Monday, July 10, 2017

Summerfest, Day 11 Recap - I Did It!

Well I made it. All 11 days of Summerfest's 50th anniversary celebration. It was a great run and I had a ton of fun. For another day I'd like to write about some of my takeaways, pro's and con's, tips, secrets, etc., but for today I'm just going to recap day no. 11.

This was a funny day. It was the latest that I arrived the festival in 11 days. I didn't get to the park until 4:30 PM. I had to watch the Brewers seal the series against the Yankees at O'Lydia's one last time. They did, taking two out of three against the Bronx Bombers and they head into the All-Star break 50-41 with a 5.5 game lead over the rival Cubs. Yay team. Good luck in the season's second half! Bonus, free Fireball shot at O'Lydia's. Not because the Brewers won, but because a marketing team was there offering everyone free shots. I took one, but I didn't pound it, I savored it. (If one can do that with an ounce of Fireball.)

My aim was to get to festival grounds by at least 5:00 PM because arrangements had been made for me to meet with a Fox 6 reporter for a Summerfest story. By 5:00 Angelica Sanchez of the station sent me a text, "Are you on the grounds?" Yep, I replied. We made arrangements to meet near the Harley-Davidson area. I told Angelica I was close and I'd be there in a moment. When I arrived, I spotted her looking for a fellow that she thought might be me. I walked up behind her just as she was asking some big dude in a sleeveless tee, "Are you Mike?" No he said, but I popped up from behind her and said, "But I am!" We found a relatively quiet spot to conduct an interview and I was mic'd up for a few questions. Camera rolling, I was asked a few Q's about my 11-day run and, beer in hand, I answered them. If you've ever done something like this, you immediately consider your answers afterward and wish for a do-over. Nonetheless, I had faith in their editing capabilities and they did a fine job removing all (most) of my gibberish. You can see the final product here.

A clip from my 30-seconds of fame
I sported my 414 shirt from Too Much Metal for the interview. Immediately afterward, I touched my Summerfest "gool" by visiting Fred and telling him to look for me on the evening news (or the Internet). Out of 11 days, I think there was only one where I didn't stop and share a "Hey, how you doin'?" with Fred. If you're reading this, Fred, thank you for the always warm welcomes.

I then made a beeline to see my friend Ron's band, Clove, perform at the lakefront (lagoon-front, really) Renegade stage. I was blown away. After a short delay getting the sound system set up, Clove rocked a nice array of pop-song covers. What amazed me was how well they were received! Not that they should not have been, but that was by far the most people I've seen attend one of these lagoon-front side stages. Clove packed 'em in and had everybody happily dancing. It was great. I stayed for quite a while with a big grin on my face. It's hard not to enjoy yourself when everyone near you is having such a good time. Well done, Ron and gang! (Note: other members of this band used to play with me at Brocach Irish Pub on North Water Street years ago. It was fun to see them gel professionally as Clove.)
Clove rocking the Renegade Stage; Ron on the left
After Clove I was nearly ready to make tracks, but I made one last walk through the north end of the grounds to see if there was any band worth discovering and boy was there ever. At the Johnson Controls World Sound Stage, I may have stumbled upon my favorite band of the festival: The Weeks. This is a new band to me, but they've been around for a while. In fact, if you give them a listen you're likely to say they sound like a Kings of Leon knock-off, but considering that The Weeks have been around for over 10 years, you could almost say it's the other way around. They rocked hard and I enjoyed them immensely.

Funny thing, though, while I was at this stage. I remembered that my friend and former Milwaukeean, Rachel, was the stage manager. Over the course of the 11 days she would send me messages, "Hey, let me know when you're here. You can come back stage and have a drink with me." At the 11th hour I texted Rachel, "I'm here. Is that backstage invite still open?" An immediate reply followed and, boom, I was backstage. It was good to see her and we enjoyed nice conversation with some of her now-exhausted staff. Plus we had that drink... er, drinks. While doing so, I could still hear The Weeks rocking out on the stage and I asked, "Hey, can I go out there and watch them from the side?" Sure I could and I watched the rousing finally from stage-right. They were a blast and as soon as they exited the stage via the black curtains there was me saying, "Well done, fellows. You rocked!" Even on the high of coming away from performing in front of a very appreciative crowd, the lead singer was gracious and said, "Thanks, man. We love to hear that!" That was nice. I'm looking forward to checking out a lot more of their music. In fact, I'm listening to it now and their new song, "Talk Like That" was played on 88Nine tonight.

The Weeks from backstage
And with that experience I called it a fest. I was very tempted to see The Shins, but I knew that I had an early golf date with my former boss and wanted to awake fresh and rested. My golf game needs all the help it can get. (It sounds like I may have made a poor decision. The word is that The Shins put on a great show. Dangit.)

So it's done. My attend-Summerfest-for-all-11-days Milwaukee bucket list item has been crossed off my list. I enjoyed it greatly, but I wouldn't necessarily do it again. But then again, maybe I would -- I just need a 353-day break to recharge.

Thanks for following along. Fest on, friends, Summerfest or not.

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