Believe it or not, we’ve somehow already reached the last month of 2022. This year was pretty terrible for so many people, but at least it was noticeably better than the previous two years were. Hopefully that trend of gradual improvement within an unending nightmare that is contemporary existence will continue in 2023, but we’re not going to hold our breath. Anyway, here are 15 standout concerts, comedy shows, film screenings, maker fairs, and holiday spectacles that are happening in and around Milwaukee in December.
Friday, December 2
Collections Of Colonies Of Bees + Rx Drugs, You Win !!! @ The Cooperage
After a few years of hibernation, Milwaukee’s Collections Of Colonies Of Bees have begun to make some noise. The celebrated and long-running post-rock group led by guitarist Chris Rosenau played this year’s Bay View Bash, the Seventh Stanine Festival at Cactus Club, and a recent installment of WMSE’s Local/Live. Set lists have featured songs from 2018’s excellent HAWAII, as well as new tunes that may appear in recorded form sometime in 2023. Tonight, CoCoBees (Rosenau, Marielle Allschwang, Ben Derickson, Matt Skemp, Dan Spack) are joined by equally fantastic local groups You Win !!! and Rx Drugs.
Conner O’Malley @ Cactus Club
If you forgot to get tickets to see Chicago comedian Conner O’Malley (Joe Pera Talks With You, I Think You Should Leave, countless crazy/comical YouTube videos) at Milwaukee’s Cactus Club, well, you’re out of luck. Both the early and late shows are sold out.
Friday, December 2 to Sunday, December 4
George Wallace + J. Anthony Brown, Myra J @ Milwaukee Improv
George Wallace—the veteran comedian, not the segregationist monster by the same name—is one of the best to ever do it. The iconic comic, actor, and one of the only few bright spots left on Twitter will treat the Milwaukee Improv in nearby Brookfield to four performances over the course of three early December nights. He’ll be joined by J. Anthony Brown and Myra J. It’s going to be great and whatnot.
Saturday, December 3
Thursday + Cursive, Anthony Green @ The Rave/Eagles Club
What could be better than Thursday performing Full Collapse in its entirety? Thursday performing Full Collapse in its entirety AND Cursive performing Domestica in its entirety during the same show! Coincidentally, that’s exactly what will be happening at The Rave on December 3. Oh, and to make things even better, Anthony Green of Circa Survive notoriety will open.
Sunday, December 4
Hover Craft @ Pritzlaff Building
Hover Craft has brought skilled local artists, crafters, retailers, and others residing beneath the broad “maker” umbrella together under one roof since 2009. This year, more than 110 vendors will partake in the festivities. Admission—which includes timed ticketing for easier shopping this year—is $5. Kids get in free. Check out the full vendor list HERE.
Wednesday, December 7
Eric Benét @ Potawatomi Hotel & Casino
Since first cutting his teeth on stages in Milwaukee during his youth, Eric Benét has released a treasure trove of smooth R&B jams, he’s achieved worldwide acclaim, and he’s toured the planet a few times over. On December 7, the local success story will return to his native Milwaukee for a night to perform favorites from his sprawling catalog.
Saturday, December 10
Patti LaBelle + Jeff Bradshaw @ Riverside Theater
Get ready for “an evening of holiday and hits” with the legendary Patti LaBelle. Opener Jeff Bradshaw will also take part in this can’t-miss yuletide affair.
Thursday, December 15 to Saturday, December 17
Mary Mack @ The Laughing Tap
Though she was born in Duluth and she currently calls Minnesota home, comedian/actor Mary Mack was raised just across the Mississippi River in a small Wisconsin town called Webster. Since her comic outset, Mack has released five albums, performed on Conan and Last Call With Carson Daly, competed on Last Comic Standing, and delved into voiceover with work on Aqua Teen Hunger Force and a recurring role on the animated Hulu series Solar Opposites. Mack headlined the 2020 Milwaukee Comedy Festival, and she returns to The Laughing Tap in Walker’s Point for five total shows December 15-17.
Friday, December 16
Found Footage Festival: Where Are They Now? @ The Back Room @ Colectivo
Milwaukee is no stranger to Joe Pickett and Nick Pruehe of Found Footage Festival fame. However, this particular FFF show at The Back Room @ Colectivo provides updates on where video subjects are now…in addition to sidesplitting commentary of truly absurd footage they’ve collected through the years.
Friday, December 16 and Saturday, December 17
Dave Attell @ Milwaukee Improv
Veteran stand-up, former Insomniac host, and comic’s comic Dave Attell will end autumn on a strong note with a total of four performances at Milwaukee Improv in nearby Brookfield on December 16-17.
Saturday, December 17
Samantha Fish + Jesse Dayton @ Shank Hall
Midwestern singer-songwriter and blues rock guitar virtuoso Samantha Fish will drop by Shank Hall on December 17 to play a show in belated support of her outstanding 2021 album, Faster. Genre-blending up and comer Jesse Dayton will open things up.
Tuesday, December 20
A Boy Band Christmas @ Potawatomi Hotel & Casino
Enjoy an extra special night of “holiday songs and unforgettable hits” when A Boy Band Christmas—which features members of 98 Degrees, All-4-One, and O-Town, as well as Ryan Cabrera in its ranks—treats Northern Lights Theater to a winning mix of Christmastime classics and maybe even some originals from their albums that, when combined, have sold more than 80 million copies.
Wednesday, December 28
Milwaukee Record presents ‘Uncle Buck’ at Avalon Theater
We’re ending our 2022 Avalon Theater movie series on a high note with a screening of Uncle Buck. Much like Planes, Trains And Automobiles, this 1989 film was written and directed by John Hughes and stars the incomparable John Candy as an abrasive and misunderstood man with the best intentions. This time around, Candy—who plays the titular Buck Russell—is joined by a supporting cast consisting of Macaulay Culkin (a year before his breakout performance in Home Alone), Jean Louisa Kelly, Gaby Hoffmann, Laurie Metcalf, among others. This extra special December 28 screening in Avalon’s intimate Backstage Theater, so get those tickets while you can!
Friday, December 30
SHAQ a.k.a. DJ Diesel @ The Rave/Eagles Club
Roughly 15 months removed from headlining the Miller Lite Oasis at last year’s Summerfest, DJ Diesel (a.k.a. Hall Of Fame basketball player and cultural icon Shaquille O’Neal) will return to Milwaukee to get behind the turntables and dole out some jams at The Rave on the penultimate night of 2022.
Saturday, December 31
Horseshoes & Hand Grenades + Armchair Boogie, Ryan Necci And The Buffalo Gospel @ Turner Hall
Exactly a year after this show was supposed take place over at the Pabst Theater, the rescheduled New Years Eve concert featuring Horseshoes & Hand Grenades, Armchair Boogie, and Ryan Necci & The Buffalo Gospel will finally take the stage for a December 31 show at nearby Turner Hall. This one will be well worth the wait.