Scenes from the 2013 Summer Soulstice Music Festival
- MONDO LUCHA! celebrates fifth anniversary in high-flying style at Turner Hall
- David Sedaris goes off book, shines at Pabst Theater
- Brian Wilson and Jeff Beck offer glimpses of greatness at Riverside Theater
- John Hodgman, Kristen Schaal, Eugene Mirman give Pabst Theater three shows for price of one
- Top 5 musical moments from Kenosha’s 2013 Ride of the Living Dead
Saturday’s Summer Soulstice Music Festival on North Avenue finally marked the arrival of summer in Milwaukee. The sun beat down for the better part of the day while an eclectic music lineup showcased local talent from all corners of the Milwaukee music scene. The A.V. Club was there to take in the music, the food, and the people that make the East Side music festival unique.
2:32 p.m.: We arrive just in time to catch the semi-final of the polo bike tournament. Breaking Benjamin and Evanescence blare over the stage PA as two-man teams in cutoff jeans ride around and try to hit a street hockey ball with plastic cups attached to sticks. We buy our first vodka lemonades and enjoy the action.
2:43 p.m.: The first drunk attendee festival attendee of the day is escorted off the premises near the bike polo tournament and almost falls into the court during the game. He cheers his support for the home team, the Milwaukee Bike Polo Club, as three officers haul him across the Beans And Barley parking lot.
3:15 p.m.: As we make our way over to the East Stage, we find a makeshift dodgeball court in the middle of the street, so we stop and enjoy the brutality of the co-ed tournament. A drunk girl in neon gets plastered square in the face with a ball thrown by a dude who likely works as a personal trainer at Snap Fitness. The imprint of a kickball on her cheek will hopefully serve as a reminder of the shame she should feel for letting her team down at such a prestigious event.
3:42 p.m.: Animals In Human Attire is in the middle of a high-energy set. The dude that usually slams on plastic buckets seems to be absent this afternoon, and it’s for the better. The band sounds tighter than any of the other times we’ve seen them.
4:10 p.m.: It’s official: the rain is going to hold off. The sun is beating down and it actually feels like summer for the first time this year.
4:35 p.m.: Milwaukee’s Klassik rips into a set that ends up being a highlight of the day. A high energy hip-hop set seems a little bit out of place in a mid-day slot at a festival like this, but a dedicated crowd is hooked on his unique style and melodic flow that’s reminiscent of early Kanye West and the jazz-inspired production of A Tribe Called Quest. Klassik dropped a great single, “Late2TheParty,” at the end of May and is set to release a new LP in early 2014.
5 p.m.: We re-up on drinks at Whole Foods and head over to the West Stage to watch Extra Crispy Brass Band. The band is blasting through an abrasive rendition of Macklemore’s “Thrift Shop” that has a small crowd nodding their heads. The dogs attending the festival don’t seem to be getting down with an all-brass band, though, as several cower under picnic tables and wait for the trombones and tubas to leave the stage.
5:18 p.m.: Word around the festival is that a great new Milwaukee band called Heartthrob is playing at Riverwest Public House tonight with Sat. Nite Duets and The Delphines, who just returned from an East Coast Tour. We plan to head over after the Soulstice.
5:57 p.m.: Juniper Tar drenches the crowd in twangy guitar interplay and sweet three-part harmonies. They seem to be right at home on North Ave. after last year’s residency at Hotel Foster, and today’s set further solidifies their status as a Milwaukee staple.
6:42 p.m.: It’s been a while since we’ve seen Canopies, and we’re impressed with their last few songs. While the keyboards are completely lost in the mix, their enthusiasm and hooks still shine through to make for a memorable performance and one of our favorites of the day.
7:20 p.m.: After a long day of drinking, Boy Blue’s set is the perfect release for festival attendees wanting to dance. The driving synth-pop quartet has received a lot of Milwaukee buzz recently, and reminds us of mid-’00s Warped Tour pop-punk bands like Taking Back Sunday and Motion City Soundtrack.
7:47 p.m.: A kid who can’t be more than three is up in front during Boy Blue’s set, grooving out and almost getting sat on by an overexcited drunk dude who loses his balance.
8:19 p.m.: The Delta Routine is delivering a heavy blues-rock set that is perfect for a festival like the Soulstice. The sound issues on the West Stage have clearly been resolved as crunchy organ and keyboards swell around the crowd. Midway through the band’s set, they deliver a driving version of “Twist And Shout” that’s easily a crowd favorite of the day.
8:50 p.m.: The crowd at the Soulstice—and the crowd’s alcohol consumption—has more than doubled in the last hour, and we spot a group of guys peeing on the wall next to Alterra.
9:45 p.m.: Hugh Bob And The Hustle are three songs into their headlining set on the East Stage, and the massive crowd loves it. The alt-country pop group has come to be one of Milwaukee’s most loved bands in the past year, and their musicianship and execution on stage proves why. Their performance is a fitting end to a great day of Milwaukee music.