After 11 months of fun, it’s almost time for Milwaukee’s events calendar to flip to a new year. Not even counting the city’s six-month run of festivals, block parties, and Jake “The Snake” Roberts doing comedy at Club Garibaldi, it’s been a hell of a year for music, comedy, and general randomness. December is no different. Though the holidays monopolize some of it, the final month of the year is no slouch in regard to concerts, comedians, release shows, last hurrahs, and other hyper-local fun. As we say goodbye to an up-and-down 2018, here are 13 things Milwaukee Record recommends you do this December.
Wednesday, December 5
Thom Yorke + Oliver Coates @ Riverside Theater
Radiohead front man Thom Yorke is coming to Riverside Theater. The legendary bandleader will be joined on stage by Nigel Godrich and visual artist Tarik Barri, who will help Yorke perform songs from his solo endeavors. Oliver Coates will open.
Thursday, December 6
Cairns (album release) + Marielle Allschwang, and Old Earth @ Anodyne’s Walker’s Point Roastery
We’ve already named Cairns’ Entanglement one of Milwaukee’s finest albums and it’s technically not even out yet. The band will make it official this week, as they anchor a stacked Anodyne lineup that also boasts Marielle Allschwang and Old Earth.
Saturday, December 8
Iron Pizza (last shows) @ Circle-A Cafe and Bremen Cafe
In October, Iron Pizza announced they were breaking up, and that their finale(s) will take place during a December 8 doubleheader at Circle-A and Bremen Cafe. Since originally forming in late 2013 as the solo project of Jarred Nonnemacher, the project gradually added new members and became a full-fledged synth-rock band, which we once said “occupies a warped, whacked-out wavelength where every broken thrift shop kiddie keyboard is an instrument to be treasured.”
Once Rachael Thompson, Bryce Kedrowicz, and Jake Brahm joined the Iron Pizza ranks, the band has been a regular and refreshing fixture on shows in Riverwest and Bay View, with a few festival spots—including a slot on this year’s PrideFest—sprinkled in for good measure. Before officially bowing out, the band is planning to play two strikingly different shows on December 8. The first will be an acoustic performance at Circle-A Cafe. Later that night, they’ll plug in and play at Bremen Cafe and will share the stage with a secret band. Thompson promises “lots of glitter, hugs, and tears.”
Wheeler Walker Jr. + Jaime Wyatt @ The Rave
With songs like “I Like Smoking Pot (A Lot)” and “Save Some Titty Milk For Me,” Wheeler Walker Jr. can clearly be classified as a “joke band.” However, Walker and co. counter the humor with an impressive caliber of musicianship and lyrics that manage to expertly straddle the line between crass and shockingly progressive. Mere days after the release of his orally-fixated and outrageously funny WW III, Walker will swing by The Rave to get toes tapping and guts busting with material like “Anal & Dishes” and other favorites from his comedic country catalog.
Friday, December 14
An Evening With Field Report & Friends @ Turner Hall
At the tail end of a year in which Field Report released its wonderful Summertime Songs on a renowned record label, toured the country, earned ample airplay, and welcomed new members into the fold, founding member Christopher Porterfield wanted to reflect on 2018 and give thanks to family, friends, and fans with a celebration of sorts. This December 14, Field Report will be “Home For The Holidays” and will preside over a night of fun and togetherness at Turner Hall. The band will play selections from the latest record, as well as selections from past releases and a couple holiday songs thrown in for good measure.
Friday, December 14 to Thursday, December 20
Milwaukee Record presents “Kinda Sorta Christmas” @ Avalon Theater
By now, some of you are probably already tired of holiday music, sick of that latest onslaught of Hallmark movies, and dreading the frigid temperatures and crowded stores that await you. For those of you seeking an extremely small dash of holiday spirit on top of the seasonal annoyances and expectations this season, Milwaukee Record and Avalon Theater have just the thing.
From December 14 to December 20, we’ll be screening a Christmas-adjacent quartet of semi-tangential holiday movies and/or films that have virtually nothing to do with the season, beyond taking place on or around December 25. Our “Kinda Sorta Christmas” movie series includes four screenings of Gremlins, and three showings of Mean Girls, Batman Returns, and Grumpy Old Men. There will be 13 total screenings! All tickets are $5. HERE is the full schedule.
Sunday, December 16
Milwaukee Record Halftime Show with “SECRET BAND” @ Cactus Club
It’s a secret.
Friday, December 21
Rhett Miller @ The Back Room at Colectivo
Though you probably know him better as the singer of Old 97’s, Rhett Miller has plied his songwriting skills into a respectable solo career, too. For the second time in less than nine months, the crooner will drop by The Back Room @ Colectivo to play material from his seven solo records and, with any luck, stripped-down versions of Old 97’s classics.
Buffalo Gospel + Joseph Huber, and Erik Koskinen @ The Cooperage
It’s been quite a year for Buffalo Gospel. Following a lengthy break between records and significant lineup changes in the process, the Milwaukee country outfit truly returned to form in 2018 with On The First Bell. Not only is the long-awaited record is one of the year’s best local releases, it’s also garnered praise from national publications, earned the band slots on respected festivals and in support of touring talent, and brought the band to new stages in faraway places—including a run of shows in Nashville. Before what looks to be an even bigger 2019, the band will big adieu to their breakout annual with a headlining set at The Cooperage. The great Joseph Huber will play in support, along with Erik Koskinen.
Kurt Vile And The Violators + Jessica Pratt @ Turner Hall
In took some time, but Kurt Vile And The Violators finally made their long-awaited Milwaukee debut with an altogether satisfying Pabst Theater outing in early 2016. Now, roughly two months after the release of his excellent Bottle It In, Vile and his Violators will return to downtown Milwaukee to headline a holiday-adjacent affair at Turner Hall. Jessica Pratt opens.
Saturday, December 22
The Eradicator + Population Control, No Question, and Curbsitter @ Cactus Club
The Eradicator is a punk project based on a masked, squash racket-wielding Kids In The Hall character by the same name. Okay, so it’s technically a Chicago band, but there are Milwaukee members involved as well. Nowthat we’ve had a few months to recover from their unforgettable Bay View Bash set, The Eradicator will return to the Milwaukee neighborhood to headline a loaded Cactus Club bill that also features Population Control, No Question, and Curbsitter.
Saturday, December 29 and Monday, December 31
Horseshoes & Hand Grenades + Chicken Wire Empire, Sarah Vos, and Adam Greuel @ Miller Caves (12/29) and Pabst Theater (12/31)
Wisconsin bluegrass mainstay and Central Waters beer inspiration Horseshoes & Hand Grenades is known to close out each year with a memorable show in Milwaukee. This time around, the band will perform two late-December shows in a pair of drastically different venues. First, HHG will play an intimate show in the Miller Caves (this sold out almost instantly, unfortunately) before taking the stage for a New Year’s Eve performance at Pabst Theater. Chicken Wire Empire, Sarah Vos of Dead Horses notoriety, and Horseshoes & Hand Grenades member Adam Greuel will play in support.
Monday, December 31
Shane Mauss @ The Underground Collaborative
Western Wisconsin native Shane Mauss grew up near La Crosse, but actually got his stand-up start in Boston before winding up in Los Angeles and bringing his act to comedy clubs throughout the country. When he wasn’t performing hundreds of show a year, Mauss released a Comedy Central Presents special and two albums, performed on Conan (five times!), and found his material evolving considerably. The comedian will return to his home state to perform at The UC for the second time in three months. Before closing out the year with this show, you can learn more about Mauss’ background, his growth, and his life as a road comic by listening to his episode of our On The Record podcast.