Last night, June 25, kicked off Summerfest and though fog prevented the big bang fireworks show, there was plenty of excitement on the US Cellular Connection stage as Neon Trees made their fourth appearance to the world’s largest music festival. Neon Trees headlined starting at 10 p.m. and continued to 11:30 p.m.
The concert began with a huge sheet covering the stage throughout about half of the first song (“Lessons in Love”) while neon lights lit up the stage from behind, building suspense for the band’s appearance. The stage included stairs leading up to a platform which, while impressive for dramatic effect, downplayed drummer Elaine Bradley’s presence throughout most of the concert, as she was on a lower level of the platform in back while guitarist Chris Allen, bassist Branden Campbell, and singer Tyler Glenn remained at the front of the stage.
It was all the more exciting, then, to see Bradley come from her usual place behind the drums, out to the spotlight to sing alongside Glenn for “Mad Love” and “Unavoidable.” The two voices blend very well together and create harmony we can only hope to hear more of.
But whether it’s Glenn’s tiptoe-ing dance moves and insane vocal range, or Bradley’s drumming prowess and harmonies, or Allen and Campbell’s infectious energy, everyone in the band brings something to the table. The four members have great chemistry together and it’s evident that they’ve gotten very comfortable playing with each other.
The set list showed a good representation of their body of work, mostly introducing new songs from their latest album, Pop Psychology, while including the long-loved hits. Between songs, Glenn took time to tell short anecdotes leading into a song transition, often about love, coming out, and being yourself.
These anecdotes and uplifting messages make a Neon Trees concert stand out from others, not only because of Glenn recently coming out, but because it shows that the band has a lot of heart, as evidenced in their music and message. It’s fitting, then, that the encore ended on a more sentimental, personal note with “First Things First” following “Everybody Talks.”
Neon Trees played to a packed crowd at the US Cellular Connection stage, and fans couldn’t be stopped from singing and dancing along to both the hits and new tracks. Their love and support for Glenn in coming out was evidenced throughout the night in applause and cheers, with one fan even throwing his shirt up to the lead singer. The message and tone of the band’s live performance and latest album are best said from Glenn himself last night-
I’m Tyler. I’m 30. I love Milwaukee so much. I believe in God. I’m gay, and I’m so happy to be here!”
This, by far, led to the longest, most enthusiastic outpouring of applause last night. The Pop Psychology tour and album clearly showcase Glenn’s change for a much happier life. Neon Trees continue their Pop Psychology tour now through October and Summerfest continues now through June 29, and July 1-6.
Lessons in Love (All Day, All Night)
Love in the 21st Century
Moving in the Dark
I Love You (But I Hate Your Friends)
Teenager in Love
Text Me in the Morning
Living in Another World
Don’t You Want Me (The Human League cover)
Sleeping with a Friend
Where is My Mind (Pixies cover)
First Things First