(Live Review) MILWAUKEE SUMMERFEST - 7/1/23
By The Beard & Little Johnny
The Beard and Little Johnny continue their extended three-day weekend journey into the classic rock fest known as Milwaukee Summerfest. After three days of radio rock, food, sun and booze, let's see if our fave reporting duo are still making sense on this Day 3 report!
Day /Night Three July 1st
The Spin Doctors
The James Hunter Six
Flyleaf with Lacey Sturm
THE SPIN DOCTORS
The Spin Doctors are fine. Every song has that “80’s Spin Doctor sound, kind of upbeat and bouncy and I didn’t know most of them. Ultimately, for The Beard, it was an hour plus standing around while waiting to hear "Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong", "Jimmy Olson Blues", and "Two Princes". (Ed: There he goes making up song titles again!)
That said, The Spin Doctors still present well as a tour band, rather than a festival act. There is a difference. THAT said, the Beard was bored, and Johnny wandered away and played in the fountain area. Maybe sort of Rock? Grade 75/100
JAMES HUNTER SIX
We are next going to the James Hunter Six at the Miller Lite stage. If we like them, we will stay put. Our bail out audible was 80’s pop rockers Whang Chung.
Turns out the James Hunter Six was pretty entertaining. Blues/Soul band with horns, keys and standup bass. The songs were danceable and not too long in solos. James Hunter was also enjoyable on the microphone. When he announced they only had five minutes left in the set, and the crowd appreciatively booed he said, “I know. We’ve only got three minutes of music left but they said we have to play the other two. Bloody Hell! It’s our worst song too.”
That was funny. So, a nice set. No grade not metal or rock. (Ed: Who knew there was such a thing!)
Next, we awaited Florida classic rock cover artist Bobby Friss who has been doing his redneck southern man party band for over a quarter century and is a staple at Summerfest. He drew as big a crowd as the major acts and it’s largely on personality.
Friss is an entertainer. He has a decent voice, look, and guitar skills. Nothing about him is extraordinary except he knows how to galvanize a crowd. As I said, this stage was as packed as any stage (that was not the amphitheater) this weekend.
For a cover band.
Friss and his guys just know how to choose songs that tap into the crowd dynamic, and they respond. Sing-along numbers, relentless crowd psyche up banter, like the old Stone-Cold Steve Austin cry of “Give me a Hell Yeah!” At one point the entire crowd quieted down just so Friss could crack open a can of Miller Lite into the microphone fronted by the quote, “I am about to play you my very favorite song.”
This set was both an interesting social study, and entertaining to enjoy. There seemed to be no real demographic, young, old, black, brown, and white, men, women, Friss drew everybody. At one point yelling out to the main walkway, “Just stop walking by! Ain’t no stage gonna be any better than what’s going on right here!” This was a study in social energy on a mass scale.
No grade cover band.
Our last check in for this weekend of Summerfest was to catch a few numbers by the Christian metal band Flyleaf who recently reunited with original singer Lacey Sturm. (Ed: Venom wasn't on the bill to counterbalance?!)
Lacey Sturm brings a “damaged goods” tough waif-like appearance to Flyleaf with her dress of red, shoulder tattoos, intense expressiveness and stage demeanor. Her voice had a spooky quality. Yearning yet imploring. Screaming yet cajoling.
The band gave us not quite nu-metal but hanging out in that neighborhood. There were also touches of both industrial and gothic weaving throughout their numbers. This is a band beset with a lot of angry angst. (Ed: You just hit every item on my checklist of most despised types of heavy music!)
The crowd though was receptive and drank greedily from the goblet Sturm figuratively shared with them. (Ed: They must have been REALLY thirsty!) The Flyleaf experiences seemed to hold that, while certainly not uplifting, (given the feel of the songs), life was also not wholly beyond redemption either.
Flyleaf songs seem to weep for mankind’s misery, but refuse to diminish hope. A fact brought out when Sturm addressed all those who had lost someone saying, “The miracle is that WE are still alive".
Again, this was an experience to go home and think on and I respect any band that draws that out of me. Grade 84/100
This wraps up the first of three Summerfest reviews. Stay tuned to The Mighty Decibel for all the Beard and Little Johnny reviews and watch all our videos on TikTok at
Until next time
Stay Heavy and