Wisconsin State Fair 2019: 11 top concerts include Old Dominion, Rick Springfield and more
There have been times when the Wisconsin State Fair was the dominant concert player in the Milwaukee area in early August.
That's definitely not the case in 2019, from John Mayer at Fiserv Forum Aug. 6, to Sarah McLachlan with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra at the BMO Harris Pavilion Aug. 9, to Bettye LaVette and Sisters With Voices at Black Arts Fest MKE Aug. 3.
That said, there are still plenty of good concert options worth checking out at the fair this year, from the main headliners to under-the-radar local talent.
Here are our 11 top music picks, one for each day.
Aug. 1: The Prince Experience
Milwaukee's Gabriel Sanchez is a master of re-creating the essence of the Purple One, a remarkable talent all the more appreciated now that Prince has passed away, providing fans a means to reconnect with the music, and the man behind the music. (8 p.m., Associated Bank Amphitheater)
Aug. 2: Fitz and the Tantrums
The soul band's smoothed out the edges with each subsequent album, broadening its fan base while polarizing some early supporters in the process, and forthcoming album "All The Feels" looks to continue that trajectory. That said, they've remained an energetic live band throughout the musical transition. Alternative hip-hop artist K. Flay opens. (7:30 p.m., Main Stage. $29 to $39 at the ticket office and wistatefair.com. Tickets include fair general admission Aug. 2.)
Aug. 3: Brett Eldredge
Specializing in gentlemanly country tunes, but distinguished by a dollop of soul in his voice, Eldredge has seen all but one of his nine singles since 2012 crack the top three on the Billboard Country Airplay chart (and the one that didn't still went gold). Nashville singer-songwriter Jake Rose opens. (7:30 p.m., Main Stage. $35 to $45. Tickets include fair general admission Aug. 3.)
Aug. 4: Rocket Cat
Suzanne Singh left music behind in the early '90s, but after 26 years, she's fortunately come back to music as the frontwoman for this fun power pop band. (6 p.m., Sprecher Landing)
Aug. 5: Chris Kroeze
After the Barron-based country artist placed second on "The Voice" last December, it's only fitting that the most successful Wisconsin artist in the history of the NBC show would get a headline slot at the Wisconsin State Fair. (8 p.m., Associated Bank Amphitheater)
Aug. 6: Alyssia Dominguez
The Waukesha-based Dominguez grew up loving country music and traditional Tejano music, merging those two styles together for a fresh sound. (11:30 a.m., Miller Lite Sports Bar and Grill)
Aug. 7: Rick Springfield
He's still in love with "Jessie's Girl," and Springfield will certainly oblige his fans with his signature hit. But it's not like he's been coasting; he's set to release his 18th studio album this year, finding the time to write and record music in between writing books, acting (including recent credits on "True Detective" and "American Horror Story") and of course touring. Starship featuring Mickey Thomas opens. (7:30 p.m., Main Stage. $29 to $39, includes fair admission Aug. 7)
Aug. 8: Pat McCurdy
It's been fun seeing veteran local singer-songwriter Pat McCurdy reconnect with power pop band Yipes! — they released their first album in 28 years in December — but he hasn't neglected his crowd-pleasing, tongue-in-cheek folk tunes. (Noon, Charcoal Grill Roadhouse)
Aug. 9: Old Dominion
The State Fair has a solid track record of booking at least one arena-filling act on the main stage, and this year, it's country rock group Old Dominion. With a live set sharpened by opening gigs on Kenny Chesney stadium tours, the band has grown the fanbase with six No. 1 country airplay singles in the last five years, and may preview songs from a self-titled album out this fall. Brandon Lay — who also opened for Chesney at his last stadium show in Milwaukee — opens. (7:30 p.m., Main Stage. $39 to $59, tickets include fair general admission Aug. 9.)
Aug. 10: The Isley Brothers and the Commodores
It's not often (if ever) that the headlining act at the hipster-approved Pitchfork Music Festival is booked to headline the Wisconsin State Fair in the same summer, but such is the case for the Isley Brothers, who are celebrating 60 years of funk and soul staples like "Shout" and "It's Your Thing." And with co-headliners the Commodores bringing "Brick House" and other funk gems to the fair, this is the top fair show of the year (and will certainly be the most lively). (7:30 p.m., Main Stage. $29 to $49.)
Aug. 11: Melissa Etheridge
With her signature, sweetly gruff and sharp guitar skills, Melissa Etheridge preaches self-wellness on her latest album "The Medicine Show," although you can count on the Oscar and Grammy winner to include signature tunes "Come to My Window" and "I'm The Only One" at the State Fair. (6 p.m. Main Stage, $29 to $39. Tickets include fair admission Aug. 11.)
Contact Piet at (414) 223-5162 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @pietlevy or Facebook at facebook.com/PietLevyMJS.
Piet also talks concerts, local music and more on "TAP'd In" with Jordan Lee. Hear it at 8 a.m. Thursdays on WYMS-FM (88.9), or wherever you get your podcasts.