Harley-Davidson is celebrating its 110th Anniversary as a motorcycle manufacturer in its hometown of Milwaukee, Wis. On Thursday, Aug., 29, a three-day music festival opened at the Summerfest grounds at Henry Maier Festival Park as one component of the occasion. Toby Keith headlined the Marcus Amphitheater while Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, The Doobie Brothers, Dropkick Murphys, Lupe Fiasco and Bret Michaels closed out the various general admission grounds stages.
Given the opening day hoopla, a cover band by the name of Chevy Metal might have stolen the show. Performing classic songs by artists that varied from Black Sabbath to the Rolling Stones to Van Halen, it's a side-project of Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins. However, Dave Grohl decided to stand in on rhythm guitar alongside guitarist Mick Murphy and bassist Wiley Hodgden. The latter also provided most of the vocals.
The warm afternoon didn't preclude leather from making an appearance with an abundance of denim. Harley riders from across the globe converged upon Wisconsin. Motorcycles dotted the interstates and a swarm of bikes filled the Summerfest parking lots. A moderate-sized crowd meandered between stages for the broad range of musical tastes, however the crowd that circled the U.S. Cellular stage on Thursday was anemic. No more than 200 fans showed up for Lupe Fiasco's show; while less than a hundred could be found for any other hip-hop sets on the same stage all day. Props to Lupe for performing like he packed the amphitheater.
Toby Keith brought his 2013 Hammer Down tour to the celebration. Nashville newcomer Kip Moore opened the show, touring on his debut album, "Up All Night." Moore impressed the crowd with hits "Hey Pretty Girl," "Beer Money" and "Somethin' 'Bout a Truck."
Taking the Marcus stage shortly after 9 p.m., Toby Keith led off his show with a lengthy Ford Truck commercial, that showed his fun side. Performing more than twenty songs on the night, Toby rocked fan favorites and mostly shied away from his 2012 release, "Hope on the Rocks." His feel-good hits, "Red Solo Cup," "Beer for My Horses" and "Whiskey Girl" set the tone for the evening, turning the Marcus Amphitheater into a huge house party.
Aerosmith with special guest Cheap Trick will perform on the Marcus Amphitheater tonight. Note that the amphitheater shows require a separate ticket for admission. Notable artists performing on the multiple, general admission grounds stages include The Dirty Heads, Sublime with Rome, The Gaslight Anthem, Dierks Bentley, Buckcherry and Common. Music begins at 1 p.m, with most of the day's headliners taking the stage around 9 p.m.