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 the majority 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 festival guide, but, believe it or not, there’s also a ton of non-festival shows adding to the summer-long entertainment dilemma. From littler known comedians to farewell concerts and homecomings, here are Milwaukee Record’s 14 can’t-miss June events.
Friday, June 5
Shabazz Palaces at The Rave
Washington-based hip-hop duo Shabazz Palaces is a tough act to pin down. The braintrust of Ishmael Butler and Tendai Maraire has taken the term “experimental” to levels not previously thought to be possible in mainstream hip-hop with absurd production and utterly abstract lyrics. Sometimes the sonic risks don’t quite land, but when they do, it’s the stuff of magic. Shabazz Palaces will swing by The Rave in belated support of last summer’s Lese Majesty.
Saturday, June 6
Faux Fir (farewell show) + The Fatty Acids at Company Brewing
Excluding a shorthanded Tonic Tavern set during Arte Para Todos, Faux Fir hasn’t played out in a while. Following a show on June 6, the break is going to be considerably longer. Last month, the Milwaukee synth-pop quartet announced a performance at Company Brewing would be its “farewell” performance, as singer-keyboardist Ryan Rupprecht (who was also part of the just-disbanded Castle Thunder) is relocating to Minneapolis. The band is familiar with dealing with displaced members, with guitarist Adam Bartell moving to Portland, Oregon partway through the writing process of Faux Fir’s excellent 2013 record, Fashionable Life, which we tabbed as the 23rd best Milwaukee album of the 2010s last year. Faux Fir’s pals in The Fatty Acids will open.
Wednesday, June 10
Maritime (acoustic) + Michael Feuerstack, and Mark Waldoch at Cactus Club
Maritime shows are rare these days. Maritime acoustic shows are ever more of a rarity. Hear Davey von Bohlen and company play a decade of old favorites and possibly some new cuts from the band’s forthcoming record during what is sure to be a memorable show in an intimate setting. Michael Feuerstack and Celebrated Workingman frontman Mark Waldoch will play in support.
Thursday, June 11
Kyle Dunnigan at Turner Hall
Yeah, we know you have no fucking idea who Kyle Dunnigan is…at least on name alone. However, adept comedy fans surely recognize him as the awkwardly endearing serial killer Craig on Reno 911!, amongst various other roles. The Professor Blastoff co-host and Inside Amy Schumer writer might not be a name you recognize, but is surely a comic you should see. Hilarious intellectual absurdist Geoffrey Asmus—who currently holds the title of Madison’s Funniest Stand-up Comedian—will open this understated grouping of uproariously funny dudes.
Friday, June 12
Dope Folks Records 5th Anniversary Party at Cactus Club
When he’s not feeding Milwaukee outstanding sausages at his restaurant, Vanguard, or answering questions about when Mistreaters are going to play a reunion show, Chris Schulist funnels his love of hip-hop’s “Golden Age” into Dope Folks Records. Over the last five years, the label has reissued dozens of classic rap records on vinyl, some of which would’ve vanished into obscurity had Schulist not intervened. To mark the latest Dope Folks release—Rast RFC’s Story Of A Legend: Volume 2—the label is putting on a show that will double as a fifth anniversary party. New York-based Rast RFC will perform, as will Automatic, Dana Coppa, and Speakeasy.
The Pixies at The Rave
Is it possible to get excited about a Pixies show in 2015? Maybe. On one hand, the endlessly influential alt band has been reformed and touring behind the same handful of classic albums longer than it was together in the first place. Kim Deal is out. A new album, Indie Cindy, was blasted by critics. (It’s not that bad.) On the other hand, it’s the fucking Pixies. Frontman Frank Black/Black Francis is a goddamn genius, and his songs are just as alive and as crazed as they were 20-odd years ago.
Saturday, June 13
Barenaked Ladies + Violent Femmes, and Colin Hay at BMO Harris Pavilion
Milwaukee’s own Violent Femmes will play the BMO Harris Pavilion. Yeah, Barenaked Ladies and Colin Hay are playing, too, and fine, Barenaked Ladies are headlining, but still. Violent Femmes! The show is part of the Ladies’ “Last Summer on Earth Tour,” and the first 2015 BMO Harris Pavilion production for the Pabst Theater Group and Milwaukee World Festival. Expect a warm hometown welcome for Gordon Gano, Brian Ritchie, and whoever they have drumming for them these days, as well as plenty of snickers when Barenaked Ladies inevitably do that “IT’S BEEN…” song. And Colin Hay.
The Olives (farewell show) + Beat Drun Juel, Iron Pizza, Head On Electric, and Brunch Palace at Bremen Cafe
Since forming in 2010, The Olives have been a beloved-though-largely unknown part of Milwaukee music. The entirely female punk quartet and its arsenal of brash and mostly-goofy songs spanning one or two minutes apiece were basement show favorites, in addition to going over well at (primarily) Riverwest cafes and bars, and our recent Local Coverage benefit. However, the band announced it would be playing a farewell show at Bremen Cafe on June 13. The decision to part ways came as a result of bass player Alyssa Schulte’s upcoming move to Portland, Oregon this summer. Beyond her role as The Olives’ bassist, Schulte is also a popular Milwaukee artist and one of Hovercraft’s three founders.
Friday, June 19
Belle & Sebastian + Courtney Barnett at Pabst Theater
Okay, we have nothing against Belle & Sebastian, but we’re especially excited about Australian singer-songwriter Courtney Barnett opening the show. Barnett has been the recipient of a metric-ton of hype over the past few months, and her debut full-length, Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit, has been hailed as one of the best albums of a still-young 2015. For once, believe the hype: crunchy, jangly, agreeably loose and shambling, Barnett’s album is an instant winner. The Milwaukee show will be one of just two featuring Barnett as opener, so don’t be late.
Celeste + Primitive Man, Northless at Club Garibaldi
If French doom metal band Celeste and Denver sludge purveyors Primitive Man aren’t enough to sway you to the friendly confines of Club G, an exceedingly rare outing from Milwaukee’s far and away best metal band, Northless, better do it. The tumultuous trio will kick off this multinational metal melee by unleashing songs from its three upcoming releases on the poor, vulnerable eardrums of onlookers. Bring ear plugs.
Saturday, June 20
Dummerfest 2K15 at The Metal Grill (Cudahy)
One fateful summer day in Cudahy, some of the premier punk and hardcore bands based in Wisconsin and elsewhere in the Central Standard Time zone will converge upon The Metal Grill to partake in the inaugural Dummerfest. The single-day festival—which was organized by Direct Hit! frontman Nick Woods—will bring about a dozen punk, pop-punk, and hardcore acts to the Cudahy club for a 12-hour all-ages undertaking billed as “The Dummer Alternative.” 88 Fingers Louie, Masked Intruder, Juiceboxxx, In Defence, Tenement, Pears, Get Rad, Lipstick Homicide, Midnight Reruns, Big Zit, Meatwave, and Direct Hit! will partake in the first of hopefully many iterations of this new festival, which (full disclosure) Milwaukee Record is proud to sponsor.
Futurebirds + Twin Brother, Old Earth at Club Garibaldi
With all due respect to Futurebirds and (even more so to) Twin Brother, the real appeal of this show is Old Earth. The experimental folk project of former Milwaukeean Todd Umhoefer never really caught on here, despite putting out some of the best, most original releases this city has seen in a while and getting ample attention in Europe. Thus, he uprooted late last year and headed to Northern California, where his sound has progressed as his audiences have grown. If you overlooked Old Earth his first two stints in Milwaukee, don’t miss this homecoming show. If you were among the few who were on board when Umhoefer lived here, don’t miss this homecoming show.
Sunday, June 21
My Morning Jacket at Riverside Theater
Actually, this Sunday show is the second of what will be a two-show Riverside Theater weekend residency for My Morning Jacket. The June 20 show is sold out. Jim James and his loyal cast of Kentucky rockers have been kicking around since the late 1990s, but the band only seems to be garnering more popularity with each release. The latest, The Waterfall, came out last month, breaking a four-year discography drought and nabbing predominately favorable reviews along the way.
Saturday, June 27
Burnhearts/Pabst Street Party
Each summer of Burnhearts’ existence, the Bay View beer bastion has simultaneously celebrated summer and one of the most iconic (formerly) Milwaukee-made beers with the annual Burnhearts/Pabst Street Party. The seventh such block party was the biggest and best one yet, as Sylvan Esso, GGOOLLDD, Collections Of Colonies Of Bees, and more took the stage at the corner of Logan and Potter avenues last June. Though that one will be tough to top, the bar has rounded up an eclectic cast of local talent to supply the musical accompaniment—while brazenly taking on Summerfest—on Saturday, June 27 for the eighth annual Burnhearts/Pabst Street Party. Beyond the veritable river of Pabst and local food vendors (Classic Slice, Goodkind, Vanguard, Honeypie), De La Buena, Klassik, Platinum Boys, Light Music, and DJ Why B will perform this time around.