REVIEW: Alesso at Summerfest

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The first day of Summerfest is often a sensory overload of sorts, especially this year. New stages, attractions, and generally re-acclimating yourself to the congestion of Henry Maier Festival Park can take away from the experience, but a solid headlining act can get past all of that. On Wednesday night, Alesso took the stage at the Miller Lite Oasis, providing his own sensory overload in the form of a bouncing EDM set. If you were looking for a party on a Wednesday night with a few thousand friends, look no further than the Oasis.

The initial feel was that this would be an underperforming show by the ground stage’s standards. At 10:00, many rows of bleachers were available, thanks to The Big Bang, and the hoards of younger crowds deciding between Harley-Davidson Roadhouse headliner Lil Uzi Vert and EDM with Alesso. Once the music kicked in, however, those spots quickly filled up, and a burst of streamers on the first bass drop got the party going.

The first half of the show was largely instrumental; it took some time before we got any sort of vocals, other than a quick “how we feeling out there, Milwaukee?” from the Swedish-born DJ. Many of the contemporary EDM show theatrics made an appearance, with steam cannons hitting on cue with every bass drop. A large LED screen with some extra-high definition images rotated from things like bleeding skulls getting crushed with sledgehammers to women submerging into pools of water. If you were on something, it was probably the type of imagery to kick the show into overdrive. If you weren’t, it might have looked like a bad tattoo artist’s dreams come to life. It played well for the atmosphere, though.

There was, around mid-set, a little bit of a drop off in the energy throughout the Oasis. An extended break of high end tones kept bass-hungry fans waiting, but it served as a transition into the more radio-friendly cuts that followed. Collaboration tracks featuring vocalists, including cuts with Calvin Harris and “Let Me Go” featuring Florida Georgia Line and Watt began to get the crowd moving again. A tribute to Avicii, featuring major hit “Wake Me Up” and the late DJ’s name on the display boards, got a big reaction, and felt fitting. The night closed with breakout hit, “Heroes” which features Tove Lo, and thousands of Milwaukeeans for the night in a group singalong.

While in many ways, it may have been your standard-fare EDM show, Alesso’s set at Summerfest was in no way as underwhelming as it looked like it could have been. It also served as a primer for the next 10 nights of music, which will no doubt have its share of memorable moments, as well.

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