Believe it or not, we’ve somehow already reached the last month of 2023. This year was pretty bad, but at least it was noticeably better than the three years before this. Hopefully that trend of gradual improvement within an unending nightmare that is contemporary existence will continue in 2024, but that’s an election year so we’re not going to hold our breath. Anyway, here are 15 standout concerts, comedy shows, film screenings, maker fairs, casserole-based competitions, and holiday spectacles that are happening in and around Milwaukee in December. Enjoy!
Friday, December 1
Brian Posehn @ X-Ray Arcade
A perennial “THAT guy,” Brian Posehn has one of those resumes that boggles the mind. Yes, he’s primarily known for his comedy and his appearances on shows like Just Shoot Me! and The Sarah Silverman Program, but he’s also done voice work for numerous cartoons and video games, and pops up in movies like The Devil’s Rejects. In 2020, Posehn released an album of comedy-metal tunes, Grandpa Metal. Back to the comedy thing: The veteran alt-comic will come to Cudahy for a December 1 performance.
Saturday, December 2
Smoking Popes + Sludgeworth, Teenage Halloween, Devon Kay And The Solutions @ The Back Room @ Colectivo
After a few years away, the tradition of holiday-adjacent Smoking Popes concerts at The Back Room @ Colectivo are back. The long-tenured Midwest pop-punk legends will be joined by Sludgeworth (playing an extremely rare show), as well as Teenage Halloween and Chicago/Milwaukee ska-punk project Devon Kay And The Solutions.
Sunday, December 3
Milwaukee Krampusnacht @ Best Place and Historic Brewery District
Since 2017, Milwaukee Krampusnacht has celebrated the half-goat/half-demon Krampus—a.k.a. a figure from Alpine folklore who punishes naughty children and acts as a foil to the do-gooding Saint Nicholas. The annual blowout boasts a family-friendly night of costumes, music, food and drink, and arts and crafts. As expected, there’s a LOT going on for Milwaukee Krampusnacht 2023: vendors spread across three Brewery District locations, a “comedy roast of Santa Claus” (lol), a “hodag calling contest” (lol), live music from Xposed 4heads and other local acts, and, of course, the American Ghost Walks Krampus Parade.
Hover Craft @ The Pritzlaff Building
Since 2009, Hover Craft has brought skilled local artists, crafters, retailers, and others residing beneath the broad “maker” umbrella together to bring Milwaukee-made goods to area consumers during the holiday season. Today, from noon until 6 p.m., it returns to The Pritzlaff Building for another installment.
Wednesday, December 6
The Black Keys + Colony House @ The Rave/Eagles Club
Since starting out in Akron, Ohio more than 20 years ago, The Black Keys have brought their winning brand of blues rock to the masses. Along the way, the duo has maintained a steady presence on rock charts, performed to massive crowds all over the world, and have remained in regular radio rotation. Speaking of radio, this rare Milwaukee outing for The Black Keys is part of FM 102.1’s annual Big Snow Show. Colony House opens.
Sunday, December 10
Casserole Call: A Hot Dish Bake Off @ Central Waters Milwaukee Taproom
Join Milwaukee Record at Central Waters Milwaukee Taproom on Sunday, December 10 for a daylong celebration of casserole (a.k.a. “hot dish” for our readers with Minnesota roots). The inaugural installment of our Casserole Call event will feature a wide range of area businesses serving up their own unique take on this beloved Midwest culinary favorite and vying for the title of Milwaukee’s Best Casserole—which will be decided by those in attendance. Best yet, a portion of proceeds brought in from Casserole Call will be donated to Kinship Community Food Center.
Blue Collar Christmas with HOSTS + Valley Fox, Danny Freling @ Bad Moon Saloon
After making its debut at Bad Moon Saloon last year, a holiday-adjacent show now known as “Blue Collar Christmas” returns to the bar with a great trio of local acts playing for an equally great cause. Catch HOSTS, Valley Fox, and Danny Freling doing their thing and support a breast cancer foundation in the process at this bluegrass- and country-tinged benefit show.
Wednesday, December 13
Advance Base + Jacob Slade, Maximiano @ Cactus Club
Using the “Advance Base” moniker, Chicago musician Owen Ashworth crafts lo-fi story-driven output that manages to range from humorous and off-kilter to devastatingly beautiful. The multi-instrumentalist will get local support on this Cactus Club bill from Jacob Slade and Maximiano.
Friday, December 15 and Saturday, December 16
Lisa Curry @ The Laughing Tap
Internationally touring comedian, television writer (The Jim Jefferies Show), and host of Sirius XM’s “Long Story Long,” Lisa Curry comes to The Laughing Tap for a trio of performances that will take place at the Walker’s Point club December 15-16.
Friday, December 15 through Sunday, December 17
Jay Pharoah @ Milwaukee Improv
Don’t miss your chance to see actor, comedian, Saturday Night Live alum, and legendary impressionist Jay Pharoah when he comes to Brookfield for a total of five performances December 15-17.
Saturday, December 16
John Cusack Hosting A Screening Of ‘Say Anything’ @ Riverside Theater
Is there anyone better than John Cusack? If you were weaned on ’80s movies like Sixteen Candles, Better Off Dead, and Say Anything…, the answer is “no.” If you were weaned on ’90s movies like Grosse Pointe Blank, Con Air, and Being John Malkovich, the answer is “no.” And if you were weaned on slightly more recent movies like High Fidelity, The Ice Harvest, and Hot Tub Time Machine, the answer is…well, you get the idea. Anyway, Cusack is coming to the Riverside Theater Saturday, December 16 for a screening of the aforementioned Say Anything… and a live conversation. Yes, fans will be able to experience Cusack in all his Lloyd Dobler, Cameron Crowe-directed splendor, as well as in a moderated discussion where the actor will discuss the making of the film, his entire career, and hopefully why he’s so down on Better Off Dead.
Jerry Seinfeld @ Miller High Life Theatre
What’s the deal with Jerry Seinfeld? Find out December 16 when he performs at Miller High Life Theatre.
Wednesday, December 27
Milwaukee Record presents ‘The Fugitive’ @ Avalon Theater
All right, listen up, ladies and gentlemen, we’re screening 1993’s The Fugitive at the Avalon Atmospheric Theater on Wednesday, December 27. Runtime of the film is 130 minutes. What we want from each and every one of you is to share this news with every gas station, residence, warehouse, farmhouse, henhouse, outhouse, and doghouse in the area. Reserved-seating tickets to the 8 p.m. screening are $11, and are on sale NOW. Go get ’em.
Friday, December 29
The Eradicator + Avenues, William Covert, Mertles Acres @ X-Ray Arcade
Have yourself a merry little Squashmas at X-Ray Arcade this month. The Eradicator—a punk rock project based on a popular series of sketches by The Kids In The Hall—will stuff your stockings with awesome/hilarious songs about the sport of squash, the pity he feels for pussheads, and more. Eradicator gets local support from Avenues, William Covert, and Mertles Acres.
Friday. December 29 through Sunday, December 31
Nate Craig @ The Laughing Tap
While he’s now based in Los Angeles, Wisconsin-born comedian/actor Nate Craig returns to his home state with some regularity. After opening for Bill Burr at Fiserv Forum in October and headlining a Turner Hall show in November, Craig will come back to Milwaukee for his annual year-end residency at The Laughing Tap. He’ll perform a total of five shows from December 29-31, including a pair of New Year’s Eve sets.
Have yourself a delicious December, Milwaukee!