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DJ Paris Hilton hard at work at the Harley-Davidson Roadhouse Sunday night.
DJ Paris Hilton hard at work at the Harley-Davidson Roadhouse Sunday night. (Photo: Abe Van Dyke)
Hilton played for about an hour and 45 minutes on Sunday night to a packed young crowd.
Hilton played for about an hour and 45 minutes on Sunday night to a packed young crowd. (Photo: Abe Van Dyke)

One night with Paris: Inside Hilton's not so hot Summerfest DJ set

Give Paris Hilton this: After years of being accused of being famous for doing nothing, the hotel heiress, reality star and tabloid fixture is now indeed doing something, forging a career as a EDM DJ – one of the self-proclaimed highest paid ones at that.

Unfortunately, much like the "Transformers" movies, DJ Paris Hilton’s Summerfest set was one of those situations where the amount of the money involved was inversely proportionate to the amount of talent and skill on display. Also much like the "Transformers" movies, it was loud, clunky, sporadically dull despite all of the noise, unnecessarily lengthy and, by the end, left me in a little bit of pain.

So yes, consider my expectations exceeded.

After all, what was I really expecting going into Sunday night’s set at the Harley-Davidson Roadhouse? Back when DJ Paris Hilton was announced as a ground stage headliner, I first assumed that it was just some sort of ironic moniker for an EDM artist I was far too old and unhip to know. Then the truth quickly revealed itself: DJ Paris Hilton was, in fact, ACTUALLY Paris Hilton, who was ACTUALLY coming to Milwaukee and ACTUALLY going to perform something resembling music on stage. Was this some sort of "Exit Through the Gift Shop"-esque art prank? Or would the polarizing heiress end up being Deadmau5? Deadmau5 does wear that mask after all. Hmm … (update: yeah, pretty confident she’s not Deadmau5). Obviously I would have to go and find out.

Apparently I was not alone. Arriving just before 7 p.m., the stage was already well packed with young fans. At 24, I felt like one of the oldest people in attendance. I was one of maybe five people in the crowd wearing my baseball cap with the brim facing forward, and I’d place a decent bet that over 75 percent of those there had seen the "Entourage" movie – or, considering their ages, at least asked their parents for a ride and to sign them in.

While the scent of pot was strong in the air, surprisingly the smell of iro…

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Walk The Moon drew a massive crowd Saturday night and put on a show worthy of it.
Walk The Moon drew a massive crowd Saturday night and put on a show worthy of it. (Photo: Abe Van Dyke)

Walk The Moon launches a crazy Summerfest crowd into orbit

The OnMilwaukee.com Summer Festivals Guide is presented by Pick 'n Save, Where Wisconsin Saves on Groceries. Pick 'n Save is Wisconsin proud, and excited to help promote and feed the great Milwaukee summer that includes festivals and fun nearly every day. Click to save here!

The words "Imagine Dragons" were being muttered about several hours before pop rockers Walk The Moon hit the stage Saturday night, and it had nothing to do with any musical similarities.

No, there were concerns quietly bantering about that, two years after the breakout rock troupe pretty much broke Summerfest for a night with an absurdly packed crowd, a similar situation was brewing over at the U.S. Cellular Connection Stage with Walk The Moon. The stories sounded the same after all: In between getting booked for Summerfest and actually hitting the stage, both bands with a strong local contingent of fans (this marked the band’s fourth Summerfest trip) utterly exploded in popularity.

In the case of Walk The Moon, at just about the time the ground stage headliners were announced, its hit single "Shut Up And Dance" was in the process of graduating from fun poppy radio hit to world-destroying monster song of the year. Suddenly, their once reasonable ground stage digs seemed woefully insufficient.

Of course, those pre-show whispers and rumors ended up being slightly exaggerated. Summerfest seemed far from ever breaking last night. Summerfest red shirts seemed to have the show on lockdown, and ticket lines weren’t so insane that the Big Gig wound up letting people in for free, hopping turnstiles and turning the Summerfest grounds into a sweatily packed parking lot. It was certainly crowded, but it was also certainly livable.

Sorry, I said crowded when I meant to say CROWDED – all caps, all bold and in 72-point Impact font if possible. Early estimates placed the attendance for Walk The Moon at somewhere about 15,000 people – impressive considering the US Cellular Connection Stage only has a 8…

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Punch Brothers put on a rollicking old-fashioned folk hoedown Friday night at Summerfest.
Punch Brothers put on a rollicking old-fashioned folk hoedown Friday night at Summerfest. (Photo: Dan Zaitz)

Old-fashioned folk fiends Punch Brothers tap the BMO Harris Pavilion roof

The OnMilwaukee.com Summer Festivals Guide is presented by Pick 'n Save, Where Wisconsin Saves on Groceries. Pick 'n Save is Wisconsin proud, and excited to help promote and feed the great Milwaukee summer that includes festivals and fun nearly every day. Click to save here!

Over the course of human history, hundreds upon thousands of roaring rock bands and awkward dancers have attempted to "raise the roof." For the band Punch Brothers, however, it knows raising the roof is just a bit out of range for its particular brand of old-school pluck-happy folk factory tunes – and, for that matter, that it can be hard for a band to do anything less than rock out at a festival like Summerfest (just ask Bastille, who tried for just one song to slow things down with a piano ballad, only for the EDM act next door to go all Michael Bay and immediately explode gallons of confetti, lasers and bass into the air).

So Punch Brothers tried something different and set their goals somewhere new Friday night at the BMO Harris Pavilion. As the five band members crowded around a single mic, preparing to do the traditional Irish a cappella folk tune "The Auld Triangle" (which the band performed for the Coen Brothers’ "Inside Llewyn Davis" two years back), lead singer and maniacal mandolinist Chris Thile said their mission was not to raise the roof, but "tap the roof," delicately nudging the ceiling with his pointer fingers. "Can we make that a thing, Milwaukee, for folk bands at loud rock festivals?" he asked afterward.

Well, congratulations Punch Brothers; you tapped the roof Friday night at Summerfest. And then some.

Don’t let the nice suits and ties confuse you; Punch Brothers are a no-frills old-fashioned folk band, playing an energetic set list full of both original tunes and traditional numbers showing little to no resemblance to the rock-ified boom-clap sound and furious roaring crescendos of Mumford & Sons and other folk rock groups Punch Brothers is often lassoed in with.

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X Ambassadors proved by the end of their Summerfest set why they have the potential to be big.
X Ambassadors proved by the end of their Summerfest set why they have the potential to be big. (Photo: Alexander Stafford)

X Ambassadors: Meet the heir to Imagine Dragons in training

The OnMilwaukee.com Summer Festivals Guide is presented by Pick 'n Save, Where Wisconsin Saves on Groceries. Pick 'n Save is Wisconsin proud, and excited to help promote and feed the great Milwaukee summer that includes festivals and fun nearly every day. Click to save here!

There’s a good chance you haven’t heard of the alt rock band X Ambassadors, but there’s an even better chance that you have heard an X Ambassadors song.

The group’s riled up stomp-clap hit "Jungle" could be heard in high-profile ads for Beats, the end credits for last summer’s "Hercules" and the first trailer for this summer’s smash hit "Pitch Perfect 2." Meanwhile, their current hit "Renegades" serves as the cornerstone for Jeep’s current advertising campaign. All of that and the band has still yet to release its debut full-length album, "VHS," which finally drops next week Tuesday.

If X Ambassadors can keep the momentum – and the corporate synergy – going, it would come as no surprise if the Ithaca-based rockers found themselves becoming the next Imagine Dragons. The bands’ tunes already share some similarities, both often fueled by pounding, booming beats and empowering anthemic sing-along choruses that quickly earned themselves regular spots on workout playlists across the planet. Imagine Dragons frontman Dan Reynolds even served as one of the band’s key catalysts to fame, nudging Interscope Records to sign X Ambassadors after hearing an acoustic rendition of "Unconsolable."

Judging by X Ambassadors brief seven-song Summerfest set at a well packed U.S. Cellular Connection Stage early Thursday evening, there’s still some work to be done before the band officially earns the title of Top 40 rock heir apparent. However, the potential is most certainly there, and by the end of the rockers’ setlist, it was on full display.

"We’ve got a great f*cking show for ya," announced lead singer Sam Harris right at the start before launching into a rendition of "Free & Lonely"…

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