From Ariana Grande to 'Weird Al', 15 Milwaukee concerts you have to check out this summer

Piet Levy
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
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When it comes to live music in Wisconsin this summer, there's Paul McCartney at Lambeau Field, a packed calendar at Madison's new venue the Sylvee, stacked country festivals across the state, and let's not forget Summerfest, the world's largest music festival.

But wait, there's more. 

Milwaukee is loaded up with concert options outside of the Big Gig and the Wisconsin State Fair, from major arena tours stopping at the new Fiserv Forum to intimate gigs with legends and up-and-comers. 

Here are just 15 Milwaukee concert highlights from June through August, excluding anything at Summerfest and the Wisconsin State Fair. Look for concert picks for those events later this summer.

Top Milwaukee concerts for summer 2019 include (from top left) Diana Ross, Carrie Underwood, Ariana Grande and Shawn Mendes.

Vampire Weekend

Ezra Koenig's songwriting has matured in the six years since the last album, with touches of country and Grateful Dead crunch on this spring's "Father of the Bride." Better than the promise of new music is the expanded touring lineup, which (fingers crossed) will be better equipped to re-create the vast instrumentation on the recordings. Don't miss the soulful psych-tropicalia stylings of opener Chicano Batman either. 

When, where, how much: 7:30 p.m. June 8, BMO Harris Pavilion, Maier Festival Park, 200 N. Harbor Drive. $52.95 to $187.10 at the box office, (800) 745-3000 and Every ticket purchased online includes a CD copy of "Father of the Bride." 


When we first saw the sensational a cappella quartet live, we predicted they would eventually headline arenas. And that day has finally come in Milwaukee, with Milwaukee's own Hannah Mrozak opening up the show as part of Citizen Queen, a five-piece female a cappella group partially overseen by Pentatonix's Scott Hoying and recently signed to RCA Records. Rachel Platten also opens. 

When, where, how much: 7:30 p.m. June 18, Fiserv Forum, 1111 N. Phillips Ave. $25.50 to $190 at the box office and through Ticketmaster. 

Carrie Underwood

The reigning country-pop queen became the first female country artist to have four albums hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200 with last year's "Cry Pretty," and she's going to have one of country music's top-grossing tours of 2019, boasting a high-tech in the round stage set-up and a welcome dose of women power with Maddie & Tae and Runaway June opening. 

When, where, how much: 7 p.m. June 20, Fiserv Forum. $46 to $253. 

Delta Rae

On top of the bonanza of bookings during the peak concert season at festivals and venues all over town, Milwaukee's blessed to have dozens of opportunities to catch great live music for absolutely free. Among all the terrific concert series and street parties, one lineup consistently stands out – Cedarburg's Summer Sounds – with the harmonizing, gospel-and-country-touched family band Delta Rae this year's highlight. 

When, where, how much: 6:30 p.m. June 21, Cedar Creek Park, N54-W5900 Portland Road, Cedarburg. Free. 

Shawn Mendes

Milwaukee's Summerfest was one of the first places Mendes played after releasing his self-titled third album last year. Now on the eve before this year's Summerfest, Mendes is back with the full production of his ongoing arena tour, a new hit single and an excellent opener in Alessia Cara. 

When, where, how much: 7:30 p.m. June 25, Fiserv Forum. $29.50 to $253.

Ariana Grande

You can make a pretty strong argument for Ariana Grande being the center of the pop culture universe right now, even without all that Pete Davidson stuff: two blockbuster albums within the past year, a string of major hit singles (including the pop culture-dominating "Thank U, Next"), and enough clout to command a big payday to headline Coachella and force several arenas to reschedule shows. In Milwaukee, that means Grande, originally set to play Fiserv Forum in April, will play the arena during Summerfest. Normani and Social House open.

When, where, how much: 7 p.m. July 5, Fiserv Forum. Only firsthand platinum seats available ($328.95 to $603). Resale tickets on Ticketmaster site currently available for $137 to $1143.


Following several years of concert declines, the historic Alpine Valley Music Theatre is welcoming back a few perennials who haven't been to the East Troy amphitheater in a bit, including Dave Matthews Band and Jimmy Buffett (plus the reunited Hootie & the Blowfish). But arguably the main event this summer is quintessential summer jam band Phish, which will play three shows, and unlike Matthews and Buffett, is less likely to be back at Alpine next year. 

When, where, how much: 7 p.m. July 12 to 14, Alpine Valley Music Theatre, W2699 County Road D, East Troy. $45 to $220 per show at $135 for three-day lawn pass. 

Diana Ross

The living legend celebrated her 75th birthday this year, but evident by her Grammys appearance, she's still going strong. Expect to hear classics with the Supremes and gems from her solo career, passionately performed with a swinging big band backing her up. Her daughter Rhonda Ross opens.

When, where, how much: 7:30 P.M. July 14, Riverside Theater, 116 W. Wisconsin Ave. $55 to $135 at the box office, the Pabst Theater box office (144 E. Wells St.), (414) 286-3663 and

The Raconteurs

Just a year after playing the Rave's Eagles Ballroom, rock star Jack White is back, but instead of performing songs from the White Stripes and solo discography, he'll be focusing on ripping tunes from his band the Raconteurs with Brendan Benson, Jack Lawrence and Patrick Keeler. They're touring behind new album "Help Us Stranger" out in June, their first in 11 years. A CD or vinyl copy is included with each ticket purchased online. Also an important FYI: Phones will not be permitted at the show. 

When, where, how much: 8 p.m. July 14, Eagles Ballroom, the Rave, 2401 W. Wisconsin Ave. $63 to $78 at the box office, (414) 342-7283 and

Snail Mail

With so much live music going on, it's tempting to look past the smaller shows, but then you'd miss out on remarkable rising artists like Snail Mail. The stage name for 19-year-old singer, songwriter and guitarist Lindsey Jordan, Snail Mail is part of a wonderful new wave of female rockers, several influenced by the sound of the '90s, that's creating some of the most intimate and intense and relevant indie rock of our time. 

When, where, how much: 8 p.m. July 19, Turner Hall Ballroom, 1040 N. Phillips Ave. $15 in advance through the Pabst, $17 day of show. 

"Weird Al" Yankovic

If you're interested in a sophisticated pop music experience with a full symphony backing a renowned artist, this is not that. But the crown prince of parodies will have a full symphony backing him for the first time for his "Strings Attached" tour, what he's describing as his most ornate live show yet, following last year's stripped-down, rarities-focused, so-called "Ridiculously Self-Indulgent, Ill-Advised Vanity Tour." (If you actually want a straightforward symphonic pop experience, consider instead Sarah McLachlan with the Milwaukee Symphony at the BMO Harris Pavilion Aug. 9.)

When, where, how much: 8 p.m. July 27, Miller High Life Theatre, 500 W. Kilbourn Ave. $30 to $65 at the box office and through Ticketmaster.

Mary J. Blige and Nas

As good of a job as the Bradley Center did for hosting massive concerts for 30 years, the hip-hop bookings were few and far between. So it's refreshing to see its replacement Fiserv Forum, five months after a sold-out show with Travis Scott, welcome another rapper, and arguably one of hip-hop's historically most important rappers, with Nas. The arena also hosts its first bona fide R&B star with co-headliner Mary J. Blige, and with the pair recently releasing a joint single, we're likely to see them perform at least a little together. 

When, where, how much: 7:30 p.m. July 30, Fiserv Forum. $35 to $350.

Wu-Tang Clan

Speaking of important hip-hop acts, you'll find few rap fans who don't think Wu-Tang Clan is one of the most important collectives of all time. (Not every act can command a $2 million dollar payday for the lone copy of a new album after all.) On the heels of a four-part Showtime documentary series "Of Mics and Men," and a new EP, the crew is back together to celebrate the 25th anniversary of their classic debut album "Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)." 

When, where, how much: 7:30 p.m. Aug. 3, Riverside Theater. $79.50 to $125.

John Mayer

For a few years now Milwaukee John Mayer fans could only see the pop songwriter doing guitar jams at Alpine Valley for Dead & Company shows with a few Grateful Dead co-founders. But he's making it up to you now with a show spanning his whole career at Fiserv Forum — from early hits like "Your Body Is a Wonderland" to last year's "New Light" — that features two sets of music. 

When, where, how much: 7:30 p.m. Aug. 6, Fiserv Forum. $65.50 to $397.

Bruce Hornsby & the Noisemakers

Bruce Hornsby isn't the first name you think of as a musician the kids are into, but he received hearty, rock star welcomes from the hipsters at Justin Vernon's Eaux Claires festival anytime he stepped on a stage back in 2016. His new album, the widely acclaimed "Absolute Zero," recorded at Vernon's April Base studio in Fall Creek, features collaborations with multiple Eaux Claires alum, including chamber string group yMusic, harmonizing female trio the Staves and Vernon himself. Eau Claire native S. Carey, who also appears on the album, opens this show. 

When, where, how much: 7:30 p.m. Aug. 7, the Pabst Theater. $39.50 to $65.50. Every ticket includes a copy of "Absolute Zero."

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Contact Piet at (414) 223-5162 or Follow him on Twitter at @pietlevy or Facebook at

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.

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