The week’s absurd heat was replaced with an afternoon full of rain and lightning, but that didn’t stop Sunday’s Summerfest performers from hyping up their crowd.
While Friday focused on soul and R&B, Sunday’s concluding performances by indie duo Capital Cities and rock legend Spoon managed to raise the bar.
The Oasis stage hosted Los Angeles natives, Ryan Merchant and Sebu Simonian, as Capital Cities took a crowd of all ages on an electronic adventure.
Before the performance even started, Simonian and the sound engineering crew teased the audience for 15 minutes with a recording of Simonian spurting “Space” before the band walked out, diving into the appropriately titled song.
An overwhelming majority of the songs Capital Cities played were off the 2013 record In a Tidal Wave of Mystery. Providing the Milwaukee attendees with hits such as “I Sold My Bed, But Not My Stereo” and “Kangaroo Court,” trumpeter Spencer Ludwig quickly made his presence felt with solos as he paraded around Simonian and Merchant.
Merchant and Simonian made sure to give credit to Justin Thomas, a young vibraphonist. Bouncing from the xylophone to the miniature piano, Thomas secured solos of his own with the rest of band hyping him until the chorus returned to “Vowels” and “Swimming Pool Summer.”
Though major hits “Chartreuse” and “Love Away” did not get their chance to be heard, recent release “My Name Is Mars” was played with a purpose, Simonian said.
“If you don’t mind, we’re going to have you be our guinea pigs,” Simonian said to the crowd.
After an impressive Madonna cover of “Holiday,” the well-known track “Safe and Sound” concluded a set filled with choreographed two-steps and a legendary drum solo by Channing Holmes. As the band began to take off their wires and earpieces, a remix of the popular song played as the group asked the crowd to wave any garment or hat they owned as Merchant and Simonian waved towels in appreciation of the crowd.
Though grown men with sweaty backs began flinging their drenched shirts with no regard for the small children witnessing the scene, the excitement and passion were more important.
Moving to the Harley-Davidson Roadhouse stage just out of earshot, rockers by way of Austin, Texas — Spoon became the first performers to walk on stage at their scheduled start time.
Lead singer, lead guitar and of course living legend Britt Daniel put on an extravagant display with co-founder Jim Eno on the drums, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga bass guitar addition Rob Pope, impressive keyboardist Alex Fischel — who joined the team in 2013 and the latest edition of equally talented keyboardist Gerardo Larios.
With each member dressed for a funeral, the midnight attire suited the eerie opening with “Knock Knock Knock” before slaying tracks from the 2014 release of They Want My Soul. Daniel’s vocals are as true as they sounded when he helped found the group in 1993. The 47-year-old commanded the attention of an older crowd, strumming chord progressions of “Inside Out” and “Do You.”
The light show reflecting on the four performers along with several Harley-Davidson motorcycles propped on the wall behind them was aesthetically pleasing to rock fans craning their necks while smacking around lit up balloons on the divided bleachers. Daniel decided to sing an entire interlude while lying on his back next to Eno. This was a clever decision, as the aging rocker conserved his energy for an explosive second half of the set.
The group covered three decades of music and touched on hits from nearly 10 years ago, like “I Turn My Camera On,” “I Ain’t the One” and “The Way We Get By” off Kill the Moonlight. The years of touring caused Daniel to reflect toward the end of the set. He referenced the latest release by Spoon in March of last year, Hot Thoughts and how the album tour was concluding after the Summerfest show.
“I’m glad to end it here, I’ll enjoy this break, but it’s bittersweet,” Daniel said.
Of course the tandem of “Do I Have to Talk You Into It” and “Can I Sit Next to You” followed.
After “Don’t Make Me a Target” and “The Underdog,” Daniel and company abruptly ended their set to wave and thank the city for their hospitality. Not a single individual fell for the age-old trick. Within 60 seconds, all but Daniel was back on stage. As Fischer and Larios began to tap the keys, Daniel returned without his guitar only to have it magically reappear with a quick detour behind Eno’s drum kit. The return featured Larios jumping on top of his keyboard and playing his part backward for what seemed like an eternity. The lengthy encore was capped with the wild “Rent I Pay,” an all too relatable anthem.