Summerfest 2014 in Milwaukee may be winding down this weekend but that didn’t stop the talent performing at the festival on Thursday, July 3 from kicking their shows into overdrive. From Reggae to Rock to Country, Summerfest offered something for everyone last night. On the grounds stages some of the headliners included Ziggy Marley, New Order, Rise Against, Cowboy Mouth and The Hold Steady. At the Marcus Amphitheater last night the headliner was The Zac Brown Band and included an opening set by special guest Jared And The Mill.
Once again the festival grounds were unseasonably cool near the lakefront, but it was pretty comfortable, all things considered. Inside the Marcus Amphitheater, Zac Brown and his band threw down for the Thursday night party crowd and gave the fans a healthy slice of his signature sound. Brown wore a classic black hat and flashed smiles to his fans while he played his road worn Taylor acoustic guitar adorned with military themed stickers.
Over at the Harley Stage things were rocking with June Divided, a four piece unit from Philadelphia, who played Summerfest last year in the afternoon. This year they played at night as openers for the Rise Against headline show, and they gave Milwaukee a sonic blast that they won’t soon forget. June Divided is currently working on a follow up release to their first album, “Backbone.”
At the Tiki Hut, Summerfest’s hidden gem along the lakefront behind the Johnson Controls Stage, emerging artists such as Nora Collins and Dan Rodriguez played for the fans in an intimate setting that defies the norm at a festival known for big gigs. Therein lies the beauty, however, that in a fast placed world like Summerfest there’s a place where things can slow down for a moment and you can witness a singer-songwriter on a personal level and make a connection to their music. Dan Rodriguez is one of the standout performers in that sense, because he has an amazing ability to reach out and gather large audiences out of thin air.
For WAMI singer-songwriter of the year Nora Collins, yesterday was her last two performances of Summerfest 2014. Collins was scheduled for 14 performances throughout the first 8 days of Summerfest but wound up sneaking in an additional half hour set at the Tiki Hut the same day she played the Uline Warehouse, bringing her total to 15 times onstage this year. Collins took the last two performances as an opportunity to shine in the spotlight, and shine she did. Collins performed a heartfelt and sensational rendition of “Nothing To Do With Me” during her first set and handed in a performance of her new song “I’ll Be Gone,” during her second set that solidified my belief that no matter what else she writes for her next album, it should be her lead single. To end things off, Nora Collins performed her take on Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” and ended her Summerfest run on the highest of notes.