Summerfest! Like last year’s edition, “The World’s Largest Music Festival” is mixing things up a little in 2022 by staking out three Thursday-Friday-Saturday blocks instead of the traditional 11-day run. With that much entertainment packed into such a tight window, we understand if you’re stressing about how to Fest to the best of your ability.
In an effort to help you make some potentially difficult Summerfest decisions, Milwaukee Record will offer some Record Recommendations for all three weekends of Summerfest, including a suggested headliner, a reason to show up early, a can’t-miss local act, and a tip for a way to have a cheaper and/or better experience. Here are our Record Recommendations for Summerfest’s first three days.
Thursday, June 23
Big Boi — 10 p.m. @ Briggs & Stratton Big Backyard
What’s there to say here? Big Boi is amazing and if you have a chance to see the renowned rapper, songwriter, producer and actor—who’s best known for being one half of Outkast—on a free stage at Summerfest, you shouldn’t squander that opportunity. Big Boi will bring Summerfest’s first day to a satisfying end with a headlining performance at Briggs & Stratton Big Backyard.
Miles Nielsen And The Rusted Hearts — 3:30 p.m. @ Uline Warehouse
Before Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick has his turn on the Summerfest grounds on July 7, his son Miles—the bandleader/namesake of Miles Nielsen And The Rusted Hearts and an accomplished musician in his own right—will take the stage at the Uline Warehouse for a can’t-miss 3:30 p.m. show on The Big Gig’s opening day.
Brett Newski & The No Tomorrow — 8:15 p.m. @ UScellular Connection Stage
Usually, tireless Milwaukee troubadour Brett Newski is performing to audiences in other places. Yet when Summerfest rolls around, you can almost always expect a homecoming show from the well-traveled alternative rocker. Fresh off a run of shows in South Africa and before setting off the Europe to play with Nada Surf, Newski (with his backing band, The No Tomorrow, in tow) will treat the UScellular Connection Stage to a performance right before Barenaked Ladies play.
“All patrons who arrive between 12:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. and donate a minimum of two (2) jars of peanut butter will receive one (1) FREE admission ticket, valid for the day and time of the promotion only. Food donations will be accepted at all three (3) gates. Alternatively, each individual who visits www.hungertaskforce.org/Summerfest between the dates of May 15 and June 10 and donates $10 to Hunger Task Force, will receive an offer code for one (1) FREE admission ticket, valid for Thursday, June 23 from 12:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Offer codes can only be redeemed online at the Summerfest Store. Limit one (1) ticket per person. All donations benefit Hunger Task Force.”
Friday, June 24
Steve Miller Band — 9:30 p.m. @ BMO Harris Pavilion
Does Steve Miller—who was born in Milwaukee, raised in Waukesha, and who attended college in Madison—qualify as a local artist? Maybe! As we all debate that, we’ll just go ahead and make Steve Miller Band our suggested headliner for Friday, June 24. Oh, and if you can’t make this show, you can see Steve Miller Band at the same stage at the same time the following night.
Lita Ford — 5:30 p.m. @ Uline Warehouse
The first Friday of Summerfest finds a cluster of hair metal powerhouses taking over the Uline Warehouse stage. Adding to the lineup that features the likes of Skid Row, Warrant, and Quiet Riot is a performance by the incomparable Lita Ford. The former member of The Runaways and one-time Ozzy Osbourne duet partner—who has managed a successful solo career spanning decades—will take the Uline Stage at 5:30 p.m., so get out of work and head over to the Summerfest grounds early to snag a good spot.
Violent Femmes — 9:30 p.m. @ Generac Power Stage
Do Violent Femmes—which started in Milwaukee and who still have a member who lives here in its ranks—still count as a local band? Maybe! As we all debate that, we’ll just go ahead and make Violent Femmes our suggested local pick for Friday, June 24.
“All patrons arriving between 12:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. will be admitted for free! Spend a fun-filled day with the family enjoying Children’s Fest activities, including the Lou Malnati’s Map of Fun and the Family Fun Package drawing. Select food vendors will offer discounts on food and beverage items.”
Saturday, June 25
Lil Wayne + Wiz Khalifa, Wu-Tang Clan — 7:30 p.m. @ American Family Insurance Amphitheater
World famous rapper and Green Bay Packers fan Lil Wayne will head up an impressive AmFam Amphitheater lineup that also features Steelers fan Wiz Khalifa and Wu-Tang Clan…who mostly like the Jets, it seems.
The Far Side (Formerly of The Pharcyde) with DJ Abilities — 5:30 p.m. @ Generac Power Stage
Ignore the (likely legally-motivated?) name change on this one. Three members of The Pharcyde have reunited in honor of the 30th anniversary of Bizarre Riders II The Pharcyde. Show up early to see Fatlip, Slimkid3, and Imani performing songs off the influential progressive hip-hop group’s celebrated debut album, as well as other notable portions of their outstanding catalog. It’s also worth noting DJ Abilities of Rhymesayers fame will be manning the turntables during this must-see 5:30 p.m. set.
The Keystones — 3 p.m. @ Johnson Controls World Sound Stage
Though they’re probably best-suited for grimy rock clubs, we imagine The Keystones’ sound would also translate to a 3 p.m. performance under the shade of the Johnson Controls World Sound Stage. You can find out for yourself on Saturday, June 25.
“Help support Mary Lou’s Closet, a program providing needed hygiene supplies for youth in area public schools. The first 1,500 patrons who arrive between 12:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. at the Mid Gate and donate NEW deodorant, feminine hygiene products, and/or socks, with a total minimum value of $10, will receive one (1) free admission ticket, valid for the day and time of the promotion only. All donations benefit United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County’s community schools.”