In September, we officially said goodbye to Milwaukee’s brief-but-bursting summer festival season. A few days after the Bay View Bash, fall officially started and, in doing so, also signaled a mass entertainment migration from outdoor stages, patios, parks, and block parties to every vacant crevice of metro Milwaukee bar, theater, and club stage space. Since the threat of winter hasn’t yet reared its ugly head, people still have the festival spirit, even if they have to bring it with them beneath a roof.
This year, though, the return of Beet Street and Flannel Fest, as well as Indeed Brewing’s inaugural installment of The Lowdown will grant Milwaukee a few more chances to party outside before year’s end. Not even counting that block party, the city isn’t hard up for things to do. Between those ambitious affairs, loaded local shows, respected touring bands and comedians, Halloween weekend fun, and the Milwaukee Film Festival, maybe autumn won’t be so bad after all. Sit back, enjoy something pumpkin-spiced, and take in 15 of our favorite October show picks.
Friday, October 4
The Black Keys + Modest Mouse @ Fiserv Forum
Is it okay to like The Black Keys again? (Don’t answer that.) Is it okay to still like Modest Mouse? (Don’t answer that either.) Anyway, the last time we saw The Black Keys was at the Bradley Center back in 2012. They were good! Now that that arena is a memory and the new Fiserv Forum is a gleaming arena of the future, it’s as good a time as any to revisit the group and enjoy some cuts from the new Let’s Rock.
Thursday, October 10
Nick Kroll @ Pabst Theater
Though you probably know him from The League, the criminally underrated Kroll Show, as one half of the Broadway hit The Oh, Hello Show, or as the voice of countless characters on Big Mouth, Nick Kroll is a comedian at heart. The multi-talented humorist will make (what appears to be) his Milwaukee debut when he takes the Pabst Theater stage as part of his Middle-Aged Boy Tour.
Saturday, October 12
Beet Street Harvest Festival @ Wentworth and Potter avenues
Following three years of family-friendly and fall-focused fun, Cactus Club has decided to bring the Beet Street Harvest Festival back for another installment. On Saturday, October 12, the Bay View bar (with some support from Goodkind and Palomino) will host a day of food, drinks, live music, baking competitions, youth-centered activities, and festival fun for all ages. Between noon and 6 p.m., a chunk of Wentworth Avenue between Goodkind and Cactus Club will be blocked off for the fourth annual event. On top of the food, drinks, and pie-related competitions, the event will also feature a local music video showcase and music by Sarah Shook & The Disarmers, True Skool, Retoro, Congo Gospel Music, and DJ Dave Arnevik.
Flannel Fest @ Boone & Crockett
Also on October 12, Boone & Crockett’s parking lot will host a celebration of music, food, and seasonal attire called Flannel Fest. Though it’s not the first Flannel Fest (the first and, to this point, only other installment happened seven years ago at The Hotel Foster), it’s certainly going to be the biggest. The lot will host an eclectic and incredibly impressive lineup of locally lauded and nationally regarded acts that includes Minneapolis’ own Polica and Har Mar Superstar, Milwaukee favorites Klassik and REYNA, a rare Mark Waldoch full-band performance, and a small band version of Dead Soldiers, among others. While you watch bands, you can enjoy fare from the likes of Hacienda Beer Co., Foxfire, Taco Moto, Bad English, Maya Ophelia’s, and Snack Boys. Get out and stock up on some flannel now!
Wednesday, October 16
Milwaukee Record presents: Little Shop Of Horrors @ Avalon Theater
On the 16th day in the month of October, in a late year of a decade that can just go ahead and end already, Milwaukee filmgoers will encounter a deadly threat to their very existence. And this terrifying enemy will surface, as such enemies often do, in the most seemingly innocent, and unlikely, of places… Yep, we’re screening the 1986, Frank Oz-directed version of Little Shop Of Horrors! Even better, it’ll be the director’s cut of the film, which features an ending that’s just a wee bit darker and amazing than the theatrical ending. If you haven’t seen it, it’s incredible. If you have seen it, see it on the big screen! Tickets are $5 and are on sale NOW.
Sleater-Kinney + Shamir @ Pabst Theater
Good news: this show is not sold out (yet)! Weird news: how is this show not sold out (yet)?!
Thursday, October 17 — Thursday, October 31
2019 Milwaukee Film Festival @ various locations
Oh, how we love the Milwaukee Film Festival. The 2019 installment—the fest’s 11th—is set for October 17-31 at the Oriental Theatre, Avalon Theater, Times Cinema, the Jann Serr pop-up cinema at Kenilworth Square East, the Rivoli Theatre in Cedarburg, and the Broadway Theatre Center in the Historic Third Ward. (The Rivoli and the Broadway are new additions for 2019.) Hundreds of films will be screened and oodles of events and conversations will be held. The Milwaukee Record-sponsored Cinema Hooligante program is absolutely incredible. (Six words: Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me!) Plus, the fest falls over Halloween, and we may or may not have something spooky in the works…
Friday, October 18
Mini Meltdowns (EP release) + Graham Hunt, Telethon @ X-Ray Arcade
Last year, we introduced you to Mini Meltdowns—a super group featuring current and former members of Limbeck, Dashboard Confessional, The Promise Ring, The Benjamins, Rx Drugs, and the backing bands of Tommy Stinson and Paul Collins—and debuted a great new music video for “Number On Me,” the lead single from the Nashville-Milwaukee outfit’s excellent self-titled EP.
Following an accomplished-yet-personally arduous 2018 that was wrought in loss, hardship, and inner turmoil for bandleader Jon Phillip, Mini Meltdowns will release a new EP. According to Phillip, the four-song Destined For Disaster is largely about losing his father, ending friendships, battling anxiety, and fighting the urge to give up. The record will officially see the light of day during a fully loaded release show at X-Ray that also features Graham Hunt and Telethon playing in support. The outing also doubles as Mini Meltdowns’ first show.
Saturday, October 19
Elton John @ Fiserv Forum
If it feels like Elton John’s “Farewell Yellow Brick Road” tour has been going on forever, it’s because it has. (It was announced in January 2018.) If it feels like Elton John’s “Farewell Yellow Brick Road” tour has been coming to Milwaukee forever, it’s because it has. (It was originally scheduled for February 2019.) But this is Elton John we’re talking about, so we’re happy to have him around for as long as possible.
Sunday, October 20
The Dollop @ Turner Hall
In case you’re not one of the show’s millions of listeners: The Dollop is a popular podcast wherein comedian Dave Anthony reads a story from American history to his friend, Gareth Reynolds, who doesn’t know what the topic is about. Only time will tell what locally focused topic they discuss during their Turner Hall return in October, but it’s sure to be informative, entertaining, and likely to draw parallels between how bad things were throughout history and how terrible the world continues to be today. The show is also a homecoming of sorts for Reynolds, a devout Packer Backer who originally hails from Brown Deer.
Saturday, October 26
Bob Dylan @ The Rave
It’s telling that when it comes to Bob Dylan—arguably the greatest singer-songwriter of all time—one needs to practically apologize for wanting to see him play live. Dylan, ever the confounding contrarian, does not put on casual fan-friendly shows, often reworking beloved classics to the point of absurdity and croaking his way through sets of obscure material. He has long shirked the “voice of a generation” tag and simply considers himself as a song-and-dance man. His so-called “Never Ending Tour” has been ongoing for 30-plus years. He’s 78. He probably won’t play your favorite song, and even if he does, you probably won’t recognize it. But you know what? Whatever. The last time we saw Dylan live (back in 2015) he was pretty great! And hopefully he’ll be pretty great again this time around.
The Eradicator (record release) + Dollar Signs, Devon Kay & The Solutions, Mertles Acres @ Cactus Club
Originally based on a sketch from The Kids In The Hall, The Eradicator has taken on a life of its own. While still paying homage to the ski-mask-donning, racquet-clutching character for whom the project is based, the Chicago punk band is making a name for itself with incomparable live shows and a caliber of music that’s far better than you’d expect out of a well-orchestrated joke. On October 26, The Eradicator will formally unveil his second batch of squash-related compositions, Peak Eradicator, during a Cactus Club show that also features Dollar Signs (from North Carolina), the always fun Devon Kay & The Solutions, and the highly anticipated debut show from Mertles Acres. Be there or be a pusshead.
Wednesday, October 30
Eric Andre @ Riverside Theater
With his unmatched energy and penchant for taking his comedy to unpredictable, uncomfortable, and occasionally even dangerous places, Eric Andre has fashioned a career through forcing audiences to expect the unexpected. This is best (and most famously) displayed on The Eric Andre Show, a subversive late night talk show that’s currently waiting on its fifth season.
Thursday, October 31
Halloween Bash with Masked Intruder + Direct Hit!, more TBA @ X-Ray Arcade
Yesterday, once the fucking stupid/annoying radius clause-limitations of Riot Fest finally lifted, X-Ray Arcade announced a scary good Halloween show. Take a trip to Cudahy on October 31 to catch Masked Intruder heading up a so-called “Halloween Bash” that will also feature a Ramones cover set by Direct Hit! (and more bands TBA), Officer Bradford DJing, scary movies, costumes, and ghoulish giveaways.
Tool + Killing Joke @ Fiserv Forum
Tool will play Fiserv Forum on Halloween. Nothing else can adequately follow up that sentence.