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 an hour of daylight, the glorious onslaught of local festivals is so close, yet still aggravatingly out of reach. However, there’s still 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 touring musicians and comedians, the late winter return of Mama Tried, Trixie Mattel’s triumphant return, and our screening of Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping, this March isn’t shaping up to be half bad! Here are 12 standout events in Milwaukee. Check out our calendar for more listings.
Wednesday, March 2
Radkey + The Unitaskers, Smoke Free Home @ Cactus Club
Since Dee, Isaiah, and Solomon Radke started Radkey back in 2011, the sibling band has released two well-received albums and three EPs, and has served as touring support for the likes of Foo Fighters, Jack White, Rise Against, The Damned, WIZO, Descendents, and Local H. The rock trio will return to Cactus Club to head up a mid-week outing that was originally scheduled to take place January 11. The Unitaskers and Smoke Free Home will open.
Friday, March 5 and Saturday, March 6
Mama Tried Motorcycle Show @ The Rave
Mama Tried, the sprawling indoor invitational that showcases an amazing array of more than 200 custom-built bikes, returned to The Rave last December for two days of chopper-related celebration. This month, the motorcycle show—as well as Flat Out Friday at Fiserv Forum and various other Mama Tried-affiliated events—will return its usual spring-adjacent timeline.
Saturday, March 5
Illuminati Hotties + Fenne Lily, Pom Pom Squad @ The Back Room @ Colectivo
Roughly five months removed from the release of sophomore album, Let Me Do One More, Illuminati Hotties—the “tenderpunk” band fronted by project mastermind Sarah Tudzin—will treat The Back Room @ Colectivo to what’s sure to be a rollicking collection of summer-suited songs that will heat up the cafe in the waning days of winter. The tour is co-headlined by Fenne Lily and is further bolstered by awesome opener Pom Pom Squad.
Saturday, March 12
The Dollyrots + The Von Tramps, Walt Hamburger, Fun Bois @ X-Ray Arcade
Fresh off the release of Down The Rabbit Hole (a 24-song release full of B-sides, rarities, and covers), The Dollyrots will finally get to take the stage at X-Ray Arcade to make up a 2021 show that was rescheduled on account of a pandemic surge. The veteran punks will be joined by The Von Tramps, Walt Hamburger, and Milwaukee’s own Fun Bois.
Tuesday, March 15
Mitski + Michelle @ Miller High Life Theatre
After being moved from the Riverside Theater to the higher-capacity High Life Theatre, this show sold out immediately. So hopefully you got your ticket.
Thursday, March 17
Car Seat Headrest + Bartees Strange @ Pabst Theater
Prolific indie rock band Carseat Headrest will make its way to Pabst Theater in belated support of its May 2020 album Making A Door Less Open. Adding to their already compelling concert is opener Bartees Strange, an artist on the verge of breakout whose album Live Forever was among the best records of 2020.
Thursday, March 24
Bright Eyes + Christian Lee Hutson @ Riverside Theater
Following a lengthy hiatus from both recording and touring, the influential Omaha-based band—consisting of Conor Oberst, Mike Mogis, and Nathaniel Walcott—returned with a long-awaited album, Down In The Weeds, Where The World Once Was, in August of 2020. This spring, the band will hit the road in belated support of that 10th studio album, with a total of 13 U.S. shows booked between March 23 and April 10. The second concert in that abbreviated run will take place at Milwaukee’s own Riverside Theater. For that show (and every other show on the tour), Bright Eyes will be partnering with Plus1 and will donate $1 from every ticket sold to the Downtown Women’s Center in Los Angeles.
Christone “Kingfish” Ingram @ Pabst Theater
At just 23 years of age, budding blues guitarist Christone “Kingfish” Ingram has recorded with Buddy Guy and Keb Mo, performed alongside Tedeschi Trucks Band and Samantha Fish, and released two well-received albums on Alligator Records. The latest of those albums, last year’s 662, earned the axe-wielding wunderkind a Grammy nomination. Ingram will make his way to Pabst Theater on March 24 as part of his “662 Juke Joint Live” tour.
Thursday, March 24 to Saturday, March 26
Hari Kondabolu @ The Laughing Tap
Comedian Hari Kondabolu has amassed an impressive reel of TV appearances, released two chart-topping albums, and been called “one of the most exciting political comics in stand-up today” by the New York Times. In late 2017, Kondabolu became a household name and changed the way we watch television (for the better), when TruTV released his Simpsons-centered documentary, The Problem With Apu. Socially-impacting documentary aside, he’s one hell of a comic. Following performances at The Underground Collaborative and The Back Room @ Colectivo in recent years, Kondabolu will return to Milwaukee March 24-26 for three performances at The Laughing Tap.
Tuesday, March 29
Trixie And Katya Live! @ Riverside Theater
Dynamic drag duo Trixie Mattel and Katya Zamolodchikova’s live show at Riverside Theater has long been listed as being sold out. However, it looks like some tickets have been released, so act fast while they’re still there. Good luck!
Wednesday, March 30
Milwaukee Record presents ‘Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping’ @ Avalon Theater
If you’re unfamiliar with this box office flop-turned-beloved cult comedy, allow us to get you up to speed. Pop Star: Never Stop Never Stopping is basically The Lonely Island’s take on This Is Spinal Tap. The film stars Lonely Island’s own Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer, and Jorma Taccone as members of “The Style Boyz,” and traces the rise, fall, and exploits of that world-famous fictional pop group. The movie also features Tim Meadows, Sarah Silverman, Maya Rudolph, Bill Hader, and Joan Cusack. And there’s a cavalcade of cameos from musicians like Mariah Carey, Michael Bolton, 50 Cent, Snoop Dogg, Usher, Ringo Starr, Miley Cyrus, Seal, and many more. Tickets to the 6:30 p.m. screening are ON SALE NOW. We’ll see you there!
Thursday, March 31
La Armada + Dislocation, Die @ X-Ray Arcade
Over the course of band’s more than 20-year existence, La Armada has frequently toured throughout North America and Europe, shared the stage with legendary groups like Propagandhi and Sick Of It All, built a passionate fan base composed of listeners from all around the world, released some powerful and altogether awesome material, and helped shine a light on some of the social injustices many people face.
Even more impressive than what the veteran band has accomplished is what they gave up in order to make its two-decade run possible. Before earning a reputation as one of Chicago’s (and the Midwest’s) premier hardcore outfits, La Armada’s members were living in the Dominican Republic, where they were setting up punk shows and preparing to move to the U.S. in order to take their artistic ambitions to the next level. They’ll return to X-Ray Arcade to play in support of their latest album, Anti-Colonial Vol. 2. Dislocation and Die will open.