Summerfest bills itself as the “World’s Largest Music Festival,” That’s technically true: few music fests are even in the same ballpark when it comes to the Big Gig’s 11-day lineup of 800-plus acts. The rub, of course, is that only a small percentage of those acts are of the Kendrick Lamar/Neil Young/Stevie Wonder/”Weird Al” Yankovic caliber. Hell, most of them aren’t even of the “Taylor Dayne at the Uline Warehouse at 5 p.m.” caliber. Instead, a large chunk of the Summerfest schedule is devoted to cover bands, tribute acts, and the people who love them.

But dammit, that’s what makes Summerfest so much ridiculous fun. In honor of the many weekend warriors who will take off work, dust off their guitars, break out the hair gel and wallet chains, and play the Big Gig over the course of the next two weeks, Milwaukee Record presents a scientific field guide to the types of cover bands you’ll find at Summerfest 2015.

THE JOURNEYMAN (don’t-stop-believinus)
Distinguishing characteristics: a predilection for covering the music of Journey; the presence of “Don’t Stop Believin’” in the setlist
Commonly spotted: weddings; Rooters; JoJo’s Martini Lounge

Star Six Nine (June 24, Miller Lite Oasis, noon)
SuperFly (June 24, Miller Lite Oasis, 3 p.m.)
Random Maxx (June 25, Miller Lite Oasis, noon)
Liquorish (June 25, Uline Warehouse, 5 p.m.)
Dirty Boogie (June 25, JoJo’s Martini Lounge, 4 p.m.)
The Cougars (June 26, JoJo’s Martini Lounge, 8 p.m.)
The Screamin’ Cucumbers (June 27, JoJo’s Martini Lounge, 4 p.m.)
Alter Ego (June 28, Briggs & Stratton Big Backyard, 5 p.m.)
Oil Can Harry (June 28, JoJo’s Martini Lounge, 8 p.m.)
Mt. Olive (June 30, Miller Lite Oasis, noon)
Eddie Butts Band (June 30, JoJo’s Martini Lounge, 8 p.m.)
Rabid Aardvarks (July 1, Miller Lite Oasis, 3 p.m.)
33 RPM (July 2, Miller Lite Oasis, 3 p.m.)
76 Juliet (July 2, JoJo’s Martini Lounge, 8 p.m.)
Category X (July 3, Briggs & Stratton Big Backyard, 2 p.m.)
Separate Ways The Band (July 3, JoJo’s Martini Lounge, 4 p.m.)
Up All Night (July 5, JoJo’s Martini Lounge, 4 p.m.)
Cold Sweat And The Brew City Horns (July 5, JoJo’s Martini Lounge, 8 p.m.)

THE TRIBUTE ACT (justis-tributus)
Distinguishing characteristics: costumes; costumes; costumes
Commonly spotted: casinos; Shank Hall; Uline Warehouse

Jill Scott Tribute (June 24, Johnson Controls World Sound Stage, 8 p.m.)
Eric Diamond (June 26, JoJo’s Martini Lounge, 1 p.m.)
Animation – A Tribute to RUSH (June 30, BMO Harris Pavilion, 2 + 5 p.m.)
Christopher’s Project – A Tribute to Stevie Wonder (June 30, Harley-Davidson Roadhouse, 6 p.m.)
Heaven & Hell (June 30, Uline Warehouse, 1 p.m.)
No Quarter (June 30, Uline Warehouse, 6:30 p.m.)
Separate Ways The Band (July 3, JoJo’s Martini Lounge, 4 p.m.)
Substitute: Tales From The Who (July 4, Uline Warehouse, 3 p.m.)

THE COUNTRY BAND (shitis-kickerus)
Distinguishing characteristics: cowboy hats; cowboy boots; lots of Kenny Chesney and Jason Aldean in the setlist
Commonly spotted: state fairs; Country USA; Miller Lite Oasis

Diamond And Steel (June 24, JoJo’s Martini Lounge, 4 p.m.)
Road Crew (June 24, JoJo’s Martini Lounge, 8 p.m.)
Highfield Drive (June 25, BMO Harris Pavilion, 2 p.m.)
Crossfire (June 26, JoJo’s Martini Lounge, 4 p.m.)
Stetsin & Lace (June 28, JoJo’s Martini Lounge, 4 p.m.)
Rocky Mountain Oyster Band (June 30, Miller Lite Oasis, noon)
Bound For Branson (June 30, Miller Lite Oasis, 6 p.m.)
Bella Cain (June 30, Miller Lite Oasis, 8 p.m.)
Saddlebrook (July 1, Briggs & Stratton Big Backyard, 3:30 p.m.)
Geoff Landon & The Wolf Pack (July 2, Briggs & Stratton Big Backyard, 2:30 p.m.)

THE “CLOSE BUT NO CIGAR” BAND (read-carefulus)
Distinguishing characteristics: a name that plays off the name of another, much bigger band; a close kinship to The Tribute Act
Commonly spotted: casinos; Shank Hall; Briggs & Stratton Big Backyard

Judas Beast (June 30, Uline Warehouse, 3 p.m.)
U2Zoo (July 3, Briggs & Stratton Big Backyard, 6 p.m.)
Steely Dane (July 3, Harley-Davidson Roadhouse, 4 p.m.)
Think Floyd USA (July 4, Briggs & Stratton Big Backyard, 6 p.m.)

THE COMEDIAN (two-drink-minimumus)
Distinguishing characteristics: costumes; songs about the Packers; maybe a ponytail
Commonly spotted: private parties; college campuses; church festivals

Pat McCurdy (June 26, Briggs & Stratton Big Backyard, 6 p.m.)
5 Card Studs (July 4, BMO Harris Pavilion, 8 p.m.)
The Boogie Men (July 4, JoJo’s Martini Lounge, 8 p.m.)

THE SPOOFER (spoofus-festivus)
Distinguishing characteristics: local musicians doing a one-off tribute to a specific band; costumes again
Commonly spotted: Turner Hall; Club Garibaldi; Summerfest 2015’s “Spoof Fest Tribute To America”

Tommy James (July 4, Johnson Controls World Sound Stage, 4 p.m.)
Stone Temple Pilots (July 4, Johnson Controls World Sound Stage, 4:30 p.m.)
Journey (July 4, Johnson Controls World Sound Stage, 5:45 p.m.)
Cheap Trick (July 4, Johnson Controls World Sound Stage, 6:40 p.m.)
Lynyrd Skynyrd (July 4, Johnson Controls World Sound Stage, 7:35 p.m.)
The Doors (July 4, Johnson Controls World Sound Stage, 8:35 p.m.)

THE WAMI AWARD WINNER/NOMINEE (payus-to-playus)
Distinguishing characteristics: at least one mention of a WAMI Award and/or nomination in the band bio; silk shirts decorated with flames and/or dice
Commonly spotted: WAMI functions; Appleton; JoJo’s Martini Lounge
Examples: Too many to count

THE RINGER (singeris-femaleus)
Distinguishing characteristics: Four or five middle-aged dudes and one younger female singer; the presence of “What’s Up?” by 4 Non Blondes and at least two Janis Joplin songs in the setlist
Commonly spotted: Rooters; Oshkosh; Briggs & Stratton Big Backyard
Examples: Too many to count

GABRIEL SANCHEZ AND THE PRINCE EXPERIENCE (doveus-weepus)
Distinguishing characteristics: Being Gabriel Sanchez And The Prince Experience; being amazing
Commonly spotted: Summerfest; Northern Lights Theater; Bay View Bash
Examples: Gabriel Sanchez And The Prince Experience (July 4, Johnson Controls World Sound Stage, 10 p.m.)

About The Author

Matt Wild
Co-Founder and Editor

Matt Wild weighs between 140 and 145 pounds. He lives on Milwaukee's east side.

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