Summerfest wrapped up its 44th year Sunday after an eleven day showcase of over 700 bands. I was lucky enough to snag tickets for the popular Milwaukee festival on Wednesday to see The Black Keys, Florence and the Machine and Cage the Elephant live. Cage the Elephant kicked off the night’s performances, and my friends and I arrived at the festival in time to catch a few of the band’s songs. I cannot say that I was the biggest fan of the Kentucky-originated band before I saw them live, and I have to admit that their performance did nothing to alter my opinion. Although the band put on a high-energy show, with lead singer Matthew Shultz weaving his way into the crowd on multiple occasions, Cage the Elephant proved to be a bit too scream-o for my taste.
Luckily, a break following the band’s show allowed for a quick refuel and a Leinenkugel Summer Shandy (although it was a stiff $7.50, it was well worth it) to kick-off the buzz that would own the rest of the music-filled night. An excited anticipation passed through the crowd when the arena darkened in preparation for Florence and the Machine to take the stage. Florence Welch could not have put on a better show. She twirled around the stage mesmerizing the audience with her whimsically-flowing cape and her beautifully powerful voice. Florence hit each note with incredible ease, while her band, including a harp player, stayed in perfect harmony with the rhythm of her words. Florence has a mystique and dark elegance that really allures an audience. The band finished their set with the popular song “Dog Days Are Over,” but at that point there was no doubt in anyone’s mind that Florence and the Machine had more than one hit under their belts.
Still, Florence and the Machine did not overshadow the night’s headliner, The Black Keys. The band took to the stage energetically and hardly paused for a moment as they pounded out hit after hit for a pumped-up audience. The audience jammed on together with the Keys, swaying to the rhythms and belting out the lyrics. Bringing in supporting band members to play songs from their newest album, the Ohio-natives were happy to have returned to the Midwest and to play for an audience that they claimed “understands us.”
Looking back, the best performance of that night is still a toss-up in my eyes between Florence and the Machine and The Black Keys. You can view snippets of the show by checking out the videos posted below and decipher for yourself (I can’t say they are of the best quality though, because I jumped and sang along with the crowd during both performances).
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