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 warmth and activity of summer.
Between respected 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 13 best events in Milwaukee. Check out our calendar for more listings.
Thursday, March 1
Lorde + Run The Jewels, and Tove Styrke @ BMO Harris Bradley Center
More than three years after punching above her weight at BMO Harris Pavilion, Lorde moves to the other, larger BMO Harris venue. The worldwide sensation will be joined by another one, as Run The Jewels will perform in support. Tove Styrke will round out the lineup for this can’t-miss affair that will help send the Bradley Center off in style.
Saturday, March 3
Yonatan Gat + Gallery Night, and Soup Moat
Yonatan Gat is a Tel Aviv and New York City project with roots in legendary Israeli live band Monotix (known for playing their instruments while being carried by audiences and taking their show into the streets). Add in Milwaukee’s glorious and virtually un-Google-able Gallery Night and Soup Moat, and this is a late winter show for the ages.
Sunday, March 4
Tyler, The Creator + Vince Staples, and Taco @ The Rave
Since self-releasing his debut mixtape in 2009 at the age of 18, Tyler, The Creator has been on a wild, non-stop artistic ride. The rapper, Odd Future member, actor, director, and controversial figure has amassed a lifetime of impressive output, and he’s only 26. Two days before his 27th birthday, Tyler comes to The Rave to head up a solid bill that also features rising star Vince Staples and Taco.
Wednesday, March 7
Kyle Kinane @ Turner Hall
Kyle Kinane is a comedian’s comedian. The Illinois-born comic’s gravel-voiced musings manage to appeal to all brow levels, while being delivered in a way that is both inimitable and universal. Since leaving Chicago for Los Angeles, Kinane has put out four albums, became “the voice of Comedy Central,” and toured relentlessly. Almost three years since his last traditional Milwaukee show (and roughly a year and half since his booze-fueled and fun secret show at Vanguard), the rising star returns to Milwaukee to trot out some new material at Turner Hall.
Sunday, March 11
WMSE’s Rockabilly Chili Fundraiser
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 15
Hot Snakes + Duchess Says, and Meat Wave @ Cactus Club
Hot Snakes put out three outstanding and timeless records from 2000-2004, then sadly called it quits in 2005. Fortunately, the San Diego post-hardcore band reunited in 2011 to play some shows and tour sparingly, though Chicago is pretty much the closest they came to returning to Milwaukee to this point. With Sub Pop’s recent reissue of those three aforementioned albums and the brand new Jericho Sirens on the way as well, the band will embark on an extended tour, including a stop at Cactus Club. What more needs to be said? Hot Snakes are coming to Milwaukee in March and it’s going to be awesome.
Saturday, March 17
Direct Hit! + Decent Criminal, and Beggar @ Puddler’s Hall
After a productive two-year span in which Direct Hit! signed to Fat Wreck Chords, put out an outstanding concept record, re-released its breakout 2011 album, had a Record Store Day seven-inch, and contributed six songs to an awesome EP with PEARS, the band has earned a breather. Instead, the region’s premier pop-punk outfit has been touring on and off between recording sessions for yet another record. This all-ages St. Paddy’s show at Puddler’s Hall is Direct Hit!’s first Milwaukee show in 2018, and there probably won’t be many thereafter, so don’t miss your chance to see this early show before indulging in (or outright avoiding) some holiday fun later that night.
Protomartyr + Hydropark, and Dorth Nakota @ Company Brewing
Though Protomartyr has been kicking since 2008, the Detroit post-punk project didn’t break out until late 2015. That year, Protomartyr’s third full-length, The Agent Intellect, was released and was privy to loads of critical acclaim along with a warm reception from a continually growing fan base. The band followed that up with 2017 Relatives In Decent, which might be even better. They’ll come to Company Brewing for the penultimate show of its tour.
Friday, March 16
They Might Be Giants @ Pabst Theater
A They Might Be Giants show is one of the few live shows that requires an explicit “FOR AGES 14+ ONLY” warning. For more than 30 (!) years, Johns Flansburgh and Linnell have effortlessly moved and blurred the lines between geeky “adult” music (Lincoln, Flood, the upcoming I Like Fun) and geeky “kid” music (Here Come The ABCs, Here Come The 123s, Here Comes Science). In the ’80s and ’90s, TMBG struck a chord with an army of put-upon junior-high dorks with songs like “Ana Ng” and “Birdhouse In Your Soul”; today, they delight the offspring of those same dorks with songs like “The Vowel Family,” “Ten Mississippi,” and “I Am A Paleontologist.” TMBG are a geek-rock institution like no other, bridging young and old, past and present, cool and square.
So let it be known that They Might Be Giants are coming to Milwaukee’s Pabst Theater on Friday, March 16, 2018, and that the show is for AGES 14+ ONLY. What can fans expect this time around? An expanded lineup of musicians, and a set of “all-time favorites, fresh rarities spanning their epic career, and spur-of-the-moment improvisations.” Leave the kids at home. This one is gonna be a doozy.
Tuesday, March 20
Juiceboxxx + Platinum Boys, Duckling, and Max Holiday @ Cactus Club
This one is going to be fun.
Friday, March 23
In Tall Buildings + J.E. Sunde @ The Back Room at Colectivo
In less than three years, The Back Room @ Colectivo has established itself as an invaluable East Side entertainment destination and a trusted source for all-ages shows, up-and-coming musicians, popular podcasts, and (ahem!) an innovative monthly video series. So far in 2018, the young venue has been busy booking an unprecedented number of events in the 300-capacity cafe, including shows from Jens Lekman and Jeff Rosenstock that sold out incredibly fast.
The Back Room will host another project that’s sure to be on your radar for years to come when In Tall Buildings come to town. The Chicago-based project headed by multi-instrumentalist Erik Hall seems to blend folk and electronic elements residing beneath the singer-songwriter’s voice that’s drawn apt comparisons to Peter Gabriel. This intimate all-ages affair will come just three weeks after In Tall Buildings’ new album, Akinetic, is released on Western Vinyl.
Wednesday, March 28
Colter Wall + The Local Honeys @ The Back Room at Colectivo
The pride of rural Saskatchewan, 22-year-old Colter Wall has both the voice and the material of a much older man. Fresh off last year’s eponymous breakout album, the folk phenom will bring his rock-polished voice and beyond-his-years musicianship to Colectivo’s Back Room for a sold-out show with The Local Honeys.
Friday, March 30
Slow Walker (album release) + Gallery Night (album release), and Moon Curse @ Cactus Club
We’ve said it before, but it still holds true: There’s nothing slow about Slow Walker. Since the band’s 2011 start, they’ve averaged one album or EP per year. Their continually-expanding catalog is full of fast and energetic tunes that straddle the line between garage rock and psych, and those songs are regularly put on display throughout Milwaukee when Slow Walker plays out.
The band’s admirable output hasn’t impacted the song quality whatsoever. If anything, the extra reps only serve to make Slow Walker sound better with each new record. That trend seems likely to continue when the hard-working rock and roll outfit releases Ah Yes—one of two releases the band is planning to put out THIS MONTH—in a stacked local bill. Conversely, Gallery Night has put out no material in its existence, but that will change when the reclusive rockers release THREE seven-inches into the world during this dual release show.