Summerfest begins tomorrow, bringing more than 700 acts to 10 stages—not even counting those weird side stages near the lake—and an estimated 900,000-plus people through the gates for 11 days of music, activity, and edible things on a stick. Forced to compete with an event billed as the “World’s Largest Music Festival,” venues across Milwaukee tend to either significantly slow their concert schedule or absolutely vacate their stages during the colossal cluster of concerts at Henry Maier Festival Park.

Though many Milwaukee music promoters take late June and early July off while Summerfest does its thing, traditional venues (and boats) around the city aren’t exactly hurting for shows. For those who need a night or two away from the Big Gig, Milwaukee Record scrounged up some recommendations for shows happening outside the Summerfest umbrella.

Wednesday, June 29

Supper Club Jazz featuring Devin Drobka’s Wild At Heart at Company Brewing
Not long after Foreign Goods’ Jay Anderson rounded up a talented lineup to pay tribute to Miles Davis, Company Brewing’s Supper Club Jazz series continues with a performance by a trio led by Argopelter, Bell Dance Songs, and Lesser Lakes percussionist Devin Drobka. The show is free, but dinner reservations are recommended.

Thursday, June 30

Midsummer Mic Check with Klassik + Mic Kellogg, Rahn Harper, and Von Alexander at The Hotel Foster
Though summer is just days old, four of the city’s best rappers will say goodbye to June in style with the Midsummer Mic Check. Klassik, Mic Kellogg, Rahn Harper, and Von Alexander will take The Hotel Foster stage. The summer’s first month might be over, but what a way to close it out.

Friday, July 1

Old Earth + Golden Coins at Acme Records
It’s been more than 18 months since Oak Creek native Todd Umhoefer, the mad genius behind experimental folk project Old Earth, up and moved, taking his moving and criminally under-appreciated tunes to the artistic enclave of northern California. While his relocation was definitely a hit to the city’s avant-garde music scene, it was a boon to Old Earth’s catalog. Before Umhoefer puts the project on hiatus to focus on other ventures, he’ll play one more Milwaukee show, made even more special by taking place at Acme Records and with husband-wife team Golden Coins playing its first show since last fall.

Blax on Milwaukee Boat Line‘s Concert Cruise
About six years ago, Fresh Cut Collective co-founder Adebisi Agoro up and moved to New York. After a few enjoyable years there, he returned to his hometown with new perspective and a new alias. Now known as Blax, he’s made great strides to let people know he’s back and better than ever, including his glorious “Headphones Experiment” project.

Pale Dian + Stargazer Lillies, Brief Candles, and Heat Death at Quarters Rock ‘n Roll Palace
We can’t act like we know much about Pale Dian or Stargazer Lillies, but Brief Candles and Heath Death are worth the price of admission on their own.

Saturday, July 2

9th Annual Burnhearts/Pabst Street Party
During each summer of Burnhearts‘ existence, the usually craft-brew-focused Bay View bar has played host to a fun and fancy-free celebration of music, food, crafts, and a beloved cheap beer out on its one-block parcel of Potter Avenue with its Burnhearts/Pabst Street Party. The previous eight iterations have included performances from respected local (or at least tangentially local) acts. This year’s lineup features New Boyz Club, Tigernite, Space Raft, WebsterX, and just-announced headliner Direct Hit! closing things out.

Soul Low on Milwaukee Boat Line‘s Concert Cruise
The same Soul Low you know and love, but on a boat. What could be better? That question is rhetorical.

Gamma Pope + Gauss, and Dent at High Dive
When he’s not playing with Lamb’s Legs and taking performance art under his own name, Peter J. Woods is booking quality shows for Experimental Milwaukee. If the Pabst Street Party and the Soul Low concert cruise aren’t your speed, this free show could be.

Sunday, July 3

Boone & Crockett Turns Four featuring Dead Soldiers + Whips, Hooten Hallers, High Waisted, and DJ Why B at Boone & Crockett
On the cusp of its fourth birthday, Boone & Crockett is not only still alive, it’s thriving. Recent weeks found the Bay View cocktail bar finally getting its Gypsy Taco truck up and running, paving its rear patio, and building a glorious outdoor bar. To help Boone celebrate four years in business, the patio will expand into the lot behind the bar to host music from Dead Soldiers (Memphis), The Hooten Hallers (Colombia, MO), High Waisted (New York), and one of the only summer shows Whips will play all summer. Happy birthday, Boone! Here’s to many, many more.

Thursday, July 7

Electric Six + In The Whale, and Tigernite at Mad Planet
Save for a select few dance parties and DJ nights, Mad Planet will be closed for the majority of Summerfest’s 11-day Milwaukee occupation. However, the one and only concert on the books during that stint is a doozy. Detroit rockers will bring its 20 years worth of material to town for a solid weeknight show that’s bolstered by In The Whale out of Denver and beloved (and busy!) locals Tigernite lending support.

Friday, July 8

Canopies on Milwaukee Boat Line‘s Concert Cruise
It’s a shame Canopies doesn’t play out more often, but dammit if they don’t make their limited shows count. Join the indie-pop band aboard the Vista King for two hours of utterly infectious jams drenched in sea spray and synth.

Saturday, July 9

Koo Koo Kanga Roo at St. Marcus School
Children’s music is usually god awful, but outfits like Yo Gabba Gabba! and Minneapolis duo Koo Koo Kanga Roo are at least working against that with kid’s tunes that are family friendly and, strangely, not even terrible. A month removed from the release of its fourth full-length, The Triangle Of Success: A Motivational, Inspirational Audio Guide To Achieving Your Dreams, Koo Koo Kanga Roo will play a free afternoon show at St. Marcus School. If you want to hear tolerable (if not fun) songs about believing in yourself, cat parties, brushing your teeth, and eating pancakes for breakfast, this is a show the whole family can enjoy.

BUTTZZ at Bremen Cafe
A band called BUTTZZ is playing at Bremen Cafe. What else do you need to know?

About The Author

Co-Founder and Editor

Before co-founding Milwaukee Record, Tyler Maas wrote for virtually every Milwaukee publication (except Wassup! Magazine). He lives in Bay View and enjoys both stuff and things.