A few weeks ago, we ruminated on what the year has to hold in terms of new films that interest us here at OnMilwaukee.com. Now, we're thinking about upcoming concerts.
Of course, this is based strictly on the information that is available at press time since we, like you, are unable to predict with 100 percent accuracy, concerts that have not yet been booked or made public.
Pick: The National
I'll admit it. The first time The National came through Milwaukee, the band has just released 2007's "The Boxer" and I just wasn't into it. The hype on NPR and Pitchfork was mystifying to me and every time I tried to give the record a chance, I ended up accidentally ignoring it. It was about three months after the band wooed The Pabst crowd that I suddenly came to my senses. I'd be lying if I told you I understood my sporadic change of heart toward the band. I don't know, maybe I just actually started listening when it came on in my iTunes. Boy, had I been wrong -- woefully wrong -- and was I ever sad to have passed up a chance to see the band live in such a beautiful setting.
To top it all off, I had to miss The National yet again when it returned in 2009. This year, things will be different. The Brooklyn-based band has a new record (finally) coming out May 11 called "High Violet" and returns to Milwaukee to play at The Riverside on Aug. 4. This time, I'll be somewhere in the crowd.
Pick: The Hold Steady
I know this may inspire a lot of jokes about the lack of a Springsteen tour for me to overcover this year, but I'm truly looking forward to the Hold Steady show July 1 at Summerfest. The band's driving music, coupled with warm weather and cold beer should be a winning combination. It'll be a homecoming show for bass player Galen Polivka, who grew up in Whitefish Bay, and that should add to what will be a special show. I'll also tag along -- as I have since the mid-1980s -- to see Tom Petty with my pal Smiles, the tallest Tom Petty fan I know.
There are quite a few shows on the horizon that I'm excited about, including checking out Midlake at Turner Hall on May 24, seeing the return of Josh Rouse on May 28 at the same venue, and, of course witnessing the first installment of Verge in Milwaukee. On June 20th reggae's The Meditations, who I most recently saw in Milwaukee at The C Club in 1985, play at The Mad Planet and later that week, one of my absolute faves -- Carmen Consoli -- comes back for a second appearance at the Miramar. This time, she'll have a band.
But tomorrow's show by Canadian synth pop rising star Lights is my pick in part because it's tomorrow -- Sunday, May 2 -- at The Rave --opening for Owl City -- and in part because one of my kids loves her record, "The Listening" (Warner Bros.), and so we've listened to it a lot. It's full of infectious melodies and it inhabits a place on the border been dance and pop and, best of all, it's not one-dimensions. Lights' personality shines through. I know she travels with a very small band, so I'm interested to see how these songs translate to that setting.
Pick: Cowboy Mouth
Concerts aren't my thing. Yeah, they're fun but I'm not what you'd consider a "music guy." I can't even count how many Cowboy Mouth shows I've seen over the years, but all of the are a blast. I'll get to see them three times this year: at Summerfest, Oshkosh Waterfest and then, at the Wisconsin State Fair. There's just something feel-good about their southern-flavored rock that is a perfect way to spend the summer.