What’s this? A list of shows? A list of summer shows? Yep! After what seemed to be an endless winter that never truly gave way to spring, summer is finally on the horizon. The season officially starts June 21 this year, and it offers no shortage of worthwhile concerts, comedy shows, and other forms of live entertainment. Not even counting the massive list of local festivals happening in and around the city, here are a few of the standout summer shows we’re looking forward to in the next few months.
Wednesday, June 21
Counting Crows + Dashboard Confessional @ Miller High Life Theater
It’s been a long spring, but there’s reason to believe maybe this season will be better than the last. Counting Crows will kick off summer in style by playing songs from its hit-laden catalog that spans more than 30 years. Need another reason to come out? Okay! Dashboard Confessional will be opening.
Milwaukee Record presents ‘Starship Troopers’ @ Avalon Theater
Has any modern-ish movie been more misunderstood than Starship Troopers? Decried by critics as a dirt-dumb glorification of fascism and jingoism upon its 1997 release, the film has since been celebrated as a satire of fascism and jingoism. Wanna see this big-bug satire on the big screen? You can on Wednesday, June 21, when we’ll screen a 4K restoration of Starship Troopers at the Avalon Atmospheric Theater! Young people from all over the globe are joining up to fight for the future. Do your part, and get your tickets NOW.
Friday, June 23 through Sunday, June 25
Bill Bellamy @ Milwaukee Improv
Actor, longtime MTV VJ, alleged creator of the term “booty call,” and veteran comedian Bill Bellamy will drop by the Milwaukee Improv in nearby Brookfield to treat the suburban club to a total of five performances spread across three nights. Be there or, well, probably be at the first weekend of Summerfest.
Monday, June 26 and Tuesday, June 27
John Mellencamp @ Riverside Theater
Tuesday, June 27
Wednesday + Tenci, Interlay @ Cactus Club
Wednesday on a Tuesday? Okay! The up-and-coming band (not the Netflix series or day of the week) will bring its lauded punk-leaning sound to the cozy confines of Bay View’s Cactus Club less than three months before playing at Riverside Theater in support of Jason Isbell. Whether you’re looking for a fun Tuesday night or you want some “I saw them at Cactus Club…” bragging rights if/when they reach mainstream consciousness, you should probably see Wednesday when they come through town on June 27.
Saturday, July 2
Dillinger Four + Off With Their Heads, Big Laugh, Bad Crime @ X-Ray Arcade
Almost instantly sold out. Sorry, folks!
Sarah Shook & The Disarmers + Dusk @ Cactus Club
Sarah Shook & The Disarmers absolutely love the Cactus Club and Milwaukee listeners are reaping all the benefits. The eternally busy band will return to their beloved brew city haunt with another Cactus Club favorite, Wisconsin’s own Dusk.
Thursday, July 6
Sparks @ Pabst Theater
Legendary pop-rock duo Sparks are set to play Milwaukee’s Pabst Theater on Thursday, July 6! The Sparks brothers (Ron and Russell Mael) were subjects of a recent all-star documentary by Edgar Wright. The group has been delighting and confounding since the early 1970s; a new album, The Girl Is Crying In Her Latte, came out May 26 on Island Records. This show is part of a world tour that kicked off May 23 in the UK, and will wrap up July 25 in Japan. Milwaukee Record contributor and local Sparks expert Rick Katschke says this will be Sparks’ first Milwaukee show in 40 years, and we believe him. Get ready!
Thursday, July 13
Please Don’t Destroy Live @ Turner Hall
Veritable viral video factory-turned-Saturday Night Live writing collective Please Don’t Destroy is taking its show on the road! We’re not quite sure how the trio’s comedic style will translate to a stage show, but we’re super excited to find out and we have no doubts Please Don’t Destroy Live will, um, destroy live.
Saturday, July 15
Jinkx Monsoon @ Pabst Theater
Jinkx Monsoon is a two-time RuPaul’s Drag Race winner and a Broadway-caliber talent. She’s also extremely fucking funny. The drag star’s talent and versatility will be on full display at Pabst Theater on July 15, when Monsoon comes to Milwaukee as part of her bewitching “Everything At Stake” tour.
Sunday, July 16
Wheatus + The Eradicator @ X-Ray Arcade
Teenage Dirtbags and squash enthusiasts take note: Wheatus (yes, that Wheatus!) and The Eradicator are coming to Cudahy’s X-Ray Arcade on July 16 for one of the strangest-yet-most compelling Sunday evening show pairings imaginable.
Tuesday, August 1
Paramore + Foals, The Linda Lindas @ Fiserv Forum
Should we really bother writing about this Paramore show? If we did write something, we’d probably just say Paramore is awesome, we’re excited to see they’re regularly performing and releasing music again, and we’re pumped they tapped Foals and The Linda Lindas to open for them at this August 1 show at Fiserv Forum. We don’t need to write that, though, because there’s a good chance you’re probably already planning to go.
Thursday, August 3
Drake + 21 Savage @ Fiserv Forum
Worldwide music superstar (and major annoyance to Bucks fans during the 2019 NBA Playoffs) Drake will perform in Milwaukee for the first time ever when he drops by Fiserv Forum during his “It’s All A Blur” tour. He’ll be joined in the arena by 21 Savage.
Tuesday, August 8
Stevie Nicks @ Fiserv Forum
The one and only Stevie Nicks will play Milwaukee’s Fiserv Forum on Tuesday, August 8. The show will serve as the kickoff to the second leg of Nicks’ 2023 “Live In Concert” tour. And that’s it! Stevie Nicks! August 8! Fiserv Forum!
Friday, August 11 and Saturday, August 12
Eddie Griffin @ Milwaukee Improv
While he’s an accomplished actor and a cultural touchstone that’s been a known figure in entertainment since the early ’90s, Eddie Griffin is a comedian first and foremost. Thankfully, Griffin—whom Comedy Central accurately declares to be one of the 100 funniest comedians of all time—is still taking the stage to do what he does best. Whether you want to mark him off your stand-up bucket list or you’re anxious to hear his new material in action, you’ll have four opportunities to catch Griffin when he comes to Milwaukee Improv in nearby Brookfield August 11-12.
Saturday, August 12
Less Than Jake + The Toasters, Devon Kay & The Solutions @ The Rave/Eagles Club
Skank your way over to The Rave for a straight up stacked ska-punk showcase featuring the incomparable Less Than Jake and support from The Toasters and Devon Kay & The Solutions. Pick it up!
Monday, August 14
P!nk + Pat Benatar, Neil Giraldo, KidCutUp, and Grouplove @ American Family Field
It’s P!nk! On her “Summer Carnival” tour! With appearances by Pat Benatar, Neil Giraldo, Milwaukee’s own KidCutUp, and Grouplove! At American Family Field!
Tuesday, August 15
Jimmy Eat World + Manchester Orchestra, Middle Kids @ The Rave/Eagles Club
It isn’t too often that Milwaukee gets a non-festival tour stop from Jimmy Eat World. However, the breakout emo outfit is swinging by The Rave on August 15 with Manchester Orchestra and Middle Kids. Are you listening?
Saturday, August 19
Local Natives + Annika Bennett @ Pabst Theater
Roughly six weeks after the release of its latest, Time Will Wait For No One, Local Natives will pop into Pabst Theater to perform songs off that new record and material from its outstanding back catalog. The pop-tinged psych rockers will be preceded by opener Annika Bennett.
Tuesday, August 22
Tim Heidecker @ Turner Hall
Whether you know Tim Heidecker as the influential and innovative comedian/actor or you know him as the gifted singer/songwriter, you’re likely a huge fan of his work. And if you’re fond of both his humor and his music, we have some incredible news for you. On Tuesday, August 22, the multi-faceted performer will treat Turner Hall to “The Two Tims,” which includes an acerbic stand-up set by Heidecker and a set of original songs performed by him as well.
Friday, August 25
Social Cig + Fellow Kinsman, Diet Lite, Bug Moment @ Turner Hall
We’re in the midst of a special time in Milwaukee music. As we speak, a new crop of young bands are helping to push the local scene into exciting and unfamiliar sonic territory. Four of the bands ushering in that encouraging artistic evolution—Social Cig, Fellow Kinsman, Diet Lite, and Bug Moment—will share a bill at Turner Hall on August 25. If you want to get up to speed on some of the great things happening in Milwaukee music right now, this late August affair would be a nice place to start.
Friday, August 25 and Saturday, August 26
Ms. Pat @ Milwaukee Improv
The life story of Patricia Williams (aka Ms. Pat) is nothing short of astounding. Once a teen mom who was selling drugs in Atlanta, she turned her life around and, by way of her incomparable perspective and undeniable talent, shifted her focus to comedy. In the years that followed that significant life change, Ms. Pat has amassed an abundance of TV credits, started a popular podcast, wrote a critically-acclaimed and NAACP Award-nominated memoir, and has toured extensively. Ms. Pat will drop by Milwaukee Improv in nearby Brookfield for a total of four shows spread between two boundary-pushing August nights.
Saturday, August 26
WMSE’s Backyard BBQ with Bob Mould @ Humboldt Park
Legendary punk/alt-rock pioneer Bob Mould—he of Hüsker Dü, Sugar, and solo fame—will headline the WMSE Backyard BBQ in Humboldt Park on Saturday, August 26. Mould will be joined by his Bob Mould Band for the free summer festival show. Holy crap. Also setting up shop in Humboldt Park’s bandshell that afternoon and early evening will be (in order of appearance) Chicken Wire Empire, Girls Rock Milwaukee, Telethon, and Esso. WMSE DJs will provide music throughout the day. Again: HOLY CRAP.
Matt Braunger @ The Laughing Tap
Following a few ill-fated attempts to reschedule during the pandemic, actor, writer, and comedian Matt Braunger was finally able to bring his wealth of television credits and thousands of hours of stage time to The Laughing Tap in Walker’s Point in late 2021. The veteran comic will return to the Tap on Saturday, August 26 for what’s sure to be a memorable night.
Tuesday, August 29
The Offspring + Sum 41, Simple Plan @ American Family Amphitheater
About 15 months removed from a show at The Rave, veteran radio rockers The Offspring will return to Milwaukee to, once again, play in support of their 2021 album, Let The Bad Times Roll, during a headlining performance at the AmFam Amphitheater. The Offspring will be joined by Sum 41 (who just announced their intentions to end the band next year) and Canadian pop-punkers Simple Plan.
Friday, September 8
Mondo Lucha @ Turner Hall
Since starting in 2008, Mondo Lucha has brought high-flying wrestling action, burlesque dancers, and live music to its annual Turner Hall showcase. Along the way, the variety show has managed to work with renowned pro wrestlers, sell out numerous shows, and become a must-attend Milwaukee event. The beloved local variety show returns to its familiar ballroom haunt September 8!
Tuesday, September 12
Jason Isbell And The 400 Unit + Wednesday @ Riverside Theater
Alt-country powerhouse and one of modern music’s finest songwriters Jason Isbell returns to the familiar confines of Riverside Theater along with his 400 Unit backing band and opener Wednesday for a late-summer show in support of Isbell’s just-released (and wonderful!) Weathervanes.
Saturday, September 16
Bully + Wombo @ X-Ray Arcade
While Bay View Bash rages about three miles to the north on September 16, frequent Milwaukee visitor Bully will be doing its thing in nearby Cudahy at X-Ray Arcade. Wombo will play in support of the Nashville rock outfit.