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Riverside books May shows with The Decemberists, Ratboys, Portugal. The Man

(Clockwise from top left) The Decemberists, Portugal. The Man and Ratboys will all play the Riverside Theater in Milwaukee this May.
Jen Ellis
The Decemberists; Portugal. The Man; Facebook
(Clockwise from top left) The Decemberists, Portugal. The Man and Ratboys will all play the Riverside Theater in Milwaukee this May.

The ground isn’t the only thing thawing out as we creep toward spring. The concert calendar has warmed up in a big way the last few weeks, and today brings two more big announcements featuring three 88Nine favorites.

In the span of four days this May, indie-music fans will have the chance to take in both of the just-revealed shows, both at the Riverside Theater: Portugal. The Man on May 14, and The Decemberists with Ratboys on May 18.

First up is the alt group who can make the rare claim of spending their formative days in Alaska, where John Baldwin Gourley and Zach Carothers met as high schoolers in Wasilla. PTM has seen members drift in and out since those 2002 origins, with the group eventually establishing base camp in Portland before having a breakthrough moment courtesy of platinum-certified 2017 album Woodstock. Last June, the band put out their ninth studio LP, Chris Black Changed My Life, on which you’ll find the bizarrely catchy “Dummy.”

The show later that week is a wonderful opportunity to catch one of indie music’s bedrock bands playing on the same stage as one just pushing into the wider consciousness.

The Decemberists, of course, represent the foundational side of things, having been at it since 2000 and almost immediately finding an audience with their narrative-driven folk-rock. For me, 2009’s The Hazards of Love was one of those revelatory albums that felt like it opened up an approach to music I hadn’t experienced before and pushed me backward through their catalog for more. On Tuesday, they shared their first new song in six years, “Burial Ground,” featuring another indie touchstone, James Mercer of The Shins.

As for their opening act, I could go on and on about Ratboys. And have. Repeatedly. They had been rolling out consistently quality music across their first four albums before 2023’s The Window nudged them into a higher echelon (and onto several year-end “best of” lists). Not for nothing, they also made a special trip north from their Chicago home just to play a Studio Milwaukee Session for our members (and one or two geeked staffers).

Tickets for both shows go on sale later this week, first with an eMember presale at noon Thursday (password: BLIZZARD) and then a general sale the following day at 10 a.m. You can access the online portal for Portugal. The Man here and The Decemberists/Ratboys here. Tickets will also be available during the general sale at the Pabst/Riverside box offices.