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 entertainers, think again! A staggering batch of tremendous 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, but also includes FemFest, a movie screening from yours truly, and more. There’s so much to do, but here are some shows we here at Milwaukee Record are especially excited to see this month. Check our calendar for more listings.
Sunday, May 1
Carol Burnett @ Riverside Theater
There will never be another Carol Burnett. After a few pandemic-related show postponements, the groundbreaking and timeless comedian, writer, singer, and The Carol Burnett Show namesake will finally be able to delight Riverside Theater with “An Evening Of Laughter And Reflection Where The Audience Asks Questions” which will be…well, the event name pretty much says it all.
FemFest + May Day 2022 @ Cactus Club
Celebrate FemFest AND the first of May with an incredible lineup of Milwaukee talent. From noon until 11 p.m., Ruth B8R Ginsburg, Sugar Ransom, Desi, Dandy L. Freling, Rat Bath, Maat Mons, Steph Lippert, and Puerto Wiccan will take the Cactus Club stage. DJ DRiPSweat will spin music throughout the day, and brunch will be provided by Frida’s Cocina.
Okilly Dokilly + Steaksauce Mustache, Nasty Boys @ X-Ray Arcade
In 2019, Okilly Dokilly, “the world’s only Nedal band”—a.k.a. a Ned Flanders-themed metal band—helped unofficially christen Cudahy’s newly-opened X-Ray Arcade when they headlined an unforgettable show at the young venue. Just over three years removed from the last time the Phoenix, Arizona-based band delighted the all-ages arcade with original music that was loaded with “direct Ned quotes” during a performance that “weaved together comedy and brutality,” Okilly Dokilly will return to X-Ray Arcade for another show. Steaksauce Mustache and Milwaukee’s own Nasty Boys will play in support.
Monday, May 2
Anthony Green + Laura Jane Grace, Tim Kasher, Mikey Erg @ The Rave/Eagles Club
Four noted names in punk and emo are combining forces in an unorthodox format of expression and collaboration known as “The Carousel Tour.” On Monday, May 2, The Rave will serve as the site of this spectacle, with Anthony Green (of Circa Survive), Laura Jane Grace (Against Me!), Tim Kasher (Cursive), and Mikey Erg (The Ergs!) playing some solo songs and sporadically sitting in on each other’s sets over the course of what’s sure to be an unconventional and unforgettable evening.
Wednesday, May 4
Aimee Mann @ Pabst Theater
You know her. You love her. She’s Aimee Mann and she’s coming back to Milwaukee (the city that inspired her and Ted Leo to start The Both). It’s going to be great.
PEARS + Bacchae, The DUIs @ X-Ray Arcade
Noted Fat Wreck Chords punk band and fruit authorities PEARS hail from New Orleans, but they’re no strangers to the Milwaukee area. Almost exactly two years after releasing its self-titled third album, the band will return to X-Ray Arcade as part of its “World Tour Redo 2022.” Bacchae and Milwaukee’s own The DUIs will play in support.
Saturday, May 7
Joe Mande @ The Laughing Tap
Comedian Joe Mande might not be a household name, but you’re certainly aware of his work. He’s written for Parks & Recreation, Kroll Show, The Good Place, Delocated, and Master Of None, along with sparing on-camera roles on those first two shows, as well as minor parts on Modern Family and Hacks. More than five years removed from his last Milwaukee headlining appearance (at the now-closed Underground Collaborative), Mande will swing by The Laughing Tap in Walker’s Point for a one-night performance on Saturday, May 7.
Wednesday, May 11
Pom Pom Squad @ The Back Room @ Colectivo
Approximately two months after earning the superlative of Most Memorable Performance when opening for Fenne Lily and Illuminati Hotties at The Back Room @ Colectivo, Pom Pom Squad will return to the East Side venue/cafe to headline this time around. If you missed them in March, make sure to catch the Brooklyn indie rock band when they come back to Milwaukee as part of their “Death Of A Cheerleader Tour” on May 11.
Friday, May 13
J.E. Sunde + Christopher Porterfield @ Cactus Club
A potent pair of Midwestern songwriters—Minnesota troubadour J.E. Sunde and Field Report bandleader Christopher Porterfield—will join forces for an intimate outing at the Cactus Club. This one could be something special.
Wednesday, May 18
Milwaukee Record presents ‘UHF’ @ Avalon Theater
Put down your remote control. Throw out your TV Guide. Put away your jacket. There’s no need to go outside. Well, there is a need to go outside on Wednesday, May 18. Yes, that’s the night we’re screening the classic 1989 “Weird Al” Yankovic film UHF at Avalon Theater. The movie starts at 6:30 p.m. Reserved-seating tickets are $11. This will be the third time we’ve brought UHF to the Avalon. Like those previous times, the May 18 screening will be in honor of a Weird Al concert in Milwaukee—this one at the Marcus Performing Arts Center on May 24. Previous UHF screenings have sold out, so get those tickets NOW.
Thursday, May 19
Valerie June + Chastity Brown @ Turner Hall
Tennessee’s own Valerie June expertly straddles the boundaries of folk, Americana, bluegrass, gospel, soul, and country. No matter what type of music you think she plays, we can all agree it’s nothing short of astounding. Narrowly removed from the release of her wonderful The Moon And Stars: Prescriptions For Dreamers, June will take to Turner Hall to head up a show that also features Chastity Brown opening.
Tuesday, May 24
“Weird Al” Yankovic + Emo Philips @ Marcus Performing Arts Center
The incomparable, inimitable, and indefatigable Yankovic is setting out on “The Unfortunate Return of the Ridiculously Self-Indulgent, Ill-Advised Vanity Tour” and that six-month, 133-show 2022 tour includes a stop at Milwaukee’s own Marcus Performing Arts Center on Tuesday, May 24! And Emo Philips is opening!
Wednesday, May 25 and Thursday, May 26
LeAnn Rimes @ Potowatomi Hotel & Casino
Since reaching international notoriety at the age of 13 with the release of her multi-platinum-selling Blue in 1996, LeAnn Rimes has won Grammys (and a number of other awards), sold millions of albums, and performed to adoring fans all over the world. Along the way, she’s also added acting roles in TV and film and four books she’s written to her extensive body of work. A few months before the release of her forthcoming album, god’s work—out September 16, Rimes will treat Northern Lights Theater to two performances spanning her extensive and impressive music career May 25-26.
Thursday, May 26
Matt Wilson & His Orchestra @ Shank Hall
Matt Wilson has been a fixture in the Minneapolis music scene for 30 years. Since starting out as the drummer of The Panic—a band that shared the stage with The Replacements and Hüsker Dü, and opened for U2’s first Minnesota show—Wilson has earned acclaim in the Twin Cities (and far beyond) by fronting projects like Trip Shakespeare, The Twilight Hours, and his new project Matt Wilson & His Orchestra. Wilson and his trusty orchestra will cross the Mississippi River to take the stage at Shank Hall in belated support of the excellent 2020 album, When I Was A Writer.
Sunday, May 29
Tori Amos @ Bradley Symphony Center
Unless we’re mistaken, Tori Amos hasn’t played a show in Milwaukee since 2009. That’s set to change Sunday, May 29, when the music icon makes a stop at the Bradley Symphony Center (a.k.a. the remodeled Warner Grand Theater at 212 W. Wisconsin Ave.). Amos is touring in support of her 2021 album Ocean To Ocean.