Hip-hop icons The Roots and rising stars in the EDM genre, Two Friends and Matoma used their sound to cut through surprisingly dense fog at Summerfest in Milwaukee on Wednesday night.

EDM enthusiasts were treated to a spectacular show as duo Two Friends opened for Matoma at the Harley-Davidson Roadhouse stage Wednesday night. Matt Harper and Eli Sones started making music together their senior year of high school and have since seen rapid growth in the dance-pop scene. 

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The two performed many originals, such as “Out of Love” and “Emily,” in addition to their abundance of remixes of popular songs, including “Mr. Brightside.” After just over an hour of high energy music, Two Friends made way for Matoma.

Remixes of legends showcased Matoma’s ability to tune in with Milwaukee’s EDM fans.
Quinn Beaupre/The Badger Herald

Hailing from Asnes, Norway, Matoma has become a worldwide star through his dance-oriented and tropical house music. His remix of Notorious B.I.G’s “Old Thing Back” has accumulated several hundred million streams since its 2015 release. Matoma displayed his talents on Wednesday night, as he also floated between original content and remixes throughout his set. 

Wild visuals matched Matoma’s talent in Milwaukee.
Quinn Beaupre/The Badger Herald

Silhouetted by a massive video board displaying psychedelic visuals and accompanied by a row of massive smoke cannons, Matoma proved to the audience that he wasn’t the star of the show, rather it was his music and the classic EDM experience that has drawn crowds to his shows for years.

The dramatic fog that settled in Milwaukee proved no match for legendary hip-hop group The Roots at the BMO Harris Bank Pavilion.

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While percussionist Jeremy Ellis went nothing short of ballistic on his electronic soundboard, the crescendo caused by the rapid movement of his fingers triggering animated sounds matched the fireworks behind him. With the venue at the right angle, the holiday display in the sky cut through what fans described as being inside of a nimbus cloud.

Tarik trotted around stage as The Roots took over the pavilion.
Ashley Steinberg/Summerfest

The Philadelphia gods were led by microphone controller Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter through a medley of classics including “The Next Movement” before the other 10 band members on stage took the crowd through a hurricane of hip-hop. Swift and flawless lyricism throughout a cover of Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s “Shimmy Shimmy Ya” was met with hand clapping and fist bumping from the crowd. 

While original yet former member and all-time pianist Scott Storch wasn’t in attendance, “Captain” Kirk Douglas ensured even day-one fans wouldn’t notice. The electric guitarist stole the show with what felt like a 10-minute solo of a combination of classic medleys while a side-by-side of various Summerfest cameras gave the crowd an intense visual of Douglas shredding frets on the jumbotron next to the stage. 

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The most underrated member of The Roots culminated his time in the pavilion limelight with a delicious riff on Erykah Badu’s “You Got me” followed by a masterful remix of Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road.” 

Fellow group founder and drummer Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson had little to stress over during the performance. Questlove had a party at the pavilion, having fun with his drum kit during the barrage of classics such as “A Milli,” “Big Pimpin’,” “So Fresh and So Clean” and last but not least, “Shook Ones.” 

Black Thought’s performance has him in permanent consideration for the Mt. Rushmore of living rappers.
Ashley Steinberg/Summerfest

Whatever fun wasn’t already had was satisfied by Curtis Mayfield’s “Move On Up” cover becoming “Apache” by the Sugarhill Gang. Unless there were physical limitations, every person on the crowd was trying to jump like Tonto. 

After Black Thought finished wiping the body weight of sweat off his brow, the crowd finally caught their breath. The band’s set had little to no moments of rest, something they’re used to having during their day job with Jimmy Fallon. In showmanship fashion, Questlove was the last to leave the stage. He tossed his drum pads into the seats like a frisbee, sailing towards a lucky fan.

It goes without saying all the fans in attendance were lucky to see the best performance Summerfest had to offer in 2019 yet.