88Nine Radio Milwaukee

The musical trust fall of Justin Vernon’s Eaux Claires secret lineup

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As the “City of Festivals,” Milwaukee tends to overshadow the rest of the state when it comes to summer music festivals in Wisconsin. But, there are plenty of other (dare we say, underrated?) music festivals outside of Milwaukee. Here they are:

Eaux Claires

Justin Vernon’s Eaux Claires music festival may not be underrated, but the lineup has less hype than usual this year…because there isn’t one—yet.

Eaux Claires 2018

Sufian Stevens, The National, Noname and Wye Oak have all been rumored to be making appearances. And, Francis and the Lights and Justin Vernon himself are almost certain to be playing. Other than that, Vernon is asking us to trust him on this one.

Eaux Claires has always been a bit more of an experimental music and art experience “retreat” in the woods, rather than a traditional music festival. It’s not really surprising that Vernon would try to pull something like this off. People trust him and his music curation. Many of the passes have already sold out.

It’s a great concept: to weed out the attendees that are only there for the headliner, to create an environment of musically open-minded people who will listen to anything, etc.

We just hope that the actual festival lives up to the big things fans are surely imagining. We don’t want another Harley-Davidson Rolling Stones/Elton John incident.

Blue Ox Music Festival

Blue Ox is the other (perhaps lesser-known) festival that takes place in Eau Claire, WI. But, it’s worth the weekend trip west. If you like rootsy Americana and bluegrass music, this festival is for you. Some gems in the lineup are Horseshoes and Hand Grenades and Margo Price.

blue ox lineup

Country USA Music Festival

This country music festival in Oshkosh, WI is a huge deal for country fans. And, it’s five days long. Check out the lineup:

Rock Fest

If you just like to rock, Rock Fest music and camping festival in Cadott, WI has a pretty hardcore lineup.

Mile of Music

The Mile of Music is an annual Americana music festival located in downtown Appleton, WI, featuring over 200 bands from across the country. It’s got a very Austin-South-by-Southwest-feel spanning Appleton’s downtown streets. Plus, our girls Reyna and Abby Jeanne will be there. And, it’s free. See the lineup here.


88Nine Radio Milwaukee

What to expect from David Byrne in Milwaukee

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David Byrne is doing something that he hasn’t done since 2009: embarking on a solo tour. Byrne, who fronted Hall Of Fame act Talking Heads from the group’s formation through their 1991 breakup, recently released his first solo album in 14 years with “American Utopia” this spring.

Fans should expect to hear legendary Talking Heads hits such as “Burning Down the House,” “Life During Wartime” and “Psycho Killer,” as well as “Everybody’s Coming To My House,” “Every Day Is A Miracle” and more from his new solo record.

His music doesn’t need an impressive production. It stands on its own. Supporting that idea, the stage will look like this:

david byrne stage

Besides the performers themselves, that’s pretty much it. Byrne and his band are going completely cordless and without any on-stage PA systems. While it’s a very back-to-basics approach, it’s very visually impressive and theatrical, but in an understated way that doesn’t compete with the music itself.

And, if this minimalistic stage reminds you of the Talking Heads’ “Stop Making Sense,” it’s kind of supposed to.

David Byrne said in a tweet:


There are also costumes. Again, they’re minimal. Byrne and his band all wear identical grey suits.

david byrne

Speaking of the band, one of the other things we’re looking forward to is seeing David Byrne perform with Milwaukee’s very own Angie Swan. She’s a Sherman Park native and Milwaukee High School of the Arts alumna. Swan has worked as a touring and session musician for will.i.am, Macy Gray, Fifth Harmony and spent three years playing in the Cirque du Soleil. Now, she’s performing with Byrne and stealing the spotlight as as his ace guitarist on this tour.

Angie Swan and David Byrne

Angie Swan and David Byrne

It’s rare for a music writer to mention back-up band members in a concert review, especially by name and especially when the headliner has such a big name like Byrne. But, Swan and her shredding have been earning written acclaim almost every night of this tour. We’ll definitely be paying special attention to her on stage next week in Milwaukee.

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Welcome home Melvv, Trixie Mattel and French Horn Rebellion!

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On Saturday, Melvv will be playing at the Miramar. But, you can probably expect him to be in a bigger venue next time he’s in Milwaukee. He just played Coachella and he has a slot at Lollapalooza this summer. He’s just signed with Atlantic Records and he’s been working with Zedd’s booking agent. Jeff Melvin, aka Melvv, is coming-up quickly.

Though he lives in LA now, he grew up in Cedarburg and went to the University School of Milwaukee for high school. His parents still live here and he still calls Milwaukee home. Melvv credits much of his artistry to his Wisconsin upbringing, which allowed him to be different.

His show at the Miramar is him going back to there roots. He used to be really into the Miramar scene. He says that he’s always wanted to headline there.

Trixie Mattel


trixie mattel milwaukee

After RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 7 and winning All Stars 3, Trixie Mattel is coming to Turner Hall on May 9 for her North American solo tour featuring music from her new album, plus lots of drag and comedy.

Trixie Mattel is a drag star, a country music star and a comedy star. She’s also Brian Firkus from Wisconsin. He got his start doing drag at the Oriental Theatre’s Rocky Horror Picture Show. Before creating his alter-ego Trixie, he also studied music and theater at UW-Milwaukee.

Now, we’re excited to have this queen back in Milwaukee.

French Horn Rebellion

french horn rebellion milwaukee

French Horn Rebellion has done a lot since they moved from Milwaukee to Brooklyn. They’ve worked with Beyoncé and MGMT and have created their own lane of “band geeks gone wild” electronic music. Now, they’re bringing their dance party energy back home for a show at the Cactus Club on May 12.

Brothers Robert and David Perlick-Molinari are behind French Horn Rebellion. They’re both from Wisconsin. And, their band name is a pretty literal representation of their story. Robert had been playing French horn in the Chicago Civic Orchestra, when he decided it wasn’t fun anymore and quit. He rebelled, choosing to make dance music with his brother instead.

They live in NYC now, where they make music and run their own music label, YouTooCanWoo—hence, why their Cactus Club show is called: “YouTooCanWoo Night Out.” They’re bringing their label mates along to party in Milwaukee with us. We can’t wait.

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And, check out RadioMilwaukee.org/Podcasts for our full lineup of weekly podcasts, delivered right to your computer or device.

Available on our site, on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.

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Reliving 30 years of concerts at the Bradley Center, before it’s gone

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The BMO Harris Bradley Center hosted more than 300 concerts in its history. Now, just one more show—Bon Jovi on April 29—is scheduled before the arena is torn down this summer.

Piet has been writing about the history of all the acts hosted here. There are so many legendary concerts worth reliving. Just a few big names who graced the stage (many of them more than once):

Neil Young with Sonic Youth and Social Distortion, Eric Clapton, Eric Clapton, MC Hammer, Frank Sinatra, The Cure, ZZ Top, James Taylor, Prince, The Rolling Stones, Kanye, Bruce Springsteen, who played eight shows there, Pearl Jam, who performed the “Yield” album in its entirety and more recent shows like the Bon Iver “For Emma, Forever Ago” concert or Run The Jewels with Lorde.

Pearl Jam

Pearl Jam at the BMO Harris Bradley Center

After 30 years of great concerts at the Bradley, ironically, it ending much like it began: with Bon Jovi. He’s playing the last show and he also played one of the arena’s first shows back in 1989.

But, with the end of this era begins a new one: the opening of the Wisconsin Entertainment and Sports Center (aka the new Buck’s Arena) in September.

It’s going to be a state-of-the-art concert venue, which should attract even more big tours to Milwaukee. And, it already has. Elton John, Justin Timberlake, Eagles, Foo Fighters, Metallica and more are already lined up to perform right away when it opens. Some of them are even slotted for the same weekend, which is huge—for our city’s concert scene, but also for our downtown to attract a lot of business.

So, we’re excited for the future of concerts in Milwaukee and to keep going to great shows in 2018.

Like what you hear? Subscribe to Tap’d In

And, check out RadioMilwaukee.org/Podcasts for our full lineup of weekly podcasts, delivered right to your computer or device.

Available on our site, on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.



88Nine Radio Milwaukee

What’s with concert cell phone bans?

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If you’re going to the Jack White concert in Milwaukee, you won’t have to be annoyed with the person standing in front of you blocking your view with their phone or that people recording aren’t living in the moment. And, if you’re not going to be at the show, you won’t have to deal with your friend’s endless low-quality Snapchat story featuring their terrible scream-singing. But maybe, you will be annoyed that you can’t send a quick text while enjoying the show.

That’s because Jack White is now banning cell phones from all of his non-festival shows, which includes his Friday show in Milwaukee at the Eagles Ballroom.

He put this pop-up message on ticketing websites:

“No photos, video or audio recording devices allowed. We think you’ll enjoy looking up from your gadgets for a little while and experience music and our shared love of it IN PERSON.”

jack white concert milwaukee

This is part of a growing trend of concerts with no cell phone policies. Some artists, like Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Neutral Milk Hotel and Savages have also banned phones at their performances. Even comedians like Chris Rock and Dave Chapelle have had no cell phone policies (though theirs were more about protecting their material from ending up on YouTube).

Last time we saw Jack White in Milwaukee at the Rave in 2014, he politely requested that the crowd keep their phones in their pockets. He introduced the official photographer who would be taking photos that fans would be able to download and share freely after the concert.

That approach worked pretty well and most fans respected it in Milwaukee. But, for this tour, he’s stepping it up anyway.

If you don’t leave it at home or in your car, you’ll need to lock your phone in a Yondr pouch while inside the venue.

After going though security, your phone will be placed in a case. Once it’s inside, the case will lock. You’ll keep it on you during the concert without being able to use it, though you should still be able to feel it vibrate. So, if you need to use it during the show, you can step outside and tap it on an “unlocking base,” then re-seal it as you go back in. At the end of the show, you’ll unlock it and drop the pouch off as you leave.

White says:

“I was hoping it would be more of an art project. I wanted to surprise people. I thought it would be great if people showed up and they found out right when they got there that there were these pouches for the phones. I thought it would excite them and possibly make some of them upset. But it’s funny. I go to movies and everyone turns their phone off. You go to the symphony, there’s no phones. Church, no phones. There’s all these places where it’s already happening. So let’s try a rock ’n’ roll concert and see what happens.

I want people to live in the moment, and it’s funny that the easiest way to rebel is to tell people to turn off their phone. If your phone is that important to you that you can’t live without it for two hours then I don’t know. Maybe it’s time to see a therapist.”

88Nine Radio Milwaukee

Yes, we do need more all-ages venues in Milwaukee

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The Journal Sentinel piece on Milwaukee’s need for more all-ages venues by Kelsey Kaufmann, Peter Murphy and Nicola Fumo reads:

Due to prohibitive city codes, it is difficult for small Milwaukee clubs to step up and host all-ages or 18-plus shows. Larger venues, like Turner Hall, avoid these rules by being licensed as a “center for the visual and performing arts.” This requires either a stage larger than 1,200 square feet or a collection of art on regular public display that’s been vouched for by “recognized experts or art critics” to a city committee. This keeps virtually all small clubs from hosting all-ages shows.

And, there are the problems of insurance costs and noise and alcohol restrictions. The article continues to argue:

There are plenty of other public spaces that serve alcohol where minors are allowed: hotels, movie theaters, painting studios, even indoor golf facilities. Why can a 20-year-old stand next to someone drinking a beer while they swing a golf club, but they can’t legally stand next to someone drinking a beer while they attend a concert in a venue smaller than Turner Hall?

It’s a great point.

Take IshDARR for example. He’s 21 now and he’s able to draw a Turner Hall-sized crowd, but what about before? At 19-years-old, he was already one of the city’s most popular young artists, but he couldn’t play the Cactus Club-sized shows he should have been playing back then because he wasn’t old enough. And, the young crowds he could have drawn wouldn’t have been able to get in anyway. How is a young music scene supposed to grow in this environment?

all-ages venues in Milwaukee

IshDARR at Turner Hall in 2017. Photo by Brianna Griepentrog

So, we need to ask: At what point are we, the creatives, going to saddle up next to our political leaders, who are ultimately the ones who can affect this kind of change? Because these prohibitive laws depend on the people we elect—and what we ask of them.

We need to begin an organized effort to make this happen. And it seems like we’ve taken the first step: getting the conversation going.

To keep it going, we need to keep asking: Why is there no one in our city’s or mayor’s offices who is in charge of cultural impact? Why don’t we have an arts representative like other cities do? Why do we have all these prohibitive laws for working musicians?

It’s not this or that—it’s this and that and some other stuff too.

With that, we’re excited about a debate that looks like momentum for a changing and growing music scene in Milwaukee.

88Nine Radio Milwaukee

This is the best Summerfest lineup in years

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For years, Summerfest has been known for playing it safe in its lineup. The acts performing at “the world’s largest music festival” have often catered to an older audience and have excluded a lot of diversity of acts, namely within the hip-hop and EDM genres. But, this year the lineup is different. And it’s about time.

This year, hip-hop at Summerfest goes further than their usual established rappers like Public Enemy or Common, or the amphitheater acts like Kendrick Lamar and Kanye. In 2018, you can see hip-hop acts from J. Cole to Lil Uzi Vert, Logic and GoldLink to Sugar Hill Gang.

EDM is also going to be at Summerfest 2018 in a big way: Cheat Codes, Marshmello, Chromeo, Party Favor and more will be on the ground stages. Props to the big gig for choosing some hard-hitters along with the EDM crowd-pleasers this year.

best Summerfest lineup

Photo courtesy of Summerfest

With the addition of these genres and of artists like The Weeknd, Janelle Monáe, Børns, Louis the Child and more, the poster is looking more like a Lollapalooza lineup than a Summerfest one. It seems like they’re finally getting with the times of festival-obsessed millennials and a younger Milwaukee. It is “the people’s festival” after all, and it’s starting to reflect what the people of the city’s younger demographic want.

With that said, it’s much more than a millennial festival. There are still plenty of legends set to perform. Though we’re excited about the fresh additions, there’s no way we’re missing James Taylor, Journey and Def Leppard or Buddy Guy. There are still plenty of classics for boomers and millennials alike.

And that’s what makes Summerfest great: the fact that you can see Lil Uzi Vert and James Taylor in the same festival. This year’s mix of genres and decades of music makes this a great festival for music discovery too, as it should be. There are also a lot of great up-and-comers like Soccer Mommy and MILCK alongside Milwaukee originals like Abby Jeanne and Dead Horses.

We couldn’t possibly write every single artist we were excited to see on this year’s poster, so check out the full lineup here. You won’t be disappointed.

88Nine Radio Milwaukee

The future of downtown Milwaukee concerts, from the Bradley Center’s booking director

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Photo by Daniel Ojeda / Courtesy of Middle West

Bon Iver at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.

Jordan: What opportunities do you see for Milwaukee’s growth in the near (and far) future from your perspective?

Doug: I think there’s great opportunity in the year 2018 for Milwaukee and national touring acts. There’s a proliferation this year. So we’re getting our just due. Now, we have to sell tickets. And make sure people are coming out to the gig. I think this will expound on itself.

Jordan: What opportunity are we looking at in the future here with a brand new arena now and a more healthy downtown? What about collaboration?

Doug: I think I have a great relationship with Pabst/Riverside/Turner Hall. We did shows with them at the Bradley Center for Bon Iver and Amy Schumer. I’m welcoming everybody to come into these buildings.

Every building, every room has its niche. And finding that niche and working with people to put the right band in the right room—that’s collaboration. Ground zero is downtown. You have the new arena, my three, Pabst/Riverside/Turner Hall, those three—that’s where the epicenter of music is going to come together.

88Nine Radio Milwaukee

Five Milwaukee shows we can’t wait to see this week

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Cancel plans if you need to and drop everything to get to some of these Milwaukee shows this week.

Earth, Wind & Fire

It’s not 1974, but our expectations for this show are still very high. This is more than just a nostalgia tour. Earth, Wind & Fire has lost Maurice White, but they still bring it. Original members Philip Bailey and Verdine White still bring a tremendous energy to the stage. Seeing Earth, Wind & Fire is a bucket list item. You’ll be able to see these sharp performers Friday, March 23 at the Riverside Theater.

David Wax Museum

David Wax Museum is doing some unique, intimate house shows this weekend. The couple, David Wax and Suz Slezak, merged their individual musical tastes—Suz’s Appalachian and Irish influences and David’s Mexican folk—to create David Wax Museum’s distinct “Mexo-Americana” style. They’ll be playing in Milwaukee on the night of Friday, March 23 and in Wauwatosa for a family-friendly matinee show on Saturday, March 24. The addresses of the houses are secret, until you buy your ticket. Get them here.


Alvvays will be playing a show at the Pabst on Saturday night. And, we’ll be hosting the band here at Radio Milwaukee for a studio session at noon before the show. Tune in to 88Nine hear the live session and interview, but also try to get to their show. They are one of our favorites for their dreamy, yet practical lyrics that will have you dancing to their sugary melodies without getting your heads stuck too far in the clouds. Catch the show at The Pabst Saturday, March 24.

Wolf Alice

Wolf Alice is like all the best parts of 90’s grunge made modern. They’ll be rocking the Turner Hall Ballroom on Thursday, March 29. And, they’ll be playing with The Big Pink. Break out your vintage leather jackets.

Jason Mohr (Juniper Tar)

Juniper Tar is back! Well, Jason Mohr is. Eight years ago, he relocated to Denver for a self-described “musical dormancy” period. Now, Jason will be back at the Cactus Club on Thursday, March 29 to share an inspired patchwork collection of new material–portraits of characters, places, scenes, electro-acoustic layers and some Juniper Tar surprises.

88Nine Radio Milwaukee

Why having Milwaukee artists at SXSW is still important

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88Nine Radio Milwaukee