Halloween as we know it didn’t happen last year, but thanks to vaccinations (hey, get vaccinated!), the world is once again in a place where the holiday can be enjoyed in something resembling a “normal” capacity. From Thursday night through October 31 itself, the city will play host to countless cover concerts, beer releases, drag performances, frightening film screenings, comedy shows, bar transformations, and more. If you’ve yet to make plans or you’re just looking to make the most of one of the best times of the year, check out our guide of Milwaukee area Halloween events.
Thursday, October 28
The Rocky Horror Trixie Show with Trixie Mattel @ This Is It!
Milwaukee drag superstar and former RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars champion Trixie Mattel will honor a classic film when she hosts Rocky Horror Trixie Show at This Is It! (which she co-owns). The so-called “night of costumes, contests, and Rocky” will feature performances by Fay Ludes, Lola Rome, Ester Flonaze, Iconika Strange, Spencer, and Kenya J Sanchez. After the show, Trixie will judge a costume contest, which features cash prizes for the top three finishers.
Stand Up Comedy @ The Sugar Maple
This Halloween-adjacent Sugar Maple comedy show features a scary-good lineup, including Reier Cammerman, Darrell Cochran, Luise Noe, Elijah Holbrook and headliner Ryan Mason.
Milwaukee Record Halftime Show: Fight Dice @ Cactus Club
As chance would have it, the pre-Halloween installment of our Milwaukee Record Halftime Show features a Dungeons & Dragons-inspired supergroup called Fight Dice. This abbreviated set doubles as the live debut of the band that features current and former members of The Promise Ring, Braid, Dramatic Lovers, Devils Teeth, and Tigernite. It’s free, it’s all-ages, and who knows…maybe Green Bay will pull off an upset in Arizona.
Blockbuster Halloween Bash @ Lost Whale
Goes through October 31.
Friday, October 29
Vincent Van Great & Amanda Huff + Black Challenger (record release), American Progress @ Best Place At The Historic Pabst Brewery
On the new Vincent Van Great and Amanda Huff EP, Troublemakers, Van Great sets aside his hip-hop chops and showcases his smooth singing voice, top-notch songwriting skills, and flare for production in other genres. Huff, meanwhile, offers velvety vocals that elevate the ambitious record to untold levels. The pair will perform cuts from the standout release when they headline a Best Place bill that also features opener American Progress and serves as Black Challenger’s album release show as well.
Halloween Weekend @ Mad Planet
Is there a better place to spend Halloween weekend than the eternally goth-friendly Mad Planet? No, no there is not. DJs James Freshluggage and Paul H. will handle Retro Dance Party duties on Friday night, while the Riverwest club will host a combination costume contest / ’90s and ’00s dance party on Saturday night. Will Mad Planet be decked out (more than usual) for the Halloween season? You bet it will.
Halloween Flight Night @ Indeed Brewing Company
Fresh off its awesome Lowdown street festival last month, Indeed Brewing Company continues to keep things interesting with another enticing group of seasonally appropriate offerings. October 29 through October 31, the brewery’s Milwaukee taproom is selling crowlers of candy-inspired infusions paired with sweets. Pairings include: Chocolate Coconut Almond Cream Ale and Almond Joy, Mint Chocolate Porter and Andes Mint, Peanut Butter Cup Cream Ale and Reese’s, Fruit Chew Strawberry Melon and Mamba. There will also be Beer Brûlée and pumpkin carving offered outside the brewery on Saturday (weather permitting).
Saturday, October 30
Betty Boo’s Spooktacular @ Betty Brinn Children’s Museum
On Saturday and Sunday, Betty Brinn Children’s Museum will host a family-friendly and not-at-all frightening affair called Betty Boo’s Spooktacular. There’s a scavenger hunt, Be A Maker space activities, a dance party, and a visit from Birdy Brinn. Saturday will also offer performances by Milwaukee rapper/videographer and viral video sensation Wes Tank at 11:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.
Halloween On Brady Street
Brady Street bars are sure to be going all out for Halloween all weekend long, but Saturday night’s aptly-named “Halloween On Brady Street” event will feature 19 East Side establishments banding together for a neighborhood-wide costume contest. The grand prize winner will take home $1,000. Second and third place will get $500 and $250, respectively.
Group Of The Altos + Chris Porterfield @ Cactus Club
Putting the “treat” in “trick or treat,” long-dormant post-rock outfit Group Of The Altos is getting the (big) band back together for this Halloween Eve show at Cactus Club. Save for a surprise single in December 2020, the self-described “surly high school orchestra” hasn’t put out a new release since 2015’s R U Person Or Not. That record was a wonderfully jagged and breathless album, full of new ideas and scuffed-up versions of old ones. What does 2021 hold for the oftentimes 12-piece band? “The Altos will bring a whole bunch of instruments and intend to get loud,” says the group. Field Report namesake Chris Porterfield opens this can’t-miss show.
Nightmare On Center Street @ Company Brewing
It’s an all-day Halloween party at Company Brewing! A pet costume contest kicks things off from noon – 4 p.m., followed by modular synth music and accompanying visuals on the patio from 6-10 p.m. Two local bands will play a little musical dress-up from there: Fellow Kinsman will play the music as The Cars, while Fight The Heathens will play the music of System Of A Down. Hell yeah. After that, from midnight until close, buckle up for some costumed “scaryoke.”
Diet Lite (Nirvana) + Falling Flat (Limp Bizkit), Tigera (Judas Priest) @ Bremen Cafe
Speaking of bands doing the music (and looking the part of) other bands, indie-rock faves Diet Lite will channel Seattle’s finest at this Bremen Cafe show. We also can’t wait for Tigera doing Judas Priest, because, as we all know, Priest is the best, man! Priest is the best, I’m telling you! Hey, lemme tell you. Rob Halford is the baddest motherfucking singer aroooouuuund! And K.K. Downing, man? That motherfucker can play some guitar! Priest is bad, man! Priest is number one in heavy metal, man!
Halloween Pup-up @ various locations
Our friends at Awkward Nerd Events invite you to bring your pups out for a Harry Potter-themed photo shoot on Saturday, October 30. The FREE photo-set up (complete with backdrops and costumes) will start at Mac’s Pet Depot Bakery at 10 a.m. before moving to Pete’s Pops in Bay View at noon and Faklandia Brewery in St. Francis at 2 p.m.
Sunday, October 31
Cosmic Lavender Country Tour: Lavender Country + Andrew Sa, Cosmic Country Showcase @ Cactus Club
If there’s a better way to spend your Halloween than with the legendary Lavender Country—the “world’s first gay country band”—we’d like to hear it. Formed in 1972 and still led by singer and guitarist Patrick Haggerty, the group is known for such tunes as “Cryin’ These Cocksucking Tears” and “I Can’t Shake The Stranger Out Of You.” Surrounding this show will be the Cosmic Country Showcase, “an homage to country variety shows like Grand Ole Opry with an extraterrestrial-psychedelic twist.” There’s nothing Halloween-related about this show. It’s just going to be awesome.