Matt Nathanson played his set on the Briggs & Stratton Big Backyard stage on July 4th at Summerfest (Milwaukee, WI). The rocker is somewhat of a Summerfest veteran, having played the festival several times before. “I’ve played here six times- from driving here in a car years ago and just playing acoustic, to performing here when I was on tour with Pink. This is the first time I get to play Summerfest in a real way,” Nathanson told me during an interview. He added,”Summerfest is just the thing- every time I come here, I wish I lived here.” Watching Nathanson onstage later that night showed just how comfortable he is performing at Summerfest, and he had a very strong presence on the stage. It’s easy to detect artists who aren’t as comfortable performing in front of festival crowds. Performing at festivals can be challenging because the majority of the audience may not know who the performer is, and so it’s a little intimidating. It seems Nathanson had a great deal of fans in the audience at Summerfest, especially those fans in the first five rows. When the rocker opened his set with “Kinks Shirt,” he had quite a bit of people singing along with him.
Nathanson is well-known for implementing humor into his shows, and Saturday night was no exception. He joked about leaving his own show so he could watch The Avett Brothers, Sammy Hagar, and Jane’s Addiction, who were also performing at the same time as Nathanson at Summerfest. While some people may not get his humor, it’s obvious he uses his jokes as a way to connect with the audience, and it seems to be working. During his set Nathanson also performed “Car Crash,” “Modern Love,” “Still,” and he played a few covers including “Blister in the Sun” (Violent Femmes), “Under Pressure” (Queen), and “Laid” (James). His show wasn’t full of energy, but it was still entertaining because of how great Nathanson and his band played that night. Some of his best moments was when he performed “Headphones,” “Gold in the Summertime,” “All We Are,” and “Faster.” The rocker closed his set with a performance of “Come On Get Higher.”