Words and photos by Eliana Siegal
The day was just winding down as local band Empires took the stage Sunday evening at Milwaukee's Summerfest. The air was still sticky and humid; many people perched on benches to rest their tired feet. A lethargy would probably have set in if Empires hadn’t shaken up the crowd with a powerful performance.
Lead singer Sean Van Vleet controlled and captivated the audience with the might of his voice and with his endless energy -- whenever he wasn’t singing, he was doing something, be it jumping, dancing, clapping, or even banging on his tambourine. Van Vleet was complemented by bassists Max Steger and Julio Tavarez, as well as guitarist Tom Conrad and drummer Mike Robinson (Robinson and Tavarez are a couple of the members on the touring rotation). They, too, seemed to get completely carried away by the music.
The longer, twelve-song set allowed more time for Van Vleet to interact with the audience; their nearly-as-raucous excitement did not go unnoticed. He called them out on the way they sang every line along with him and thanked the crowd after nearly every song.
Empires returns to the road on July 26th to support their new LP Garage Hymns (released June 12th), and come back to the Midwest August 4th for a set at Lollapalooza.
Sunday's set list, not in exact order, included: Hell's Heroes, Keep It Steady, Can't Steal Your Heart Away, We Lost Magic, Shame, Hello Lover, Surrenderer, Night is Young, Hitchhiker, Damn Thing's Over, Runaway, Spit the Dark, Bang
For more photos from the show, check out the full set on the Saudade Photography Facebook page.