Though July comes close to matching it, there’s simply no month in Milwaukee that’s more jam-packed with entertainment than June. Festival season officially kicks off with PrideFest, which gives way to Polish Fest, Locust Street Festival, Summer Soulstice, and the majority of Summerfest. Meanwhile, a bundle of concert series like Chill On the Hill, Jazz In The Park, and Milwaukee Boat Line’s Concert Cruises begin, making every week enjoyable. We’ve already detailed most of those in our exhaustive Summer Festival Guide but, believe it or not, there’s also a ton of non-festival shows adding to the summer-long entertainment dilemma. From sold-out comedy shows to stops from legendary musicians, and even a couple events we’re putting on, here are 14 ways to enjoy June amid the festival frenzy.
Friday, June 3
Aretha Franklin at Riverside Theater
Even if you aren’t a huge fan, after 60 years on stage, more than 100 hit singles, 18 Grammys, and damn near 100 million records sold, you at least have to R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Aretha Franklin’s career. See the Queen Of Soul in an all too rare Milwaukee appearance or live to R-E-G-R-E-T it.
Saturday, June 4
Sturgill Simpson at Riverside Theater
In an era when top 40 pop music and “country” are blurring together, Sturgill Simpson is a breath of fresh air. With a style that nods to classic country and ample indie rock appeal, if Simpson—and his critically-lauded new record, A Sailor’s Guide To Earth—isn’t single-handedly saving country music, he’s at least carrying it for the time being.
Wednesday, June 8
Cage The Elephant + Portugal. The Man, and Morning Teleportation at The Rave
Despite having its date changed and being relocated from the outdoor and lakeside BMO Harris Pavilion to the, uh, somewhat less appealing confines of The Rave, this lineup is undeniably good, no matter the date and location.
Thursday, June 9
Dave Hill (in conversation with Matt Wild of Milwaukee Record) at Boswell Book Company
Stop by Boswell Book Company on a sure-to-be-balmy Thursday night for a sure-to-be hilarious, insightful, and face-melting free shindig with comedian and musician Dave Hill. Hill’s new book, Dave Hill Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, “explores his increasingly close relationship with his recently widowed father in a series of painfully funny essays you will want to read again and again by the fire, at the beach, in a truck stop men’s room, or just about anywhere.” It’s really good. Co-sponsored by Milwaukee Record, the event will feature Hill in conversation with editor and co-founder Matt Wild, who has never been to prison.
Friday, June 10
The Avett Brothers + Nineteen Thirteen at BMO Harris Pavilion
The Avett Brothers’ last Milwaukee show—a headlining slot at the Marcus Amphitheater during Summerfest 2015—was a bit underwhelming. Maybe this time around will be better? Either way, it’ll be great to see local chamber rock outfit Nineteen Thirteen (featuring Violent Femmes founding member Victor DeLorenzo) opening the show on the gorgeous outdoor BMO Harris Pavilion.
Saturday, June 11
Mel Brooks: Back In The Saddle conversation + Blazing Saddles screening
No matter where you fall on the all-important/clickable “Is political correctness ruining comedy?” debate, it’s safe to say a movie like Mel Brooks’ 1974 opus Blazing Saddles could never be made today. The lowbrow Western spoof is one of the most un-PC films of all time, telling the tale of the inhabitants (simple farmers) of a lily-white frontier town (people of the land) called Rock Ridge (the common clay of the new West) who are thrown into a tizzy when a black sheriff comes to town (you know, morons). Happily, Blazing Saddles (co-written by Brooks and Richard Pryor) is also one of the funniest films ever made, and rarely punches down with its gleefully offensive and off-color humor. Plus, Gene Wilder, Cleavon Little, Madeline Kahn, and Harvey Korman are fucking brilliant in it. Now, the 89-year-old Brooks is slated to come to Milwaukee’s Riverside Theater Saturday, June 11 for a “Back in the Saddle” night of conversation, Q&A, and a screening of Blazing Saddles.
Sunday, June 12
Lil Wayne + Young Jeezy, and O.T. Genasis at UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena
Rapper, Young Money impresario, and Green Bay Packers super fan Lil Wayne will headline Milwaukee Summer Jam 2016. Fresh off his latest round of Birdman disses, Weezy will be joined by Young Jeezy and special guest O.T. Genasis.
Thursday, June 16
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off at Times Cinema
On Thursday, June 16, join us at Times Cinema for a 30th anniversary screening of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. The 1986 comedy was the world’s formal introduction to a fresh-faced Matthew Broderick and remains his most memorable role. The timeless and oh-so-quotable film will start at 10 p.m. Yeah, we know that’s pretty late for a weeknight, but as Ferris famously said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” Don’t miss this rare theatrical screening of an all-time comedy classic. Call in sick on Friday if you have to. Tickets cost $6 and are on sale now. You can also RSVP here.
Saturday, June 18
Flight Of The Conchords + Eugene Mirman at Riverside Theater
New Zealand musical comedy duo Flight Of The Conchords make their triumphant Milwaukee return. Hopefully you already have your ticket, as the show has been sold out for some time. Eugene Mirman opens.
Against Me! + Tim Barry, and Fea at The Rave
Veteran punk act Against Me! made headlines in 2012 when singer-guitarist Laura Jane Grace came out as transgender; happily, the band’s killer 2014 album Transgender Dysphoria Blues quickly put the focus back where it belongs: on the music. A follow-up record is expected this fall.
Friday, June 24
Milwaukee Record Book Club with Steven Hyden at Cactus Club
Since departing his post as A.V. Club Milwaukee‘s City Editor way back in 2011, Steven Hyden has seen his work appear in renowned publications like The A.V. Club‘s national site, Pitchfork, and Grantland. Along the way, he found time to write a book. May 17 will see the release of his debut novel, Your Favorite Band Is Killing Me. A few weeks later, Hyden will join us at Cactus Club to discuss the book Rolling Stone called “highly entertaining,” his time in Milwaukee, and likely much more during the first “Milwaukee Record Book Club.” The event will double as a live recording of our On The Record podcast, and will also feature an audience Q&A.
Screaming Females + TBA at Cactus Club
After Hyden answers his last question, the fun continues at Cactus Club with Screaming Females.
Pete Davidson at Turner Hall
At just 22, comedian Pete Davidson is funny beyond his years. Despite holding the distinction of being Saturday Night Live‘s youngest cast member, the wunderkind has quickly established himself on the show with scene-stealing performances and sidesplitting characters. While millions see him excel in the realm of sketch most weekends each year, Davidson can hold his own as a stand-up comedian as well. Some may recall his verbal undressing of Justin Bieber on the most recent Comedy Central Roast.
Saturday, June 25
Direct Hit! + Midnight Reruns, The Hussy, and Jetty Boys at The Metal Grill
Now that the ink has dried on Direct Hit!’s Fat Wreck Chords deal, Milwaukee’s premier pop-punk prodigies are ready to release the record that captured Fat Mike’s attention into the world. Wasted Life, much like 2013’s wonderful Brainless God, is an ambitious concept album that’s executed to near perfection. This time around, the story depicts a drug trip gone awry and the altered perception of the protagonist thereafter. The year is young, but if Wasted Life isn’t the best record a Milwaukee band puts out in 2016, it’ll at least be in the conversation. Joining Direct Hit! at this all-ages Metal Grill affair are Midnight Reruns, Madison’s own The Hussy, and the pride punkers of Sheboygan in The Jetty Boys.