Around this time of year, when you’re scraping the ice from your windshields and your tears are freezing on your cheeks, it’s tempting to daydream about the blissful summer that awaits.
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
In terms of live music, this is a pretty hot winter, with an enticing mix of arena-ready headliners (Maroon 5,Panic! at the Disco), exciting newcomers (Maren Morris,Noname), and a couple acclaimed veterans playing long overdue Milwaukee shows.
Of the concerts in town announced through February (so far), here are my 10 top picks, listed in order of occurrence.
1. Panic! at the Disco: WXSS-FM (106.1) really splurged for this year’s KISSmas Bash, offering three shows instead of the customary one. Martin Garrix and Jon Bellion headline nights one and two, but the best is saved for last. The deliciously bombastic Disco usually headlines arenas these days, but it’s making an exception for the 3,500-capacity Eagles Ballroom, one of the band’s favorite venues. And this will be one of opener Charli XCX’s first gigs since she abruptly canceled her tour last year driven to work on new material. 7 p.m. Dec. 16, Eagles Ballroom, the Rave, 2401 W. Wisconsin Ave. $40 to $50 at the box office, (414) 342-7283 and therave.com.
2. Maren Morris and Jon Pardi: Two days after winning the CMA Award for new artist of the year, Morris put on a winning opening set for Keith Urban at the BMO Harris Bradley Center. Morris will have more time at this show to share her smart and emotional toe-tappers from this year’s breakout album “Hero.” Pardi, another promising newcomer with a fresh take on traditional, George Jones-inspired country, co-headlines. 8 p.m. Dec. 17, the Rave. $26.50 to $36.50.
3. Snoop Dogg: Since Snoop Dogg last played Milwaukee nine years ago, the 17-time Grammy nominee’s released six solo albums, briefly rebranded himself as reggae artist Snoop Lion, and co-starred with Martha Stewart on VH1’s “Martha and Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party.” Aside from the abundance of songs Snoop can play in Milwaukee for the first time, he’s bringing along loads of guests — including Bone Thugs-N-Harmony,Warren G and Tha Dogg Pound — for what’s being dubbed a sequel to Snoop’s “Puff Puff Pass” tour 15 years ago. 7:30 Dec. 22, Riverside Theater,116 W. Wisconsin Ave. $69 to $79 at the box office, the Pabst Theater box office (144 E. Wells St.), (414) 286-3663 and pabsttheater.org.
4. Kris Kristofferson: At age 80, the legendary singer-songwriter, whose work has been recorded by more than 450 artists, got a new lease on life. Losing his memory — it was thought — to Alzheimer’s, Kristofferson was actually afflicted with Lyme disease. Recovering earlier this year, he’s returned to the road to play such classic songs as “Me and Bobby McGee” again. 8 p.m. Jan. 12, Pabst Theater. $45.50 to $55.50.
5. Riverwest FemFest: Riverwest FemFest is actually several shows taking place at various venues across five days. But collectively, they make quite a showcase, celebrating the city’s female artists with a lineup 50 acts long. The third annual installment features some out-of-towners for the first time, including Madison’s folk pop duo Seasaw, performing alongside diverse local artists like experimental rapper Zed Kenzo and preteen garage rock trio Negative/Positive. Jan. 18 to 22. Venues include Art Bar, Jazz Gallery, Riverwest Public House, Company Brewing and more. Go to rwfemfest.com for schedules and more details.
6. Drive-By Truckers: The alternative-country outfit is no stranger to accolades, but it’s managed a rare feat with “American Band,” its most acclaimed album of its career, and a response to the deep political divisions in the United States unearthed by the 2016 presidential campaign. 8 p.m. Feb. 1, Turner Hall Ballroom, 1040 N. 4th St. $25in advance through the Pabst, $29.50 day of show.
7. PHOX: The whimsical folk-pop band, made up of longtime friends from Baraboo, was the most buzzed-about Wisconsin act since Bon Iver, resulting in a “Conan” appearance, gigs at Lollapalooza and Coachella, and multiple tours across the United States and Europe. While working on its sophomore album, PHOX decided to go on an indefinite hiatus, but not before playing some farewell for now shows, including this one in Milwaukee. 8 p.m. Feb. 1, Pabst Theater. $17 in advance, $20 day of show.
8. Lauryn Hill: It’s been close to 20 years since the seminal “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill,” and fans at this point aren’t holding their breath for the follow-up. But there are signs the genre-jumping R&B artist is undergoing an artistic resurgence, singing six songs on a well-received Nina Simone tribute album last year, and launching a festival and tour featuring artists representing different parts of the African diaspora. This will be Hill’s first Milwaukee concert in 15 years. 8 p.m. Feb. 4, Riverside Theater. $59.50 to $95.
9. Noname: Following guest appearances on Chance the Rapper’s “Acid Rap” and “Coloring Book,” Chicago rapper Noname (born Fatimah Warner) is making a name for herself with her quietly confident style, inspired by sparse, sleek neo-soul and a background in slam poetry. Make sure you show up early for local singer Siren, who juxtaposes soulful belting with a powder-keg stage presence. 9 p.m. Feb. 11, Miramar Theatre, 2844 N. Oakland Ave. $12 to $15 at the box office and clubtix.com.
10. Maroon 5: The last time Maroon 5 played a public show in Milwaukee, on Summerfest’s Miller Lite Oasis stage in 2011, it was on the cusp of superstardom; “Moves Like Jagger” was gaining momentum to become one of the biggest hits of the year (and its career), and frontman Adam Levine had just wrapped a successful first season on “The Voice.” Eight more top 10 hits, including one from an impending new album, have happened since. 7:30 p.m. Feb. 20, BMO Harris Bradley Center, 1001 N. 4th St. $33 to $131.50 at the box office, (800) 745-3000 and ticketmaster.com.