REVIEW: Marshmello at Summerfest
While James Taylor and Bonnie Raitt may have been at the American Family Insurance Amphitheater on Thursday night, the marquee attraction at Summerfest was definitely EDM producer / DJ Marshmello. The Miller Lite Oasis generally draws an enthusiastic younger crowd to begin with, but from early on in the night, it was apparent that by the time the headliner emerged behind the turntables, the ground stage would be packed in as close as possible with little room to move.
Openers RCKT PWR and Medasin stoked a fire that didn’t really need it, keeping the crowd amped up with some lively sets of their own, leaving only about 30 minutes for the Oasis crowd to recover while the stage was prepared for the headliner. Shortly after 10:00, the lights dimmed, the crowd shrieked, and we had a dramatic intro video of Marshmello crash landing to earth on the LED boards. In reality, an assistant helped the helmeted DJ to his platform, but that’s neither here nor there. With a burst of sound, the party went from 0 to 100, and Marshmello had no shortage of heavy bass.
From a production standpoint, the stage show was nothing short of an epileptic seizure, but a fun one at that. The seemingly standard issue smoke machines, confetti, and streamers were all there, but entertaining clips of Marshmello himself and animated versions thereof lit the crowd, including Mario Kart Marshmello, wacky waving arm flailing inflatable tube-Marshmello, and more. While he honestly may not be the most technically proficient DJ in the world, there’s no denying that the stage show made the night extra entertaining.
In terms of music selection, Marshmello clearly knows what is going to make a crowd of mostly high schoolers and college-aged kids go crazy. Mashups and remixes that incorporated trap, house, and pop flooded the Oasis with sound for much of the early part of the set, with occasional breaks to hear some original songs at least partially through. There was a collective bounce-along to Kendrick Lamar’s “Humble”, and at one point, a pseudo-tribute to the late XXXTentacion with a good portion of his hit “Look At Me” played.
As the set went on, though, it felt as though Marshmello was throwing everything at the wall to see what stuck, and luckily, everything stuck. Singalongs to Bon Jovi and Journey acapellas were well received, and a modified version of the Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” got the crowd moving as well. In fact, the only real slow-downs in the set, while brief, seemed to come during original Marshmello tracks. The crowd obviously went crazy for “Friends”, as well as singles like “Silence”, but they felt just slightly out of place within the context of the full mix. Nevertheless, it didn’t seem to matter to anyone at the Miller Lite Oasis on Thursday night.
In many ways, Marhsmello exceeded expectations. If you came expecting a sweaty, crowded, kinda dirty dance party, Marshmello certainly delivered, and then some.