Spring, sprung. Winter waning, summer looming. Life. Hope. Shows. You know the drill. Here are 18 exciting shows coming to Milwaukee this spring.
Wednesday, March 20
Milwaukee Record Presents: Billy Madison @ Avalon Theater
What’s the best Adam Sandler movie? If you said anything other than Billy Madison, then at no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone on this website is now dumber for having listened to it. We award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul. After the credits roll, The Vanguard will start serving its extra sloppy take on sloppy joes—they know how yous kids like ’em extra sloppy!—and we’ll provide some Snack Pack to go with the sandwich. Our movie buddies over at Lakefront Brewery will have beers on special and will be at Vanguard to give away some goodies as well. Tickets to the film are $5, and available in advance here.
Saturday, March 23
Kool Keith + 9th Prince, Dana Coppa, DJ Madhatter @ The Cooperage
Last August, Milwaukee Police shut down Kool Keith’s set at Riverwest Public House after just three songs because of capacity concerns. Whomever gave them that impression sounds like a cool person. Anyway, the legendary rapper took the situation in stride, thanking the Public House staff and tweeting he’d like to “plan another [Milwaukee] location in the future.” Enter The Cooperage. With far more space to work with, nothing (and no one) should get in the way this time around.
Saturday, April 6
Okilly Dokilly + Playboy Manbaby, and The Eradicator @ X-Ray Arcade
Okilly Dokilly, “the world’s only Nedal band”—a.k.a. a Ned Flanders-themed metal band—is set to play Cudahy’s new X-Ray Arcade on Saturday, April 6. Hailing from Phoenix, Arizona, Okilly Dokilly plays original music loaded with “direct Ned quotes,” and puts on shows “that weave together comedy and brutality.” Playboy Manbaby and The Eradicator will play in support. X-Ray’s Simpsons machine will be free all night, of course.
Rose Of The West (album release) + Cashfire Sunset, and Jenny Lee Of Warpaint @ Mad Planet
After bursting onto the scene with a few sythn-y, sleek singles and high-profile shows, Rose Of The West is ready to put an album into the world. Join the up-and-coming outfit at Mad Planet as they release their self-titled debut LP. Cashfire Sunset will play beforehand and Warpaint’s own Jenny Lee will DJ.
Monday, April 8
Jeremy Enigk + Tomo Nakayama @ Shank Hall
When you have a chance to see the voice of Sunny Day Real Estate and The Fire Theft, you take it.
Tuesday, April 9
Electric Six @ Club Garibaldi
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. The band’s 2016 album 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 close to years.
Saturday, April 13
Owen + TBA @ X-Ray Arcade
Despite Milwaukee’s proximity to his hometown of Chicago, Mike Kinsella—of American Football, Cap’n Jazz, Joan Of Arc, and his Owen solo project—hasn’t played in the area in a long time. Just how long has it been? Let’s just say his last show was an abbreviated appearance at Onopa Brewing Company, which has been home to two other breweries in subsequent years. During the long hiatus from Milwaukee, American Football got back together and released a second full-length (with a third one on the way later this month) and Owen put out seven albums. Next month, Kinsella’s 14-year absence from metro Milwaukee will come to an end when the singer-songwriter and emo kingpin plays an Owen show at X-Ray Arcade.
The Empire Strips Back @ Riverside Theater
Of course this is a thing. How has this not always been a thing?” news, a Star Wars burlesque parody called The Empire Strips Back is coming to the Riverside Theater on Saturday, April 13. The show hails from a galaxy far, far away—a.k.a. Australia. Like Yoda once said to his troupe of burlesque dancers: Your clothes. You will not need them.
Sunday, April 14
Milwaukee Record presents: A Milwaukee Day Showcase with Platinum Boys, Klassik, Joseph Huber, Lauryl Sulfate & Her Ladies Of Leisure, and Kavon Cortez-Jones @ The Cooperage
Join Milwaukee Record at The Cooperage on Sunday, April 14 to celebrate Milwaukee Day with an eclectic lineup of local entertainers. We’ve done our part by assembling an all-star cast of some of the city’s finest musicians. Performers include Platinum Boys, Klassik, Joseph Huber, Lauryl Sulfate and her Ladies of Leisure, and host/poet Kavon Cortez Jones.
On top of the music and poetry, we’ll also have yard games on The Cooperage’s patio for your enjoyment. The show will also host booths from a number of local non-profit organizations. The 21+ show—sponsored by Miller High Life, Pedal Tavern, Nail Bar Milwaukee, and Cactus Club—starts at 5:30 p.m. (doors at 4:30 p.m.). Tickets are $10 in advance ($12 doors). There are so many great ways to celebrate Milwaukee on April 14, but we’re pretty excited about this one. We hope to see you there!
Thursday, April 18
The Yawpers + In The Whale, and Wood Chickens @ The Cooperage
It’s been about six months since The Yawpers last played in Milwaukee, but we aren’t complaining. Only a couple seasons removed from the last Cooperage show and roughly a year after playing at Club Garibaldi as well, the Denver-based roots/rock hybrid will return to town to head up an impressive bill at The Cooperage that also includes the likes of In The Whale and Wood Chickens.
Friday, April 19
Deerhoof + Fox Face, and L’Resorts @ The Cooperage
What’s to say about this one? It’s just a great lineup and you should definitely go to this.
Tuesday, April 23
Valerie June + Parker Gispert @ Pabst Theater
Tennessee’s own Valerie June expertly straddles the boundaries of folk, Americana, bluegrass, gospel, soul, and country. No matter what type of music you think she plays, we can all agree it’s nothing short of astounding. About two years removed from the release of her wonderful The Order Of Time, June will take to The Pabst to head up a show that also features Parker Gispert. Not long ago, Valerie June was playing Club Garibaldi, so catch this rising star at Pabst Theater while you still can.
Sunday, April 28
Foals + Preoccupations, and Omni @ The Rave
Fresh off the release of the 15-year-old British band’s latest, Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost – Part 1, Foals returns to The Rave to play material from that stunning effort and other albums in their extensive and altogether wonderful catalog. As if that elegant blend of electronically-accented indie rock isn’t enough, Foals will be joined by Preoccupations and Omni.
Monday, May 6
mewithoutYou + Cursive, and The Appleseed Cast @ Turner Hall
Teenage you thinks this lineup is incredible. Adult you has no reason not to agree with that. This is going to be great, no matter how old you might be.
Friday, May 10
Tacocat + Sammi Lanzetta @ Cactus Club
The musicians behind feminist pop-punk outfit Tacocat are neither tacos nor cats, though their music is just as delightful as both. Almost nine months to the day since they last played at Cactus Club (and a week after the release of their forthcoming This Mess Is A Place), they’ll return to the Bay View venue to share a bill with Sammi Lanzetta.
Bad Cop/Bad Cop + War On Women, and Walt Hamburger @ X-Ray Arcade
Fat Wreck Chords’ own Bad Cop/Bad Cop comes to Cudahy to head up an all-ages affair at X-Ray Arcade. Tourmates War On Women will also play, with punk-tinged Wisconsin singer-songwriter Walt Hamburger slated to open things up. And if you’re deliberating between this and Tacocat on the 10th, note that this is supposed to end around 11, meaning you can catch parts of both shows.
Monday, May 27
METZ @ Cactus Club
METZ isn’t a particularly difficult band to understand. Amid a modern music landscape that’s rife with clunky sub-genre descriptors and acts haphazardly piling 10 pounds of influences into five-pound bags, the Canadian outfit more than gets by on the simple principle of playing incredibly loud and immensely good rock and roll songs that occasionally careen violently into the peripheries of punk and noise rock.
Since the last time the trio played in Milwaukee (an unforgettable Monday night show at Cactus Club in the summer of 2015), the band chased its excellent II with their outstanding third full-length, Strange Peace, in 2017. In the three-plus years that followed METZ’s last Milwaukee stop, the hard-working group has traversed the globe…a few times, performed on television, and has seen their notoriety increase tenfold. On Monday, May 27 (aka Memorial Day), the band will return to Cactus Club for what’s sure to be a show for the ages.
Sunday, June 16
Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit + Father John Misty @ BMO Harris Pavilion
We’ve been fortunate to be able to see frequent visits from Jason Isbell lately, but he’s welcome (if not encouraged) to keep coming back to town whenever he wants. Less than a year removed from headlining a Summerfest outing at the BMO Harris Pavilion, Isbell and his 400 Unit will return to the gorgeous space in a co-headlining capacity with Father John Misty. Jade Bird will open things up.