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. It’s going to be BUSY.

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, 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.

Saturday, May 4
John R. Miller + The Local Honeys @ Cactus Club
If you’re a fan of country or bluegrass music, there’s a chance you’ve seen John R. Miller perform without even realizing it. The singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist has spent most of his adult life as a touring musician, both in his own bands and as the live bassist or guitarist in other projects. After years spent assisting the artistic efforts of others as a hired hand, Miller is now making a name for himself. He’ll swing through Cactus Club in belated support of last year’s album, Heat Comes Down.

Monday, May 6
The Postal Service + Death Cab For Cutie, Slow Pulp @ Miller High Life Theatre
The Postal Service’s seminal album Give Up turned 20 in 2023, as did Death Cab For Cutie’s seminal album Transatlanticism. That’s over 20 years! And this spring, The Postal Service and Death Cab For Cutie—both fronted by Ben Gibbard, of course—will celebrate those records with a show at Miller High Life Theatre on Monday, May 6. Slow Pulp is also on the bill.

Tuesday, May 7
Belle And Sebastian + Haley Heynderickx @ Turner Hall
Over the band’s existence that’s spanned 12 albums and nearly 30 years, Belle And Sebastian have managed to be groundbreaking and influential while still remaining relevant. The seminal Scottish indie act will come to Turner Hall for a fairly intimate outing on Tuesday, May 7. Haley Heynderickx will open.

Friday, May 10
Eddie Griffin @ Pabst Theater
While he’s an accomplished actor and a cultural touchstone that’s been a known figure in entertainment since the early ’90s, Eddie Griffin is a comedian first and foremost. Thankfully, Griffin—whom Comedy Central accurately declares to be one of the 100 funniest comedians of all time—is still taking the stage to do what he does best. Whether you want to mark him off your stand-up bucket list or you’re anxious to hear his new material in action, you’ll have a chance to catch Griffin when he comes to Pabst Theater.

Laura Jane Grace + Worriers, Sam Russo @ Vivarium
In addition to being the singer and founding member of Against Me!, Laura Jane Grace is also an author and an accomplished solo artist. Speaking of the whole “solo artist” thing, she’ll be coming to Milwaukee’s newly-opened Vivarium to play material of her latest album, Hole In My Head. Worriers and Sam Russo open.

Friday, May 10 and Saturday, May 11
Michael Ian Black @ The Laughing Tap
Beyond his lengthy career as an actor (The State, Stella, Ed, Wet Hot American Summer, and 200 other things!), author, and podcaster, Michael Ian Black is also an exceptional stand-up comic. In fact, you can see him do just that May 10-11, when the heralded humorist and gifted storyteller takes the stage at The Laughing Tap for a total of four performances in the cozy Walker’s Point club.

Sunday, May 12
R.A.P. Ferreira + Cavalier @ Cactus Club
A few months removed from releasing his excellent The First To Make Contact When We Dap, Nashville (by way of Kenosha/Milwaukee) experimental hip-hop artist R.A.P. Ferreira—who previously released music as Milo and Scallops Hotel—will return to the city he once called home for a Cactus Club stop on his “Dignity & Pride Tour.” Cavalier opens.

Tuesday, May 14
Dan Licata + Charles Gould @ Cactus Club
We’re not quite sure what to expect when writer/comedian Dan Licata (SNL, Joe Pera Talks With You) and actor/comedian Charles Gould (Comedy Central special, UNICORN short on Hulu) come to Cactus Club, but we know we’re not going to miss it. Do yourself a favor and watch these unconventional humorists do…something memorable during their “Two Guys Who Ruin The Vibe! Tour” stop in Milwaukee on Tuesday, May 14.

Friday, May 17
Neil Hamburger @ The Laughing Tap
[Various coughing noises]

Saturday, May 18
The Decemberists + Ratboys @ Riverside Theater
Look up “quintessential ’00s indie-rock band” in the dictionary, and you’ll find a picture of The Decemberists. Since forming in 2000, the Portland project has experienced its fair share of member turnover and sonic evolution, yet remains a celebrated indie stalwart that continually releases excellent albums and puts on outstanding live shows. About a month before the putting out its ninth studio record, As It Ever Was, So It Will Be Again, The Decemberists will treat Riverside Theater to some of those unreleased tracks and material spanning much of their lengthy career. Chicago-based rising talents Ratboys will open.

Willie Nelson & Family @ BMO Pavilion
About three weeks removed from his 91st birthday, country music and cultural legend Willie Nelson will take the stage at BMO Pavilion along with his “Family.” It should go without saying, but don’t miss this opportunity to see Willie Nelson.

Tuesday, May 21
Blueprint + Taiyamo Denku, Guerrilla Ghost, Dukalion, Mad Static @ X-Ray Arcade
Veteran Midwest rapper Blueprint will bring his decades of material to Cudahy, where he’ll headline a Tuesday night show at X-Ray Arcade that also features local support from Taiyamo Denku, Guerrilla Ghost, Dukalion, and Mad Static.

Friday, May 24
Ralph Barbosa @ Pabst Theater
While he’s relatively new on the scene, Texas comedian Ralph Barbosa is quickly establishing himself as one of standup’s most promising names by way of his smooth delivery and self-effacing material. Watch Barbosa at Pabst Theater when the comic comes to town as part of “The Super Cool Ass Tour!” on Friday, May 24.

Sunday, May 26
Brainiac + Exit Angles, IfIHadAHiFi @ X-Ray Arcade
Brainiac is coming to Cudahy, people! The influential, enigmatic band and the pride of Dayton, Ohio will be joined by Exit Angles and Milwaukee’s own IfIHadAHiFi on this standout Memorial Day weekend show.

Wednesday, May 29
Milwaukee Record presents ‘Back To The Future Part II’
Milwaukee Record is going back to the Back To The Future franchise and screening 1989’s Back To The Future Part II at Avalon Theater. Great Scott! Part II is a deeply weird movie, right? Multiple timelines, a theme-park vision of the future, a hell-on-Earth vision of the (alternate) present, hoverboards, almanacs, self-drying jackets, and characters going back into the events of the first movie and running into their past-past selves. Back To The Future II doesn’t have the not-a-moment-wasted perfection of the first one, but it’s a dizzying blast nonetheless. Plus (spoiler for a 35-year-old movie), it ends on a cliffhanger.