For the 50th year of Summerfest, the Harley-Davidson Roadhouse stage was quite popular for attendees and the time slot for Highly Suspect was no exception. Fans quickly packed in the area and by the time the band took the stage, the excitement level was through the roof, well, had there been one. Outdoor festivals bring a different vibe compared to indoor venues, but the Highly Suspect fans ate up every bit. While the band’s set was filled with a good mix of their past two albums, Mister Asylum (2015) and The Boy Who Died Wolf (2016), based on crowd reaction, their hour time slot wasn’t nearly long enough.
Unfortunately for lead singer/guitarist Johnny Stevens, he was plagued with technical issues, often constantly switching between three different guitars during the first three songs of the set. The ongoing frustration shown in Johnny’s facial expressions felt like a volcano was about to erupt, but he kept his cool. Brothers Rich and Ryan Meyer also kept the train rolling without missing a beat. By the third song, Lost, all three were smiling at each other. Now, I’m not sure if there was something else going on between them to bring a smile to their faces, but I like to think it was more a “better to laugh than cry” situation due to their circumstance.
As the set continued, those in attendance seemed to take a collective sigh at the start of Serotonia (watch the video below). People love this song, as they should, and the impact of the music and lyrics was felt among the crowd. The transition from fast-paced F**k Me Up into the oldest song they play live, Round and Round, switched the attention to bassist Rich Meyer, who sang lead. This blues-based song is a stark contrast to their set in general, but was a welcomed addition.
At one point during My Name Is Human, another well received song by fans in attendance, Johnny placed his guitar on the stage as if he were offering it to the guitar gods, and instructed everyone to wave their arms from side to side. They closed out their set with the frantic sounding Claudeland which lead into a long and slow jam known as ATL, which is pretty much only played at live shows. Despite any issues going on during the set, the fans got what they came for. They were fully engaged with the band, sang along loudly and thoroughly appeared to have one hell of a time.
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