The Summerfest lineup, the Rolling Stones announcement and new music from Platinum Boys, IshDARR, Klassik, Kiings and more. Counting down the best of March.
March was an especially fruitful period for the Milwaukee music scene. Let’s look back at the month that was.
10. Summerfest rolls out its best lineup in recent memory
In the past few years, Summerfest organizers scattered the announcements of side stage headliners, hoping to build excitement around the unveiling. This strategy ultimately proved underwhelming since the festival tries to cast as broad a net as possible and the partial lists only included one or two bands for a targeted audience. This March the acts were announced in one fell swoop and regardless of release strategy, the line-up looks like the best swath of musicians in a long while. This year sees Lupe Fiasco, Mavis Staples, The Isley Brothers, Santigold, Public Enemy, The New Pornographers, Charles Bradley, Weird Al Yankovic and Shakey Graves all coming to the city this summer, plus a handful acts with Wisconsin ties like Field Report, Phox and Sylvan Esso.
9. Of course, the announcement causes people to absolutely lose it
Summerfest stays firmly behind the times on almost every contemporary genre, but the fact that they’re even trying to book out-of-the-ordinary acts, like Paris Hilton doing a DJ set, should be a good sign. That didn’t stop one outraged EDM fan from starting a petition to remove the celebrity from the Summerfest line-up, as reported by Shepherd Express’ Evan Rytlewski. “This diminishes dance music as nothing more than a cheap show,” the petition, which has around 7,000 signatures, reads, “and if you have any respect for the integrity of music you will remove Paris Hilton from the lineup.” I absolutely see their point, but at the same time, the festival never really books EDM anyway so perhaps this leads to them booking more, better DJs in the future.
8. One last Summerfest-related thing, The Rolling Stones are the festival’s quasi-openers
In perhaps the most annoying announcement strategy of all time, a billboard teasing a Rolling Stones concert surfaced a month ago. Then it got taken down. Then it got put back up. Would the aging rocksters play Miller Park? The Bradley Center? Alpine Valley? The Unicorn? Would they play Milwaukee at all? Finally, after needless speculation, it was announced that The Stones would perform at the World’s Largest Festival, Summerfest—well, not technically. The band will headline the Marcus Amphitheater on June 23, the day before the festival officially begins. Tickets are ridiculously expensive, ranging from $94.40-$421.95, but offers what might be the last time to see the best blues rock band while the musicians are actually still alive and not being sold to audiences as holograms.
7. Catch up on the local music scene with our Winter Mixtape
If you’ve ever wanted a small capsule of what the Milwaukee music scene has been up to, look no further than the first installment in our seasonal series highlighting the best local tracks from the previous three months. Our winter mixtape includes selections from NO/NO, Soul Low, Surgeons in Heat, estates, Dream Attics and more.
6. WMSE sets release date for new Field Report 7” on Record Store Day
Local radio station 91.7 WMSE are getting into the vinyl game, with the announcement earlier this month that the nonprofit will release a 7” including live, in-studio versions of Field Report’s “Home (Leave The Lights On)” and a cover of John Prine’s “Speed Of The Sound Of Loneliness” as part of Record Store Day on April 18.
5. Klassik puts out an EP dedicated to the summer
Klassik works at three times the rate as the normal person. We’re only into month number three of the calendar year and the smooth-flowing rapper has already released Winter and Spring EPs and now he’s unleashed the Summer EP. At this pace, we’ll be thinking about the fall in April. His latest three-song effort includes one of my favorite songs from Group of the Altos’ new full-length R U Person Or Not.
4. Speaking of which, Group of the Altos unveils another stunning performance at Company Brewing
If you were lucky enough to gain admittance into the at-capacity release show for Group of the Altos’ R U Person Or Not at the space that held the former Stonefly Brewing (where the band held its first release show in 2012) and the soon-to-open Company Brewing, you saw an enrapturing performance from the 15-piece ensemble. With their current line-up and material, Group of the Altos has to be the must-see Milwaukee band of this year.
3. Kiings harnesses talented guest stars on ambitious debut full-length
After a handful of remixes, the electro-pop producer duo of Kiings made an indelible impression this month with a vibrant debut full-length featuring all original material. The 16-track WWYDF (an acronym for What Would You Die For) finds DJs Sean Foran and Chris Siegel experiencing an existential crisis and coping within the confines of the album with the help of guest vocalists Christine Hoberg, Chris Porterfield, Rae Cassidy, Colin Plant, WebsterX, Bliss & Alice and milo. Read more about Kiings and the recording process here.
2. The adventure begins for Platinum Boys
Platinum Boys inhabit a classic rock utopia on its debut album Future Hits, where the sex and cocaine flow as freely as the Miller Lite at backyard parties. The overindulgent, 90-mile-per-hour lifestyle is difficult to actually maintain, but it’s an intoxicating ride for the passenger.
1. Youthful rap prodigy IshDARR drops landscape-changing mixtape
One of the city’s most promising up-and-coming rappers, IshDARR, came through on the hype with the premiere of his Old Soul Young Spirit mixtape on Complex this month. It’s one of the strongest Milwaukee releases this year.