My roots are grounded in Milwaukee soil and have been since birth. However, for two weeks out of the year, The Good Land is home to people from all over the world.
The thing is, you would never be able to guess who’s from out of town and who’s homegrown because Summerfest and its attendees pride themselves on one culture that revolves around music.
I got a late start on my Summerfest career. It was the summer of 2012 that I started interning for what was then Clear Channel Media + Entertainment, now iHeart Media Milwaukee. I eased myself into this new experience that was quite overwhelming to me at first. But as soon as I got the hang of the enthusiastic crowds, endless concerts and late nights, I realized Summerfest was a place where people could live - not relive - but live their “Glory Days.”
The following year, I was ready to soak in every minute of that festival, and I did. But what I didn’t know is that I would see a childhood hero headline one of the best concerts of my life. And so, we turn to Friday, July 5th of 2013.
Before prime time, my coworkers and I were sitting in our seats when some crazy, old guy walked past us and said the main act would be walking down the aisle next to us. We asked him how he could be so sure, and he responded with, “They call me the most interesting man in the world.”
Normally, my instincts would not be with the man wearing a grease-stained George Webb’s t-shirt, but, in this case, I didn’t want to take a chance and miss an opportunity to snag an up-close picture on my phone. Thankfully, we listened because Webb’s guy was right. Tim McGraw was standing five feet away from me, singing “Where the Green Grass Grows.”
At some point, you’d think a twenty year old girl would be concerned for her own safety as crowds started rushing in, bumping me in every which way, but I was stone-cold glued to that floor staring in awe of one of country music’s biggest names.
Let’s face it. Tim McGraw has a lot of hits. So, the best part about his concerts is that you probably have a memory associated with several of his songs. For me, July 5th was a nostalgic night. From “All I Want Is a Life” to “Just to See You Smile,” I could tell I wasn’t alone on the trip down memory lane. I looked around the amphitheater to find countless fans with hands in the air, swaying and singing back to Tim to serenade him just as he was doing to us. Sure, there was some fangirling going on. But, what do you expect when you put a cowboy with tight jeans and a tank top on stage?
Regardless, Tim’s energy caught fire that night and encompassed everything that Summerfest stands for: a community of fans with a passion for music.
It’s a tad predictable that I chose to review a country concert in honor of Summerfest’s 50th Celebration. After all, that’s what I do for a living: talk about country music. However, as the tradition continues, I encourage you to broaden your horizons during this festival. Explore new genres, discover local bands and tap into your expressive side (even if it means embarrassing yourself with drink in hand, singing the wrong words at the top of your lungs – We all have those nights).