Last year brought record-breaking attendance figures to PrideFest, with more than 37,000 people coming through the gates. Milwaukee Record was honored to play at least a small part in that. The smallest part, to be exact. For the second straight year, Pride organizers allowed us to transform the Northwestern Mutual Children’s Theater into the “Milwaukee Record Stage” and we packed our little parcel of festival real estate full of bands, rappers, stand-up comedians, and DJs. We had a ton of fun.
Apparently, PrideFest was pretty happy with it, too. They’ve asked us to come back and we’re honored to return. Throughout the spring, we’ve rounded up an eclectic mix of bands, rappers, comedians, and an underwear dance party. We’re pretty proud of it. Pride weekend is nigh, so here’s a guide of what you can expect to see and hear at PrideFest’s Milwaukee Record Stage presented by Kesslers Diamonds. Check out the full PrideFest lineup here.
Friday, June 8
5:30 to 6:15 — Rocket Paloma
Singer Joanna Kerner began Rocket Paloma as a solo act soon after taking a composition class at Cardinal Stritch, using her self-described “choir geek” tendencies to craft a charming-but-tentative acoustic singer-songwriter EP. But as Kerner’s sound developed, so did her ambitions: with the piece-by-piece additions of Jack Beyler on guitar, Jonathan Blohm on bass, and Bob Schaab on drums, Rocket Paloma became a full-fledged rock concern. On the weight of an excellent live show and last year’s rowdy self-titled EP, Rocket Paloma will kick off what looks to be a non-stop run of summer shows by kicking off our weekend of entertainment.
6:45 to 7:30 — Buffalo Gospel
Until very recently, Buffalo Gospel has kept a fairly low profile since releasing its outstanding full-length, We Can Be Horses, in 2013. In the four-plus years following that well-received record, bandleader Ryan Necci has cycled in a new cast of collaborators, some of whom contributed to the two-song Waiting For The Lights To Go Out EP in 2015 and played on the Milwaukee country outfit’s long-awaited follow-up album.
Now that Buffalo Gospel’s awe-inspiring On The First Bell (and its Ted Perry co-starring music video for the record’s first single) was finally released last month, the has become a fixture on stages in Milwaukee and beyond. Before they play Blue Ox and the Burnhearts/Pabst Street Festival this month, catch a set from the unconventional Pride participant. You won’t be sorry.
8:00 to 8:45 — Iron Pizza
Milwaukee’s Iron Pizza occupies a warped, whacked-out wavelength where every broken thrift shop kiddie keyboard is an instrument to be treasured, and where songs like “Stoopid Drugged Up Monkees” exist. The band has been making its own peculiar no-wave electro ditties since 2014, and will be making its Milwaukee Record Stage debut with what’s sure to be a weird and wonderful night one performance.
9:15 to 10:00 — Abby Jeanne
Abby Jeanne capped off a breakout 2017 with her “Electric New Year” show, an unofficial culmination of a year in which the owner of Milwaukee’s most captivating voice released her well-received debut album, earned a number of local accolades, played a flurry of festivals, released a few music videos, and put out her best song to date. Though last year was big for her, Abby Jeanne is accomplishing even bigger things in 2018. Months after her month-long Company Brewing residency and the release of her WMSE Record Store Day 7-inch, the unstoppable artist will warm up for her headlining set at Summerfest with her third consecutive appearance on the comparably quaint Milwaukee Record Stage.
10:15 to 11:30 — Pants Off Dance Off
We’ve lined up an extra special event to bring Pride’s (true) opening night to completion. Yes, DJ Claire Dactyl and DJ Jackson Bradford will end the year-long hiatus of their body-positive and all-inclusive Pants Off Dance Off dance party. The dynamic duo will strip down and turn up the volume, Kesslers will hand out party favors, and you’re invited.
Saturday, June 9
5:30 to 6:15 — The Bang Bang
When we first checked in with The Bang Bang way back in early 2015, the young Milwaukee blues rock outfit was preparing to release its self-titled debut album. Since then, the quartet has become a regular on the city’s summer festival circuit and put out a follow-up EP, Funny Love. Last November, The Bang Bang’s catalog grew by eight more songs with the release of the band’s self-proclaimed “Midwestern Gothic” departure, Bridges. Hear those songs and more when the band kicks off our stage’s second day.
6:45 to 7:30 — The Glacial Speed
A lot has happened since the last time Ashley Altadonna put out an album. As Altadonna’s band, New Blind Nationals, was coming to an end in 2004, she shifted focus to filmmaking, she started dating the woman who would one day become her wife, and a she succinctly puts it, she “changed [her] gender.” Understandably, music took a back seat as the singer-guitarist once known as Kyle transitioned into life as Ashley. A dozen years later, Altadonna’s current band, The Glacial Speed, released its debut album. Roughly 18 months after putting out New Wilderness, Altadonna and company will make their return to the Milwaukee Record Stage—where they played in 2016—after a year away.
8:00 to 8:45 — Tigernite
After delivering two of the most memorable performances in consecutive Pride installments, we asked Tigernite to come back for a third time. With a penchant for energetic, glitter- and paint-fueled performances, Milwaukee’s premier glam rock outfit will bring costumes, positive vibes, and infectious tunes to Pridefest yet again.
9:15 to 10:00 — Zed Kenzo
Since returning to Milwaukee more than three years ago, Zed Kenzo has quietly been putting together material for a true blue full-length project, but only allowing listeners to peek behind the creative curtain in a live show setting (save for occasional singles). While the taxing process of producing all her own beats and her ongoing quest to confirm some featured musicians saw 2017 come and go without a debut album, it was still Zed’s biggest year to date.
She has bigger things in store for 2018, with her long-awaited record expected to finally see the light of day. Before then, Zed Kenzo will tide listeners over with her energetic and endearing on-stage persona. Fireworks start at 9:30 sharp, but you can catch Zed’s explosive set on our stage before that.
10:30 to 11:15 — LUXI
LUXI has been gracing Milwaukee music venues with her brooding, whimsical electronica output since she—aka Alexandre Maxine Hill—released 2013’s W∆VES. That impressive debut gave way to a steady stream of atmospheric albums, ethereal EPs, and scintillating singles in five years that followed. The most notable output in LUXI’s rapidly-growing and ever-evolving catalog to this point is last year’s Geometric Universe. Hill claims the LP—which cracked the top 15 of our best Milwaukee albums list last year—is “a culmination of several months of evolution and discovery.” Fresh off FemFest and before her busiest summer yet, stick around late to take in some mood music during LUXI’s headlining set.
Sunday, June 10
5:00 to 6:15 — Subjective: A Comedic Showing
Kaitlin McCarthy‘s long-running Subject: A Comedic Showing is an artsy event with an altogether unique format that puts both comedians and their jokes on display. The motivated Milwaukee comic is taking her showcase away from its normal home at Var Gallery and bringing it to PrideFest. McCarthy will be joined by Kaitlyn Grissom, Kristin Lytie, Alex Seligsohn, Lev Simmons, and Dylan Scott.
6:15 to 7:30 — Hellcat Amazons comedy showcase
It usually takes a comedian years of trial and error to find their voice. Carly Malison didn’t have that problem. Mere months after trying stand-up for the first time, she topped a crop of comics—many of whom with significantly more experience than her—in Caste Of Killers’ “Snark Madness” competition, winning the title in 2015. Since then, Malison has kept busy by writing new material, becoming a fixture in Milwaukee’s comedy scene, and producing a showcase called Hellcat Amazons. Bid the Milwaukee Record Stage a fond and funny farewell and prepare for The B-52s with a stand-up showcase featuring the likes of Malison, Cynthia Marie, Brittany Tilander, Rita Landis, Shannon Noll, and Maya May.