Milwaukee's "Big Gig," which ran from June 28th through July 8th, and this year celebrated its fortieth anniversary, once again included the U.S.
Cellular Connection Stage with Leinenkugel's and FM 102.1 among the eleven performance venues at the 75-acre permanent site on the shores of Lake Michigan. This year the U.S. Cellular Connection Stage kicked it up a notch by presenting some of the country's top buzz bands in an Emerging Artists Series that occupied more than half of the daily schedule.
"Four out of the seven daily performance slots are dedicated to the Emerging Artists Series," explains David Silbaugh, artist relations and talent buyer for Summerfest, which is produced by Milwaukee World Festival, Inc., a Wisconsin non-profit corporation. Silbaugh, who personally selected the 44 new artists performing on the U.S. Cellular Connection Stage, continues, "We also produce a CD compilation for the series. The public votes for the eleven bands that appear on that compilation online. Then, there is a text vote each day and the band that receives the most votes wins a prize package that includes the Sennheiser microphones and other musical gear."
Nearly 80 artists are played the U.S. Cellular Connection Stage this year.
"Sennheiser provided a full complement of evolution microphones as the "first choice" for artists for the run of the festival," shares Silbaugh.
Headline acts included Jack's Mannequin, Shiny Toy Guns, Silversun Pickups, Rise Against, Built to Spill, Social Distortion, AFI, The Almost, Plain White T's, Spoon, Chevelle, Papa Roach and Blue October.
This is the second year running that Sennheiser has contributed to the Emerging Artists Series prize packages. "The groups that won last year all love the microphones and use them continually. A couple of the bands that come immediately to mind are Quietdrive, which is on Epic, and Wax On Radio, which is on Downtown Records. Everyone was very thrilled and the comments have been positive," says Silbaugh. "This year, all the winners were equally excited and grateful."
Summerfest, established in 1968, earned the title of "The World's Largest Music Festival" in the late 1990s with an extravaganza of music, food, shopping and other activities that regularly draws nearly one million people. The audience demographic is across the board, according to Silbaugh:
"Zero to 60! Musically, we have stuff that appeals to pre-teens, teens, all the way up to our classic rock demographic."
Highlights at this year's Summerfest included performances at the 23,000-seat Marcus Amphitheater by Steely Dan, Def Leppard, Panic! At the Disco, Roger Waters, The Fray, OK Go, Daughtry, John Mayer, Tool, Bon Jovi, Toby Keith, Ludacris and Chris Brown. Elsewhere on the site, audiences were able to see an eclectic lineup that also included REO Speedwagon, O.A.R., Blue Oyster Cult, Sum 41, Goo Goo Dolls, Lifehouse, Big & Rich, Ne-Yo, Femi Kuti, The New Cars, Guster and INXS.