March is a period of transition. The month straddles two seasons, a part-time resident in the ass-end of winter and a temporary tenant within the burst and bloom brought on by spring. As the season changes and we gain an hour of daylight, the glorious onslaught of local festivals is so close, but still aggravatingly out of reach. Still, there’s a wealth of places to go, people to see, and things to do this month while awaiting the arrival of spring, along with the warmth and activity of summer.
Between legendary comedians, local release shows, WMSE’s Rockabilly Chili, and can’t-miss concerts, this March isn’t shaping up to be so bad. Here are this month’s 12 best events in Milwaukee. Check out our calendar for more listings.
Friday, March 3
The Fatty Acids (album release) + Dogs In Ecstasy, and Paper Holland @ Linneman’s Riverwest Inn
A lot has changed since 2013. This website didn’t exist in 2013, for example. That year was the last time The Fatty Acids put out a record. Since the venerable synth-poppers released Boléro close to four calendar years ago, some members departed, others got married, a couple of them joined different bands, and a few started philanthropic music festivals or opened businesses. Now, the time has come for The Fatties to return with Dogs Of Entertainment. The band’s fourth LP is a more grown-up and down-tempo (not to mention a very, very good) version of the local music kingpins you’ve come to know and love through the years.
Sunday, March 5
WMSE’s 15th annual Rockabilly Chili Fundraiser @ MSOE’s Kern Center
Since the early aughts, WMSE has assembled the city’s most skilled chili connoisseurs to vie for prizes in but a few categories during its annual Rockabilly Chili fundraiser. This year, more than 60 restaurants, bars, and cafes will compete. As chili season’s conclusion is nigh, end it in the best way imaginable.
Thursday, March 9
Patti Smith @ Milwaukee Theatre
Let’s just boil this down to some facts: The incomparable, iconic, and forever awesome Patti Smith recently celebrated her 70th birthday. Smith’s equally incomparable, iconic, and forever awesome album Horses recently turned 41. Patti Smith and her band will perform Horses in its entirety Thursday, March 9 at the Milwaukee Theatre. Yes. Some more facts: This will be Smith’s first Milwaukee show in 38 years.
Mac Sabbath + Metalachi, and Okilly Dokilly @ Turner Hall
A Black Sabbath tribute band dressed as Ronald McDonald. A mariachi band playing metal songs. An all-Ned Flanders cover band. This is everything you need to know.
Friday, March 10
Jerry Seinfeld @ Riverside Theater (two shows)
What’s the deal with Jerry Seinfeld lately? Since his eponymous sitcom ended in 1998, the observational comedian has kept out of the public eye for the most part, outside of cashing incomprehensibly large royalty checks, doing some type of bee movie (the name escapes us), attaching his name to the short-lived The Marriage Ref, and letting people film him in cars on the way to get coffee with comedians. Has Seinfeld’s success made his material less identifiable? Will he come out wearing white athletic shoes with jeans and a blazer? Will it be a show about nothing? Those questions and more will be answered at the Riverside Theater during two shows.
Abby Jeanne (album release) + Paper Holland, and D’Amato @ Cactus Club
Though Abby Jeanne says “2016 gave [her] gray hair,” the incomparable Cream City crooner, songwriter, and producer is poised for bigger and better things in 2017. So far in this young year, she’s turned in an unforgettable set at Local Coverage, she’s spent a month writing and recording in India, and she just put out her debut album. Milwaukee’s most promising voice will celebrate the release of Rebel Love at Cactus Club with the help of Paper Holland and D’Amato.
Cheap Trick @ UWM Panther Arena (Milwaukee Admirals post-game)
After the March 10 meeting between the Milwaukee Admirals and Rockford IceHogs, UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena will be alive with the sounds of Cheap Trick. The band was inducted into the Hall Of Fame in April. That milestone came just days after the release of Bang, Zoom, Crazy… Hello, Cheap Trick’s 17th studio album and first without drummer Bun E. Carlos. Over the years, the perpetually touring Cheap Trick has been a semi-regular entertainment source after Ads games (most recently playing at the Bradley Center in 2014), but this will be the first opportunity to see the iconic Illinois act play a post-game concert since reaching certified Hall Of Fame standing.
Saturday, March 11
Whips + Soul Low, Less Is More, and Gauss @ Riverwest Public House
Since suddenly emerging from the ashes of Red Knife Lottery, The Academy Is…, and Father Phoenix and emphatically announcing their presence via 2013’s Year One EP, the quartet quickly garnered well-warranted excitement, which culminated with the release of the band’s debut full-length, Turn It On, at the tail end of 2014. The years since that hit-laden effort have been fairly quiet for one of the city’s most rousing rock outfits. However, as Whips was in relative seclusion and only surfaced for oh-so occasional shows, the band was hard at work crafting and recording material for a follow-up. On April 7, Whips will be back and better than ever when The Ride is finally unchained and released into the wild. Before the record is out, get a preview of it when the band plays a rare show. An already appealing headliner is bolstered by Soul Low, Less Is More, and Gauss.
Friday, March 17
Piles (album release) + Red Stuff, and Blue Unit @ Riverwest Public House
After a couple decent releases, Piles truly hit its mark in 2014 with the excellent Planet Skin, a dour collection of hazy and hastened post-punk compositions that hinted at better days to come. Come March 17, that day will arrive with Piles’ release show for Expeller, a somehow-even-better effort from one of the city’s most distinct and all-around best bands.
Saturday, March 18
Bob Nanna + Andrew Paley @ Cactus Club
Bob Nanna is a household name among anybody who doesn’t use the term “emo” as a slur. The former/current Braid singer, and front man of Hey Mercedes and The City On Film was among the generals of the genre’s second rise to prosperity. Not far removed from Braid’s last stop at Cactus, Nanna will return to the Bay View bar for a solo outing that’s sure to include material from every creative stop during his quietly-impressive career.
Friday, March 24 and Saturday, March 25
Puddles Pity Party @ The Back at Colectivo (Prospect Avenue)
So yeah, this is pretty much just a dude dressed in creepy clown attire singing songs you know and love. The strange gimmick would fall flat if it wasn’t so beautiful and well-executed.
Friday, March 31
Steven Wright @ Potowatami Bingo & Casino’s Northern Lights Theater
A comedy god.