Danny Gokey Day
The A.V. Club finds out if it was worth handing our city over to FOX for a very large photo op
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Never one to miss out on a local pop culture clusterfuck, The A.V. Club followed the madness of Danny Gokey Day for a few hours on Friday as the American Idol contestant made his way from the bronze Fonz to a “mini-concert” at the Summerfest grounds. Gokey provoked a media orgasm so mammoth it would take Brett Favre committing a triple murder in a massive snowstorm to top it, and we wanted to find out what all the fuss was about. Instead, we only found cougars, Adam Lambert haters, and a decent-ish cover act.
2:55 p.m.: We arrive at the bronze Fonz, where a modest group of stalkers—er, devoted fans—mill about. The only slightly interesting thing we notice is a creepy thirtysomething man selling flowers. Yeah, this is about what we expected.
3:23 p.m.: Gokey’s appearance is nearing, and the bronze Fonz walkway is filling to near capacity. Word filters among the fans that the reason Gokey made a puzzling visit to an AT&T store earlier in the day was so he could receive a text message from Paula Abdul, which still makes absolutely no sense. (We like to play dumb when it comes to overbearingly obvious product placements.) Anyway, it turns out that Abdul wants Gokey to sing Terence Trent D’Arby’s “Dance Little Sister” on the next show, which is sort of like asking Clay Aiken to do “Pump Up The Jam.”
3:26 p.m.: Gokey’s limo is spotted on Wisconsin Avenue! OMG! Gokey’s handlers clear a path to the bronze Fonz as The Most Important Milwaukeean Who Ever Lived waves, hugs, and grins his way to a spot immediately to the right of a statue honoring The Most Important Milwaukeean Who Never Actually Lived. A TV reporter asks Gokey how it feels to be almost as famous as the Fonz. “Almost?” he responds with mock incredulity. Fame’s changed you, man. (Factoid: Gokey is just as tall as the Fonz: not very.)
4:23 p.m.: Over at the Summerfest grounds, where fans wait for Gokey to appear for his mini concert, a local junior high marching band plays “I Heard It Through The Grapevine,” which was Gokey’s audition song. It’s a toss up as to which version sounds less soulful. The crowd otherwise is entertained by just about every local sports and corporate mascot imaginable—except for Bernie Brewer, who appears to be more of a Dancing With The Stars person. Nearby, a group of glammed-up fortysomething females hold a sign that reads, “COUGARS FOR DANNY.” It figures that all this MILF action would be wasted on a religious guy. Ladies, if this guy comes by to clean your pool, he's really only going to clean your pool.
4:26 p.m.: One of the more curious signs we spot proclaims, “Thanks for not painting your nails, Danny.” Ah, the first thinly veiled Adam Lambert hate sign. We wonder if fans in Lambert’s hometown of San Diego carry signs that say, “Thank you for not anal raping Aerosmith songs.”
4:58 p.m.: Buttloads of people continue to pour into the Summerfest grounds as we make our way to The Harley-Davidson Roadhouse, which is quickly exposed as inadequately small for this show. The closest we can get to the stage is Racine.
5:10 p.m.: Rick Springfield, members of the Green Bay Packers, Mayor Tom Barrett, and Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker appear onstage as Gokey’s opening act. We wonder if they’ll play any of their older, more rocking material. Okay, they don’t actually jam. They just stand up there awkwardly. We wonder if those cougars are doing anything later.
5:15 p.m.: Gokey finally takes the stage and the thousands of Idol fanatics go completely apeshit. Honestly, this crowd is huge. Not even Ruben Studdard craps this big. Gokey launches into a set highlighted by Michael Jackson’s “P.Y.T.” and Earth, Wind & Fire’s “September.” Not to sound like we’re ungrateful for our city’s big day of reality-show fame, but Gokey’s concert is a little underwhelming, even by “cover singer at Summerfest” standards. At least tell us that Cheap Trick or REO Speedwagon is coming on next. No? We’re outta here!