November. Summer is now far in the rear view mirror. Most of Milwaukee’s festivals scheduled to take place during this pandemic-abbreviated year of entertainment are now 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, a 10th anniversary Bridesmaids screening, a fall version of Mondo Lucha!, and a sprawling video game convention, there’s plenty to keep Milwaukee occupied as we await the impending wintry doom. Here are 16 of our top picks.
Friday, November 5
Silversun Pickups + Zella Day @ The Rave/Eagles Club
Following a pandemic-related tour cancellation last year, veteran Los Angeles alternative rock outfit Silversun Pickups will, at long last, make their way to The Rave to play a show in belated support of the band’s excellent 2019 album Widow’s Weeds. Zella Day opens.
Friday, November 5 through Sunday, November 7
Midwest Gaming Classic @ Wisconsin Center
Since its humble roots as a way to “celebrate the Atari Jaguar,” the Midwest Gaming Classic has ballooned in popularity, becoming a can’t-miss celebration of video games old and new, pinball old and new, and all other things delightfully geeky. The 2020 MGC was understandably canceled due to COVID-19; thankfully, the pandemic didn’t mean “Game Over” for the event. For its 20th anniversary in 2021, the Midwest Gaming Classic returns to the Wisconsin Center for three days of game play and special guests.
Sunday, November 7
Mike Birbiglia @ Pabst Theater
Accomplished comedian and storyteller, best-selling author, actor, and NPR regular Mike Birbiglia brings his unique perspective and decades of experience to Pabst Theater on November 7 for what’s sure to be a comedic performance befitting of Broadway.
Thursday, November 11
Protomartyr + Melkbelly @ Cactus Club
Though Protomartyr has been kicking since 2008, the Detroit post-punk project didn’t break out until late 2015. That year, Protomartyr’s third full-length, The Agent Intellect, was released and was privy to loads of critical acclaim along with a warm reception from a continually growing fan base. The band followed that up with 2017’s even-better Relatives In Decent and last year’s wonderful Ultimate Success Today. After a few postponements, this show is finally happening! So don’t miss it. And if there’s any hesitation on your part, Melkbelly opening officially certifies this as a can’t-miss event.
Mustard Plug + Something To Do, Size 5’s @ X-Ray Arcade
Skank your way down to Cudahy to see 30-year-ska staples Mustard Plug headline a Thursday night soiree that also features local support from Wisconsin ska-punk stalwarts Something To Do and Size 5’s. DJ Kyle Skanson will spin records between sets.
Saturday, November 13
Bill Burr @ Miller High Life Theatre
Though Bill Burr is known and loved throughout the world, the legendary comedian and surprisingly skilled actor has a special connection to Milwaukee. In 2017, he raved about The Pfister Hotel, the Riverside Theater, the Harley-Davidson Museum, The Vanguard, Milwaukee’s beer, and the city’s comedy crowds on his Monday Morning Podcast. Likely adding to Burr’s fond feelings for Milwaukee is the fact he regularly performs to sold-out theaters when he comes to town. That trend will likely continue when the surly standup treats Miller High Life Theatre to a pair of performances on November 13.
Sunday, November 14
Turner Hall Tiki Takedown @ Turner Hall
Following a lengthy pandemic-related postponement, Turner Hall Tiki Takedown will officially return on Sunday, November 14. From 12-3 p.m., the historic ballroom will host mixologists from a variety of local bars and restaurants, who will be serving up samples of handcrafted tiki cocktails as they compete for the coveted Tiki Takedown Trophy and Tiki Master title. Confirmed participating businesses include: Blackwood Brothers Restaurant & Social Club, Blue Bat Kitchen & Tequilaria, Boone and Crockett, Burnhearts, DanDan, FINKS, Sabbatic, Shanghai Speakeasy, Station No. 6, The Belmont Tavern, Third Street Tavern, and Ula Ula. The event will also include DJ sets by DJ E.Rich, a raffle, and rum sampling from official Tiki Takedown spirits partner Cutwater Spirits.
Bad Religion + Alkaline Trio, War On Women @ The Rave/Eagles Ballroom
Punk vets Bad Religion and Alkaline Trio co-headline a long-awaited tour, which will treat The Rave/Eagles Club to decades worth of songs you know and love. Making this Sunday night show even sweeter is the involvement of excellent opener War On Women. Buy your tickets now and don’t be late.
Wednesday, November 17
Milwaukee Record presents ‘Bridesmaids’ at Avalon Theater
To celebrate the 10th anniversary (plus, like, six months) of the film’s release, we’ll be screening Bridesmaids at Avalon Theater. Tickets are on sale now! If you’re somehow unfamiliar with the groundbreaking Paul Feig-directed and Judd Apatow-produced 2011 comedy that earned more than $288 million worldwide during its original theatrical run and helped make Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy household names, Bridesmaids follows the discouraged and down-on-her-luck Annie (played by Wiig) and her various misadventures while serving as the maid of honor for her best friend, Lillian (Maya Rudolph). Oh yeah, we should probably also mention the film is set in Milwaukee. All Avalon screenings now have reserved seating, so get those tickets quick!
The Lemonheads + Heyrocco @ X-Ray Arcade
The Lemonheads are playing an intimate club show in Cudahy. Do we need to say anything else? Okay, well, if you’d like to see the long-running and influential band traverse 35 years worth of timeless material in a room with 250 of your closest friends, here is your chance. Heyrocco will play in support.
Thursday, November 18
Matt Braunger @ The Laughing Tap
Following a few ill-fated attempts to reschedule over the past year and a half, actor, writer, and comedian Matt Braunger will finally be able to bring his wealth of television credits and thousands of hours of stage time to The Laughing Tap in Walker’s Point on Thursday, November 18 for what’s sure to be a memorable night.
Friday, November 19
Shake & Holla Tour: North Mississippi Allstars & Rebirth Brass Band + Cedric Burnside @ South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center
The Shake & Holla Tour brings Grammy-nominated North Mississippi Allstars and the legendary Rebirth Brass Band together for the first time ever. Joining this potent pair of soulful blues outfits is Cedric Burnside, the grandson of the great R.L. Burnside and a Grammy-nominated vocalist/drummer in his own right. Don’t miss your chance to hear some sounds of the south in South Milwaukee.
Wednesday, November 24
Mondo Lucha! @ Turner Hall
Since starting in 2008, Mondo Lucha! has brought high-flying wrestling action, burlesque dancers, and live music to its annual Turner Hall showcase. Along the way, the variety show has managed to work with renowned pro wrestlers, sell out numerous shows, and become a must-attend Milwaukee event. After a year away, Mondo Lucha! is returning in full force with a Thanksgiving Eve event that’s worth staying in town to witness.
Friday, November 26
KennyHoopla @ The Rave/Eagles Club
After a handful of Summerfest performances this year, Wisconsin (by way of Cleveland) artist KennyHoopla will return to Milwaukee during his “Survivors Guilt” tour. The up-and-comer has collaborated with blink-182 drummer Travis Barker and is currently on tour with Machine Gun Kelly. Get on the bandwagon now because KennyHoopla is a name you’re going to be hearing a lot more in the years to come.
Friday, November 26 and Saturday, November 27
Jon Dore @ The Laughing Tap
Comedian and actor Jon Dore is no stranger to Milwaukee, having shared the stage as an opener for such noted comics as Nikki Glaser and The Sklar Brothers in somewhat recent stops. Dore will make his Milwaukee return by headlining four shows at The Laughing Tap in two nights, where he’ll treat the intimate club’s crowds to road-tested musings, his dry wit, and his Canadian charm.
Friday, November 26 to Sunday, November 28
Pete Lee @ Milwaukee Improv
After growing up in Janesville, Wisconsin, Pete Lee has gone on to perform on Letterman, guest on The Tonight Show (FIVE TIMES and counting!), and rack up a wide variety of credits that include notable TV shows like Last Comic Standing, As The World Turns, Best Week Ever, Comedy Central’s Roast Battle, and much more. He’s released comedy albums, put out a Comedy Central half-hour special, and has performed more than 500 shows at colleges around the country. Lee will return to the region November 26-28 for a total of five Thanksgiving weekend shows at Milwaukee Improv.