PREVIEW: Summerfest 2019

Donna Missal photographed by Morgan Winston
Donna Missal photographed by Morgan Winston

This week we return to Milwaukee for Summerfest, an annual festival (essential to any Wisconsin summer experience) that runs for 11 days with 12 stages on 75-acres of festival grounds, set to boast over 800 performances.

Just in time for the festivities to begin, we’ve taken it upon ourselves to give you a preview of this years lineup, a few honorable mentions, and who we’re most excited to see — and why.


Donna Missal (@donnamissal)  Thursday, June 27

Since catching Donna Missal for the first time at SXSW 2019, I haven’t stopped thinking about her. Missal was near the top of my “must see” list for the trip to Austin and, not knowing what to expect out of her live set, she completely blew me away. I’m certain my jaw dropped to the ground in that classic cartoon jaw-breaks-the-concrete-eyes-buldge-and-sparks-fly kind of way. Her impressive vocal range alone is enough to recommend giving her a listen and I feel lucky — a little worked up, even — to get another taste of her so soon.

— Geordon Wollner

Lizzo (@lizzobeeating)  Thursday, June 27

THANK YOU. Thank you world, thank you stars, thank you universe — thank you for bringing us Lizzo. I love a strong, powerful, force-to-be-reckoned with woman. (Lizzo is woman.) Fusing hip-hop and R&B with full vocals, derived from gospel training, Lizzo holds a contemporary sound that boasts body positivity, self-acceptance, and celebrates the life of the black woman. Her presence is empowering, energy electric, and a sight to behold. 

— Geordon Wollner

The Beths (@lizstokedstokes)  Friday, June 28

Another favorite to come out of our last South By run, The Beths (hailing from New Zealand) have been on repeat for weeks. The four-piece carry a light guitar-pop sound that makes you want to get up and dance in the middle of your room, maybe stop to write in your diary for a song, then get right back up and shake it out. Their most recent release Future Me Hates Me weaves through the various trials and tribulations that come with finding romance, navigating relationships, and naturally, by extension, looking at your own reflection to understand where you stand in the middle of it all. With an already sold out show at The Shitty Barn in Spring Green on Thursday, June 27, I have never been more thankful for Summerfest for bringing a band to Milwaukee.

— Geordon Wollner

Flora Cash (@flora_cash)  Friday, June 28

Swedish-American duo Flora Cash seem to be coming up as the hidden gem in a world of musicians trying to be as unique as possible with the art they put out into the world. The single “You’re Somebody Else” has been riding American radio waves since its release in 2017. Since then, the duo has been busy developing an atmospheric pop sound that makes them stand out from other indie artists. Together, they have released a number of albums independently after they met online back in 2012 and collaborating, helping each other grow. Their grassroots following has blossomed into a sea of supporters who appreciate their chemistry and respect for one another, both in their relationship and with their music.

— Ashley Evers

Catfish and the Bottlemen (@catfishandthebottlemen)  Sunday, June 30

While overseas, Catfish and the Bottlemen have been busy selling out arenas and overtaking charts. Since their debut 2016 album, The Balcony, they are starting to really shake up the indie rock scene in the U.S. this year. There is no doubt that their energy during live shows has captured audiences and given the group a large platform around the globe. Their latest release “The Balance” has a similar name and structure to their earlier works, but embodies a different  semblance for listeners through stories from life on the road. Fan favorites like “Cocoon” and “Tyrants” are sure to be played as the group hopes to prove themselves to a Milwaukee crowd.

— Ashley Evers

COIN (@coin) Tuesday, July 2

A quintessential addition to any summer playlist, COIN have grown tremendously over the last four years with two irresistibly catchy studio albums. Their breakaway song “Talk Too Much” off 2017’s How Will You Know If You Never Try sparked their revolution, with just as captivating “Growing Pains,” “Cemetery,” and even more recent “I Want It All” and “Crash My Car,” skyrocketing the groups following. I, for one, have to see for myself what all the talk is about.

— Geordon Wollner

Billie Eilish (@billieeilish) Saturday, July 6

I’ll just spit it out: I’m ready for Billie. I’ve been caught in a bit of time warp with her music — “Ocean Eyes” was released in 2016? I could’ve sworn it had come out at least three years earlier than that, but I guess I was wrong — and I admire her. At 17 years old and already deeply cemented in herself, her vision of the world, and her music, it’s hard not to take notice of her. Eilish has an old soul, given her ability to connect herself to her lyrics to her voice, and I am fascinated by the way she operates.

— Geordon Wollner

Bleachers (@bleachersmusic) Saturday, July 6

Just one day before the release of their latest album Gone Now, Bleachers took the Miller Lite Oasis stage back in 2017 and definitely gained the attention of some new fans. Producer, singer, and songwriter, and Jack Antonoff never disappoints with his humble character and unmatched talent. The group’s 80s inspired synth anthems about loss and appreciating the little things in life never seize to create an atmosphere full of vigor and movement. Antonoff and his talented brilliant bandmates are set to animate an eager audience on the Harley-Davidson Roadhouse stage. 

— Ashley Evers


Bon Iver with Julien Baker + Lord Huron at the American Family Insurance Amphitheater SATURDAY, JUNE 29 

The Killers with Death Cab for Cutie at the American Family Insurance Amphitheater FRIDAY, JULY 5 

Keep up with us as we cover Summerfest 2019 on Instagram @emmiemagazine! Find more updates on the festival via the Summerfest official Instagram @summerfest and #Summerfest and #SmileOn hashtags.

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