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 local release shows, a tremendous four-night benefit for area art programs, some great touring podcasts, and Billy Bob Thorton’s band for some reason. There’s so much to do this month, but these events stand out to us.
Thursday, April 6
Milwaukee Record presents BASEketball @ Avalon Theater
Though BASEketball only grossed about $7 million domestically in theaters, the cult comedy starring South Park‘s Trey Parker and Matt Stone found a devoted audience thereafter, thanks to its endless array of quotes and memorable cameos from Ernest Borgnine, Jenny McCarthy (before all that anti-vaccination stuff), Yasmine Bleeth, Al Michaels, Bob Costas, Robert Stack, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Wisconsin sports super-fan Kato Kaelin. If you weren’t among the oh-so-few who caught BASEketball in theaters the first time around, we’re willing to bet this will be your only chance to do so. The movie starts at 9 p.m. and tickets are $6. We’ll see you there. You’re excited?! Feel these nipples!
Friday, April 7
Whips, The Ride Record Release @ Cactus Club
You’d be hard-pressed to find a band in Milwaukee (or Wisconsin, for that matter) more capable of combining crushing, chest-pummeling rock and roll with rousing, radio-ready hooks than Whips. Unfortunately, the years since 2014’s hit-laden Turn It On have been fairly quiet for one of the city’s most rousing rock outfits. However, as Whips were in relative seclusion and only surfaced for occasional shows, they were hard at work crafting and recording material for a follow-up, The Ride. Surgeons In Heat and Slow Walker will play in support of this release show.
The Psychedelic Furs @ Potawatomi Hotel & Casino’s Northern Lights Theater
If the name doesn’t ring a bell, you likely know The Psychedelic Furs from writing virtual every popular song in the 1980s. Hyperbole aside, the UK rockers have an impressive catalog of hits that have stood the test of time. After a decade-long hiatus and shifting members, the Furs returned in 2000 and have been playing since. But they won’t be around forever, so don’t miss this.
Friday, April 7 to Sunday, April 9
Midwest Gaming Classic @ Sheraton Hotel (Brookfield)
Since 2001, gamers, pinball nuts, tabletop competitors, and cosplayers alike have had an electronic oasis near Milwaukee each spring, as the Midwest Gaming Classic has taken root in a suburban hotel and become a fixture for hundreds throughout the heartland. Though small at its outset, the annual event has grown to take over more than 21,000 square feet of the Brookfield Sheraton (and gigantic tents connected to the hotel) while easily earning the title of “the largest all-encompassing electronic gaming trade show in the Midwest.” The 17th annual MGC will feature the same great and family-friendly mix of game play, consumer goods, live music, plus an appearance by Svengoolie himself.
Saturday, April 8
Dead Soldiers (album release) +Rx Drugs, Mark Waldoch, Jayk @ The Lindsay Building
Even though they call Memphis home, Dead Soldiers are nothing short of Milwaukee’s rowdy adopted sons. The Boone & Crockett regulars are moving the party to the Lindsay Building in Walker’s Point for the Milwaukee release show for their forthcoming album, The Great Emptiness. Further strengthening the Milwaukee bond are the locally lauded likes of Rx Drugs, Mark Waldoch, and Jayk. Boone & Crockett will handle the bar and Gypsy Taco will be on hand to sell food.
Tuesday, April 11
Electric Six + Residual Kid, IfIHadAHiFi @ Mad Planet
Detroit party-rockers Electric Six may be a long way from their Myspace-era hits like “Danger! High Voltage” and “Gay Bar,” but give them credit for sticking around and sticking to their guns. Last year’s Fresh Blood for Tired Vampyres is filled with the same kind of over-the-top, slightly tongue-in-cheek disco-glam the group has been cranking out for 15 years. Residual Kid and Milwaukee’s IfIHadAHiFi play in support.
Wednesday, April 12
IshDARR @ Turner Hall
There’s little question that Milwaukee’s biggest breakout artist of the last few years is IshDARR. Millions of streams, world tours, and high-profile fashion gigs have become the norm for the young rapper, perhaps making him the biggest thing to come out of town in decades. On Broken Hearts & Bankrolls—the follow-up to 2015’s Old Soul Young Spirit—IshDARR lives up to the hype with a collection of sly, devil-may-care hip-hop that sounds thrillingly of-the-moment while remaining undeniably distinctive. Song like the unstoppable “Sugar” and “Locals” should be heard by millions; luckily for IshDARR, they are.
Friday, April 14
Wonder UNCOVERED @ Turner Hall
Back in early 2016, Alverno College’s long-running performing arts series, Alverno Presents, announced its current season would be its last. Among the many casualties of the announcement was Alverno Presents’ excellent UNCOVERED series, which found local talent reimagining the works of national legends. Happily, UNCOVERED has found a second life with the Pabst Theater Group, who will be hosting the series going forward. The first UNCOVERED 2.0 show, “Tribe UNCOVERED,” found Klassik and company taking on A Tribe Called Quest; Wonder UNCOVERED, meanwhile, will feature curators Tarik Moody and David Wake reimagining Stevie Wonder’s seminal Songs In The Key Of Life.
Wednesday, April 19
The Dollop LIVE Podcast @ Turner Hall
The Dollop is a popular podcast wherein comedian Dave Anthony reads a story from American history to his friend, Gareth Reynolds, who doesn’t know what the topic is about. Only time will tell what locally focused topic they discuss. The show is also a homecoming of sorts for Reynolds, who hails from Brown Deer. Want more from Anthony and Reynolds? They’re also going to perform stand-up sets at Puddler’s Hall on April 20.
Friday, April 21
Randy and Mr. Lahey (from Trailer Park Boys) @ Turner Hall
Liquor will be calling the shots when Randy and Mr. Lahey of Trailer Park Boys fame come to town as part of their “No Pants Unpissed US Tour.” There’s sure to be cheeseburgers aplenty and more than a few drinkpoos on hand as Sunnyvale’s on-again, off-again supervisor and his shirtless on-again, off-again sidekick/lover take the stage to share stories of extinguishing the shitflames ignited by the park’s law-averse residents.
Saturday, April 22
Direct Hit! + The Living Statues, Midwives @ Cactus Club (all-ages)
This show is special for a number of reasons. Not only is this the first of two release shows for Direct Hit!’s Domesplitter reissue and WMSE 7-inch, it’s also Cactus Club’s first foray into all-ages show in years. The Bay View bar will go dry for a stacked lineup that also includes The Living Statues and Midwives. If 21+ shows are more your speed, DH! will play with Avenues and The Pukes later on in the night.
Descendants + Radkey, The Pukes @ The Rave
It’s been 20 years since So-Cal punk pioneers Descendants last graced The Rave with its presence. That will all change when Milo (and his band) goes to the Milwaukee venue for a rare opportunity to see the legendary act in our fair city. This show also lines up with the recent release of Hypercaffium Spazzinate, the band’s first album in 12 years. Radkey and Milwaukee’s own The Pukes open.
Monday, April 24
Billy Bob Thorton & The Boxmasters @ Shank Hall
Nearly a year after Kiefer Sutherland pulled the ol’ “longtime actor moonlights as rock star” move at Milwaukee’s Shank Hall, another celebrated thespian is getting in on the action. Billy Bob Thornton & The Boxmasters—a rockabilly band that includes actor Billy Bob Thornton and the non-actor Boxmasters—will take to the Shank Hall stage at tonight’s show. Thornton, who has noted he was a musician before he was an actor, sings and drums with the group, which has been active since 2007. And remember: If you pony up for the VIP tickets, don’t ask Thornton anything you wouldn’t ask Tom Petty.
Thursday, April 27 – Sunday, April 30
Arte Para Todos @ various locations
In its first two years, Arte Para Todos raised approximately $40,000 for Milwaukee public school art programs through the combined efforts of hundreds of musicians and visual artists bringing their talents to dozens of local bars, venues, and galleries in four Milwaukee neighborhoods. Thankfully, the city’s most eclectic and ambitious benefit is returning for a third year with oodles of entertainment scattered throughout Walker’s Point, Bay View, Harambe, Riverwest, and the East Side. Check out the awesome lineup and just go ahead and buy your weekend pass now.
Saturday, April 29
Tobin Sprout @ Cactus Club
Guided By Voices may be the mastermind of Robert Pollard, but the legendary Dayton, Ohio group owes a lot to on-and-off-again collaborator Tobin Sprout. GBV’s early four-track aesthetic is largely due to Sprout, and the musician’s contributions to classic albums (“Awful Bliss” from 1994’s Bee Thousand, for example) are equally classic. Sprout’s new solo album, The Universe & Me, is his first in seven years.