SUMMERFEST 2022 (WEEK 1) @ Henri Maier Festival Park – Milwaukee, WI

SUMMERFEST @ Henri Maier Festival Park – Milwaukee, WI

June 23rd – 25th, 2022

Review by Rick Kramer
Photos by David Urmanski

Summerfest is an annual music festival held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and is widely regarded as “The World’s Largest Music Festival”. Taking place during the summer months and running for nine days over the span of three weekends, Summerfest is a celebration of music that draws a diverse crowd of music lovers, ranging from local Wisconsinites to visiting concert-goers from across the glode.

Summerfest 2022 opened with perfect weather and attendance reaching near-normal size since the world-wide pandemic grounded the music world to a halt. It was a great start to the 54th Anniversary of “The World’s Largest Music Festival” and included all of the favorite features from previous years — great food, big crowds, high energy and a great line-up of world-class performances.

While Summerfest packed hundreds of music performances, themed amusement, fantastic food and everything in between into a bustling, fun-filled three day celebration during it’s first week back since last year’s September celebration, the festivities and hoopla proved to be a joy-filled experience that filled the hearts of those in attendance who were anxiously awaiting a grand getaway from their daily, mundane activities. Here is our summary of some of the artists performing at the latest and, in our opinion, the greatest edition of the Big Gig.

LIL WAYNE – Lil Wayne is one of the best-known celebrity Packer fans and he was happy to show off his diamond studded Packers chain while also closing out his set with a performance of his Packers’ dedicated track “Green & Yellow” (a remake of Wiz Khalifa’s “Black & Yellow”). He also predicted a Packers Super Bowl appearance this year to which the fans heartedly agreed.

WIZ KALIFA is very familiar to Summerfest, having opened for Mylie Cyrus in 2021 and headlined what is now the Generac Power Stage (then the Harley Davidson Roadhouse). Known for smoking during most of his sets, from the smell it seemed like a lot of the audience was, too.

WU-TANG CLAN – RZA, Method Man, Raekwon, Inspectah Deck and Ghostface Killah, aka The Wu-Tang Clan, have been rap legends since the ‘90s, so making their first appearance at Summerfest was a big treat for Milwaukee rap fans. The legends performed a decades spanning set including all their classics like “Enter the Wu-Tang,” “Wu-Tang Forever.”

JASON ALDEAN – Jason Aldean returned to the American Family Amphitheater for the first time since 2019, and it’s safe to say everyone in the Milwaukee crowd would have agreed it was “My Kinda Party.” Known for his energetic live performances and hit songs, Aldean’s set featured a mix of high-energy, upbeat tracks and emotional ballads that truly resonated with his fans. His strong stage presence, natural charisma and audience interaction certainly helped Aldean engage with concert-goers quickly and hold their attention during the nearly hour and a half set. Highlights such as “Dirt Road Anthem,” “She’s Country,” “Burnin’ It Down,” and “My Kinda Party” got the crowd on their feet, singing along and creating a fun and lively atmosphere.

DUSTIN LYNCH – Fans of country music flocked to the UScellular Connection Stage at Summerfest 2022 on a warm summer night in anticipation of seeing the great Dustin Lynch perform. The anticipation of an unforgettable evening filled the air as the evenings’ headliners were set to take their places across the festival grounds. Dustin Lynch, known for his smooth vocals and catchy country tunes, did not disappoint. From the moment he stepped onto the stage, his charismatic presence and infectious energy captivated the audience. Opening with the chorus from his hit song “Thinking ‘Bout You,” the crowd erupted into cheers. Lynch went straight into “Ridin’ Roads”, the crowd singing along to every word.

Backed by a talented band, Lynch flawlessly delivered a setlist filled with both fan favorites and tracks from his latest album. His vocal range was impressive, effortlessly transitioning from soulful ballads to upbeat, foot-stomping anthems. The crowd was completely engrossed, swaying and dancing to the rhythm of the music.

One of the highlights of the night was Lynch’s interaction with the crowd. He made a point to connect with his fans, sharing stories and expressing his gratitude for their support. Whether he was exchanging laughs with fans (evening handing one lucky fan a “Drinking Helmet”) or encouraging everyone to sing along, his genuine enthusiasm resonated throughout the venue.

As the night progressed, Lynch delivered hit after hit, including “Cowboys and Angels,” “Seein’ Red,” and “Small Town Boy.” The crowd’s energy reached its peak during these chart-toppers, with everyone singing at the top of their lungs, creating a chorus of voices that echoed through the Summerfest grounds.

MODEST MOUSE – One of the highlights of the Modest Mouse performance was the band’s ability to recreate the intricate and layered sound of their studio recordings in a live setting. The use of various instruments including banjos, horns and keyboards added depth to their performance and showcased their musical versatility. The visual aspect of the concert was also impressive. The stage production featured vibrant lighting effects and a backdrop that complemented the mood of each song. The visuals enhanced the overall experience, creating a multi-sensory journey for the audience.

What stood out the most during the Uline Warehouse set was the genuine connection between the band and their fans. Isaac Brock interacted with the crowd, encouraging sing-alongs and sharing anecdotes between songs. The band’s passion for their music was evident… and infectious. It created a fantastic live experience and the band’s energy, musical talent and ability to engage the audience made it an unforgettable night for all in attendance.

ANTHRAX – Anthrax delivered an awe-inspiring performance that showcased their enduring talent and cemented their status as legends of thrash metal. From the relentless energy on stage to the passionate response from the crowd, every element of the concert contributed to an unforgettable night. Anthrax proved once again why they are revered as one of the most influential bands in the genre, leaving their fans with an insatiable hunger for more. As the echoes of their final song faded into the night, the memories of an incredible day one Generac Power Stage line-up will resonate with the Summerfest fans for years to come.

POP EVIL – Pop Evil concerts are known for their high-energy and electrifying atmosphere and their set at the Generac Power Stage exceeded expectations. Lead vocalis Leigh Kakaty’s dynamic stage presence and passionate performance created an engaging and entertaining experience for fans. With their blend of hard rock and catchy melodies, Pop Evil have a knack for getting the crowd involved and creating an energetic atmosphere.

During their set Pop Evil performed a mix of their most popular hits as well as tracks from their latest album, ensuring a well-rounded setlist that catered to both longtime fans and newcomers. Their songs often feature infectious hooks and anthemic choruses that encouraged audience participation and sing-alongs. The Summerfest crowd did not disappoint and responded accordingly.

STEVE AOKI – Steve Aoki’s raucous show in front of a rowdy crowd confirmed Summerfest was finally “back” from the pandemic. The renowned American DJ, record producer and musician is well-known for his energetic performances and incorporation of electronic dance music (EDM) into his shows. His Miller Lite Oasis concert closed out opening day with high-energy music, dynamic visuals and compelling crowd interaction.

DAYGLOW – Fans camped out for hours at the Briggs & Stratton Big Backyard Stage, and the roar when lead singer Sloane Struble came on stage was stunning. His anticipated performance began around 6 pm, and the refreshing, upbeat and undeniably catchy music kept the fans engaged for the whole set. The blend of indie pop, vibrant melodies and relatable lyrics make the songs accessible and enjoyable for nearly any audience. Whether you were looking for feel-good tunes or introspective tracks to contemplate, Dayglow offered a compelling musical journey worth exploring.

QUIET RIOT – Uline Warehouse Summerfest came alive Friday afternoon with the electrifying rock and roll sounds of Quiet Riot. Known for their high-energy performances and iconic hits from the 1980s, the band took the stage and immediately transported the audience back in time to the golden era of hair metal.

As the crowd eagerly awaited the band’s appearance, the sound of roaring guitars and pounding drums began to resonate through the venue. The audience erupted with excitement as Quiet Riot burst onto the stage, kicking off their set with “Run for Cover” off their 1983 classic Metal Health. It was clear that Quiet Riot had lost none of their power over the years. Lead vocalist Jizzy Pearl commanded the stage with his dynamic presence and powerful vocals, channeling the spirit of the late Kevin DuBrow while infusing the songs with his own unique energy. The band members, Rudy Sarzo on bass, Alex Grossi on guitar, and drummer Johnny Kelly, proved their prowess as they flawlessly delivered their signature sound.

The setlist was a well-curated mix of Quiet Riot’s greatest hits and fan favorites. Songs like “Cum On Feel the Noize” and “Bang Your Head (Metal Health)” had the crowd singing along at the top of their lungs, their voices blending with the thunderous music. The band also treated the audience to some lesser-known gems, such as “Slick Black Cadillac” and “Breathless,” which delighted longtime fans and introduced newer listeners to the band’s deep catalog.

Throughout the performance, Quiet Riot showcased their tight musicianship and undeniable chemistry. The guitar solos were blistering, the rhythm section provided a solid foundation, and Jizzy Pearl’s vocals soared above the instrumentation. It was evident that the band members were genuinely enjoying themselves on stage, feeding off the energy of the crowd and reciprocating it in kind.

One of the standout moments of the night came during an emotional tribute to former Quiet Riot members who have passed away— drummer Frankie Banali in 2020, vocalist Kevin DuBrow in 2007, and the late, great Randy Rhodes. As the band played “Thunderbird,” a song dedicated to their memory, many in the audience held up their hands, creating a beautiful sea of hands that flowed with the pulse of the song. It was a poignant and heartfelt tribute that reminded everyone of the impact the three had on 80s metal.

Quiet Riot left the stage to thunderous applause after an explosive rendition of “Metal Health,” leaving the audience exhilarated and wanting more.

LITA FORD – Lita Ford’s music is characterized by its energetic guitar riffs, catchy hooks, and empowering lyrics and her 5:30pm Uline Warehouse set was no different. Highlights were “Kiss Me Deadly,” “Close My Eyes Forever”, and “Playin’ with Fire.” Her distinctive vocals, combined with her virtuosic guitar playing, have earned her a dedicated fan base and critical acclaim.

SKID ROW – Skid Row closed out day two at the Uline Warehouse Stage and performed a blistering set that made for a high-energy and raucous atmosphere. The band is known for their energetic stage presence and engaging performances and the Summerfest hair-metal fans in attendance were treated to healthy dose of both. They played their well-known hits such as “18 and Life,” “I Remember You,” and “Youth Gone Wild” which are fan favorites and crowd-pleasers.

Sebastian Bach, the band’s original lead vocalist, is no longer with the group, but their current lead singer, ZP Theart, was well-received by fans and critics alike. Skid Row continues to deliver a powerful performance, showcasing their hard rock sound and tight musicianship.

THE BREEDERS – The Breeders delivered and energetic and engaging show at the Generac Power State. The concert often featured a mix of fan favorites and deep cuts, showcasing their versatility as a band. The Deal sisters’ chemistry on stage and their interaction with the audience contributed to a great concert experience.

One of the notable aspects of a Breeders’ show is the ability to combine raw, lo-fi aesthetics with melodic hooks and memorable songwriting. Their songs feature a mix of introspective and playful lyrics, delivered with Kim Deal’s distinct vocal style.

TOAD THE WET SPROCKET – Iconic alternative rockers Toad the Wet Sprocket took the UScellular Connection Stage on the Big Gigs opening, sending waves of nostalgia through the air. From the moment Toad the Wet Sprocket kicked off their set with the melodic strains of “Come Down,” it was clear that they had lost none of their magic over the years. The familiar opening chords resonated with the audience, immediately transporting them back to the 90s and reminding them of the band’s enduring appeal.

Lead singer Glen Phillips’ voice was as strong and captivating as ever, effortlessly weaving through the band’s signature blend of introspective lyrics and infectious melodies. His emotive delivery brought each song to life, making the audience feel every word and note on a deeper level.

Toad the Wet Sprocket showcased their versatility throughout the evening, seamlessly transitioning from upbeat and catchy tunes like “Fall Down” and “Good Intentions” to more introspective and introspective tracks like “All I Want” and “Something’s Always Wrong.” This ability to strike a perfect balance between heartfelt introspection and energetic rhythms is a testament to the band’s songwriting prowess.

The chemistry among the band members was obvious, as they flawlessly navigated their way through a setlist that spanned their extensive discography. Each musician displayed their virtuosity, whether it was Todd Nichols’ skillful guitar solos, Dean Dinning’s solid basslines, or Josh Daubin’s precise drumming. Together, they created a tight and cohesive sound that filled the venue and resonated with the crowd.

WARRANT – Warrant lit up the Uline Warehouse with a high-energy performance with a focus on their most popular songs created during the long cherished hair-band days. Fans heard their classic hits, which evoked a sense of nostalgia for those who grew up during that era. The band members are known for their stage presence as they often engage their audience, creating exhuberant interactive and a highly enjoyable fan experience. Warrant is an American rock band known for their hits in the late 1980s and early 1990s, such as “Cherry Pie” and “Heaven.” They are recognized as part of the glam metal genre.

THE FAR SIDE (FORMERLY OF THE PHARCYDE) – Hip-hop fans eagerly gathered to witness a hip-hop spectacle unlike any other. The stage was set and anticipation hung in the air as the legendary group The Far Side, formerly known as The Pharcyde, took to the stage. The crowd erupted with excitement, ready to embark on a nostalgic journey through the annals of hip-hop history.

From the very first beat, the group’s members, Fatlip, Slimkid3, Imani, and Bootie Brown, commanded the stage with infectious charisma and a genuine love for their craft. Their chemistry and camaraderie were immediately apparent as they effortlessly flowed from one track to the next, showcasing their unique blend of laid-back West Coast vibes and insightful lyricism.

The setlist was a carefully curated mix of their iconic hits, lesser-known gems, and a few surprises thrown in for good measure. The Far Side transported the crowd back to the ’90s, where their music first took root. The audience rapped along word for word, their voices blending harmoniously with the group’s infectious energy.

MAX WEINBERG’S JUKEBOX – Music fans of all ages gathered to witness the legendary Max Weinberg’s Jukebox in action. Known for his impeccable drumming skills as a longtime member of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, Weinberg has embarked on a solo journey, taking the audience on a nostalgic trip through rock ‘n’ roll history.

From the first beat, it was evident that Weinberg’s talent extended beyond the drum kit. He seamlessly transitioned from drummer to frontman, engaging the crowd with his charismatic presence and undeniable passion for music. Max Weinberg’s Jukebox is not your typical concert experience; it’s an interactive show where the audience gets to choose the songs they want to hear.

The band kicked off the night with the classic rock anthem “Hush”, immediately captivating everyone in attendance. Weinberg’s energy was infectious, and he effortlessly commanded the stage, drawing the audience in with his magnetic personality. Throughout the night, he shared anecdotes and stories from his illustrious career, creating an intimate and friendly atmosphere.

STEPHEN PEARCY THE VOICE OF RATT – Summerfest welcomed fans of 80s rock and metal by inviting Stephen Pearcy, famously known as the voice of Ratt, take over the UScellular Connection Stage on the first Saturday of Summerfest 2022. The atmosphere was electric, with anticipation and nostalgia filling the air.

Stephen Pearcy emerged, donning his signature rockstar attire. The band kicked off the night with a thunderous energy, immediately captivating everyone in attendance. From the first note, it was evident that Pearcy and his band were determined to deliver a memorable performance.

The setlist was a carefully curated journey through Ratt’s extensive catalog, satisfying fans both old and new. Hits such as “Round and Round,” “You’re in Love,” and “Wanted Man” had the entire crowd singing along at the top of their lungs. Each song was delivered with precision and a contagious energy that spread throughout the venue.

The band members displayed exceptional musicianship, demonstrating their years of experience in the rock scene. The guitar solos were nothing short of phenomenal, showcasing the skill and talent of the musicians accompanying Pearcy. The rhythm section provided a solid foundation, keeping the grooves tight and the momentum high.

STRYPER – On day three of Summerfest 2022, the UScellular Connection Stage at Summerfest was set ablaze by the electrifying performance of Stryper, the Christian heavy metal band that has been rocking stages for decades. Anticipation filled the air, the crowd eagerly awaited the arrival of the band that had become synonymous with powerful, high-energy performances.

Stryper emerged, clad in their iconic yellow and black attire and instruments, and wasted no time in launching into their first song. From the very first note, it was clear that Stryper hadn’t lost an ounce of their energy or stage presence. Lead vocalist Michael Sweet commanded the stage with his soaring vocals, effortlessly hitting the high notes that made Stryper’s sound so distinctive. His voice was as powerful and melodic as ever.

The band’s tight musicianship was on full display, with Oz Fox and Michael Sweet delivering blistering guitar solos that showcased their technical prowess. The rhythm section, consisting of bassist Perry Richardson and drummer Robert Sweet, provided a solid foundation, driving the songs forward with precision and power.

Throughout the night, Stryper delivered a balanced mix of their classic hits and newer material, ensuring that fans both old and new were satisfied. Songs like “Calling on You,” “Free,” and “Soldiers Under Command” had the crowd singing along at the top of their lungs, while newer tracks such as “Take It to the Cross” and “Yahweh” showcased the band’s continued songwriting prowess.

But it wasn’t just the music that made the evening memorable. Stryper’s stage presence and interaction with the audience were remarkable. Michael Sweet’s genuine gratitude and appreciation for the fans was evident, as he took the time between songs to express his heartfelt thanks. The band’s camaraderie and enthusiasm were infectious, creating a sense of unity between the performers and the audience.

BILLY HOWERDEL OF A PERFECT CIRCLE – While Billy Howerdel is primarily known for his work with A Perfect Circle, his solo project Ashes Divide showcased his abilities as a songwriter and front man since the release of What Normal Was under his own name. Both projects were well-received by fans and critics, highlighting Howerdel’s talent for crafting emotive and engaging music.

Joining Howerdel at the Johnson Controls World Sound Stage was a four-piece backing band comprised of Nylo on keyboards, Greyson Nekrutman on drums, Eliot Lorango on bass and Danny Lohner on guitar. Although they mixed up the order of the songs from What Normal Was, the band played through the full 11-song album. Mid-way through the set, Billy’s fans were treated to a drum solo by virtuoso Greyson Nekrutman during “Poison Flowers.”

FREDDY JONES BAND – The Freddy Jones Band has a distinct sound that combines elements of rock, folk, and Americana. The music was characterized by catchy melodies, along with Freddy’s soulful vocals, and the band’s impressive musicianship. Freddy and company have a knack for creating songs that are both energetic and emotionally resonant, drawing listeners in with their heartfelt storytelling. It’s little wonder that by the time their 5:30pm Uline Warehouse set came to end, the cajoling crowd sounded like they were ready for a couple more hours of musical majesty.

Marty Lloyd is a standout feature, with his bluesy and soulful style adding depth and texture to their songs. The rhythm section, consisting of Rob Bonaccorsi on bass and Simon Horrocks on drums, provides a solid foundation, driving the songs forward with tight grooves and solid beats.

While week one is a wrap, it only left the mass of music enthusiasts in attendance with with a healthy longing for more in weeks to come. See you next week Summerfest!


Summerfest presented by American Family Insurance has evolved into what is now recognized as “The World’s Largest Music Festival” and Milwaukee’s cornerstone summer celebration, hosting the music industry’s biggest acts, emerging talent, and local favorites along with approximately 750,000 fans, for an unforgettable live music experience. The 53rd edition of the festival will take place September 2-4, 9-11, and 16-18, 2021. Summerfest features over 1,000 performances on 11 stages, along with food, beverages, and activities, all in a world-class festival setting. For more details, visit, or Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram: @Summerfest.

Address: 200 N Harbor Drive, Milwaukee, WI 53202


Tickets: Get Tickets

Parking: Reserve Your Parking