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MKE Concert Picks: Flipping the bill with two must-see openers

Geese (left) and Ratboys will open for Greta Van Fleet and The Decemberists, respectively, at separate Milwaukee concerts.
Geese; Ratboys; Facebook
Geese (left) and Ratboys will open for Greta Van Fleet and The Decemberists, respectively, at separate Milwaukee concerts.

Milwaukee’s concert scene has a lot going on, so we look at the shows coming up to find the ones you’ll look back on and be glad you went. Then we add them to our weekly Milwaukee Concert Picks.

For any concert, the headliner is the headliner for a reason. They’re the big draw, the big seller, the big font at the top of the poster. But this week presents the rare opportunity to recommend not one but TWO shows with killer openers that will be at least 50% responsible for creating a full night of awesome live music.

The first one is this Saturday, when The Decemberists visit the Riverside Theater a month ahead of new album As It Ever Was, So It Will Be Again. Having an icon of indie music at the top of the bill is more than enough for this show to get our stamp of approval. Then you look down the show page just a bit and see that Ratboys will start the evening’s fun, and things go from “solid” to “spectacular.”

Putting aside my own affection for the Chicago foursome, Milwaukee in general seems to love what they’re putting down — evidenced by their sold-out show at the former Back Room last October in support of new album The Window. They’ve filled the time since by playing a bunch of dates overseas and then stateside with Ducks Ltd., and now their support of The Decemberists plays out on the Riverside stage Saturday. Doors open at 7 p.m., so make sure you don’t cut it too close to the 8 p.m. show time if you want to catch both bands.

Fantastic opener number two gets the arena treatment three days later, when Geese serves up a hearty appetizer for the main course that is Greta Van Fleet at Fiserv Forum next Tuesday, May 21.

We don’t have too much to say about GVF, but the Brooklyn boys from Geese are an 88Nine-endorsed group that put out one of the wildest albums of 2023. We got on board with the project by making “Cowboy Nudes” our Add of the Week last February, and the full LP didn’t disappoint. 3D Country is rock and jazz and country and psychedelic and throwback and modern — still a fascinating listen almost a year after its release.

Like Ratboys, Geese were in town last October for their own headlining gig, and next Tuesday sees them trying to catch the ear of a big chunk of people who may not be familiar with their music. If that’s you, there’s still time for a crash course in 3D Country and to get tickets for the show that starts at 7 p.m.

More shows worth a go