It wasn’t too long ago that January was pretty much a vacant, blustery tundra that was devoid of Milwaukee entertainment options. Between frigid conditions, uncertainties regarding Packers playoff seeding, and the post-holiday hangover, most venues opted to clear their show schedules, while performers—not unlike the rest of us—became hermits, only to emerge for groceries and to use gift cards obtained the previous month. Fortunately, those days seem to be over.
Between a flurry of out-of-town musicians playing long-awaited shows, stacked local bills, some world class comedians, and a new N/A beverage festival, this particular January isn’t too shabby at all. Though we don’t know whether all of these events will actually happen on account of the still-raging pandemic, here are 14 events worthy of your consideration.
Thursday, January 6 to Saturday, January 8
Ms. Pat @ Milwaukee Improv
The life story of Patricia Williams (aka Ms. Pat) is nothing short of astounding. Once a teen mom who was selling drugs in Atlanta, she turned her life around and, by way of her incomparable perspective and undeniable talent, shifted her focus to comedy. In the years that followed that significant life change, Ms. Pat has amassed an abundance of TV credits, started a popular podcast, wrote a critically-acclaimed and NAACP Award-nominated memoir, and has toured extensively. Ms. Pat will drop by Milwaukee Improv in nearby Brookfield for a total of five shows spread between three January nights.
Saturday, January 8
Milwaukee Record presents N/A Day: A “Dry January” Beverage Festival @ The Cooperage
Join Milwaukee Record for the inaugural N/A Day on Saturday, January 8. From 12-4 p.m. that day, The Cooperage will play host to a “Dry January” beverage festival, which will feature dozens of local and national vendors giving out samples of some of their finest non-alcoholic offerings. The event—which is presented by Milwaukee Record and sponsored by Athletic Brewing Company, Budweiser Zero, Lagunitas IPNA, and WMSE—will feature a vast and varied array of booze-free drinks, including non-alcoholic beer and seltzer, kombucha, tonic, batched mocktails, N/A wine and spirits, craft sodas, and more. Admission is $20 in advance—or $25 the day of the event—and includes samples from every participating vendor.
Monday, January 10
mewithoutYou + Unwed Sailor @ X-Ray Arcade
Has it already been 16 years since mewithoutYou released Brother, Sister? Since mewitoutYou is about to embark on a 16-Year Anniversary Tour in honor of the iconic album, we’re going to say it has. That tour will stop in Cudahy for a Monday night performance at X-Ray Arcade. Unwed Sailor will play in support.
Tuesday, January 11
Radkey @ Cactus Club
Since Dee, Isaiah, and Solomon Radke started Radkey back in 2011, the sibling band has released two well-received albums and three EPs, and has served as touring support for the likes of Foo Fighters, Jack White, Rise Against, The Damned, WIZO, Descendents, and Local H. The rock trio will return to Cactus Club to head up an early-week outing.
Friday, January 14
Sleepersound + Panda Riot, Dramatic Lovers, Blue Unit @ X-Ray Arcade
Over at X-Ray Arcade, a trio of great local bands—Sleepersound, Dramatic Lovers, and Blue Unit—will be joined by Chicago-based Panda Riot for a stacked shoegaze showcase.
Zed Kenzo + Nile @ Nō Studios
Nō Studios will host a pair of accomplished and all-around outstanding Milwaukee rappers on Friday, January 14. Zed Kenzo and Nile (a.k.a NilexNile) will perform.
Friday, January 14 and Saturday, January 15
Yule Ball @ Turner Hall
Celebrate five years of the Yule Ball with two nights of Harry Potter-focused fun presented by our friends at Awkward Nerd Events. In addition to the expected revelry of previous Balls, this year’s installment will also feature a Pride Night with drag performances on Friday and the first ever Triwizard Tournament on Saturday.
Johnny Beehner @ The Laughing Tap
Since starting out in Milwaukee roughly 20 years ago, comedian Johnny Beehner has accomplished quite a lot. The now-Los Angeles-based comic performed on the Late Show With David Letterman shortly before the host retired, and he’s become a frequent feature act for renowned humorists like Brian Regan and Jim Gaffigan. Beehner will return to his hometown for a pair of shows at Laughing Tap.
Thursday, January 20
Courtney Barnett + Julia Jacklin @ Pabst Theater
Australian singer-songwriter Courtney Barnett will come to Pabst Theater in belated support of last year’s wonderful Things Take Time, Take Time. Julia Jacklin opens.
Friday, January 21 and Saturday, January 22
Charlie Berens @ Riverside Theater
Affable actor, writer, comedian, and Emmy-winning host Charlie Berens has made a name for himself throughout Wisconsin (and far beyond) with his “Manitowoc Minute” segments and other hilarious videos that are rooted in Midwest-themed humor. In addition to making content that has garnered millions of views, hosting his great CripesCast podcast, writing a Midwestern guide book, and joining forces with Adam Greuel of Horseshoes & Hand Grenades to release an album full of Wisconsin-centric songs, Berens has also adapted his web-based material into a sidesplitting long-form theater show. The multi-faceted performer will treat Riverside Theater to a total of four shows in his Midwest Survival Guide Tour. Keep ‘Er Movin’ and buy those tickets now.
Sunday, January 23
Low Cut Connie + Robert Finley @ The Back Room @ Colectivo
Over the course of the project’s decade-long existence, Low Cut Connie—a project headed up by singer/pianist Adam Weiner has released six acclaimed albums, toured the world, earned high praise from legendary musicians like Elton John and Bruce Springsteen, and has become a favorite of two United States Presidents. Weiner has been especially busy since last March, performing more than 100 “Tough Cookies” livestream shows to millions of viewers all over the world and releasing the latest Low Cut Connie album. Finally able to hit the road again, Low Cut Connie will treat The Back Room @ Colectivo to an in-person performance. Joining Weiner is opener Robert Finley, a blind blues singer whose album, Sharecropper’s Son, was one of our personal favorite records of 2021.
Wednesday, January 26
Milwaukee Record presents ‘Clueless’ @ Avalon Theater
Loosely based on Jane Austen’s novel Emma (if it took place in mid-1990s Beverly Hills, that is), Clueless follows affable and affluent teen Cher Horowitz (played by Alicia Silverstone in a breakout and career-defining role) as she navigates the high school hierarchy and broadens her world view. The Amy Heckerling-written/directed film also features Stacey Dash, Paul Rudd—looking remarkably similar to the way he does today—and the late, great Brittany Murphy. The low-budget movie grossed more than $56 million during its theatrical run en route to becoming a cult classic that’s still regularly quoted and widely enjoyed today. We hope to, like, totally see you at Avalon Theater on January 26. As if you would miss this.
Jeff Rosenstock @ Turner Hall
Prolific ska-punk troubadour Jeff Rosenstock is coming to Turner Hall in January. If you know Jeff Rosenstock, you’re probably well aware of this and you’ve already bought your ticket. On the off chance you didn’t know about this, now you do.
Friday, January 28
Doughboys Podcast @ Turner Hall
In January of 2020, Doughboys—a popular chain restaurant podcast—came to Milwaukee for a long-awaited live show at Turner Hall and to finally review Culver’s for the first time in the show’s history. Joined by comedian Carl Tart, hosts Nick Wiger and Mike “The Spoonman” Mitchell (a.k.a. “Mr. Slice”) delighted a ballroom full of fast food fanatics by discussing the beloved Wisconsin-based chain and some other area eating institutions before sampling some local brewdogs Milwaukee Record procured for their “Drank Or Stank” segment. On January 28, Mitch, Wiger, Emma, and a special guest TBA will return to Tuner Hall to review another Wisconsin chain. Will they go to Cousins? Is a Rocky Rococo review in our future? There are a lot of great ones to choose from, so it’s bound to be awesome.