May in Milwaukee usually serves as the calm before the storm that is summer festival season. By this time next month, we’ll be inundated with 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! This particular May boasts the now-expected helping of touring bands and comedians, but also includes the return of Milwaukee Psych Fest and Milwaukee Metal Fest, the debut of The Great Milwaukee Can Koozie Swap, and much more. There’s so much to do, but here are 15 events we here at Milwaukee Record are especially excited to see this month.

Tuesday, May 2
Fucked Up + Dark Thoughts, Gnawing @ Shank Hall
Start your month off right by seeing seminal Canadian outfit Fucked Up, which just released its long-awaited album One Day in late January, at Shank Hall. Dark Thoughts and Gnawing will play in support.

Wednesday, May 3
Alice Cooper @ Miller High Life Theatre

Thursday, May 4
Humbird + Long Mama @ Cactus Club
Humbird—a Minneapolis-based experimental folk project fronted by Siri Undlin—makes its way back to Milwaukee for another Cream City performance in belated support of 2021’s excellent album, Still Life. Further cementing this event as a can’t-miss outing is opening support from Milwaukee’s own Long Mama, which put out a pretty damn great album of their own in late 2022.

The New Pornographers + Wild Pink @ Turner Hall
Fans of Canadian supergroups who have been crafting impeccable pop-leaning indie rock for more than two decades take note: The New Pornographers will play Milwaukee’s Turner Hall Ballroom on Thursday, May 4. The New Pornographers are one of those bands that have never made a bad album. Seriously: everything from 2000’s Mass Romantic to 2019’s In The Morse Code Of Brake Lights is great. (Brill Bruisers, from 2014, is an all-timer.) Oh! And they just had an excellent new album come out on Merge Records on March 31! Wild Pink opens.

Thursday, May 4 through Saturday, May 6
Milwaukee Psych Fest VIII @ The Cooperage
It’s been a long time coming for Milwaukee Psych Fest VIII. Originally scheduled for the spring of 2020, the eighth installment of the loud, fuzzed-out, and reverb-drenched blowout was canceled due to then-new COVID-19 pandemic. A rescheduled festival was set for the fall of 2021, but that, too, was canceled due to COVID concerns. Now, Milwaukee Psych Fest VIII is (finally!) due to take over The Cooperage May 4-6. The festival’s lineup is well worth the wait.

Wednesday, May 10
Samiam + Size 5’s, Overhand @ X-Ray Arcade
Samiam has done it all. Since starting out on Gilman Street in the late ’80s, the legendary punk band has released eight influential albums and a mess of excellent EPs. They’ve toured extensively, played all over the world, spent time on a major label, and shared the stage with some of the planet’s biggest bands. Though the band has experienced some lineup changes and members have become involved in lots of other bands along the way, Samiam is still going strong. After a long-awaited return to Milwaukee in 2019 and a just few weeks removed from putting out Stowaway, the band will come back to the region again to headline a May 10 show at Cudahy’s X-Ray Arcade that also features local support from Size 5’s and Overhand.

Friday, May 12
Waldemar + North Warren, Next Paperback Hero @ Company Brewing
There’s a good chance you don’t know the name Waldemar, but we wouldn’t be surprised if the Eau Claire-based band is a project people will hear a lot more about in the very near future. On May 5, Waldemar will release Ruthless, an outstanding album that was five years in the making. One week later, they’ll make their way to Company Brewing to head up a Milwaukee show that features local support from North Warren and Next Paperback Hero.

Friday, May 12 and Saturday, May 13
Gabriel Iglesias @ Milwaukee Improv
If you snoozed on getting tickets to these uncharacteristically intimate Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias shows at Milwaukee Improv in nearby Brookfield, we regret to inform you all four performances have sold out.

Saturday, May 13
The Great Milwaukee Can Koozie Swap @ Promises
From 1-5 p.m. on May 13, people 21 and older are invited to bring their koozie collection to Promises to try to make some deals at The Great Milwaukee Can Koozie Swap, presented by Busch Light and yours truly. Buy koozies! Sell koozies! Trade koozies! We’ll even have a mic set up on stage, where people can drum up interest in some of their favorites. But there’s more! The first 200 people through the doors will get a free Milwaukee Record/Busch Light can koozie. Show it to a Promises bartender ANY TIME BETWEEN MAY 13 AND JULY 4 and get $2 cans of Busch Light.

Tuesday, May 16
Lizzo + Latto @ Fiserv Forum
Let’s get down to business: Lizzo is coming to Milwaukee’s Fiserv Forum as part of the second North American leg of the “Special 2our.” The worldwide sensation is no stranger to Milwaukee, having last played here during Summerfest 2019. (There were issues.) It goes without saying that she has come a long way since opening for Sleater-Kinney at The Riverside in 2015. As if you’re somehow on the fence about attending this, Latto opening should be enough to change your status from “Interested” to “Going.”

Thursday, May 18
Pete Holmes @ Turner Hall
Pete Holmes has enjoyed quite the career. Through the years, he’s starred in a loosely biographical HBO series called Crashing and a CBS sitcom called That’s How We Roll, hosted a late night TBS talk show bearing his name, voiced “The E*Trade Baby,” recorded hundreds of episodes of his popular You Made It Weird podcast, wrote a book Comedy Sex God, and guest wrote some episodes of The Simpsons. However, Holmes is a standup comedian first and foremost. Following many years away, the multi-talented comic—who started out in Chicago and was no stranger to Milwaukee mics—will return to the Midwest to treat Turner Hall to a night of laughs.

Friday, May 19 and Saturday, May 20
Laurie Kilmartin @ The Laughing Tap
Back in October, accomplished comedian, longtime Conan staff writer, and best-selling author Laurie Kilmartin headlined Milwaukee Comedy Festival’s 2022 finale, which took place at Shank Hall. This time around, the veteran comic will set up shop at The Laughing Tap for a total of four shows spread over two nights.

Saturday, May 20
Patti LaBelle + Jeff Bradshaw @ Riverside Theater
Roughly six months after some piece of shit called in a bomb threat that forced Patti LaBelle to be escorted off the Riverside Theater stage partway through her holiday performance, the absolute legend will return to the downtown Milwaukee venue to finish what she started. Once again, Jeff Bradshaw will open.

Friday, May 26 through Sunday, May 28
Milwaukee Metal Fest @ The Rave/Eagles Club
Do you miss Milwaukee Metal Fest? Of course you do. There hasn’t been a Milwaukee Metal Fest since 2007! Happily, Hatebreed singer Jamey Jasta purchased the rights to the storied event in 2022, and is bringing it back this year. That’s right: the glorious return of Milwaukee Metal Fest is set for May 26-28 at The Rave/Eagles Club. YES. The 2023 lineup for the resurrected festival includes Lamb Of God, Anthrax, Suicidal Tendencies, Napalm Death, Dark Angel, The Black Dahlia Murder, Obituary, Shadows Fall, and many more.

Sunday, May 28
Janet Jackson + Ludacris @ American Family Insurance Amphitheater
Oh hell yeah! Janet Jackson (Miss Jackson if you’re nasty) will play Milwaukee’s American Family Insurance Amphitheater on Sunday, May 28. The global icon will be preceded by a performance from Ludacris! Miraculously, there are somehow still tickets available for this.