If you search for the “Best music festivals of 2013”, you will find lots of lists – here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. Even our own Popdose festival guide. What’s missing from every single one of them?

Milwaukee’s Summerfest.

Which is a shame, because it’s one of the better and most underrated music festivals in the country.

Since Summerfest is located in Wisconsin, it has to be bigger and better than your average festival. It actually holds the Guinness World Record for ‘World’s Largest Music Festival.’ Your typical, oddly named music festival will try to cram a bunch of artists over 2-3 days and charge you a $90 a day. Summerfest spreads the love over 11 days (5 days on, one day off, 6 days on) with 800 bands on 11 different stages, and an amphitheater. The music starts at Noon every single day and doesn’t stop until nearly midnight. Summerfest draws an average crowd of 75,000 per day over 11 days.

Summerfest doesn’t discriminate. Every genre of music and every type of band is featured. It provides a healthy dose of up and coming bands, emerging superstars and some acts that probably shouldn’t be wearing leather pants anymore. If you can’t find a single band to see, then frankly speaking, you probably have terrible taste in music.

Summerfest costs of $16 per day. If you arrive before 4pm Tues-Fri you can get in for only $9. In addition to any number of promotions that allow you to get in for free.

Headliners at the Amphitheater (separate ticket purchase required)
Violent Femmes & The Avett Brothers w/Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros
Jason Aldean w/Jake Owen
Luke Bryan w/ Thompson Square
John Mayer w/ Phillip Phillips
FUN. with w/ Walk The Moon
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
New Kids on the Block with special guests 98 Degrees & Boyz II Men
Tim McGraw

Here’s a partial list of side stage acts:
311, LEAGUES, Lewis Black, Billy Idol, Imagine Dragons, Diplo, Alice Cooper, Dispatch, Atmosphere, Pretty Lights, Dropkick Murphys, MGMT, LL Cool J featuring DJ Z-Trip, The Mavericks, Empire of the Sun, AWOLNATION, Grouplove, Bad Religion, Dr. John & The Nite Trippers, Silversun Pickups, Styx,Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Dark Star Orchestra, Trampled By Turtles, Atlas Genius, Pat Benatar with Neil Giraldo, Neon Trees, Switchfoot, Phil Vassar, O.A.R., Social Distortion, Cake, Robert Delong, Craig Morgan, twenty one pilots, Kip Moore, Femi Kuti & The Positive Force, Morris Day and the Time, REO Speedwagon, Blues Traveler, Jana Kramer, Drowning Pool, Loverboy, K’NAAN, Willy Porter Band, The Airborne Toxic Event, Skillet, Buddy Guy, Gavin DeGraw, Foreigner, Yeasayer, Guster, Youngblood Hawke, The Features, Barenaked Ladies, Brandi Carlile, Less Than Jake, ZZ Ward, Mother Mother, Rogue Wave, Matt & Kim, The Wailers, The Mowgli’s, Spin Doctors, Umphreys McGee, Hollywood Undead, Rick Springfield, Omarion, The Go-Gos, Meat Puppets, Cold War Kids, A-Trak, Talib Kweli, Court Yard Hounds, Andrew McMahon, Cracker.

You can check out the complete schedule here.

Here are some daily highlights from the festival:

Main act: Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Diplo, Kip Moore
Daytrotter approved band: Grouplove
Worth a stroll past the stage: Court Yard Hounds

Main acts: Dropkick Murphy’s, Talib Kweli, Atlas Genius
Daytrotter approved band: The 4onthefloor
Worth a stroll past the stage: Billy Idol

Main acts: Matt & Kim, Atmosphere, Brother Ali, and Cake
Daytrotter approved band: He’s My Brother She’s My Sister
Worth a stroll past the stage: LL Cool J

Main acts: Imagine Dragons, The Zombies, Dispatch, Cracker, Less Than Jake
Daytrotter approved band: Meat Puppets
Worth a stroll past the stage: Morris Day & The Time

Main acts: Social Distortion, Silversun Pickups, Dr. John
Daytrotter approved band: The Dunwells
Worth a stroll past the stage: Alice Cooper

Main acts: Umphreys McGee, Grace Weber, Willy Porter
Daytrotter approved band: Youngblood Hawke
Worth a stroll past the stage: Styx

Main acts: MGMT, Brandi Carlile
Daytrotter approved band: LEAGUES
Worth a stroll past the stage: The Go-Go’s

Main acts: Barenaked Ladies, Dark Star Orchestra, Guster
Daytrotter approved band: The Features
Worth a stroll past the stage: Omarian

Main acts: O.A.R, Rick Springfield, Nelly
Daytrotter approved band: Hugh Bob & The Hustle
Worth a stroll past the stage: The Spin Doctors are playing at 3pm. Their set will probably finish around 4:30. Is it late? naw, naw, it’s early, early. Now that song is stuck in your head. You’re welcome.

Main acts: 311, Buddy Guy, K’NAAN, Neon Trees
Daytrotter approved band: Freedy Johnston Early set at 12:30!
Worth a stroll past the stage: Foreigner

Main acts: Jimmy Eat World, The Mavericks, Bad Religion
Daytrotter approved band: Trampled by Turtles
Worth a stroll past the stage: Loverboy

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About the Author

Dan Walsh

Music. Beer. Running. Milwaukee via Nebraska. Father of 2 awesome daughters. I use words, poorly. @dwalsh76

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