It’s May, meaning music-lovers across the country are locked and loaded for summer festival season. Line-ups and tickets have been released for nearly every genre’s largest concert gathering of the year. For much of the Midwest, this includes the infamous un-missable event, Lollapalooza.
But while Lolla—in all of its glory—receives most of the spotlight, the commonly overshadowed and severely underrated festival just a little over an hour north is out to challenge all that Chicago’s biggest party has to offer. Milwaukee’s annual Summerfest has been a common venture for those within traveling distance with a desire of a low-key live music experience that has just enough festival pizazz. However, with their recent line-up release, this underdog event is offering itself up to be a strong competitor for the concertgoer’s full and undivided attention.
Pulling ahead in headliners
Lollapalooza has become more and more reliant on its big name headliners, and these artists’ current fashionable relevance to the popular music scene. This year, Lolla will be strutting “big” names on their largest stages that include Muse, Wiz Khalifa, DJ Snake, The XX, Arcade Fire, and Big Sean, to name a few. While the festival will still be sporting well-respected names such as The Killers, Blink-182, Chance the Rapper and Lorde, the aforementioned bunch are comparatively less than satisfactory in sharing an equal platform.
When it comes to Summerfest’s line-up, the attention to proper stage recognition is awarded to both the headliners and small-but-mighty artists. Getting the amphitheater treatment this year will be iconic and noteworthy names, such as Red Hot Chili Peppers, Sheryl Crow Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and Bob Dylan. Summerfest has that added timelessness and emblematic agency to their headliner roster that is severely lacked in what Lollapalooza has rounded up this year. Not only that, but Summerfest seems to have swept the board when it comes to recognizing the best of the best in the lesser-known musician categories. A fault Lollapalooza commonly possesses is the booking of bands that are almost too small to gain the recognition they deserve in the context of a larger-than-life festival atmosphere. Lolla should be focusing on the Walk The Moon’s, The Bleachers’, The Misterwives’, and the Vinyl Theatre’s of the music world, in order to draw the appropriate crowds. Instead, Summerfest snatched these names, gaining another in the win column.
Unless you’ve been proactively and efficiently saving up since last year’s Lollapalooza closed its gates, chances are you scraped up every last dime to your name in order to snatch a 4-day pass to this year’s festival. Access to the full weekend of music will undoubtedly cost you a pretty penny, let alone a pass to one day of festivities. But we do it anyway, of course. The dozens of artists you love, the other dozen you’re going to fall in love with, and the one-of-a-kind electric atmosphere are all wrapped up in the hearty price. There’s absolutely nothing like it. Special as it may be, Lollapalooza can’t compete with Summerfest’s much more affordable ticket pricing. There is no denying that the Lollapalooza experience can’t be replicated, but when it comes to equal caliber quality music that won’t set you back hundreds of dollars, Summerfest takes a clear win.
When it comes down to it, there’s not necessarily any need to choose one over the other. Offering 10 days of its outdoor concert experience, Summerfest spans from the end of June through the first week of July, while Lollapalooza festivities are a jam-packed four-day experience at the end of July. Both bring more than enough to the table and combine to exceed any music lover’s expectations of what can be adventured through the indescribable nature of festival affairs. Ultimately, come August, it will be up to you to decide—who did it best?