November. Summer is now far in the rear view mirror. The Milwaukee Film Festival is officially over. By now, your Halloween costume has been washed, de-vomited, and stored away for later use. On paper, November doesn’t offer much beyond Thanksgiving. It’s the continuation of one season and the precursor to another. Still, between lauded comedians and bands coming to town, some local release shows, a live Mystery Science Theater 3000 show, and a city-wide NBA Jam tournament, there’s plenty to keep Milwaukee occupied as we await the impending wintry doom. Here are 15 of our top picks.
Saturday, November 2
Mystery Science Theater 3000 Live @ Miller High Life Theatre
Could this be the final movie sign for a franchise that’s seen multiple hosts, multiple networks, a feature film, numerous spin-offs, a reboot, and too many live permutations to count? Well, this MST3K tour is being billed as the last for creator/original host Joel Hodgson, so there’s that. Say it ain’t so, Joel! He’ll be joined by Tom Servo, Crow, Gypsy, and the riff-ready film No Retreat, No Surrender.
Sunday, November 3
Celine Dion @ Fiserv Forum
Near, far, wherever you are…we believe you should try to make it out to Fiserv Forum to see an ultra-rare appearance by international singing sensation Celine Dion when she comes to Milwaukee this weekend.
Friday, November 8
Flat Teeth (album release) + Mertles Acres, Live Tetherball Tonight @ Cactus Club
Last year, we introduced you to Flat Teeth—a Milwaukee indie outfit that features current and former members of John The Savage, Paper Holland, The Invaders, and Twelve Ounce Prophet in its ranks—when we streamed their impressive and emotional debut EP, Winter House. In the 12-plus months since that standout six-track release first saw the light of day, the band has been making up for lost time with a heft of shows, ample local radio play, and by heading right back into the studio to record their first full-length album. On Friday, November 8, Flat Teeth will release Silent Seconds. The follow-up to Winter House features 11 songs, which the band recorded at a combination of three spots. The headliner will be preceded by Mertles Acres and Live Tetherball Tonight.
JP Harris + S.S. Web, Bruce Humphries & The Rockabilly Rebels @ Pabst Milwaukee Brewery & Taproom
A road-hardened neo-country great, Nashville’s J.P. Harris is a rare breed of roots musician who actually did many of the things he chronicles in his songs. The musician, truck driver, construction worker, carpenter, and shepherd spent years living in a cabin with no electricity. If his stories aren’t amazing enough, his music more than makes up for it. Last year’s Sometimes Dogs Bark At Nothing garnered its fair share of critical acclaim on the weight of standout songs like “When I Quit Drinking” and “JP’s Florida Blues #1.” A few months removed for his X-Ray Arcade show (where he graciously took time to be a guest on our My First Band podcast), Harris returns to the region to headline a show at Pabst Milwaukee Brewery & Taproom. Milwaukee’s own S.S. Web will play in support.
Thursday, November 14
Montell Jordan @ Potawatomi Hotel & Casino
You see, the hood’s been good to Montell Jordan, ever since he was a lowercase G. But now he’s a big G and he’s got a concert at Potawatomi Hotel & Casino in November, y’all. If you want to hear “This Is How We Do It” and “Let’s Ride” live, here’s your chance.
Daniel Van Kirk + Andrew Youngblood @ The Underground Collaborative
Dan Van Kirk is the pride of Rochelle, Illinois. The (now-L.A.-based) stand-up comedian, improvisor, impressionist, and podcaster—who’s probably best-known in the medium for his work alongside the Sklaar Brothers on Dumb People Town—returns to his beloved Midwest with fellow comic, Andrew Youngblood, when “The Together Tour” drops by The Underground Collaborative.
Friday, November 15 — Saturday, November 16
Chicken Wire Empire @ The Back Room @ Colectivo
Even though Chicken Wire Empire—a bluegrass band featured in an hour-long film who have shared the stage with the likes of Yonder Mountain String Band and The Big Wu—have little left to prove, the group didn’t waste any time before making good on their New Year’s resolution when they released their first record in more than four years, What Moves Mountains, on January 1. At the tail end of a year that featured that long-awaited follow-up and will culminate with a tour in Germany, Chicken Wire Empire hold down The Back Room @ Colectivo for a two-night residency.
Saturday, November 16
NBA Jamboree (city-wide ‘NBA Jam’ tournament) @ X-Ray Arcade
Think of some iconic duos: Stockton and Malone. Kemp and Schrempf. Mullin and Hardaway. Thomas and Laimbeer. Milwaukee Record and X-Ray Arcade. All of these pairs will be present at the Cudahy arcade this November during the inaugural NBA Jamboree. On Saturday, November 16, Milwaukee Record will host a city-wide NBA Jam tournament at X-Ray Arcade. This all-ages event will pit players from all around the region against one another in a day-long battle for the title of metro Milwaukee’s best ‘NBA Jam’ player. Early rounds will be played on emulators (SNES and Sega versions), with the action moving to an ‘NBA Jam’ arcade cabinet as the field shrinks and the stakes get higher. You’ve been warned! Space is limited to 32 competitors, so sign up now.
Sunday, November 17
My Brother, My Brother, And Me @ Riverside Theater
“The McElroy brothers are not experts, and their advice should never be followed.” That’s the tongue-in-cheek (?) disclaimer that precedes My Brother, My Brother, And Me, the long-running and wildly popular “advicecast” that has been gracing earbuds for nearly a decade. What’s it all about? Brothers Justin, Travis, and Griffin McElroy offer their advice on questions from both listeners and Yahoo! Answers. Hilarity ensues. Ridiculous digressions, years of in-jokes, and guests ranging from Lin-Manuel Miranda to Jimmy Buffett also figure into the fun.
Wednesday, November 20
‘The Money Pit’ @ Avalon Theater
Ah yes, 1986’s The Money Pit, the story of a young couple and the house they buy for the suspiciously low price of $200,000. Endless home improvement hijinks, shady contractors (“Two weeks!”), and raccoons living in dumb waiters ensue. Hanks and Long are terrific, of course, and Joe Mantegna and Yakov Smirnoff make their ubiquitous mid-’80s cameos.
Want to see it on the big screen? Now you can, on Wednesday, November 20, at Bay View’s Avalon Theater. The screening is a joint presentation from us and Lakefront Brewery, and is part of the brewery’s annual “Hanksgiving” celebration. And it wouldn’t be Hanksgiving without a special Avalon menu item: an open face roast turkey sandwich on sourdough with turkey-sage gravy and sweet potato mash ($13). Tickets to the movie are $5. GET ‘EM NOW.
Friday, November 22
John K. Samson + Christine Fellows @ X-Ray Arcade
Just over two years removed from playing an ultra-rare Milwaukee show in support of Craig Finn at Cactus Club, Canadian songwriting legend John K. Samson will return to the region to headline an outing at X-Ray Arcade. Prior to Samson’s batch of stripped-down Weakerthans material and cuts from his equally incredible solo catalog, the Winnipeg musician will lend the stage to his partner and fellow Canadian songwriting master, Christine Fellows. Don’t miss this one.
Colors & Chords @ Turner Hall
Local musical acts and area artists will come together at Turner Hall for an event being billed as “Milwaukee’s Music And Art Spectacle.” Joining the visual artists at this year’s Islands Of Brilliance benefit is an eclectic cast of performers including The Quilz, Mike Benign Compulsion, Marielle Allschwang & The Visitations, and Dramatic Lovers.
Sunday, November 24
Kyle Kinane @ Turner Hall
Kyle Kinane is a comedian’s comedian. The Illinois-born comic’s gravel-voiced musings manage to appeal to all brow levels while being delivered in a way that is both inimitable and universal. Since quitting his band and leaving Chicago for Los Angeles, Kinane put out a handful of outstanding specials, became “the voice of Comedy Central,” amassed some acting credits, and toured relentlessly. About a year and a half removed from the last time he killed at Turner Hall, Kinane will return to the ballroom with his strongest hour yet (which he recorded in Madison earlier this year for a forthcoming album) for what’s sure to be an amazing post-Packer game performance.
Hari Kondabolu @ The Back Room At Colectivo
Brooklyn-based comedian Hari Kondabolu has amassed an impressive reel of TV appearances, released two chart-topping albums, and been called “one of the most exciting political comics in stand-up today” by the New York Times. In late 2017, Kondabolu became a household name and changed the way we watch television (for the better), when TruTV released his Simpsons-centered documentary, The Problem With Apu. Socially-impacting documentary aside, he’s one hell of a comic. Two years after a pair of performances at The Underground Collaborative, Kondabolu will return to Milwaukee to head up what’s sure to be a hilarious show at The Back Room @ Colectivo.