Summerfest begins Wednesday, and will bring more than 700 acts to 10 stages—not even counting those weird side stages near the lake—and close to a million people through the gates for 11 days of music, activity, and edible things on a stick. Forced to compete with an event billed as the “World’s Largest Music Festival,” venues across Milwaukee tend to either significantly slow their concert schedule or absolutely vacate their stages during the colossal cluster of concerts at Henry Maier Festival Park.
Though many Milwaukee music promoters take late June and early July off while Summerfest does its thing, traditional venues (and boats) around the city aren’t exactly hurting for shows. For those who need a night or two away from the Big Gig, Milwaukee Record scrounged up some recommendations for shows happening outside the Summerfest umbrella.
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 26
Washington Park Wednesdays with Zed Kenzo + DJ Dripsweat, Saebra & Carlyle, Shle Berry, and DJ Boyfrrriend
Like each and every summer, metro Milwaukee will play host dozens of festivals, block parties, and free weekly music celebrations between June and September that all help make enduring the six to eight other snowy months almost worthwhile. If you want to get ready for summer, look no further than the lineup for a weekly outdoor music series. One of the best of them, Washington Park Wednesdays, features a wide range of local acts performing under the gorgeous Washington Park bandshell. If the scenery alone isn’t worth the trip, this year’s downright awesome list of performers certainly is. This year’s lineup is stacked, but the June 26 show might be the best show of the season.
Boulevards + DJ Boy Frrriend, and special guest @ Cactus Club
The Sweet Sheiks @ Pabst Milwaukee Brewery & Taproom
THURSDAY, JUNE 27
Milwaukee Comedy presents Deep Space @ Hawthorne Coffee Roasters
Since blasting off back in March, Deep Space has quickly established itself as one of the best and most interesting shows in Milwaukee’s comedy orbit. Co-producers Ryan Mason and Tim Higgins (and allegedly J. Tyler Menz) host the recurring showcase at Hawthorne Coffee Roasters, and they continually book a solid cast of local and touring comics to “explore the boundaries of comedy.” Show up early to get a delicious burger from Foxfire.
Cody Ko & Noel Miller: Tiny Meat Gang Live @ Pabst Theater
Possum + Cream Vellum, Versio Curs, and Life In Vacuum @ Cactus Club
FRIDAY, JUNE 28
Friday Nite Music: Two Tones @ Colectivo Lakefront Cafe
After a successful first summer installment in 2018, Colectivo has once again called on Milwaukee Record to put together the 2019 edition of “Friday Nite Music.” Every Friday night in June, July, and August, we’ll bring you a different Wisconsin singer-songwriter or band outside Colectivo’s Lakefront Cafe from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. The free, all-ages concert series will continue during Summerfest with a June 28 full-band show by Two Tones and a July 5 solo set by Zach Pietrini.
Rust Belt + God’s Outlaw @ Milwaukee Boat Line
Falcon Arrow + Evacuate The Earth, and Genau @ Club Garibaldi
Canadian Rifle + Two House, Bad Wig, and Duckling @ X-Ray Arcade
T3R Elemento @ The Rave
The Try Guys @ Pabst Theater
WHT SMMR: Maal Himself & Genesis Renji, Renz Young, C.T., and Grey Genius @ Cactus Club
The Unmoved Movers + Bandoleer Bacall @ Pabst Milwaukee Brewery & Taproom
SATURDAY, JUNE 29
12th Annual Burnhearts/Pabst Street Party @ Burnhearts
The fun and fancy-free celebration of music, food, crafts, and a beloved cheap beer locals have come to know as “Burnhearts/Pabst Street Party” will celebrate its 12th anniversary this summer. On Saturday, June 29, the party will rage on with an eclectic mix of six local acts including Immortal Girlfriend, Shle Berry, Fuzzysurf, L’Resorts, Marielle Allschwang & The Visitations, and SistaStrings.
Andrew David Weber (daytime show) @ Pabst Milwaukee Brewery & Taproom
Earthmother Band @ Pabst Milwaukee Brewery & Taproom
Man Random + The First Rule, and The Blackwoodz @ X-Ray Arcade
Max & The Invaders @ Milwaukee Boat Line
Rocky LaPorte @ Potawatomi Hotel & Casino
Cavetown + Chloe Moriondo, and Spookyghostboy @ The Back Room At Colectivo
Tiffany Jenkins @ Pabst Theater
Marshen McClinton + Phif, Kiara Dupree, and Hardaway @ Company Brewing
SUNDAY, JUNE 30
Girls Rock Showcase @ Turner Hall
As yet another installment of the amazing and empowering Girls Rock Milwaukee camp comes to an end, the campers will show parents, friends, and the general public what they’ve learned during a fun, uplifting, and impressive showcase at Turner Hall. There’s a $10 suggested donation at the door, which benefits the camp. Kids under eight years of age get in for free.
Once Around + The Fading Visions, Returning Reckless, and Lovekilss @ X-Ray Arcade
MONDAY, JULY 1
Kiefer Sutherland + Raye Zaragoza @ Shank Hall
“Summerfest is rolling out their great schedule between June 26-July 7,” says a Shank Hall press release, “but they do leave a gap when they close on July 1. Problem solved. Shank Hall is proud to present the return of Kiefer Sutherland.” Problem solved, indeed.
TUESDAY, JULY 2
Chill On The Hill: Batterman Ensemble + American Legion Band, and VoodooHoney Brass Band @ Humboldt Park
With Independent Day approaching, Chill On The Hill will bring a wide variety of horns and other marching band instruments to the Humboldt Park bandshell on July 2. VoodooHoney Brass Band will start things off, followed by the American Legion Band, and Batterman Ensemble. As always, these shows are free and people can bring their own food and drink. Vendors will also be on site with snacks and drinks.
WEDNESDAY, JULY 3
Questlove + DJ Bizzon, Dope Folks Records @ The Cooperage
On July 3, at 9:45 p.m., The Roots will perform at the BMO Harris Pavilion during Summerfest 2019. It’ll be a great show. Then, immediately following the set, Roots drummer Questlove will race over to The Cooperage for a special DJ appearance. It’ll be a great show, too! Questlove’s appearance will be presented by Milwaukee Film’s Black Lens initiative, as part of its Groove Theory program. DJ Bizzon and Dope Folks Records will play in support.
THURSDAY, JULY 4
Chill On The Hill: Kids From Wisconsin @ Humboldt Park
Usually a Tuesday event, Chill On The Hill will also host a special installment with Kids From Wisconsin next Thursday, as part of the Humboldt Park Fourth Of July celebration.
FRIDAY, JULY 5
Ariana Grande + Normani, and Social House @ Fiserv Forum
What needs to be said about Ariana Grande at this point? The young pop sensation is one of the biggest names in modern music. She’s sold millions of records and performed to mesmerized crowds in stadiums and arenas throughout the world. After having to postpone a run of shows, including a Milwaukee stop, Grande will make a belated appearance at the Fiserv Forum as the second weekend of Summerfest rages on a mile or two away.
Scrimshaw + Bleach Party, Sex Scenes, and Heavy Hand @ X-Ray Arcade
Mario Lanza + A Friend Called Fire, Tyler Boone, and The Midnight Purchase @ Pabst Milwaukee Brewery & Taproom
Friday Nite Music: Zach Pietrini @ Colectivo Lakefront Cafe
SATURDAY, JULY 6
Inclination + Low End, Slowpanic, Sector, and Time Spiral @ X-Ray Arcade
Exactly one fortnight removed from bringing 14 punk projects to Cudahy, X-Ray Arcade will host a bevy of great hardcore bands from Louisville, Chicago, and nearby Milwaukee. No doubt expecting a high-energy night set into motion by the five acts, the all-ages arcade ask patrons to “Please be nice to [thier] walls.”
Listening Party @ Milwaukee Boat Line
Jalen G + Shon Mil, Eli $tones, Mykell X, Mellow97, Cronies, and DJ The Jenius @ Cactus Club
SUNDAY, JULY 7
Squirrel Flower + Sandor, and Lady Cannon @ Cactus Club
At 22 years of age, Ella Williams makes beautiful, haunting, and beyond-her-years music under the Squirrel Flower alias. The Boston singer-songwriter will come to Cactus Club in support her latest EP, Contact Sports, where she’ll head up a loaded bill that also includes Sandor and Milwaukee’s own Lady Cannon.