Doesn’t it seem like summer just started? Doesn’t it seem as if live entertainment only recently made its return to venues in a safe and responsible way? Doesn’t it seem like we’re all just waiting for unvaccinated people and the spread of new COVID variants to ruin any societal progress that has been made in recent months and promptly shut everything down again? If you said yes to any or all of those questions, we’re right there with you.
Believe it or not, there are just 50 days remaining in summer. Since the season is dwindling and we don’t honestly know how long this new stint of something at least kind of resembling normalcy will last, we’ve put together a handy daily guide of 50 things to do in (or around) Milwaukee over the course of these next 50 days. Be safe, be responsible, and (if you’re able to do so) get vaccinated, Milwaukee, so we can keep the fun going into autumn.
Wednesday, August 4
Jay Matthes Band with guest Dan Lepien @ Tosa Tonight (Hart Park, Wauwatosa)
Thursday, August 5
Eddie Pepitone @ The Laughing Tap
Grizzled and grumpy stand-up comic/actor/documentary subject Eddie Pepitone makes his Milwaukee return with three nights (and four total performances) at The Laughing Tap. Joining the “Bitter Buddha” during this weekend in Walker’s Point is feature comic JT Habersaat. Don’t miss this opportunity to see a low-key comedy legend in a cozy club setting.
Friday, August 6
Ratboys + Telethon @ Cactus Club
Even though Ratboys only managed a few shows in support of last year’s wonderful Printer’s Devil before touring halted, the Chicago indie-folk outfit saw the album earn oodles of positive press, and awareness of the hardworking band that’s been around since 2011 increased in the process. It’s safe to say Ratboys are bordering on breakout, so you won’t want to miss this 18+ outing with them and an opening set by the incomparable Milwaukee pop-punkers in Telethon.
Saturday, August 7
Devils Teeth @ Milwaukee Boat Line
Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures. For Milwaukee garage-surf outfit Devils Teeth, our current extraordinary times call for—what else?—a self-recorded “spaghetti western garage rock operetta inspired by the character Chong Li from the martial arts film Bloodsport.” (You know, the one with Jean-Claude Van Damme.) Hear tracks from the excellent La Leggenda Di Chong Li when Devils Teeth take to the high seas for Milwaukee Boat Line’s annual Concert Cruise series.
Sunday, August 8
Mudy (record release) + D. Bridge, Lucien Parker, Tye Motives, DJ Snack Daddy @ Cactus Club
Milwaukee rapper Mudy (pronounced “moody”) has been building up local buzz since 2019. She’s released a handful of singles and EPs in the last few years, only to pull some of those tracks at a later date. The work that remains is fantastic, however, especially the recent Land EP, which finds Mudy in an introspective (“Mudy”), blissed-out (“Home”), and defiant (“Numb”) mood. Tonight’s show celebrates the release of her newest EP, Major Mood.
Monday, August 9
Wisconsin State Fair @ Wisconsin State Fair Park
Come hell or high water, the Wisconsin State Fair (August 5-15) is determined to deliver all the fun, food, and edge-of-your-seat pig racing that you know and love, and that you missed in 2020. As for musical entertainment, the Main Stage headliner feels as comfortable and familiar as an old pair of pre-pandemic jeans: Billy Idol, Foreigner, Boyz II Men, The Beach Boys, and more. Click HERE for the whole thing. Oh, and click HERE for the local-tastic lineup for the Lakefront Brewery/WMSE stage.
Tuesday, August 10
The LOL + Fellow Kinsmen @ Chill On The Hill (Humboldt Park)
Wednesday, August 11
Margaret Rozga Poetry Reading @ Lion’s Tooth
Thursday, August 12
Daniel Van Kirk @ The Laughing Tap
Dan Van Kirk is the pride of Rochelle, Illinois. The (now-L.A.-based) stand-up comedian, improvisor, impressionist, and podcaster—who’s probably best-known in the medium for his work alongside the Sklaar Brothers on Dumb People Town—returns to his beloved Midwest when his “Together Again Tour” drops by The Laughing Tap.
Friday, August 13
Sleepersound (record release) + Shamewave, Cassini Echoes @ X-Ray Arcade
Saturday, August 14
Deftones + Gojira, Poppy @ The Rave / Eagles Ballroom
Sunday, August 15
Lillie Mae @ Shank Hall
Nashville (by way of northern Illinois) singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and member of the Third Man Records roster Lillie Mae makes her Midwestern return on August 15 when she performs at Shank Hall a few days before making her way to the main stage at Blue Ox Music Festival in Eau Claire.
Monday, August 16
The Best Westerns @ Musical Mondays (Lake Park)
Head to Lake Park’s Summer Stage and enjoy The Best Westerns’ distinct brand of “western swing with a big band beat—instrumental virtuosity and the powerful charm of classic songs old and new, from way-out West to Tin Pan Alley.”
Tuesday, August 17
Decoteau Black + Devils Teeth @ Chill On The Hill (Humboldt Park)
Wednesday, August 18
Milwaukee Night Market @ West Wisconsin Avenue
Remember the NEWaukee Night Market? The big art fair/food truck fair that would take over a prime chunk of Wisconsin Avenue outside the old Shops of Grand Avenue four times a year every summer? It was great! Well, after a year of Pandemic Pause, the NEWaukee Night Market is back! Sort of! NEWaukee recently announced that they’re largely getting out of the Night Market game, and that they’re handing the reins to downtown group Westown Association. The newly dubbed Milwaukee Night Market will still go on, albeit for one night only
Thursday, August 19
Maroon 5 + Blackbear @ American Family Insurance Amphitheater
Friday, August 20
Milwaukee Irish Fest @ Henry Maier Festival Park
Saturday, August 21
Modest Mouse @ Riverside Theater
Have you heard that new Modest Mouse song, “We Are Between”? From the group’s first new album in six years, The Golden Casket, due June 25? It’s pretty good! And there’s another new song called “Leave A Light On.” It’s pretty good, too! Anyway, it’s good to have Modest Mouse—and the band’s forever-fascinating frontman Issac Brock—back after such a long drought. This Milwaukee show is part of a full Modest Mouse U.S. tour that includes appearances at Lollapalooza in Chicago, the Life Is Beautiful Festival in Las Vegas, and the Austin City Limits Music Festival in, well, Austin.
Sunday, August 22
Steve Byrne @ Milwaukee Improv
In case you missed the news, metro Milwaukee has a new comedy club! Milwaukee Improv is located at The Corners of Brookfield in a 13,049-square-foot space in the shopping center’s lower level. The Brookfield-based venue is national Improv chain’s 25th location. The club will be christened by Steve Byrne. You can see the veteran comedian, actor, and former star of the TBS series Sullivan & Son at Milwaukee Improv for a total of five shows August 20-22.
Monday, August 23
The Mountain Goats @ Pabst Theater
This show was originally announced in 2019; since then, The Mountain Goats have released not one, not two, but three new albums. (How did you spend the pandemic?) Sure, one of those albums (2020’s Songs For Pierre Chuvin) was just frontman John Darnielle singing into a boombox, but still. Expect plenty of fan favorites and even more deep cuts plucked from Darnielle and company’s 17—er, make that 20—studio albums.
Tuesday, August 24
The Midnight Purchase + No Seatbelts @ Chill On The Hill (Humboldt Park)
Wednesday, August 25
AEW Dynamite @ UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena
Originally scheduled to come to Milwaukee on April 1 of last year and frequently rescheduled ever since, All Elite Wrestling will finally bring its AEW Dynamite show to UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena on August 25. Don’t miss your long-awaited chance to see the likes of Cody and Brandi Rhodes, Chris Jericho, Jon Moxley, The Young Bucks, Kenny Omega, and Hangman Adam Page in the ring.
Thursday, August 26
Rainbow Summer: KLASS & The Student Body present “Back 2 Skool”
Friday, August 27
The Wailers @ The Rave / Eagles Ballroom
Saturday, August 28
WMSE Backyard BBQ @ Humboldt Park
WMSE’s 11th annual late-summer shindig will set up shop at Humboldt Park on Saturday, August 28, from noon to 8 p.m. This year’s all-local music lineup is topped by the great Abby Jeanne, who will be performing her first show since February 2020. Abby and her band will be preceded by the likes of Vincent Van Great, Rexxx, Stephen Hull, and De La Buena.
Sunday, August 29
Mexican Fiesta @ Henry Maier Festival Park
After canceling last year’s installment on account of the COVID-19 crisis, Mexican Fiesta returns to Henry Maier Festival Park for three days of great music, delicious food, and celebration of Mexican culture on the lakefront. Don’t miss it!
Monday, August 30
Bully + Pom Pom Squad @ The Back Room @ Colectivo
The return of shows is incredible. Something else that’s incredible: the return of sold-out shows. Yep, this Back Room Bully show is sold out, folks. Congrats if you already have tickets, and good luck if you don’t!
Tuesday, August 31
King Crimson + The Zappa Band @ Miller High Life Theatre
Wednesday, September 1
Green Day + Fall Out Boy, Weezer @ American Family Insurance Ampitheater
Green Day, Fall Out Boy, and Weezer will bring their “Hella Mega Tour” to Milwaukee’s American Family Insurance Amphitheater on Wednesday, September 1. Summerfest technically runs September 2-4, 9-11, and 16-18, but the Green Day/Fall Out Boy/Weezer show is similar to other solitary “Wednesday Kick-Off” AmFam Amphitheater shows scheduled during the fest.
Thursday, September 2
Summerfest @ Henry Maier Festival Park
The World’s Largest Music Festival is mixing things up in 2021, moving to September and staking out three Thursday-Friday-Saturday blocks instead of the traditional 11-day run. (Oh, and there’ll be a few “Wednesday Kick-Off Concerts” at the American Family Insurance Amphitheater, too.) As for the lineup, it’s pretty damn stacked: Megan Thee Stallion, Chance The Rapper, Jonas Brothers, Miley Cyrus, Dave Chappelle, and Guns N’ Roses are some of the big amphitheater names, while Black Pumas, Run The Jewels, Kesha, Wilco, and Pixies are just a few of the grounds stage highlights. Find the full lineup HERE.
Friday, September 3
The Dollyrots + Walt Hamburger, Gold Steps, Fun Bois @ X-Ray Arcade
Saturday, September 4
Vivica Fox + Kelly Kellz Ent @ Turner Hall
Sunday, September 5
Melissa Villaseñor @ Milwaukee Improv
Highlighting Milwaukee Improv’s first wave of performer announcements is Melissa Villaseñor. The accomplished actor, impressionist, voiceover professional, and SNL cast member is also road-tested stand-up veteran who has performed all over the country. You can see Villaseñor at Milwaukee Improv September 3-5.
Monday, September 6
Sculpture Milwaukee @ Downtown Milwaukee
For the past four years, Sculpture Milwaukee has brought astounding works from nationally-known and internationally-appreciated artists to various spots scattered through the city’s downtown. The innovative and interesting exhibitions offer free, evocative, and (as we learned last year) pandemic-proof fun for the whole family. Sculpture Milwaukee has returned for a fifth year, making its presence known with new works on display from July through the autumn of 2022.
Tuesday, September 7
Fressure Point + Fuzzysurf @ Chill On The Hill (Humboldt Park)
Wednesday, September 8
Mac Sabbath + Speedealer, Lung @ Shank Hall
Prepare for another weekend of Summerfest with an intimate Shank Hall performance headlined by Mac Sabbath, a McDonald’s-themed metal band. Super-size fun awaits.
Thursday, September 9
Rainbow Summer: DLC Dance @ Marcus Center
Saturday, September 11
Iliza @ The Riverside Theater
Sunday, September 12
Armand Hammer @ Cactus Club
The year isn’t even half over, but it’s safe to assume Armand Hammer is responsible for making one its best albums. The rap duo joined forces with The Alchemist to make Haram, an otherworldly effort that takes their already cerebral creations to exciting, inspiring, and altogether enjoyable new territory. Celebrate a Packers Week 1 victory by heading to Cactus Club to see Armand Hammer headline this 18+ show.
Monday, September 13
Marc Rebillet @ The Pabst Theater
Tuesday, September 14
The Mike Benign Compulsion + Testa Rosa Rosa @ Chill On The Hill (Humboldt Park)
Wednesday, September 15
Dave Matthews Band @ American Family Insurance Ampitheater
All you need is, all you want is, all you need is…to see DMB play a Summerfest-affiliated concert in Milwaukee on September 15.
Thursday, September 16
Rainbow Summer: Terrance Simien & The Zydeco Experience @ Marcus Center
Friday, September 17
Japanese Breakfast + Luna Li @ Turner Hall Ballroom
Michelle Zauner is having a year. On top of releasing Crying In H Mart, her incredible (we know: we just finished reading it!) best-selling memoir, Zauner released another Japanese Breakfast album earlier this month. That record, Jubilee, takes the indie rock project all across the board stylistically and has earned every bit of the praise it’s getting from listeners and critics alike. Japanese Breakfast will face off against Summerfest with a September 17 show at Turner Hall. Luna Li opens.
Saturday, September 18
Tom Segura @ The Riverside Theater
Comedian Tom Segura wraps up what’s sure to be a hilarious two-day, three-show Riverside Theater with a Saturday night performance.
Sunday, September 19
Algiers + Zen Mother @ Cactus Club
Monday, September 20
Packers vs. Lions on Monday Night Football
Hint, hint, hint! Maybe plan on watching one with us at The Cooperage. More info to come!
Tuesday, September 21
Milwaukee Brewers vs. St. Louis Cardinals @ American Family Field
While you were tending to your Bucks Lust and worrying about what Aaron Rodgers was doing, you might’ve missed a good portion of what’s shaping up to be an incredible Brewers season. The Brew Crew will prep for the postseason and hopefully lock down the division crown (if they haven’t already done so) when they host the Cardinals for a late-September series.
Wednesday, September 22
Judas Priest + Sabaton @ Miller High Life Theater
What better way is there to end your summer than with a performance by Judas Priest?