Last year brought record-breaking attendance figures to PrideFest, with more than 33,000 people coming through the gates. Milwaukee Record was honored to play at least a small part in that. The smallest part, to be exact. Pride organizers allowed us to transform the Northwestern Mutual Children’s Theater into the “Milwaukee Record Stage,” and we packed our little stage full of bands, stand-up comedians, and a live podcast. We had a ton of fun.
Apparently, PrideFest was pretty happy with it, too. They’ve asked us to come back. Throughout the spring, we’ve rounded up an eclectic mix of bands, rappers, comedians, and DJs. 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. Check out the full PrideFest lineup here.
Friday, June 9
5:30 to 6:15 p.m. — NO/NO
NO/NO formed from the ashes of The Delphines in 2014, keeping that band’s sense of pop-minded, sinewy sexiness and giving it a synth-heavy twist. Led by singer-guitarist Harrison Colby and bolstered by the presence of singer-keyboardist Cat Ries, NO/NO released two stellar four-song EPs in 2014 (Drag and X.O.) and quickly established itself as one of the city’s finest bands. Now, that claim is further cemented with Sound And Light, NO/NO’s first full-length record and a gorgeous, multi-faceted statement of purpose that Milwaukee Record named the best Milwaukee album of 2016.
6:45 to 7:30 p.m. — Abby Jeanne
Though Abby Jeanne says “2016 gave [her] gray hair,” the incomparable Cream City crooner, songwriter, and producer is poised for bigger and better things in 2017. So far in this young year, she’s turned in an unforgettable set at Local Coverage, she’s spent a month writing and recording in India, she’s played out extensively, and she just put out her debut album, Rebel Love. This summer looks to be quite busy for Abby Jeanne (and band), but this marks one of her first festival gigs of the season.
8:00 to 8:45 p.m. — D’Amato
Per the PrideFest bio: “Milwaukee’s D’Amato and his 12-piece band only show up for two things: to make music and to make love.”
9:15 to 10:00 p.m. — Whips
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. Since emerging from the ashes of Red Knife Lottery, The Academy Is…, and Father Phoenix and emphatically announcing their presence via 2013’s Year One EP, the quartet quickly garnered well-warranted excitement, which culminated with the release of the band’s debut full-length, Turn It On, at the tail end of 2014. This April, Whips released its latest and best record to date, The Ride.
10:15 to 11:30 p.m. — Yung Zucchini
When Chicago (by way of Milwaukee) comedian Sammy Arechar isn’t making people laugh, he’s making them dance as his DJ alter-ego, Yung Zucchini. This isn’t a gimmick, though. Think Girl Talk…with slightly more dolphin effects.
Saturday, June 10
5:30 to 6:15 p.m. — HoneyBee
At just 19 years old, Megan Schmidt is extending the age range and sonic scope of the city’s musical talent. The young musician has funneled her creativity into a project called HoneyBee, in which she plays guitar and sings. HoneyBee’s debut, The Hollow Tree EP, is a gorgeous and emotionally-wrought introduction. The five-song effort finds Schmidt’s warm, soothing voice occupying the crevices of her barren, minimalist guitar arrangements.
6:45 to 7:30 p.m. — Tigernite
After delivering one of the most memorable performances of last year’s Pride, we asked Tigernite to come back. 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.
8:00 to 8:45 p.m. — Rio Turbo
Somewhere between a scuzzy basement party and a VIP champagne room resides Milwaukee’s preeminent party-pop outfit Rio Turbo. Led by the tireless, occasionally clothed Joe Peterson (who also does time as bassist for the Platinum Boys), the group has become a delightfully sleazy local institution over the last five or so years, opening for the likes of Big Freedia and Natural Child, and practically daring audiences to politely nod and shuffle their feet.
9:00 to 11:30 p.m. — Close-Up DJs
Close Up DJs will feature Max Holiday, Liquid City Motors, and MS 115 of the Close Up Of The Serene label. The trio will play bleary club bangers until 11:30 p.m.
Sunday, June 11
5:00 to 6:15 p.m. — Sorry Not Sorry comedy showcase
Sorry Not Sorry—a monthly comedy showcase that usually takes place at Riverwest Public House—will break format with one of its only evening performances, and certainly the first one taking place outdoors at a festival. In addition to the laughs co-hosts Marisa Lange and Addie Blanchard will provide, comedians Vickie Lynn, Kathryn Evans, Dana Ehrmann, and Dina Nina Martinez will keep the laughs rolling for more than an hour.
6:45 to 7:30 p.m. — AUTOMatic
By design or fate, AUTOMatic has always been interested in the long game. The emcee/producer duo of APRIME and Trellmatic has been a fixture of Milwaukee hip-hop since 2007, releasing three full-length albums, a handful of EPs and mixtapes, and the occasional solo offshoot. The city’s musical landscape has changed considerably since then—doubly so for hip-hop—but AUTOMatic has remained. Now, with the release of the aptly named Marathon last November, the group makes a play for the crown of generation-spanning Milwaukee music royalty.
8:00 to 9 p.m. — The Fatty Acids
Since the venerable synth-poppers, The Fatty Acids, released Boléro close to four years ago, some members departed, a couple of them joined different bands, and a few started philanthropic music festivals or opened businesses. Through it all, the band not only stayed together, they’re better than ever.
Back in March, The Fatties released Dogs Of Entertainment. The band’s fourth LP is a more grown-up and down-tempo (not to mention a very, very good) version of the local music kingpins you’ve come to know and love through the years.