February holds the distinction of being the year’s shortest month, one of Wisconsin’s coldest spans of time, and the final full month of winter. However, this particular February finds Milwaukee artists and venues bucking the trend of late-season boredom and Valentine’s-adjacent blues with a bevy of great events. Beyond massive undertakings like Mitten Fest and Mama Tried, renowned touring bands and comedians are swinging through town as well. Meanwhile, some local release shows, a special screening on an ’80s classic, a “sayonara” show for the Shorewood Legion Hall, and a brand new block party help make the year’s shortest month a solid one in terms of entertainment options. Here are 16 standout events. Check out our handy Calendar section for many more listings.
Friday, February 1
Nate Bargatze @ Turner Hall
With all due respect to Chris D’Elia, he won’t be the funniest person performing in downtown Milwaukee the first night of February. That honor goes to Nate Bargatze, a Tennessee-born comedian and a rising star in stand-up. His ascent will continue with what’s sure to be an unforgettable show at Turner Hall. While others are watching D’Elia a few blocks away, treat yourself to a great show and, likely, bragging rights when you watch this up-and-coming humorist do his thing in a relatively intimate setting.
Peeper & Le Play (record release) + Stacian, Stormchaser @ Cactus Club
On 2015’s delightfully titled Mandatory Fantasies, Trusty Knife frontman Zack Pieper and Milwaukee film/music staple Didier Leplae tumble down a sonic rabbit hole of cockeyed funk, off-kilter disco, warped indie, and general experimental fuckery. “Allow Me” and “Bedtime” play like Ween at its most playful and Prince-esque, dropping lines like “Had to pay the milkman / To take your money down / To the DMV.” “Funny Money” dips its toe into outré hip-hop, “Jake’s Day Off” pits two narrators against each other to tell a ridiculously mundane story, and “The Haunted Hot Tub (Surrounded!)” is everything you’d hope for from a song called “The Haunted Hot Tub (Surrounded!).” Tonight’s show celebrates the release of the group’s latest masterpiece, Find The Earth (Club Frills Vol. 1).
Insane Clown Posse’s Shaggy 2 Dope + Ouija Macc @ Club Garibaldi
Tonight, an insane clown from Insane Clown Posse—Shaggy 2 Dope—will play Milwaukee’s venerable Club Garibaldi. Fellow Psychopathic Records artist, Ouija Macc, will be in tow. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door.
Saturday, February 2
Mitten Fest @ Burnhearts
Now that New Year’s festivities have come and gone, folks in Milwaukee are forced to come to terms with the harsh realization that winter is here in full force and there’s not much to do outside. Fortunately, on the horizon there sits an eight-hour respite from the seasonal doldrums that offers an outdoor escape from the norm every February. For the past six years, Burnhearts’ Mitten Fest has helped combat cabin fever for thousands of people who converge in a two-block stretch on Bay View’s Potter Avenue (and part of Logan Avenue lately) with a wintry mix of live music, food, beverages, and charity. Milwaukee’s favorite winter festival will return with the best beer list yet…along with music by the likes of Abby Jeanne, Vincent Van Great, Surgeons In Heat, Cashfire Sunset, and Nickel&Rose.
Trapper Schoepp (album release) + Nineteen Thirteen @ The Back Room at Colectivo
A few months removed from making national news with a co-writing credit on song with Bob Dylan, Trapper Schoepp will formally put out that song and more material on his latest album, Primetime Illusion, at this hometown record release show at Colectivo’s Back Room performance space. Trapper will be joined by Nineteen Thirteen.
Friday, February 8
Interpol + Sunflower Beam @ Pabst Theater
Interpol rules. Interpol just put out a new record that rules. Interpol rarely comes to Milwaukee. Interpol will be playing at Pabst Theater in February. That rules.
Thursday, February 14
Jackie Kashian @ The Underground Collaborative
Since leaving her hometown of South Milwaukee, Jackie Kashian has sustained a long and successful career in comedy that includes a Comedy Central special, a couple Conan appearances, and being on what could be the most tense episode of Pete Holmes’ You Made It Weird podcast. Over the summer, Kashian came back to her old stomping grounds as part of the Lady Parts Justice League tour. On Valentine’s Day, she’ll return to headline an Underground Collaborative with opener Carmen Morales.
Milo + Pink Navel, and SB The Moor @ Cactus Club
Milwaukee expat Rory Ferreira will return to his former hometown during what he’s calling the last U.S. tour for his inimitable and influential Milo project. You should never miss a chance to see Milo, especially if it might be your last chance to catch him live.
Saturday, February 16
Food & Froth @ Milwaukee Public Museum
Want to hang out at the Milwaukee Public Museum, sip beer from dozens of local breweries, eat food from oodles of local restaurants, and mess around with the snake buttons? Then the museum’s annual Food & Froth blowout is for you. Explore the Streets of Old Milwaukee while enjoying a beer! Hang out in that igloo while enjoying some appetizers! Hide from that territorial howler monkey while enjoying music from The WhiskeyBelles, Category X, Alpine Blast, and The Hungry Williams Band! General admission tickets to this 21+ event are $75; get yours fast, because the VIP tickets are already sold out.
Whips + Get Rad @ Company Brewing
Between events like Flat Out Friday and the bike show itself, Mama Tried is an all-around awesome weekend that helps heat Milwaukee up in the middle of February. Not only are the official events great. The various affiliated after parties are outstanding as well. This pairing of Whips and Get Rad just so happens to be the best one.
Wednesday, February 20
Milwaukee Record presents Coming To America
February’s Milwaukee Record screening is so good, someone ought to put it on a plate and sop it up with a biscuit. Oh say, can you see, on February 20, Coming To America is coming to the Avalon!
Coming To America tells the romantic tale of Zamunda’s Prince Akeem (Eddie Murphy), who rejects the royal tradition of arranged marriage and flees to America to find his true love. Attempting to pass themselves off as working class students, Akeem and his servant Semmi (Arsenio Hall) get to know their new neighbors in Queens, New York in an effort to meet the future Queen of Zamunda. Will they succeed?
The duo of Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall offers more than enough comedic firepower to keep this movie rolling, but there is so much more. James Earl Jones gives an unforgettable performance as King Jaffe Joffer, while John Amos, Frankie Faison, Eriq La Salle, Louie Anderson, Samuel L. Jackson and so many others make hilarious and heartfelt contributions to this ’80s masterpiece. Oha’s (Paul Bates) song about Akeem’s queen-to-be is worth the price of admission by itself! Tickets to the 7 p.m. screening are $5. Lakefront Brewery will kindly sponsor the event, as always.
Thursday, February 21
Tyrese + Ginuwine @ Miller High Life Theatre
One is an actor, producer, author, and musician with multiple Grammy nominations to his credit. The other is responsible for “Pony.” No matter which of these R&B superstars is most appealing to you, you’re in for a treat when Tyrese Gibson and Ginuwine bring their “Love Vibes” to the High Life Theatre in the wake of Valentine’s Day.
Friday, February 22
Colter Wall + Wade Sapp @ Turner Hall
The pride of rural Saskatchewan, 23-year-old Colter Wall has both the voice and the material of a much older man. Following 2017’s eponymous breakout album and a sold-out show at The Back Room @ Colectivo, the folk phenom will bring his rock-polished voice and beyond-his-years musicianship to Turner Hall.
Saturday, February 23
“The Shorewood Sayonara” @ North Shore Legion Post #331
Last month, news broke that North Shore Legion Post #331 (aka the “Shorewood Legion Hall”) was for sale. Though the fate of the building that’s known for its fish fry and, more so, for serving as an invaluable host site for all-ages shows for much of the 2000s is currently up in the air, it’s unlikely that the property’s owners-to-be will be receptive to the idea of hosting hardcore and metal concerts.
Knowing the space’s days as a venue were numbered, a group of Milwaukee musicians decided to band together to send the Shorewood Legion Hall off in style. In late February, North Shore Legion Post #331 will host one last hurrah organizers are calling The Shorewood Sayonara.
On Saturday, February 23, a total of 11 bands whose members played shows at Shorewood Legion Hall will say goodbye the the all-ages venue between the hours of 3 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. The lineup includes headliner Wings Of Scarlet, along with the first Forever Is Forgotten show in 14 years, and performances by modern Milwaukee metal-tinged mainstays like Knaaves and Ara. Here’s the full lineup.
Sunday, February 24
Wückfinter @ Ray’s Wine & Spirits
From noon to (at least) 5 p.m. on the last Sunday in February, the “Ray-borhood” will be abuzz with activity. Ray’s parking lot will be tented off to accommodate upwards of 1,000 guests. There will be a total of 18 beers from 3 Floyds on tap outside, upstairs at Ray’s Growler Gallery, and at a pop-up bar at the business’ new event space. Laev says rarities can be expected and, yes, Zombie Dust is guaranteed to be on-site (while supplies last). Ray’s will also be serving up Moloko Stout booze slushies and Pop’s Kettle Corn will be selling Zombie Dust-flavored “Zombie Corn” that’s made with brewing ingredients.
Ray’s parking lot will also host food vendors, including Aaron Patin from Iron Grate, a food truck operated by 3 Floyds chef Cole Ersel (a Milwaukee expat, formerly of Wolf Peach), and another food truck TBA. Musical entertainment will be provided by 3 Floyds brewers, who will make the trip up from Munster, Indiana to curate a playlist that will serve as Wückfinter‘s soundtrack.
Wednesday, February 27
Mike Krol + Steve Adamyk Band @ The Back Room at Colectivo
About half a year removed from headlining our stage at Bay View Bash and roughly a after the release of his downright awesome Power Chords, Milwaukee native and Merge Records’ own Mike Krol returns to his hometown to head up a show at Colectivo’s Back Room. Steve Adamyk Band opens.