It’s here. After 50-plus weeks away from the lakefront, Summerfest has returned. By now, you’ve already figured out the performers you’re absolutely going to see, and committed those stages and set times to memory. Similarly, you’ve also observed other publication’s picks for things like “33 Must See Summerfest Acts,” “33 Summerfest Acts You Must See,” “The Five Summerfest Bands You’ll Meet In Heaven,” “11 Reasons To See 11 Bands On All 11 Days Of Summerfest,” “6 Bands You Can See Two Times,” and “3 Lead Singers You’ll Want To 69 at 4:20.”

Instead of telling you who you should see at Summerfest this year, we’ve combed the Big Gig schedule to unearth some Summerfest gems you maybe didn’t even know you could see. To help you cut through the fat in the Fest flyer, we’ve organized performers into some very important categories. Like, who knew so many bands were named after places? And did you hear the rumor about a Gossip Girl actress fronting a band that’s playing at 3 o’clock?

Artists with animal names
• Arctic Monkeys
• Nightmare & The Cat
• Wild Cub
• The Yardbirds
• Pet Tigers
• The Stone Foxes
• Chicken Wire Empire
• Kitten
• Young Buffalo
• Ten Strings And A Goat Skin
• Bear Hands
• Love Monkeys
• Seabird
• Wolvereen
• Briar Rabbit
• Carbon Tigers
• Geoff Landon & The Wolfpack
• Rabid Aardvarks
• Reverend Raven And The Chain Smokin’ Altar Boys
• Animals In Human Attire

Believe it or not, this planet is home to more than TWO HUNDRED (!) species of animal. It’s only natural (<- get it!) for Earth’s abundance of wildlife to trickle into the territory of band names. More than 20 such acts will inhabit the already zoo-like and caged-in confines of Henry Maier Festival Grounds. When in doubt of what to call your new band, just put an adjective in front of a type of animal. Wild Cub! Rabid Aardvarks! Diabetic Chocolate Labs! Exhausted Galapagos Turtles! Half of these will play Summerfest this year, and the others will inevitably become actual bands and play the festival in the near future.

Bands with numb3rs in their name
• Element 13
• Third Eye Blind
• Delhi 2 Dublin
• The Lower 48
• 5 Card Studs
• Cadillac Three
• Five Finger Death Punch
• Joe 2.0
• .38 Special
• 52nd Street Band
• h2-oh
• Altered Five
• Nineteen Thirteen
• Three Beers til Dubuque
• Project 46
• C3 Band
• Mirage III
• Citizen Zero (Do integers count?)
• DJ Devast8
• Hour 24
• Project 3:13

There was a time when the mainstream music spectrum was cluttered with acts like Blink 182, 311, Finger Eleven, SR71, Link 80, Buck 65, MU330, and L7. We’d tell you when that was, but why write extra numerals? Though fewer numeric namesakes are finding their numbers translate to album sales these days, the trend hasn’t stopped. Legacy bands like .38 Special and Third Eye Blind get a pass, but Project 46 should take on the 47th project of finding a band name that isn’t hot garbage. Project 3:13, on the other hand, should be Five Finger Death Punched. H8 that name.

Misspelled names
• Pentatonix
• Off Tha Hook
• Kiings
• Klassik
• WIFEE And The HUZZ Band
• Wolvereen
• Outkast
• Bad Habitz
• Random Maxx
• Liquorish
• Phantogram

Listen up, nerds! Rock stars are far too busy rocking out, autographing breasts, and reuniting their childhood bands in a garage as a distraction for their erectile dysfunction to bother checking a dictionary or hitting spell check to make sure the names of their projects are, you know, actual words. Kiings was obviously a reaction to there already being numerous King-based outfits. And, yeah, Liquorish is a pretty funny dad pun. However, bands tossing a haphazard Z or X on your name shouldn’t be allowed to succeed, let alone take spots on the Summerfest lineup that could go to honest-to-goodness bands with a grasp on basic spelling and grammar. WIFEE And The HUZZ Band might be the worst band name in Summerfest history.

Early, under-the-radar sets
• White Denim
• Hamilton Leithauser (formerly of The Walkmen)
• Ed Kowalczyk (formerly of Live)
• Pretty Reckless
• Berlin
• The Yardbirds

With approximately 750 bands to arrange, occasionally an especially intriguing (non-local) act bucks the rule of chronology, gets lost in the shuffle, and lands in an early slot. Paramount among them, former Live front man Ed Kowalczyk will play a Tuesday 3 p.m. gig at the Miller Lite Oasis (perhaps to cover fees in the legal battle against his ex-bandmates). Berlin brings the ’80s back to fans—who are assuredly thankful for the 3 p.m. start time. And Gossip Girl actress Taylor Momsen could be second-guessing her decision to leave the small screen when her and the rest of Pretty Reckless are playing to metal bleachers and offended elderly at 3 p.m. Friday.

Performers with misleading names to make you think they’re somebody else
• Steely Dane
• Skinny Lister
• Red Hot Chili Puppets
• Lukyn Skywyrd
• Wave Chappelle
• ZZ Ward
• Mrs. Fun
• Shag

When the Summerfest lineup was released, we’re willing to bet there were a few names you saw that caused you to get unnaturally excited. (“Holy shit, Red Hot Chili Peppers at the Children’s Theater & Playzone?!”) After reading it a bit closer, you were simultaneously brought back to reality and left to ponder whether you had dyslexia. Don’t feel bad. Most of these bands intentionally set out to trick you with nomenclature that’s strikingly similar to more popular acts…except Skinny Lister, which only sort of reminds us of Thin Lizzy. And, yeah, we know it wasn’t you, Shag.

Bands with locations as names
• Kansas
• Delhi 2 Dublin
• Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue
• Georgia Overdrive
• Railroad Earth
• Berlin
• Run Carolina
• Bruno Mars

Locations. They’re everywhere! Some even have a place on the Big Gig lineup, from a street  to a nearby state. Even the red planet is represented in the form of tonight’s Marcus Amphitheater headliner (Bruno Mars).

These guys again?
• O.A.R.
• Pat McCurdy
• Joan Jett & The Blackhearts
• Matisyahu
• Atmosphere
• Brother Ali
• Paul Cebar Tomorrow Sound
• Rusted Root

Once again, organizers have done a great job in bringing in a vast array of first-time Festers and/or currently relevant acts in 2014 music. But for each Brand New, Nas, Lady Gaga, and Phantogram on the schedule, twice as many booking holes in the massive entertainment undertaking are patched with the mortar of familiar acts that seem to appear in the program every year. Maybe it’s lazy booking? It could be cheap performers to save money for bands who Fest less often. Perhaps people have shown they’ll keep coming out every summer to see Joan Jett play that one song she has yet again. Atmosphere and Brother Ali are back for the 17th consecutive year, as are Paul Cebar, Rusted Root, and Matisyahu. Fucking Pat McCurdy is back too, sadly.

Happy Festing. You’re welcome!

About The Author

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Co-Founder and Editor

Before co-founding Milwaukee Record, Tyler Maas wrote for virtually every Milwaukee publication (except Wassup! Magazine). He lives in Bay View and enjoys both stuff and things.