REVIEW: The Kooks Live at Summerfest, 6/26/15

The US Cellular Connections Stage at Summerfest saw one of its most solid lineups of the festival’s duration on Friday night, with local standouts GGOOLLDD, followed by indie up and comers Atlas Genius, and culminating in England’s The Kooks. For all three sets, at least the front portion of the bleachers at the stage were filled, and all three got the crowd to endure the balancing act of dancing on said bleachers. All in all, the pairing of the three bands made for a worthwhile triple bill in its own right.

The Kooks, however, were very much the men of the hour. Even before the set started, beach balls were aloft and the crowd was dancing to the recorded DJ set as instruments were changed over. By the time vocalist Luke Pritchard hit the stage, the crowd was at a swell, filling both the bleachers and the surrounding ground area. Everyone was dancing and bobbing along to the opening tunes from the more recent portion of The Kooks’ discography, including “Bad Habit”, which a younger member of the crowd behind me felt as though it was played to early, because it was “like, one of their biggest songs.” (I’m guessing he wasn’t very old when “Inside In/Inside Out” was released. )

Pritchard switched off from an electric guitar to an acoustic one several times throughout the set, although most of the songs were upbeat selections which almost sounded better live than on record. There was, however, a mellow singalong to “Seaside” that had the crowd just as involved as tracks like “Always Where I Need To Be”

No hits were spared from the set list, although several tracks from their earlier releases had to be cut for time. In essence, there’s almost too many catchy songs to fit into a festival set once it comes to The Kooks. If that isn’t a testament to good songwriting, I’m not sure what is. The set closed out, and the band was back out for an encore very quickly. The encore almost felt like a second set in itself, with a slightly different feel, but just as fun. Predictably, the night closed with hit single “Naïve”.

While the set was entertaining from start to finish, it almost felt as The Kooks could’ve kept going all night. They have an endless supply of catchy pop-rock, and had an audience in the palm of their hands throughout the show. Definitely a great night from the band, and definitely worth seeing again in the future.