Though we won’t discount the possibility of experiencing one last volley of snowfall this month, April is typically a period of rebirth. Baseball season begins, the first full month of spring is upon us, and rampant festival announcements combine with extended daylight and occasional days of unseasonable warmth to signal the city’s best days are soon to come. While we’re still two months removed from PrideFest (the official start of festival season), April brings about other reasons to celebrate. This particular April will shower the city with tremendous entertainment options, including a cluster of events in accordance with a legitimate local holiday, a outstanding nearby gaming convention, a sextuplet of shows from one of stand-up’s biggest modern names, and our first anniversary party. There’s so much to do this month, but we’re most intrigued by these 13 events.
Wednesday, April 1
Maria Bamford at Turner Hall
Minnesota-raised comic Maria Bamford has been either crushing or absolutely alienating comedy audiences (at about a 50/50 ratio) since the late 1980s. However, she wasn’t fully adopted by comedy nerds until she arguably stole the spotlight from Patton Oswalt, Zach Galifianakis, and Brian Posehn in the seminal 2005 documentary The Comedians Of Comedy. About as “alternative” as an alt-comic comes, Bamford—by way of her inimitable comedic style that’s as unhinged as it is uproariously funny—has gone on to do ample voiceover work, star in a run of unsettling Black Friday ads for Target, and film a special (The Special Special Special) with her parents serving as the only audience members. You may also recognize her as Tobias Funke’s disheveled romantic interest “DeBrie” on the most recent season of Arrested Development. Knowing nothing about her most recent material, it’s safe to say you’ll never see anything like it again.
Thursday, April 2 through Saturday, April 4
Kevin Hart at Riverside Theater (six shows)
Last September, Pabst Theater announced Dave Chappelle was booked to perform two shows the following month. Those two theater gigs sold out almost immediately, finding the comic adding two nights and four more shows to his Milwaukee occupation. Since one legendary stand-up’s three-night, six-show theater stint went so well, the Pabst Theater Group figured they’d do it again for another. The Riverside Theater will play host to six Kevin Hart shows between April 2 and April 4. The colossally popular comic—who sold out all six shows within ONE HOUR—and star of The Wedding Ringer and Get Hard will perform a 7 p.m. and a 10 p.m. show each night, essentially performing for 15,000 people in the process.
Friday, April 3
Girls Rock Benefit Show at Riverwest Public House
As a local organization that champions the creative growth and personal empowerment of young women, it’s no surprise that bands (not to mention plucky upstart publications) are basically lining up to support Girls Rock Milwaukee. The latest such Girls Rock benefit boasts an eclectic and especially stacked lineup of local acts, including Moon Curse, NO/NO, and Appleseeds.
Cactus Club Music And Comedy Show
It’s been a while since accomplished local laughsmith Ryan Holman put together an entertaining amalgam of local musicians and comics for his Cactus Club Comedy & Music Show. To account for the hiatus, Holman has assembled a particularly strong lineup this time around. Aside from the aforementioned humorist, comedians Matty Field, Jason Hillman, Allison Dunne, Tavaris Smith, Jeff Wheatley-Heckman, and KC Michelson will take the stage. Twin Brother will give your abdominal muscles a break with its first performance with its new, expanded five-man cast. This will be well worth the $7 cover. Seriously.
Tuesday, April 7
Poliça + Pony Bwoy at Cactus Club
Less than two years removed from headlining Turner Hall, Minneapolis synth-pop group Poliça returns to town to makes its second pass in support of its impossibly dark and undeniably gorgeous 2013 record, Shulamith. Also sired in the fruitful sonic expanses of Minneapolis, up-and-coming art-rapper Pony Bwoy returns to Milwaukee after winning Mad Planet over last spring. Hopefully you were prompt in picking up tickets, as this intimate affair is sold out.
Thursday, April 9
Neil Diamond at BMO Harris Bradley Center
You know who Neil Diamond is. If you like him, you should attend this show.
Saturday, April 11 and Sunday, April 12
Midwest Gaming Classic at Brookfield Sheraton
Since 2001, gamers, pinball nuts, tabletop competitors, and cosplayers alike have had an electronic oasis near Milwaukee each spring, as the Midwest Gaming Classic has taken root in a suburban hotel and become a fixture for hundreds throughout the heartland. Though small at its outset, the annual event has grown to take over more than 65,000 square feet of the Brookfield Sheraton (and an additional 21,000 square feet in gigantic tents connected to the hotel) while easily earning the title of “the largest all-encompassing electronic gaming trade show in the Midwest.” Last year’s event was the largest to date, and was a shitload of fun, even for noobs. Beyond the all-inclusive gaming on every system imaginable, there’s also going to be music from local gems like Sugar Stems, Awkward Terrible, and The Atomic Spins.
Tuesday, April 14
Disappears + Dogs In Ecstasy, Gallery Night at Cactus Club
Originally a numeric joke between a small group of friends a few years back, April 14 (or 4/14) has become officially known as “Milwaukee Day”—complete with mayoral proclamation and everything. Though the “official” Milwaukee Day show featuring Hugh Bob & The Hustle, Greatest Lakes, and WebsterX offers oodles of entertainment on its own, we’re partial to seeing Disappears, Dogs In Ecstasy, and the un-Google-able likes of Gallery Night at Cactus Club. Who gives a fuck if Disappears hails from Chicago?
Colleen Green + Jaill at Mad Planet
Speaking of great Milwaukee Day shows, Mad Planet sought to get into the festivities with a pair of Burger Records buddies, Los Angeles genre-jumbler Colleen Green and Milwaukee’s own Jaill will bookend a great holiday bill, which also features Upset (Los Angeles) and Mama (Chicago).
Saturday, April 18
Pele + Golden Donna at Cactus Club
Legendary Milwaukee post-rock outfit Pele disbanded in 2004, but its influence on local music remains strong to this day. Members of the instrumental three-piece (Jon Mueller, Chris Rosenau, Matt Tennessen) have done time with other classic Milwaukee groups like The Promise Ring, Volcano Choir, and Collections Of Colonies Of Bees, while Mueller’s devastating Death Blues album, Ensemble, was one of the best local releases of 2014. Pele isn’t far removed from playing what was thought to be a one-off New Year’s Eve show in Chicago, but the band will reform for at least one more gig: an April 18 show the Cactus Club. It will be Pele’s first Milwaukee show in over 11 years, and should not—we repeat, should not—be missed.
Friday, April 24
Milwaukee Record’s 1st Anniversary Show at Linneman’s Riverwest Inn
On April 7, 2014, we (Tyler Maas and Matt Wild) launched Milwaukee Record. We’ve had a blast this past year. We’ve been insanely proud of the nearly 1,000 original articles we’ve published (even the Bar Rescue ones), and we’ve been blown away by the outpouring of support from readers and sponsors alike. Creating and running the good ship Milwaukee Record has been nothing short of a dream gig. Thank you. So let’s dance! On Friday, April 24, we’ll be celebrating our one-year anniversary at one of the best rock and roll joints in town, Linneman’s Riverwest Inn. (Not-so-coincidentally, Linneman’s was the first local business to pledge its support to Milwaukee Record, sight-unseen. We can’t thank you enough, Jim and Marty.) Joining us will be three of the best rock and roll bands in town: Space Raft (proud owner of the best Milwaukee album of 2014), The Trusty Knife (yes, they’re still together), and SIN BAD (the great band, not the comedian). Comic Ryan Mason will be on hand for all your stand-up/hosting needs. Oh, and Matt’s old band, Holy Mary Motor Club, will reunite for a five-song mini set. They’ll probably do the one about the llama.
Neutral Milk Hotel at Riverside Theater
Seminal ’90s indie rock outfit Neutral Milk Hotel burned out when the band was at its brightest. After more than a decade-long breakup—wherein an entire generation of new fans retroactively discovered the band’s outstanding In The Aeroplane Over The Sea—Jeff Mangum and company returned in 2013. However, the return will not be permenant, as the band announced this run of early 2015 shows will be Neutral Milk Hotel’s last “for the foreseeable future” (or possibly ever). Of course, this show is sold out.
RagTime and Lone Wolf Comedy Present: A Comedy Double Feature
A mere two quarterly shows in, the female-oriented RagTime Comedy (Get it? Periods!) has already established itself as one of the city’s most unique, eclectic, and all-around entertaining comedy showcases in town. For its spring installment, they’ve enlisted a veritable cacophony of beloved area comedy collectives to bolster the event even more. Mad genius Ryan Lowe’s own Lone Wolf Comedy will premiere a short, Jaclyn Poeschl’s This Is How Girls Have Fun will also premiere. On the non-video side of things, Variety Hour Comedy Hour, Dynamo Kickstand, Tall Boys, Sketch Marks, and Busy Bar will throw their sketch and improv prowess into the mix. And if you were worried, no, you won’t miss the Milwaukee Record anniversary show if you attend this first.