Summerfest, which bills itself as "The World's Largest Music Festival," runs from June 25 to July 6 this year in Milwaukee, Wis. In action since 1968, situating itself on the shore of Lake Michigan since 1970, incorporating comedy since 1975, and supposedly outsizing all the planet's festival competition since 1999, the event now claims to present 800 acts to nearly a million fans, on 11 stages located on 75 acres. And, being as how it's in Milwaukee, there is also beer.
This playlist's 40 performers represent an impressively wide swath of genres: pop (Bruno Mars, Lady Gaga, Fitz and the Tantrums, Paramore); R&B (Usher); retro/neo-soul (Mayer Hawthorne, Aloe Blacc); hip-hop (Outkast, Ludacris, Nas); electronic dance (Crystal Method, Girl Talk); classic rock (Kansas, Cheap Trick, Joan Jett, Mötley Crüe, 38 Special, Rick Springfield, George Thorogood); classic funk (Kool and the Gang); classic New Wave (New Order); contemporary rock (The Pretty Reckless, Five Finger Death Punch); country (Thompson Square, Brad Paisley, Luke Bryan, Zac Brown Band); indie-ish (Neon Trees, The Hold Steady, Jake Bugg, Arctic Monkeys, Tegan and Sara, Best Coast); adult alternative of assorted stripes (Ray LaMontagne, Trombone Shorty, Bombino, Ben Harper with Charlie Musselwhite).
Every act featured on this playlist is listed on the "headliner" pages of the festival's website, though three of the more surprising -- Korean pop up-and-comers Crayon Pop, '70s breakbeat-prog specialists Babe Ruth, and '70s Milwaukee parking-lot-party rock obscurities Bad Boy -- are designated "special guests" of better-known acts. Still, this mix only grazes the tip of Summerfest's iceberg. Something for everybody, for sure -- and there's way more where these came from.