Interest was piqued Sunday night at Summerfest’s Harley-Davidson Roadhouse as crowds gathered and packed the bleachers and any available square foot of concrete awaiting the arrival of the EDM community’s black sheep, DJ Paris Hilton. Despite an online campaign to get her thrown off the bill that achieved over 7,000 votes, she was here—via private jet no less—and the crowd was eager to see the hotel heiress throw down for the weekend-ending party.
Like a high school dance with drunken chaperones, the crowd skewed very young, but there was still a good representation of your standard Summerfest crowd in attendance. Drunken bikers, drunken moms and dads, drunken hipsters, goths, punks, and pretty much everyone in between looked on. Mostly, though, it was spastic teenagers slamming energy drinks and waiting to dry-hump in a public setting.
As the crowd waited for Hilton’s set to start, they received an hour-long warm-up from Milwaukee native Kid Cut Up, whose heavily hip-hop influenced mix was a solid segue to the evening’s headliner. As 10 bells hit, there she was, in all her glory. After a short introduction where she said the cordial hellos to the crowd and stated how excited she was to be at Summerfest and to party with everyone, her set began with a robot-voice croaking out, “Show us what you got when the motherfuckin’ beat drops.”
The beat did drop and the crowd went bat-shit crazy. Massive pink balloons were battered around. On stage, Hilton was doing a little button pushing, but it was tough to determine whether that pushing did much of anything. That said, she still attempted to throw a live aspect into her set of pre-recorded mixes. Otherwise, it was a lot of hair flipping, a little make-up fixing, and a lot of just grooving out. The woman has been in the public eye for most of her life, and some of her questionable antics over the years have garnered her many detractors, but it’s hard to hate on someone that seems like they’re having a legitimately good time entertaining a crowd that is having the time of their lives.
Her mixes weren’t anything to write home about, but they were recognizable and the crowd loved it. The formula seemed to be to start out with a popular song’s intro, then drop it down only to bring it back up to a frenzy and a booming bass line. This was the standard for much of her set as she mixed in Tove Lo’s “Habits,” The Rolling Stones’ “Satisfaction,” Hozier’s “Take Me To Church,” The White Stripes’ stadium-thumper “Seven Nation Army,” Bastille’s “Pompeii,” and even Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick In The Wall.” Oh, and she decided to warp the everlasting hell out of the vocals when she mixed “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” so that was something.
Her set lulled a bit in the middle when she threw in more trance than the crowd was willing to pay attention to, and when she busted out her new single, “High Off My Love,” it was a bit rough–although she did get to practice her catwalk skills as she lip-synched to the dance-influenced pop song.
She played through the night, was scolded about playing too loud, and then told she had to end her set as midnight was nearing. She seemed legitimately disappointed in this, but she said her thank you’s before taking off. It was no technical masterpiece by any means, but the crowd loved it and she seemed to have a good time. Despite all the shit that Summerfest received for booking Hilton, the fest got the last laugh as the crowds came in droves and almost everyone seemed to have a great time.