February holds the distinction of being the year’s shortest month, one of Wisconsin’s coldest spans of time, and landing pretty much smack dab in the middle of winter. However, this particular February finds Milwaukee artists and venues bucking the trend of late-season boredom and Valentine’s-adjacent blues with a bevy of great events. Beyond massive undertakings like the inaugural VinterSköl Musik Fest, renowned touring bands and hit Broadway shows are swinging through town as well. Meanwhile, some lofty local shows, a special screening on an ’90s classic, the Shot For Shot Finale, and a rescheduled wrestling show all help make the year’s shortest month an impressive one in terms of entertainment options. Here are 15 standout events. Check out our handy Calendar section for many more listings.
Wednesday, February 5 through Sunday, March 1
Disney’s The Lion King @ Marcus Center For The Performing Arts
The six-time Tony Award-winning Broadway sensation returns to Milwaukee for the better part of a month. Beloved songs and astounding costumes come together for a spectacle you can’t-miss. Whether it’s your first time seeing it or you’re making a return visit, The Lion King is a great show the whole family can enjoy.
Thursday, February 6
Grace Potter + Devon Gilfillian @ Pabst Theater
You know Grace Potter. You love Grace Potter. You should see Grace Potter play songs from her recently-released record, Daylight, and all other corners of his catalog when she takes the stage at Pabst Theater in February.
Friday, February 7
Abby Jeanne + Retoro @ Tuner Hall
Roughly a year removed from formally releasing her wonderful sophomore album, Music Box Dancer, at Turner Hall, Milwaukee’s own Abby Jeanne will return to the sprawling downtown ballroom for a relatively rare local appearance. Local teen phenoms Retoro will play in support. Tickets are just $15.
Monday, February 10
Shot For Shot (series finale) with Mitch Ciohon @ The Cooperage
Join Milwaukee Record at The Cooperage on February 10 for a premiere of the fifth and final Shot For Shot With Chefs episode, featuring chef Mitch Ciohon of Taco Moto and Snack Boys Snack Bar. During the premiere event, we’ll screen the new video then talk about the parts we can remember from that drunken night of food talk, puns, and crazy consumption of beer and liquor. Bofferding—the official beer of Shot For Shot With Chefs—will have its delicious Pils on special all night long, and you can expect some specialty cocktails from spirit sponsor Great Northern Distilling. Come by around 7 p.m. and stay for the screening at 8 p.m. This 21+ event is FREE.
Thursday, February 13
Ginuwine @ Potawatomi Hotel & Casino
Less than a year after he helped bring “Love Vibes” to Miller High Life Theatre during a co-headlining tour with Tyrese, noted R&B mainstay (and the man responsible for “Pony”) Ginuwine will come back to town to perform at Northern Lights Theater on the eve of Valentine’s Day.
Saturday, February 15
VinterSkol @ The Brewery District
Do you like music festivals? Do you like winter music festivals? Do you like new winter music festivals? Then you’ll love the inaugural VinterSköl Musik Fest, a “Nordic-inspired winter celebration” coming to Milwaukee’s Brewery District Saturday, February 15. A vast lineup of music, vendors, beer, and food will fill a handful of Brewery District venues: Best Place at The Historic Pabst Brewery, Captain Pabst Pilot House (formerly Pabst Milwaukee Brewery & Taproom), Jackson’s Blue Ribbon Pub, Milwaukee Brewing Company, and Nō Studios. Pre-sale tickets are $15 and are available NOW. Day-of tickets will be $20. Check out the ridiculously great music lineup here.
3rd Annual Christopher Novak Extravaganza with Amanda Huff / This Random Machine, Atheists & Airplanes, Casual War + Flat Teeth @ The Cooperage
For the third consecutive year, Milwaukee music super fan Christopher Novak will celebrate his birthday by giving local listeners a gift in the form of one heck of a concert. This year’s lineup includes Amanda Huff, Atheists & Airplanes, Casual War, and Flat Teeth.
Tuesday, February 18
Trixie Mattel: Grown Up @ Turner Hall
Actor, musician, television host, RuPaul Drag Race champion, and Milwaukee native Trixie Mattel will make her semi-annual trip back to Milwaukee to delight Turner Hall with her Grown Up tour.
Wednesday, February 19
Milwaukee Record presents ‘Kingpin’ @ Avalon Theater
That’s right, moviegoers, we’ll be screening Kingpin at Avalon Theater on Wednesday, February 19. Tickets are available now. The 1996 film was directed by Bobby Farrelly and his Oscar-winning brother Peter. It stars Woody Harrelson as has-been bowler Roy Munson, who sees promise in the pin-toppling abilities of a young Amish man named Ishmael (Randy Quaid). The cult comedy classic earned generally positive reviews and made a respectable $32.2 million at the box office (compared to a $25 million budget). Oh, and did we mention Roger Clemens is in it? Don’t “Munson” your chance to see Kingpin on the big screen. We hope to see you at Avalon Theater on February 19.
Friday, February 21
NXT Live! @ Turner Hall
For a while there, WWE’s great NXT show could be counted upon to come to Turner Hall every six months. That streak would’ve continued, except their November return was postponed until February. Now that you’ve had to wait a little longer than usual, maybe this show will hit even harder and go over even better than it typically does.
Sunday, February 23
Wückfinter @ Ray’s Wine & Spirits
Following a successful first installment that consisted of rare tappings and woefully under-dressed drinkers refusing to bow down to the season in the Ray’s Wine & Spirits parking lot, the Wauwatosa beer bastion and 3 Floyds decided they’d boldly take on winter yet again. On Sunday, February 23, the second annual Wückfinter will return to the “Rayborhood” with a winning wintry mix of craft beer, music, food, games, and more. From noon to 6 p.m., patrons can indulge in more than 20 varieties of 3 Floyds beer, a food truck operated by 3 Floyds chef Cole Ersel (a Milwaukee expat, formerly of Wolf Peach) and other food vendors, a specialty slushy made with 3 Floyds beer, an event-appropriate playlist curated by Rushmor Records DJs, oversized games like Jenga and Connect Four, and more. Bundle up. Wückfinter is coming.
Wednesday, February 26
Dashboard Confessional + The Get Up Kids @ The Rave
After a sort of lengthy lapse of shows here, Dashboard Confessional has become a Milwaukee fixture again and we aren’t complaining about it. Chris Carrabba and co. will come to The Rave for the second time in 15 months (and to Milwaukee for the third time in that span) as part of Dashboard Confessional’s 20 Year Celebration tour that will find them performing songs from its entire catalog. Oh yeah, The Get Up Kids are opening! Don’t miss the best show of 2001 that the 2020 version of you is sure to enjoy as well.
Friday, February 28
Refused + Youth Code @ The Rave
When you have the chance to see Refused, you take it. The seminal Swedish punk band will play its first Milwaukee show in, pshhhh, maybe 100 years when they come to The Rave. New Noise isn’t new in the slightest anymore, but the record’s message is more accurate and important than ever. Youth Code opens.
Heartbones @ The Cooperage
Start with one part Sean Tillmann (a.k.a. Har Mar Superstar). Add A Giant Dog singer Sabrina Ellis. Put them together and you have Heart Bones. The dynamic duo will kick off the tour for their debut record, Hot Dish, with what’s sure to be an unforgettable show at The Cooperage.
Direct Hit! + Limbeck (reunion), Juiceboxxx, Rational Anthem
Limbeck is back, baby! Sweetening the prospect of the already-enticing reunion tour stop is the opportunity to see Direct Hit! play on its home stage along with Juiceboxxx and Rational Anthem. Go out, have fun, and don’t worry if you’re tired and hungover the next day because it’s Leap Day and we all know that day doesn’t actually count.