “Breaking Up My Bones”, which was a complete celebration of the band’s success for everyone in the crowd.

By now, Vinyl Theatre have established their live set into a polished, tight piece of work. That was very obvious in their show on Thursday night, but it was also very cool to see this performance and know that their friends and family scattered throughout the area. It almost felt like a school recital, but on steroids, in the sense that the people supporting the band from get-go were around for the band to show them what they’ve done. Vinyl Theatre should be very proud of everything that they’ve accomplished so far, and if nothing else, Thursday night’s show at Summerfest should be a moment for everyone involved to cherish.