Friday, July 04, 2003

Summerfest
The weather cooperated yesterday as my wife, son and I went to Summerfest in Milwaukee. Kelly and Ethan picked me up around 12 PM at work and off we went. I had trouble finding it and turned a 1 hour trip into almost 2 hours. We got there and the sun was shining very bright. It was about 90 out and humid. It's been a while since I've been out in that kind of heat. When we lived in Atlanta, that kind of day was normal but if you're not used to that kind of heat it will definitely drain you fast.

Ethan had a great time. We took him to all the kids shows there and he was as content as could be. He loves “shows.” Whether the show be a TV show, a movie on DVD, a movie at the theatre, a play, a musical, a concert — it doesn't really matter, he loves his shows. It wasn't getting any cooler as we watched some of the kids shows so I decided we should trek back to this water fountain of sorts that you can play in. Ethan loved it. He must've been there for almost an hour before he was done. One thing I noticed while we were watching him run through the water like a madman was that younger women (OK, girls) these days don't seem to have a problem with showing off their bodies. Kelly and I noticed numerous girls going through the water wearing white shorts and white shirts and you can only guess what they looked like once they were done. We also noticed that a rather popular thing to wear if you're a female are shorts with writing on the back, right across your butt. There were the shorts that said “Naughty” and then there were those that were a bit more long winded and required you to practically stare in order to read them like, “I too much princess for just one boy.” What are girls thinking?!

The rain never came but it sure was humid. It cooled down around 7 PM or so but then that's when everyone in Wisconsin decided they needed to be at Summerfest on July 3rd. It's amazing how much heat thousands upon thousands of people can make even when in wide open spaces outside. I could tell the crowd filled with a lot of families was starting to leave and the younger crowd was coming in for the music and drinking.

We caught some of Fountains of Wayne's set and they sounded great. I may have to check out some of their discs. At the end of their set Ethan wanted to go on the ferris wheel across from the stage. Since we had a stroller and stuff only one of us could go with him so I volunteered his mom. It cost them $8 to ride that bad boy! Ethan loved it and Kelly freaked out, thinking he was surely going to get away from her and jump out the door. He didn't and they both survived. Ethan, of course, wanted to go again but for $8 of 5 minutes or so of fun, I think we'll pass.

Fireworks started about 9:30, maybe a little earlier. They weren't that great even with the nifty pair of 3D glasses they were passing out to view them with. My take on the 3D glasses is this: the state/city is clearly in budget trouble when they need to cut back on fireworks and pass out glasses that make each firework appear to be four. I heard others say this was one of the lamest fireworks displays they've seen for a city the size of Milwaukee. Oh well, such is life.

After the fireworks, Wilco came on to play for a little over an hour and a half. That's not bad considering it was for a festival where most acts only get about an hour. The problem with the show wasn't with Wilco but with the stage setup and the typical festival crowd. First, the stage had a sound booth back and center that was extremely high up, thus making it impossible to see anywhere behind the sound booth — even far back behind it. Then you had the picnic benches. People stood on them and they were about half way back from the stage so you couldn't see a thing behind the benches unless you were quite a ways back. Typical of a festival crowd, only a small percentage of the people seemed to be there for Wilco. The level of talking was even higher than normal. I told my wife this was a trend I noticed at most concerts either outdoors or at a club where there are no seats. People come to drink and talk more than to watch the show. I think kids want to say “yeah, I saw band XXXXXX” more than anything else.

Wilco started the show off with about four very quiet songs. I got the feeling they were intentionally trying the patience of a festival crowd as they knew a lot of the people there weren't into the show at all. Maybe the band was hoping those people would leave? I don't know, it just seemed strange to me to have them start the show off that way. Overall it was a good set but the mood was killed by the lame stage setup and the people around us.

Oh yeah, you would know it was my wife and I there last night because we were the ones towards the back of the stage to the right of the beer stand. Yes, that was us with the 2 and a half year old in a stroller that you drunkenly kept tripping over. Yes, we were the horrible parents allowing our youngster be around smoking, drinking and rude people. Look, we didn't bring him there for the rock concert. We were there all day entertaining him. It wasn't until the very end that we had him around the crazy atmosphere of the concert. He liked the music and then fell asleep about 2/3 way through the show. We wouldn't have brought him if Summerfest was just one big rock concert. Why waste our money on that? No, we had him there to enjoy the many other things going on throughout the day and night. The Wilco show was a slight detour for him but he seemed to enjoy it. So, if you were one of the ones making dirty looks or snide remarks — tough. You were probably too drunk to criticize our parenting skills anyway.

Getting out of Summerfest is not fun. We parked at one of the main festival parking lots near the mid-gate. It was one big traffic jam. It took us at least an hour to get onto to the express way. We finally got home around 2 AM and now I'm up with Ethan just hoping he realizes he should be asleep again right about now.
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