Though July comes close to matching it, there’s simply no month in Milwaukee that’s more jam-packed with entertainment than June. Festival season officially kicks off with PrideFest, which gives way to Polish Fest, Locust Street Festival, Summer Soulstice, and much of Summerfest. Meanwhile, a bundle of concert series like Chill On The Hill, Jazz In The Park, and Milwaukee Boat Line’s Concert Cruises begin, making every week enjoyable.
We’ve already detailed most of those in our exhaustive Summer Festival Guide but, believe it or not, there’s also a ton of non-festival shows adding to the summer-long entertainment dilemma. From block parties and stacked local bills to our screening of Hot Rod and, wait…a Stormy Daniels appearance, there are lots of ways to enjoy June amid the festival frenzy. Here are just a few events that stand out.
Friday, June 1
Paper Holland (album release) + Jaill, Klassik, and Mark Waldoch @ Anodyne (Walker’s Point)
Paper Holland takes its sweet time. After releasing its debut album, Happy Belated, back in 2012, the band had a four-year break between records before eventually treating listeners to their Fast Food EP in early 2016. Though the five-song release broke nearly an entire Presidential term’s worth of silence and found the band getting back to playing out regularly, Paper Holland needed a few more years to put together another full-length. On June 1, more than two years since serving up Fast Food, the meticulous musicians will finally wisp listeners away on an aural island getaway in the form of their long-awaited sophomore album, Galápagos. The release show gets even sweeter with opening support from the eclectic and impressive likes of Jaill, Klassik, and Mark Waldoch.
Saturday, June 2
Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks + Lithics @ The Back Room at Colectivo
You’d be foolish to miss an opportunity to see Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks at an intimate venue like Colectivo’s Back Room performance space. Apparently, 300 others agreed, as the show instantly sold out.
Fat Fest @ Crafty Cow and Hot Head Fried Chicken (outside)
From noon to 8 p.m. Bay View’s Lenox Street will be blocked off again for a celebration of music, art, food, and beer. Crafty Cow, Hot Head, Vanguard, and Batches will be selling food outside. Like last year, New Belgium will handle the beer. There will be live painting, glass blowers, live demos from Milwaukee Blacksmith, and shirts screening printed on site. Of course, it wouldn’t be a block party without live music. An eclectic array of Milwaukee, Chicago, and Madison performers will take the stage. Come by for food, beer, live art, and tunes from No No Yeah Okay, Chicken Wire Empire, Vincent Van Great, Whiskey & The Devil, Thompson Springs, and KOI. After the Fest is over, Klassik will play inside the restaurant.
Summer Launch Bash 2018 @ The Explorium Brewpub
While its craft brew contemporaries have revitalized vacant buildings—and sometimes forgotten sections of the city—The Explorium Brewpub has added some rare local flare to a stretch of suburbia that’s lousy with big box retailers and chain restaurants. Since opening in the Southridge Mall in Greendale in January 2017, the brewpub operation that was spearheaded by Mike and Joan Doble has leaned on the tenets of exploration, experience, and discovery. Now, with spring fast gone and summer fast approaching, Explorium is prepping the return of its Summer Launch Bash.
On Saturday, June 2, the brewpub will take over the southwest parking lot of Southridge and stock it with six other local breweries, local vendors, local food, and live music. Hugh Masterson will headline the live music part of that combo, and will be joined by SilverFoxxx and Eagle Trace. Tickets are $30 in advance or $35 at the gate, or $15 for designated drivers.
Monday, June 4
“Shot For Shot With Chefs” series premiere @ The Cooperage
Last summer, Milwaukee Record filmed the pilot episode of a new series called Shot For Shot With Chefs. The booze-fueled and food-focused web series features hapless host Tyler Maas talking about the ins and outs of Milwaukee dining with a local chef over some drinks. Okay, lots of drinks.
The first installment features Goodkind co-owner/chef Paul Zerkel, a respected name in Milwaukee dining and a legendary drinker by his own right. After two-plus hours together and 17 shots apiece, we emerged with a few minutes of interesting, informative, and entertaining footage. We also left with the harsh realization we can’t do that to ourselves again. At best, the series will need some re-tooling to move forward. At worst, this could be the one and only episode. Join us for a free event at The Cooperage for the premiere, which will include the episode, outtakes, beer specials, Great Northern craft cocktails, Zerkel serving food out of the Taco Moto truck, and shots. Lots of shots.
Friday, June 8
Neal Brennan @ Turner Hall
Chappelle’s Show co-creator Neal Brennan isn’t one to focus on past accomplishes. Since that revolutionary sketch comedy show’s abrupt end, Brennan has written television shows, hosted, directed, and acted. However varied his lengthy and impressive résumé is, stand-up will always be his true passion. About 18 months removed from the release of his innovative special, 3 Mics, Brennan will come to Turner Hall with a new hour of ground breaking material. If you’re not at PrideFest or camped out at Riverside Theater to see a “Mystery Band” that night, make this a part of your weekend.
Friday, June 8 and Saturday, June 9
Strand Of Oaks @ Cactus Club
Though he was born in Indiana and he now calls Philadelphia home, Timothy Showalter has a special place in his heart for Milwaukee. Recalling basement shows and memorable gigs in town early in Strand Of Oaks’ existence, the bandleader wanted to recreate to intimate vibe in Milwaukee with a pair of Cactus Club shows on consecutive nights. The first night finds Stand Of Oaks joined by Chris DeMay. Night two offers SCHLEICHER opening things up.
Tuesday, June 12
Hop Along + Bat Fangs @ Turner Hall
Speaking of up-and-coming indie rock acts from Philadelphia coming to our fair city, Hop Along will makes its Milwaukee debut with a show at Turner Hall. Fresh off the release of the band’s excellent breakout album, Bark Your Head Off, Dog, the quartet will head up a can’t-miss Tuesday night affair. Bat Fangs open.
Thursday, June 14
Milwaukee Record presents Edgar Cantero for Meddling Kids @ Boswell Book Company
Milwaukee Record presents Edgar Cantero for a stop at Boswell on the paperback tour of Meddling Kids, the enjoyably batty book that’s perfect for fans of horror and hilarious hijinks and anyone who grew up on Saturday mornings filled with sugar-coated cereal and Scooby-Doo.
Friday, June 15
Randy’s Cheeseburger Picnic @ Turner Hall
Last April, Turner Hall hosted a rowdy live show with Randy and Mr. Lahey. In August, Milwaukee’s love affair with Trailer Park Boys continued when Riverside Theater hosted a downright greeeeasy show with some of the cult classic Canadian comedy’s most beloved characters, including John Dunsworth (aka Jim Lahey) just weeks before his tragic death.
While his incomparable partner is gone, Trailer Park Boys mainstay Randy “Bobandy” will make his return to Turner Hall on Friday, June 15 for a unique night of comedy and consumption that’s being billed as “Randy’s Cheeseburger Picnic Tour.” The show promises “bit of stand-up, a bit of silly contests, some classic Randy punchlines and a chance to meet your favorite TPB cast member.” Of course, the show also offers the audience cheeseburgers—store-bought cheeseburgers!—to enjoy during the performance (limit one per customer).
Wednesday, June 20
Milwaukee Record presents Hot Rod @ Avalon Theater
Join Milwaukee Record at Avalon Theater on Wednesday, June 20 for a special presentation of Hot Rod. The 2007 comedy stars Andy Samberg as aspiring stuntman Rod Kimble. When his stepfather falls ill, Rod and his crew of characters—including the likes of Danny McBride, Bill Hader, Isla Fisher, and Jorma Taccone—must go to extreme measures to raise enough money for an operation. Hilarity and injury both ensue.
Though the film grossed less than $15M in box office earnings (well below its $25.3M budget), the goofy and all-around absurd movie has built a respectable cult following in the decade since its brief theatrical run. If you’ve made it this far, you’re either part of that following or you’re interested in seeing what you missed 11 years ago.
Sunday, June 24
Colin Jost @ Turner Hall
You’re surely aware of his work in the anchor chair of SNL‘s “Weekend Update” segment, but Colin Jost is also a skilled stand-up. Keep the Sunday fun going by watching the fresh-faced comedian working without cue cards and without FCC regulations to consider. It should be fun!
Friday, June 29
Surgeons In Heat (album release) + Jaill, Cafe Racer, and Ravi/Lola @ Cactus Club
Back in February, we gave you a sneak peek of the upcoming Surgeons In Heat album, Bored Immortals. Last month, Surgeons In Heat chased the preview with another single, “Falling In A Row.” It’s a touch more original-formula Surgeons In Heat than “Why’d You Start?” but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a stunner. Dig the familiar glazed-over vibe, Mayer’s always-welcome falsetto, a rubbery-as-hell bass line, and a scorching little guitar solo in the song’s final moments. On Friday, June 29, John Mayer (no, not that one!) and company will release Bored Immortals at Cactus Club, with a show that also feature Jaill, Cafe Racer, and Ravi/Lola.