April is typically a period of rebirth. Baseball season begins, the first full month of spring is upon us, and rampant festival announcements combine with extended daylight and occasional days of unseasonable warmth to signal the city’s best days are soon to come. While we’re still two months removed from PrideFest (the official start of festival season), April brings about other reasons to celebrate. This particular April will shower the city with tremendous entertainment options, including a local holiday, a tremendous four-night benefit for area art programs, some great touring comedians, and rare Milwaukee appearances by respected musicians. There’s so much to do this month, but these 15 events stand out to us.
Monday, April 4
Andy Kindler at Club Garibaldi
Even if Milwaukee’s comedy clubs are utterly failing to book notable comedians (unless you count Carlos Mencia and Pauly Shore), you have to hand it to a small-yet-passionate group of independent promoters for filling the city’s comedic crevice between local shows and Turner Hall-level draws with worthwhile touring comics. Thanks to Milwaukee Comedy founder and longtime local stand-up proponent Matt Kemple, Andy Kindler (of Bob’s Burgers, Everybody Loves Raymond, and Maron semi-fame) will bring his dry neuroses to Club Garibaldi. Joining the veteran alt-comic is Los Angeles (by way of Milwaukee) comedian Jake Kornely and lauded local Tyler Menz.
Tuesday, April 5
Kurt Vile And The Violators + Purling Hiss (solo) at Pabst Theater
Propelled by b’lieve I’m Goin Down, his critically-beloved and commercially successful 2015 record, Kurt Vile and his Violators will be playing their first show in Milwaukee. It could be another eight years before Vile returns, so don’t miss this rare Milwaukee outing from one of indie rock’s best modern songwriters.
Thursday, April 7
Nick Offerman at Riverside Theater
Not even a year removed for delighting Milwaukee with a pair of poetic and profane Riverside Theater shows alongside wife Megan Mullally, Nick Offerman—better known for his career-making turn as “Ron Fucking Swanson”—will return to town. This time around, the actor/comedian/musician/woodworker/author will come to the theater in support of his latest book, Gumption.
Jay Leno at Potawatomi Hotel & Casino’s Northern Lights Theater
You see this? You hear about this? Longtime Tonight Show host and veteran stand-up comic Jay Leno is coming to Milwaukee for a pair of casino shows, just in time for Monica Lewinsky jokes to be semi-relevant again.
Friday, April 8
Ani DiFranco + Chastity Brown at Turner Hall
The incomparable Ani DiFranco’s career and body of work has made her a commodity capable of selling out amphitheaters. Though 900-plus-capacity Turner Hall isn’t exactly small, but compared to many of the venues she’s captivated in her long career, this qualifies as an “intimate” evening of entertainment.
Made Of Oak + Chris Rosenau at Cactus Club
Milwaukee expat and former Decibully member Nick Sanborn is one busy fellow. In addition to his current high-profile gig as one-half of Sylvan Esso, Sanborn occasionally records and performs under his longtime solo moniker Made Of Oak. That project’s first official EP, Penumbra, was released on Partisan Records last fall. Now, Sanborn has hit the road as Made Of Oak for a monthlong tour. Happily, that tour includes a show at his old stomping grounds, Milwaukee’s venerable Cactus Club.
Typesetter + Geena, 83 Wolfpack, Direct Hit! at Bremen Cafe
About two weeks ago, Direct Hit! was announced as touring support for NOFX’s “Hepatitis Bathtub Tour,” which will span 14 shows in nine states this April. Today, the tour mates officially became label mates, as Fat Wreck Chords—the legendary punk label co-founded by NOFX front man “Fat Mike” Burkett—announced it signed Milwaukee’s premier pop-punk outfit and will put out its next full-length this summer. The follow-up to the 2013’s apocalyptic masterpiece Brainless God, was recorded between June and December of last year at Bobby Peru Recordings in West Allis and in the basement of singer-guitarist Nick Woods. This opening slot will be Direct Hit!’s last Milwaukee show before the forthcoming concept album is released.
Thursday, April 14
Milwaukee Day 2016 (Jaill + Def Harmonic, Midnight Reruns, Lex Allen, Space Raft, Skai Academy) at Turner Hall
What began years ago as nothing more than a Facebook page and a goofy coincidence (4/14 = 414) has since turned into an honest-to-goodness, city-approved celebration of all things right and just in Milwaukee. “We’re just a few men and women born and raised here who love the city, warts and all,” say Milwaukee Day co-organizers Brent Gohde and Andy Silverman. “There’s a lot of bad news every day, so we’re looking to bring people together to smile and have fun for a few hours, as there’s plenty here to celebrate, too.”
Milwaukee Day’s festivities will culminate with an undeniably awesome show at Turner Hall featuring Jaill + Def Harmonic, Midnight Reruns, Lex Allen, Space Raft, Skai Academy.
Friday, April 15
Brian Regan at Riverside Theater
Clean comedy is something of an oxymoron these days. In an age that finds stand-up at its crudest, most brazen and experimental, and with little in the way of limitations, the clean, folksy, identifiable comic has gone the way of the buffalo. Of course, there are exceptions. More accurately there’s an exception, and his name is Brian Regan. Unlike the vast majority of his cohorts in cleanliness, Regan has sustained popularity since the late ’80s. He can command a stage for 90 minutes without offering an inkling of his political or religious standing, and he’s one of the most respected performers among even the harshest and most depraved of his fellow comics. The Milwaukee semi-regular comes back to down after year and a half absence.
Supper Club Jazz – Miles Davis Tribute at Company Brewing
As a means of paying tribute to transcendent music legend Miles Davis, Jay Anderson (Foreign Goods, New Boyz Club, etc.) as rounded up four respected and learned jazz men to play a pick-up “Supper Club” style show at Company brewing, wherein the quintet will traverse countless crevices of the iconic trumpet player’s incomparable career. Best yet, this one-night-only performance can be enjoyed along with a meal from Company Brewing.
Thursday, April 21 to Sunday, April 24
Arte Para Todos (various venues, neighborhoods)
Last year’s inaugural Arte Para Todos—or “art for everyone”—benefit was an absolute success. Over the course of three nights, 70 acts from all corners of Milwaukee’s musical spectrum combined to play shows at 15 venues spread through three different neighborhoods, as 15 visual artists provided live art to enrich the experience. Not only was the first Arte a ton of fun that brought tons of Milwaukee creatives together, it managed to raise an astounding $21,165, which was split evenly between three local schools. We’re proud to announce that Arte Para Todos will return, this time with more than 100 bands, solo acts, rappers, DJs, poets, and visual artists coming to 25 venues in five neighborhoods during the four-day span. Check out the awesome lineup here.
Saturday, April 23
Pete Rose National Bobblehead Hall Of Fame Induction at Pabst Theater
Pete Rose had an unforgettable baseball career. During his 24 seasons on the field, “Charlie Hustle” tallied 4,256 hits (a mark that has yet to be overtaken), played in 17 All-Star Games, won three World Series titles, nabbed a trio of batting championships, took home two Gold Gloves, and earned MVP honors once. Now, almost 30 years since his final game, Rose can add Hall Of Famer to his unmatched big league biography. That’s right, the legend—who was famously barred from enshrinement in Cooperstown as a result of betting on baseball games when he was a manager—will finally get the acknowledgement he so deserves, when he’s inducted into the Hall Of Fame…the National Bobblehead Hall Of Fame, that is. If you’ve been waiting decades to see Rose get some Hall Of Fame attention, this could be your only chance.
Napalm Death + The Melvins, and Melt Banana at The Rave
If you’ve read this far into the show description, you’ve probably already decided to go to this.
Saturday, April 30
Bubba Sparxxx at City Lounge (Cudahy)
The crown jewel of East Layton Avenue late-night, City Lounge, has landed a show with a formerly formidable “country rap” forefather. No, Uncle Kracker isn’t playing an intimate one-nighter at Club Baghdad (yet), and Public Enemy probably won’t be playing Wauwatosa’s Red Dot again anytime soon. Rather, gold record-certified rapper Bubba Sparxxx will take City Lounge’s stage—if there is a stage?—on April 30. Sparxxx first came to public consciousness in 2001 with his debut record Dark Days, Bright Nights, which featured hit single “Ugly” and a host of other Timbaland-produced tracks. It peaked at No. 3 on US music charts en route to gold record certification. However, recent years have been pretty lean for Sparxxx…like, “play at City Lounge” lean.
Antler House and Paper Holland (dual album release) + Ugly Brothers at Company Brewing
Two of the city’s most overlooked acts will join forces to partner up on a show that doubles as both band’s album release show. Antler House will unveil Across The Waves, its latest collection of sullen and beyond-their-years folk. Meanwhile, Paper Holland will serve up Fast Food, the indie-pop quartet’s first release since 2012’s Happy Belated. Setting the table for the dual release gig is affable Riverwest folk outfit Ugly Brothers.