Summerfest begins Wednesday, and will bring more than 800 acts to 13 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 27
Trapper Schoepp @ Denim Park
Adding to Milwaukee’s rich weekday music tradition is The North End‘s Denim Park’s summer concert series. On select Tuesday and Wednesday evenings between June and mid-September, a diverse collection of performers take the stage on the corner of Water and Pleasant streets to play free and family-friendly shows. This year, a total of 10 bands will play over the course of as many nights. Trapper Schoepp is one of the unabashed highlights on the solid series.
Weedeater + Zeke, and Sierra @ Cactus Club
Jen Cintron @ Cafe Hollander (Downer Ave.)
THURSDAY, JUNE 28
The Body + Lingua Ignota, and Cavernlight @ Cactus Club
Rhode Island metal duo, The Body, has been obliterating eardrums for close to 20 years now. They’re showing no signs of slowing down or softening their style with this year’s I Have Fought Against It, But I Can’t Any Longer. Adding to this can’t-miss late-week affair are Linga Ignota and Oshkosh’s Cavernlight.
Joshua Miranda + Paige Hargrove @ Riverwest Public House
FRIDAY, JUNE 29
Surgeons In Heat (album release) + Jaill, Cafe Racer, and Ravi/Lola @ Cactus Club
Back in February, we gave you a sneak peek of the upcoming Surgeons In Heat album, Bored Immortals. Last month, Surgeons In Heat chased the preview with another single, “Falling In A Row.” It’s a touch more original-formula Surgeons In Heat than “Why’d You Start?” but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a stunner. Dig the familiar glazed-over vibe, Mayer’s always-welcome falsetto, a rubbery-as-hell bass line, and a scorching little guitar solo in the song’s final moments. On Friday, June 29, John Mayer (no, not that one!) and company will release Bored Immortals at Cactus Club, with a show that also feature Jaill, Cafe Racer, and Ravi/Lola.
Hayward Williams @ Colectivo’s Lakefront Cafe
Dogs In Ecstasy + (ORB), and Duckling @ High Dive
Dial Drive + Not The Cops, and Ceteri @ Frank’s Power Plant
Accountants Of Homeland Security @ The Underground Collaborative
Wavy V + Pay The Devil, and Jon Burks Band @ Company Brewing
Royal Station + Galactic Hatchet, and Space Tugboat @ Riverwest Public House
Royal Rhythms @ Milwaukee Boat Line’s Concert Cruise
Remember Sports + Nadine, and Loud Sun @ The Cooperage
SATURDAY, JUNE 30
11th annual Burnhearts/Pabst Street Party @ Burnhearts
Since opening in 2007, Burnhearts has slowly-but-steadily transformed into one of Milwaukee’s premier beer bars. Along the way, the Bay View lounge’s owners have shown customers they like to party. Beyond Mitten Fest (which has pretty much garnered local holiday status by this point) and Punk House Keggers, Burnhearts also partners with Pabst Blue Ribbon every summer for a day-long block party on a parcel of concrete outside the bar’s digs at the corner of Potter and Logan avenues.
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 11th anniversary this summer with B~Free, Buffalo Gospel, Sundial Mottos, Magnetic Minds, TAJ, and Luxi taking the stage.
Sad Boy Saturday @ The Cooperage
Akakebutstillinbed, Tetherball, Snag, Beach Burial @ Cactus Club (All-Ages Show, 3 p.m start)
Josefus + Doomstress, and Plastic Crimewave Syndicate @ Cactus Club
Insult & Battery Comedy Roast Battle @ The Underground Collaborative
Max & The Invaders @ Milwaukee Boat Line’s Concert Cruise
Ratt Trap (last show) + Steel Iron @ Frank’s Power Plant
Vanity Plates + Antler House @ Circle A Cafe
Punk Rock Rummage Sale @ Riverwest Public House
Tall Boys Improv + Chit Chat @ Mojo Dojo (Urban Harvest Brewing Company)
SUNDAY, JULY 1
Jake Simmons & The Little Ghosts + SIN BAD, and Social Caterpillar
Kalamazoo-based Jake Simmons & The Little Ghosts pays Milwaukee another visit to head-up a free show that features local support from SIN BAD and Social Caterpillar. The price is right and the lineup is loaded. Don’t miss it.
Mary Rodgers @ Franks Power Plant
TUESDAY, JULY 3
Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra @ Chill On The Hill (Humboldt Park)
It’s amazing that Chill On The Hill has only been around for 14 years. The concept of the mid-week Bay View occurrence is so simple: laying out on a blanket and imbibing food and beverages brought from home (or purchased from a series of vendors on site) whilst enjoying a diverse bevy of homegrown talent. No matter what you’re into, we’re sure there’s something for most every taste under the Humboldt Park amphitheater at least one Tuesday this summer. This particular Tuesday brings none other than Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra to the bandshell.
DJ Lolo & Friends @ Denim Park
Calliope + Lake Of Fire, and General B & The Wiz @ Company Brewing
THURSDAY, JULY 5
Ale Asylum presents Droids Attack Beer Release with Droids Attack + Shogun @ Company Brewing
Enjoy Mashenomek Rye Lager, the new collaboration between Droids Attack and Ale Asylum, for the first time at Company Brewing. Stick around for music from the long-running Madison rockers, with Shogun providing support.
Breakout + Law/Less, and The DUIs @ Frank’s Power Plant
FRIDAY, JULY 6
Listening Party @ Colectivo’s Lakefront Cafe
Every Friday night between next week and the end of 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 started strong with a June 15 performance by Queen Hilma, and will continue every Friday until the August 31 finale with For The Culture. Milwaukee folk trio Listening Party presents one hell of a Summerfest alternative, or makes for a relaxing pre-show before making your way to the Big Gig grounds for a headlining set.
Bockenplautz @ Milwaukee Boat Line’s Concert Cruise
The 2×4 Show @ Mojo Dojo (Urban Harvest Brewing Company)
Warpark + Versio Curs, Beach Static, and Cullah @ Frank’s Power Plant
SATURDAY, JULY 7
Arcade Mode + Awkward Terrible, and Man Random @ Bremen Cafe
Fans of chiptune, video game-influenced music, and any other definitively geeky aural accompaniment won’t want to miss out on a free show featuring Arcade Mode, Milwaukee’s own Awkward Terrible, and Man Random.
El Chapo De Sinaloa @ The Rave
No Stress Dance Party @ Riverwest Public House
Tangled Lines @ Milwaukee Boat Line’s Concert Cruise
ADI + My Brother’s Brother, and Tha DMC @ Company Brewing