Ten top Milwaukee concerts to see for fall 2019, from Elton John to Farm Aid to the Jonas Brothers
Fiserv Forum was a game-changer for the local concert scene when it opened last September, selling at least 128,850 concert tickets for a combined $13.8 million gross. It was enough for Fiserv Forum to land at No. 127 on concert trade publication Pollstar's list of the top-grossing arenas in the world. (It rose the ranks to No. 39 internationally, and No. 25 in North America, in Pollstar's latest survey.)
As the Milwaukee Bucks' arena enters its second year, it isn't slowing down, with 11 concerts taking place this fall — the same number booked last year — featuring Backstreet Boys, the Black Keys, Heart with Joan Jett, and more.
While the star power may not be as bright as it was last year — Fiserv Forum will probably never have a week again like last October's five-day stretch with Metallica, Foo Fighters, the Eagles and Twenty One Pilots — the arena hosts the biggest touring acts of the season, including Elton John, Celine Dion and the Jonas Brothers.
They're among the five Fiserv Forum shows featured in our list of 11 top Milwaukee concerts this fall. The Riverside Theater and the Rave also host some big names and buzzy acts, while Alpine Valley Music Theatre in East Troy will end its busiest season in 15 years with the most significant Wisconsin concert of the season, if not the year.
Here are our picks, listed in order of occurrence.
1. The Who
1989 was Alpine Valley Music Theatre's most momentous year, with shows from the Grateful Dead, Metallica and the Rolling Stones. But arguably the most celebrated band at the East Troy amphitheater that summer was the Who, playing three nights as part of their comeback tour for their 25th anniversary. Three decades later, Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend will be back at Alpine for the first time since then, this time backed by a full symphony, and with Milwaukee's own Americana outfit Dead Horses opening.
Time, place, price:7:30 p.m. Sept. 8, Alpine Valley Music Theatre, 2699 County Road D, East Troy. $45 to $660 at the door and livenation.com.
2. Tash Sultana
Think Ed Sheeran's one-man live band setup is impressive? It's child's play compared to what 23-year-old Australian Tash Sultana is accomplishing night after night, earning a passionate, and ever-growing, cult following that's led to major festival plays and sold-out theaters and arenas, all without the pop-radio support that helped propel Sheeran to superstar status.
Time, place, price:8 p.m. Sept. 10, Riverside Theater, 116 W. Wisconsin Ave. $39.50 at the box office, the Pabst Theater box office (144 E. Wells St.), (414) 286-3663 and pabsttheater.org. The Teskey Brothers open.
3. The Jonas Brothers
In 2013, the Journal Sentinel interviewed Joe Jonas to preview the Jonas Brothers' Riverside Theater show that fall. Three days later, the tour was canceled and the band broke up. But absence, it seems, makes the heart grow fonder; the Brothers' comeback album, this summer's "Happiness Begins," had the highest debut-week sales of 2019 (before Taylor Swift's "Lover"), and their tour is packing arenas.
Time, place, price:7:30 p.m. Sept. 17, Fiserv Forum, 1111 N. Phillips Ave. $75.95 to $495.95 at the box office, (800) 745-3000 and ticketmaster.com. Bebe Rexha and pop newcomer/Dr. Phil's son Jordan McGraw open.
4. Farm Aid
More than 1,000 dairy farms have closed in Wisconsin since 2018, and the state has led the nation in farm bankruptcies for three years in a row. In light of this distressing development, Farm Aid is staging its annual festival in Wisconsin for the second time in its 34-year-history. Co-founders Willie Nelson, Neil Young and John Mellencamp will be there, along with board member Dave Matthews. Farm Aid 2019 also features country superstar Luke Combs, serial Grammy winner Bonnie Raitt, soul band Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats, plus seven other acts.
Time, place, price: Noon Sept. 21, Alpine Valley Music Theatre. Farm Aid is sold out, but resale tickets are available through Seat Geek and Vivid Seats beginning at $109 for lawn access.
5. Brian Wilson and the Zombies
You'll find Beach Boys mastermind Brian Wilson and the Zombies on practically any list of the most important musicians from the '60s. And you can see them both in one night, with Wilson (along with Boys bandmates Al Jardine and Blondie Chaplin) focusing on the "Friends" and "Surf's Up" albums; and the Zombies, inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year, will perform their landmark album "Odessey & Oracle" in its entirety, with all living members from the original lineup.
Time, place, price: 8 p.m. Sept. 22, Riverside Theater. $49.50 to $259.
St. Vincent joined the party as producer for the punk rockers' new album "The Center Won't Hold," shaking up the band's riot grrrl-inspired sound, and in the process, seemingly contributing to the departure of founding drummer Janet Weiss, who suggested in a statement it was time to move on since the band was heading in a "new direction." The new album's been widely acclaimed, though, and the band live is bound to revisit longtime fan favorites along with new gems.
Time, place, price:8 p.m. Oct. 16, Pabst Theater. $28.25 to $42. Each pair of tickets purchased online includes a CD copy of "Hold."
7. Miranda Lambert
Lambert's pulling double duty at her long overdue Milwaukee return, with a headlining set likely to preview November album "Wildcard" and an opening set with supergroup the Pistol Annies, featuring Ashley Monroe and Angaleena Presley. But that's not all: Elle King and razor-sharp country newcomer Ashley McBryde are part of the bill, too.
Time, place, price:7 p.m. Oct. 18, Fiserv Forum. $35.75 to $129.
8. Elton John
John was supposed to play Fiserv Forum in February as part of his farewell tour before technical adjustments caused him to reschedule to this fall. But the anticipation for one of the most accomplished artists alive may be even greater now, with the Milwaukee stop now following the release of praised biopic "Rocketman" and the release of memoir "Me" three days prior to the show.
Time, place, price: 8 p.m. Oct. 19, Fiserv Forum. Only platinum and resale tickets remain through Ticketmaster, with prices beginning at $802.19.
9. Celine Dion
No need to travel to Las Vegas to see Celine Dion; this fall, she's coming to you. The powerhouse singer wrapped up an eight-year residency at Caesars Palace this summer, and is embarking on her first tour in 11 years, including her first Milwaukee stop since 2008, ahead of a new album, "Courage," expected to drop in November.
Time, place, price: 7:30 p.m. Nov. 3, Fiserv Forum. $194.58 to $956.37.
10. Maren Morris
When her career was really taking off in late 2016 — including winning the CMA Awards' New Artist of the Year and earning four Grammy nominations behind breakout album "Hero" — Milwaukee was a major focus, with Morris playing the city three times across three consecutive months. Her visits to town are less frequent these days, but her next show is going to be her biggest in the city — for now – following the success of her Zedd collaboration "The Middle" and pop-embracing sophomore album, "Girl." Hopefully, fans can hear some songs from her new supergroup Highwomen, too.
Time, place, price: 7 p.m. Nov. 15, Eagles Ballroom, the Rave, 2401 W. Wisconsin Ave. $45 to $132 at the box office, (414) 342-7283 and therave.com. Tenille Townes and Hailey Whitters open.
Editor's Note: An earlier verion of this story included Chance The Rapper's performance at Fiserv Forum Oct. 30. That show has been rescheduled for Feb. 24, 2020. The venue has also changed for Sleater-Kinney's Milwaukee concert. This story has been updated with the new information.
Contact Piet at (414) 223-5162 or firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.