May in Milwaukee usually serves as the calm before the storm that is summer festival season. By this time next month, we’ll be gearing up for block parties, weekly concerts, and a massive wave of occurrences bearing the “Fest” or “Days” suffix. If you thought this month would grant you a brief respite from staying out late and seeing top-tier musicians and comedians, think again. A staggering batch of tremendous indoor events will unofficially launch Milwaukee into its bustling run of great shows that should sustain the city through September.
This particular May boasts the now-expected helping of touring bands and comics, but also includes a Pabst Brewery block party, the return of a new comedy festival, local release shows, and Milwaukee Psych Fest. There’s so much to do, but here are 13 shows Milwaukee Record is especially excited to see this month. Check our calendar for more listings.
Friday, May 5
Joseph Huber (album release) + Al Scorch @ Anodyne’s Walker’s Point Roastery
Following the end of .357 String Band, every member of the influential Milwaukee “streetgrass” outfit went their own way. One moved out of state and formed a new band. Another is mining for gold in Alaska on a reality TV show. However, Joseph Huber not only stayed the course since his band’s split, he’s arguably making the best music of his life. The roots singer and multi-instrumentalist just released The Suffering Stage, his fourth solo record and a slightly more somber and sobering deviation from his earlier efforts. Al Scorch plays in support.
Meat Puppets + Mike Watt, The Jom And Terry Show, and Porcupine @ Shank Hall
Shank Hall will play host to some rock and roll greats when the always-entertaining Meat Puppets are joined by Minutemen member Mike Watt (and his Jom And Terry Show project), and Hüsker Dü bassist Greg Norton’s new project, Porcupine.
Saturday, May 13
Pabst Milwaukee Brewery Street Festival
To celebrate Pabst’s newly-opened Milwaukee brewery, there will be a family-friendly fest stocked with beer (for those over 21) art, games, food, and music. The fest will take place on Juneau Avenue, between 10th and 11th streets. The artists scheduled to perform are IshDARR, Hugh Masterson, Masked Intruder, New Age Narcissism, Abby Jeanne, and D’Amato.
Neil Hamburger @ Club Garibaldi
[Various coughing noises]
Daryl Hall & John Oates + Tears For Fears @ BMO Harris Bradley Center
[Various shouts of joy]
Thursday, May 11 – Saturday, May 13
Milwaukee Psych Fest V: Resistance @ various locations
Since 2013, Moss Folk’s Andrew Shelp has organized an undertaking of all things psychedelic. In its first four years, Milwaukee Psych Fest has evolved into a multi-day, multi-venue celebration of the reverb-y, droned out, and trippy elements of the catch-all genre. This year, the event returns with approximately 40 bands, DJs, and visual artists taking to three venues (Boone & Crockett, Cactus Club, Company Brewing) in as many days as part of Milwaukee Psych Fest V.
Tuesday, May 16
Nick Thune @ The Underground Collaborative
Way back in 2014, up and coming comedian Nick Thune performed a sold out show in the cozy confines of The Underground Collaborate. The mid-week appearance in the 100-some seat theater space nestled in the Grand Avenue basement was a unique and rare opportunity to see a comic on the verge of breaking out in an intimate setting. Though his popularity has grown since then, Thune apparently enjoyed his experience at The Underground Collaborative so much that he’s coming back to the space this spring. Thune will return to The UC during as part of his “Proud Of Myself” tour.
Thursday, May 18 – May 21
Cream City Comedy Festival @ various venues
In its inaugural year, Cream City Comedy Festival brought 11 stand-up, improv, and variety shows to venues in four Milwaukee neighborhoods over the course of four days. Better yet, all the shows were free. Best yet, any donations collected were given to a mental health charity. After that successful first run, producers Liz Ziner, Sammy Arechar, and Phil Davidson—all of whom now live in Chicago—and new co-producers Addie Blanchard and Nate Seek will bring CCCF back in 2017, with a whopping 12 shows planned in Bay View, Walker’s Point, Riverwest, and The East Side from May 18-21.
The second annual Cream City Comedy Festival will begin with a May 18 Kick-Off Show at Club Garibaldi that will be headlined by New York comedian Ben Kronberg (Comedy Central Presents, Late Night With Seth Meyers, @midnight). Once again, all shows will be free, but any donations raised will be donated to charity. This year’s beneficiary is the ACLU.
Friday, May 19
Eddie Pepitone @ The Underground Collaborative
Grizzled and grumpy stand-up comic/actor/documentary subject Eddie Pepitone makes a rare Milwaukee appearance under somewhat sad circumstances. The headlining showcase for the “Bitter Buddha” also marks the final SHOWcase for long-running and influential Caste Of Killers comedy collective. Locals Greg Bach and COK co-founder Jason Hillman will anchor the comedy collective’s biggest (and last) show.
Jimmy Eat World + Beach Slang @ The Rave
If nostalgia or last year’s actually pretty good Integrity Blues aren’t enough to get you out of the house, surely Beach Slang—whose latest, A Loud Bash Of Teenage Feelings, was one of the best records of 2016—is enough to get you to pull the trigger on some tickets.
Friday, May 19 – Sunday, May 21
Gloss Weekend @ various venues
Following a successful inaugural weekend-long event last spring to commemorate the cassette label’s first year in business, Gloss Records decided to bring “Gloss Weekend” back for a second year. From May 19-21, a total of 15 bands will play three shows, and the label will host a free Sunday night after party as well. The Fatty Acids, Rio Turbo, Soul Low, Lorde Fredd33, Piles, Foreign Goods, NO/NO, and more will play before weekend’s end. Here’s the full lineup.
Friday, May 26
WebsterX (album release) @ Turner Hall
After crashing into local music consciousness with his excellent Desperate Youth way back in 2013, Milwaukee rapper WebsterX took his time to make his next real move. Outside of remixing Radiohead’s Kid A, releasing some singles and some of the most impressive videos the city has ever seen, performing throughout the country, and co-founding the Freespace collective, Webster has focused on writing and recording Daymares. The just-released follow-up is absolutely worth the wait, and is sure to draw even more attention to the burgeoning Milwaukee hip-hop scene. The local release show will also serve to showcase other local rapper, including Klassik, Zed Kenzo, Mic Kellogg, and Taj Raiden.
Saturday, May 27 and Sunday, May 28
Bob Dylan and John Lennon tributes @ Linneman’s Riverwest Inn
Come out to Linneman’s for a weekend of tribute concerts for a cause. Saturday, Bob Dylan’s classic Blonde On Blonde will be covered by Peter Roller, Chrissy Dzioba, Devil Met Contention, and more. All proceeds for that show will benefit The Alzheimer’s Association. Sunday, 20 local acts will bring “Peace Thru Music” with a tribute show, with proceeds benefiting two local anti-gun violence organizations.