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 festival and block parties, 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, stand-up shows, and other hyper-local fun. As we say goodbye to an enjoyable 2015, here are 15 things Milwaukee Record recommends you do in December.
Thursday, December 3
Midwives (EP release show) + Doubletruck, and Piles at High Dive
As if the outstanding self-titled album Midwives put out earlier this year wasn’t enough, the up-and-coming hardcore outfit will end 2015 screaming with a shorter-yet-sweeter EP called Cowboy Songs (streaming on this very website Wednesday!). Speaking of great 2015 release, holy shit was Planet Skin, the second record by opener Piles, awesome! Come by High Dive for the Packers game, eat some mac & cheese, and stay for the show.
8th Annual 88Nine Radio Milwaukee Music Awards
As the calendar turned to November, end-of-year award season officially arrived in Milwaukee. Though certain trusted publications are desperately soliciting your input for dumb shit like who (between Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s) has the city’s finest produce selection or which multi-national banking institution is the best for opening a checking account, leave it to 88Nine Radio Milwaukee to shine an adept light on local music with its massive Radio Milwaukee Music Awards ballot. Now culled down to a select few nominees, the station will hand out hardware for Album Of The Year, Band Of The Year, Song Of The Year, Music Video Of The Year, and more between performances by Klassik, Greatest Lakes, Siren, No No Yeah Okay, and DJ Kiki Champ.
Friday, December 4
Amy Schumer at BMO Harris Bradley Center
In a year that saw Amy Schumer partnering with Judd Apatow on Trainwreck, hosting SNL, winning an Emmy for her eponymous Comedy Central series, putting out her Live At The Apollo special on HBO, and crossing the threshold between acerbic comedian and impassioned cultural icon, it’s only fitting that she conclude her staggering 2015 in a big way. On Friday, December 4, Schumer’s ongoing ascent will continue, as she will begin her abbreviated arena tour in Milwaukee. The BMO Harris Bradley Center will be the first of the stand-up star’s seven-show tour. It’s sure to be one of the biggest comedy shows in Milwaukee, both in terms of the venue’s size and the caliber of comedian.
Milwaukee Record “From The Stage To The Booth” DJ Night at Blackbird
Way back in September, we announced the lineup for Blackbird’s “From The Stage To The Booth” DJ series, which finds a different musical act taking over the Bay View bar’s turntables from 10 until close every Friday through the end of the year. To this point, bands like Static Eyes, Drugs Dragons, Heavy Hand, Space Raft, and Gallery Night have played some records. Along the way, the series will break format a bit to let little old Milwaukee Record provide an entirely local soundtrack. Co-founders/editors Tyler Maas and Matt Wild will take turns playing some of their favorite Milwaukee music as part of what’s being billed as a “Local Spin.” Beyond hearing regional classics, area obscurities, and getting a preview of some records that may wind up on our Best Albums of 2015 list, the DJ duo will also have hourly raffles for Blackbird gift certificates and Milwaukee Record t-shirts (which will also be on sale).
Cactus Club Music & Comedy Show
Ryan Holman’s quarterly Cactus Club Music & Comedy Shows are always a treat. This one is no different, as the local funnyman has rounded up an eclectic cast of some of the finest comics and musicians Milwaukee, Madison, and Chicago have to offer, including: Liza Marie, Allison Dunne (Chicago by way of Milwaukee), Liz Ziner (Chicago by way of Milwaukee), Carly Malison, Addie Blanchard, and tunes from Pleasure Thief and Oh My Love (Madison).
Naked Raygun + Direct Hit!, and Death And Memphis at Turner Hall
We’ve referenced punk bands’ proclivity for skipping over Milwaukee in favor of (ugh!) Madison and (double ugh!) Chicago at length, but credit the Pabst Theater Group for luring a legend to town. Naked Raygun will make its first appearance in Milwaukee in more than 20 years. Beloved local pop-punkers (and hot sauce magnates) Direct Hit!, and Chicago-based Death And Memphis will cement this rarity as a can’t-miss concert.
Saturday, December 5
Buffalo Gospel + Hello Death, and Christopher Porterfield at Anodyne (Walker’s Point)
Buffalo Gospel possesses the uncanny ability of writing material that manages to be both immensely gorgeous and devastatingly sad. With an unmistakable nod to classic country and a penchant for bleary, booze-soaked emotion, the band found well-warranted local consciousness with its timeless and tragic 2013 record We Can Be Horses before chasing it with a lovelorn “Here Lies Our Lovin’” last year. On the wings of its tragic and downright beautiful two-song EP, Waiting for The Lights To Go Out, the Gospel will headline and all-ages affair at Anodyne that also features Hello Death and Field Report’s own Christopher Porterfield.
Temple (last show) + Dead Seat, Marcy, and Myles Coyne at High Dive
With roots that extend back to playing together as Green Bay high school students, the members of long-running and altogether awesome Milwaukee post-hardcore band Temple will officially put the project to rest Saturday at an all-ages show. Marcy, the new project of singer Jamie Yanda and drummer Cassidy DW and ex Temple bassist Myles Coyne will precede Temple’s finale.
Wednesday, December 9
Rhett Miller + Mike Benign at Shank Hall
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. The crooner will play material from his seven solo records and, with any luck, stripped-down versions of Old 97’s classics.
Thursday, December 10
Weezer + Glass Animals, X-Ambassadors, and Borns at The Rave
You know who Weezer is and, yeah, we agree that they totally suck now. Who knows, maybe they’ll play some old stuff.
Sunday, December 13
Hover Craft at The Prtizlaff Building
Since 2009, Hover Craft has served as a holiday-adjacent event that offers an eclectic and extensive lineup of Milwaukee artists, makers, and hyper-local retailers a forum to sell their handmade wares, while offering customers an opportunity to mark some names off their holiday shopping list with a massive selection of unique items made and sold right here in Milwaukee. Not to mention shoppers’ ability to browse while drinking beer and listening to DJs play specifically non-seasonal music. More than 70 Milwaukee-based vendors will be on hand for this year’s Hover Craft, including Kpolly, controversial painter Filthy Freehand, Orchard Street Press, Madam Chino, cat calendar and greeting card magnate Kate Funk, and the works of founders/organizers Ashley Smith, Cortney Heimerl, and Vanessa Andrew.
Saturday, December 19
Mad Planet Ugly Sweater Holiday Party
In its first three years, Mad Planet’s Ugly Sweater Holiday Party has combined some of Milwaukee’s best musical acts and worst seasonal garments into a wonderful yuletide event that has become as much a part of the city’s December tradition as Hover Craft, Jim Gaffigan’s Pabst Theater residency, and crippling seasonal depression. Past iterations brought Phox, The Fatty Acids, Soul Low, Surgeons In Heat, The Living Statues, and one of the first performances of what would become New Age Narcissism to the Riverwest club. With all due respect to previous lineups, the fourth annual Ugly Sweater Holiday Party could be the best one yet. Don your shittiest holiday sweater and head to Mad Planet to enjoy music by Jaill, Midnight Reruns, Dogs In Ecstasy, and Andi Action. The show begins at 9 p.m. and costs $8, or just $5 for those who wear an ugly sweater.
Tuesday, December 29 to Thursday, December 31
Jim Gaffigan at Pabst Theater
As Milwaukee puts a bow on yet another impressive year in regard to comedy (both growing it locally and bringing a wealth of great touring talent), the city will laugh 2015 off with an impressive—yet, by this point, expected—way as comedian/author/actor Jim Gaffigan will return for the ninth straight end-of-year Pabst Theater residency. The gut-busting gourmand will dole out laughs with his beloved material about food, marriage, and, um, probably more stuff about food.
Thursday, December 31
Shane Mauss at Milwaukee’s Comedy Cafe
With all due respect to Frank Caliendo (very little), comedian Shane Mauss might be the funniest comic with direct Wisconsin ties working today. The La Crosse native relocated to California long ago, but he graciously makes sure to swing through his home state fairly regularly to extol his heady and hilarious scientific material to Wisconsin comedy clubs. The up-and-coming comic will come to the new and in no way whatsoever improved Comedy Cafe for a pair of New Year’s Eve performances.
Soup Moat + Static Eyes at High Dive
New Year’s Eve is a pressure-packed affair. Where and with whom one is standing when one year turns to another means a lot to some people and, more often than not, it winds up being disappointing. Instead of feeling the strain of finding the most memorable way to start 2016, just say fuck it and watch two great/criminally under-appreciated bands—Soup Moat and Static Eyes—and get really, really, responsibly drunk.