March is a period of transition. The month straddles two seasons, a part-time resident in the ass-end of winter and a temporary tenant within the burst and bloom brought on by spring. As the season changes and we gain daylight, the glorious onslaught of local festivals is so close, yet still aggravatingly out of reach. Still, there’s a wealth of places to go, people to see, and things to do this month while awaiting the warmth and activity of summer.
Between respected comedians, local release shows, WMSE’s Rockabilly Chili, some and can’t-miss concerts, this March isn’t shaping up to be so bad. Here are this month’s 15 best events in (and around) Milwaukee. Check out our calendar for more listings.
Thursday, March 5
They Might Be Giants @ Pabst Theater
Why is the world in love again? Why are we marching hand in hand? Why are the ocean levels rising up? It’s a brand new anniversary show for 2020! They Might Be Giants‘ 30-year-old album Flood! What will the show entail? Well, it’s being billed as “an evening with” thing, featuring Johns Flansburgh and Linnell playing two full sets with their live band. Flood will be played in its entirety, of course.
Friday, March 6
Klassik (vinyl release show) @ Shank Hall
Listeners throughout Milwaukee, all around the Midwest, and in Rob Gronkowski’s car know Kellen Abston for his extensive, eclectic, and altogether impressive body of work he’s released under the name Klassik. Over Klassik’s near-10-year run, the rapper, producer, and multi-instrumentalist has earned oodles of attention in the local scene, opened for a host of impressive acts, challenged himself with a wide range of different creative undertakings, and made some of Milwaukee’s most impressive music of the past decade. The tireless creator’s latest, QUIET, was released in late 2019 (and earned the No. 3 slot on last year’s Best Albums list). About four months later, the record will come out on vinyl via Confluence Records and Klassik will mark the belated release with a show at Shank Hall. He’ll be joined with a stacked lineup of local musicians that will be performing under the name Student Body. Get active and come out to this show.
Saturday, March 7
Leap Near 2020 with Haunter, Snag, Apollo Vermouth, Kenrda Amalie, and more @ Cactus Club
Exactly a week after the weird holiday that is Leap Day, Cactus Club will host a pair of shows that will double as a daylong micro fest (1 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.) that will feature a wide range of acts who made waves in Milwaukee music last year. The 2 p.m. all-ages matinee will offer up the likes of CRLSS, Kendra Amalie, Vanity Plates, Genau, and 1996. When 8 p.m. rolls around, Apollo Vermouth, Haunter, Snag, Large Print, and Beach Burial will take the stage for an 18+ show. Cover is $7 and $8 respectively or just $12 for both shows. Wow!
Sunday, March 8
WMSE’s Rockabilly Chili Fundraiser @ MSOE Kern Center
Since the early aughts, WMSE has assembled the city’s most skilled chili connoisseurs to vie for prizes in but a few categories during its annual Rockabilly Chili fundraiser. This year, more than 50 restaurants, bars, and cafes will compete. Long Line Riders will provide musical accompaniment. As chili season’s conclusion is nigh, end it in the best way imaginable.
Wednesday, March 11
Tiny Moving Parts + Belmont, Capstan, Jetty Bones @ X-Ray Arcade
Bask in the “twinkly emo” of Minnesota-based Tiny Moving Parts when they cross the Mississippi River to come to Cudahy in belated support of 2019’s awesome breathe. You won’t be sorry. Belmont, Capstan, and Jetty Bones will open things up.
Thursday, March 12
Shellac + Loki’s Folly @ Turner Hall
After instantly selling out The Back Room @ Colectivo, Shellac’s March 12 show was promoted to Turner Hall. Miraculously, there are still some tickets left for this (at least for now). Loki’s Folly opens.
Friday, March 13
Jeff Ross & Dave Attell: Bumping Mics @ Pabst Theater
Two words: Dave Attell. If you’re not already smashing that “purchase ticket” button after reading that, we’ll offer you 10 more words: And Jeff Ross if you’re into kind of thing. Roasted!
Flat Out Friday @ Fiserv Forum
This month, throngs of local riders and motorcycle enthusiasts who have been cooped up since fall and whose choppers have been in storage for months will enjoy a brief escape from the cold, dark, dull bikelessness of winter. Mama Tried is a long weekend of motorcycle-related fun that features an indoor invitational that showcases an amazing array of custom-built bikes and a flurry of affiliated events scattered throughout the city. As fun as the whole Mama Tried weekend can be, Flat Out Friday—an indoor race on a Dr. Pepper-covered track—takes the cake. This year’s installment will take place at Fiserv Forum.
Thursday, March 19
Folk House Kegger @ Burnhearts
On Thursday, March 19, Burnhearts and Solemn Oath Brewery will join forces for the second installment of an eclectic night of entertainment they’re calling “Folk House Kegger.” From 6-10 p.m., the Bay View bar will host a varied cast of musicians, comedians, and other unexpected performances. The second annual Folk House Kegger features music from Katie LaFond, Ash Rotwell, Chris Rosenau, and Phoenix Kristian. There will also be stand-up comedy sets by Raegan Niemela, Greg Bach, and Elijah Holbrook. Folk House Kegger will also function as a tap takeover for Solemn Oath, who will bring rarities and taproom-only specialties, along with an abundance of Solemn Oath’s excellent Lü Kölsch. It’s going to be a folking good time.
Friday, March 20 and Saturday, March 21
Cats (Rowdy Screening) @ Oriental Theatre
Some cinematic bombs take years before they become cult classics—in the case of 2019’s Cats, it took about 24 hours. The wildly misconceived adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s wildly misconceived stage musical was blasted by critics and ridiculed by audiences. Apparently, glitchy CGI and the sight of Taylor Swift and James Corden cavorting around with other “Jellicles” was a bad idea. Or was it? Yes, believe it or not, Cats has garnered a cult following. In Milwaukee, one fan even created an online petition asking the historic Oriental Theatre to screen the film. On Friday, March 20, and Saturday, March 21, the fur will fly when the Oriental hosts “rowdy” screenings of Cats. General admission tickets are $11, and both screenings begin at 10 p.m. Get your tickets MEOW.
Sunday, March 22
Turner Hall Tiki Takedown @ Turner Hall
Turner Hall will once again be filled to the brim with warm vibes and island cocktails when the second annual Tiki Takedown returns to the downtown ballroom on Sunday, March 22. Following the event’s resounding success in its debut last March, Pabst Theater Group and Cutwater Spirits are poised to make this year’s installment even bigger and better this time around with a new VIP ticket package, a designated driver ticket option, and more competitors than ever before. Here‘s who will be serving up island drinks and competing for the coveted Tiki Takedown Trophy and Tiki Master title.
Friday, March 27
GGOOLLDD + Lex Allen, Seasaw @ Turner Hall
Between frequently writing new material, constantly touring, occasionally appearing on festival lineups, and having some members who are currently living in Louisiana, GGOOLLDD isn’t able to play in Milwaukee as often as they used to. So when they do have the opportunity to perform in the city where the band originated, they make it count. Following a select few Milwaukee shows in 2019 (including a headlining show at Summerfest), the synth-pop act will return to town March 27 to perform at Turner Hall. The rare local show will double as the Milwaukee release show for the band’s debut full-length, Here We Are, which came out February 14. Lex Allen and Madison’s own Seasaw will play in support.
Steven Wright @ South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center
Often imitated and never replicated, Steven Wright is the master of the one-liner. The veteran comedian has helped revolutionize the art of stand-up with his surrealist and deadpan style and monotone delivery that have been delighting audiences for decades. The legendary humorist will make a rare appearance in the area when he swings by South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center for what’s sure to be an unforgettable and side-splitting show.
Sunday, March 29
Letterkenny Live! @ Pabst Theater
Since being brought to Hulu in 2018, Letterkenny—a Canadian television program about the “hicks, skids, and hockey players” in the eponymous 5,000-resident town—has caught on with American audiences in a big way. Now that the endlessly quotable, uproariously hilarious, and surprisingly progressive show has reached “cult comedy” status stateside, its cast and creators are ready to bring the show on the road. Letterkenny Live! will offer fans an opportunity to enjoy an evening with the likes of Wayne, Squirrely Dan, Daryl, Miss Katy, Reilly and Jonesy, Stewart and Roald, and coach. To be faaaaiiiiiiiirrrr, this “90-minute comedy experience” that consists of never-before-seen sketches and other surprises probably should have sold out weeks ago, so get tickets while they last. And yes, Puppers is a presenting sponsor.
Monday, March 30
Oso Oso + Prince Daddy & The Hyena, Best Friends, and Sincere Engineer @ X-Ray Arcade
Long Beach, New York-based Oso Oso comes to Cudahy’s X-Ray Arcade for the last show of its Circus Tour, which also features Prince Daddy & The Hyena, Just Friends, and the metro Milwaukee return of the great Sincere Engineer.