Spring, sprung. Winter waning, summer looming. Life. Hope. Shows. You know the drill. Here are 17 exciting shows coming to Milwaukee this spring.
Saturday, April 1
Platinum Boys, Buzz Record Release @ Cactus Club
No Milwaukee band better signals the promise of spring—and the promise of getting good and buzzed on a sunny spring day—than the Platinum Boys. So is it any wonder that the title of the classic rock/power-pop outfit’s new album is simply Buzz? There are plenty of good-times/hard-living tracks to be found on Buzz, but also some more contemplative tracks like “Lord Knows,” too. Milwaukee’s Midnight Reruns, Appleton’s Dusk, and DJ Chris Schulist round out the record release bill.
Thursday, April 6
Milwaukee Record presents BASEketball @ Avalon Theater
Though BASEketball only grossed about $7 million domestically in theaters, the cult comedy starring South Park‘s Trey Parker and Matt Stone found a devoted audience thereafter, thanks to its endless array of quotes and memorable cameos from Ernest Borgnine, Jenny McCarthy (before all that vaccination stuff), Yasmine Bleeth, Al Michaels, Bob Costas, Robert Stack, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Wisconsin sports super-fan Kato Kaelin. If you weren’t among the oh-so few who caught BASEketball in theaters the first time around, we’re willing to bet this will be your only chance to do so. The movie starts at 9 p.m. and tickets are $6. We’ll see you there. You’re excited?! Feel these nipples!
Friday, April 7
Whips, The Ride Record Release @ Cactus Club
You’d be hard-pressed to find a band in Milwaukee (or Wisconsin, for that matter) more capable of combining crushing, chest-pummeling rock and roll with rousing, radio-ready hooks than Whips. Unfortunately, the years since 2014’s hit-laden Turn It On have been fairly quiet for one of the city’s most rousing rock outfits. However, as Whips were in relative seclusion and only surfaced for oh-so occasional shows, they were hard at work crafting and recording material for a follow-up, The Ride. Surgeons In Heat and Slow Walker will play in support of this release show.
Tuesday, April 11
Electric Six @ Mad Planet
Detroit party-rockers Electric Six may be a long way from their Myspace-era hits like “Danger! High Voltage” and “Gay Bar,” but give them credit for sticking around and sticking to their guns. Last year’s Fresh Blood for Tired Vampyres is filled with the same kind of over-the-top, slightly tongue-in-cheek disco-glam the group has been cranking out for 15 years. Residual Kid and Milwuakee’s IfIHadAHiFi play in support.
Wednesday, April 12
IshDARR @ Turner Hall
There’s little question that Milwaukee’s biggest breakout artist of the last few years is IshDARR. Millions of streams, world tours, and high-profile fashion gigs have become the norm for the young rapper, perhaps making him the biggest thing to come out of town in decades. On Broken Hearts & Bankrolls—the follow-up to 2015’s Old Soul Young Spirit—IshDARR lives up to the hype with a collection of sly, devil-may-care hip-hop that sounds thrillingly of-the-moment while remaining undeniably distinctive. Song like the unstoppable “Sugar” and “Locals” should be heard by millions; luckily for IshDARR, they are.
Friday, April 14
Wonder UNCOVERED @ Turner Hall
Back in early 2016, Alverno College’s long-running performing arts series, Alverno Presents, announced its current season would be its last. Among the many casualties of the announcement was Alverno Presents’ excellent UNCOVERED series, which found local talent reimagining the works of national legends. Happily, UNCOVERED has found a second life with the Pabst Theater Group, who will be hosting the series going forward. The first UNCOVERED 2.0 show, “Tribe UNCOVERED,” found Klassik and company taking on A Tribe Called Quest; Wonder UNCOVERED, meanwhile, will feature curators Tarik Moody and David Wake reimagining Stevie Wonder’s seminal Songs In The Key Of Life.
BLAX, Be Well Record Release @ Cactus Club
Since moving back to Milwaukee from New York in 2013, Fresh Cut Collective co-founder Adebisi Agoro—who raps under the stage name BLAX—has handily regained his footing in the hip-hop scene he’d temporarily left. His new record, Be Well, features a diverse mix of guests, including Brooklyn’s G.R.A.M.Z., Milwaukee’s Fivy, and even Brew City veteran Coo Coo Cal. His Milwaukee Day record release show will include sets from G.R.A.M.Z., as well as DANSE, Kewl, Kareem City, Phat Nerds, and the Dope Folks DJs.
Wednesday, April 19
The Dollop LIVE Podcast @ Turner Hall
The Dollop is a popular podcast wherein comedian Dave Anthony reads a story from American history to his friend, Gareth Reynolds, who doesn’t know what the topic is about. Only time will tell what locally-focused topic they discuss. The show is also a homecoming of sorts for Reynolds, who hails from Brown Deer. Want more from Anthony and Reynolds? They’re also going to perform stand-up sets at Puddler’s Hall on April 20.
Saturday, April 22
Direct Hit! + The Living Statues, and Midwives @ Cactus Club (all-ages)
This show is special for a number of reasons. Not only is this the first of two release shows for Direct Hit!’s Domesplitter reissue and WMSE 7-inch, it’s also Cactus Club’s first foray into all-ages show in years. The Bay View bar will go dry for a stacked lineup that also includes The Living Statues and Midwives. If 21+ shows are more your speed, DH! will play with Avenues and The Pukes later on in the night.
Thursday, April 27 – Sunday, April 30
Arte Para Todos @ various locations
In its first two years, Arte Para Todos raised approximately $40,000 for Milwaukee public school art programs through the combined efforts of hundreds of musicians and visual artists bringing their talents to dozens of local bars, venues, and galleries in four Milwaukee neighborhoods. Thankfully, the city’s most eclectic and ambitious benefit is returning for a third year (April 27-30) with oodles of entertainment scattered throughout Walker’s Point, Bay View, Harambe, Riverwest, and the East Side.
Saturday, April 29
Tobin Sprout @ Cactus Club
Guided By Voices may be the mastermind of Robert Pollard, but the legendary Dayton, Ohio group owes a lot to on-and-off-again collaborator Tobin Sprout. GBV’s early four-track aesthetic is largely due to Sprout, and the musician’s contributions to classic albums (“Awful Bliss” from 1994’s Bee Thousand, for example) are equally classic. Sprout’s new solo album, The Universe & Me, is his first in seven years.
Thursday, May 11 – Saturday, May 13
Milwaukee Psych Fest V: Resistance @ various locations
Since 2013, Moss Folk’s Andrew Shelp has organized an undertaking of all things psychedelic. In its first four years, Milwaukee Psych Fest has evolved into a multi-day, multi-venue celebration of the reverb-y, droned out, and trippy elements of the catch-all genre. This year, the event returns with approximately 40 bands, DJs, and visual artists taking to three venues (Boone & Crockett, Cactus Club, Company Brewing) in as many days as part of Milwaukee Psych Fest V.
Saturday, May 13
Nick Thune @ The Underground Collaborative
Way back in 2014, up and coming comedian Nick Thune performed a sold out show in the cozy confines of The Underground Collaborate. The mid-week appearance in the 100-some seat theater space nestled in the Grand Avenue basement was a unique and rare opportunity to see a comic on the verge of breaking out in an intimate setting. Though his popularity has grown since then, Thune apparently enjoyed his experience at The Underground Collaborative so much that he’s coming back to the space this spring. On Tuesday, May 16, Thune will return to The UC during as part of his “Proud Of Myself” tour.
Daryl Hall & John Oates + Tears For Fears @ BMO Harris Bradley Center
[Various shouts of joy]
Neil Hamburger @ Club Garibaldi
[Various coughing noises]
Friday, June 9 – Sunday, June 11
PrideFest @ Henry Maier Festival Park
Believe it or not, Milwaukee’s festival season is right around the corner, and the city’s lengthy festival season truly begins with PrideFest. Each June, thousands of people flock to Henry Maier Festival Park for three days of entertainment and a celebration of all things LGBTQ+. Last year brought record-breaking attendance figures, with more than 33,000 people coming through the gates. It was also the inaugural year of the Milwaukee Record Stage. Both Pride and our stage will return June 9-11. Be there.
Friday, June 16
Seu Jorge Presents The Life Aquatic: A Tribute To David Bowie @ Pabst Theater
Brazilian singer Seu Jorge found fame in Wes Anderson’s 2004 film The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou (“ESTEBAN!!!”), playing the guy who plays acoustic versions of David Bowie songs in Portuguese. Now, in honor of the gone-but-never-forgotten Bowie, Jorge will do the same thing at the Pabst Theater. More than that, he’ll recreate the Life Aquatic set on stage, complete with screens crafted as boat sails that will be showing images from the film. “Had Seu Jorge not recorded my songs in Portuguese,” Bowie said, “I would never have heard this new level of beauty which he has imbued them with.”