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 reared its ugly head yet, people still have the festival spirit, even if they have to bring it with them beneath a roof.
October has a staggering abundance of great concerts and comedy shows, and that’s not even counting Halloween tribute performances. Between a bunch of local album release shows, a respected band’s last show, a promising new band’s first show, and visits from both a Beatles member and the biggest comedian in the world, there’s no shortage of things going on in Milwaukee this month. Here are our 15 standout shows.
Friday, October 2
Direct Hit! (LP release) + Timeshares, Signals Midwest, and Archie Powell & The Exports at Borg Ward
Since 2010, Milwaukee’s premier pop-punk project Direct Hit! has routinely released material that ranged in scope from short-run splits and EPs to its well-received apocalyptic 2013 concept record, Brainless God. With a new record in the works, and with the notion that maybe some fans missed Direct Hit!’s releases with collaborators like Tit Patrol the first time around, Chicago punk label Red Scare Industries asked the band’s current lineup to revisit some of that little-known material on its 11-song collection, More Of The Same: Satanic Singles 2010-2014. If hearing one of Milwaukee’s best band’s play old rarities before an all-ages audience isn’t enough, perhaps the recent announcement that this will be DH!’s last Midwestern show until summer of 2016 will get you out of the house.
Korn at The Rave
Sunday, October 4
Sorry Not Sorry Comedy Showcase at Riverwest Public House
After the Packers demolish the 49ers on Sunday, celebrate with some affordable and awesome local and regional stand-up. Marisa Lange and Addie Blanchard’s Sorry Not Sorry comedy showcase is back for a second installment, following an encouraging debut back in August. This time around, the hosts/producers will be joined by Ryan Mason, Josh Ballew, Gary Zajackowski, Tulin Waters, Dylan Payne, and Andrea Guzzetta. Somehow, this stacked and varied group of comics can be seen for just $5.
Thursday, October 8
GWAR at The Rave
No matter how many years pass, how music trends come and go, and how many GWAR members straight up die, the long-tenured theatrical metal band will not stop putting on grotesque costumes and touring. Now 30 years old, the incomparable project has become something of a Rave staple on or around Halloween. Love them or hate them, you can’t deny GWAR puts on a hell of a show.
Friday, October 9
Sklar Brothers + Nikki Glaser, Brody Stevens at Turner Hall
Way back in the early 2010s, FM102.1’s “Kramp & Adler” morning program was metro Milwaukee’s go-to destination for laughs between 20-year-old songs by The Offspring and 18-year-old songs by The Offspring. For a couple years before Brian Kramp was unceremoniously ousted from the show in 2013, the duo parlayed their comedic consciousness into an annual Kramp & Adler’s Comedy Festival at Turner Hall, which brought such notable stand-ups as Marc Maron, Kristen Schaal, and Eugene Mirman to town. On Friday, October 9, the station’s stand-up show will return to Turner Hall with a new name—Adler’s Fall Comedy Classic—and an impressive cast of comedians including The Sklar Brothers, Nikki Glaser, and Brody Stevens. This occasion marks an exceptionally rare Milwaukee appearance by Randy and Jason Sklar, who are frequent guests of Madison’s comedy club that’s far superior to ours. The veteran twin comedy act will be preceded by the utterly hilarious @midnight favorite (“Wipe it!”) and Last Comic Standing success story Nikki Glaser, and terrifyingly upbeat likes of Brody Stevens.
Russell Peters at Riverside Theater
Russell Peters is the biggest comedian in the world. Hear us out. Even if Louis CK is influencing a wave of new comedians to tell it like it is (in a way eerily similar to the way he tells it); despite Aziz Ansari’s ability to sell out Madison Square Garden; no matter how many movie roles and theater sell outs Kevin Hart piles up, Canadian comic Russell Peters is bar none the most popular and recognizable comedian on earth. On the weigh of his identifiable, worldwide, and cross-cultural comedy, Peters sells out soccer arenas in Europe, and other unthinkably massive venues in Asia. Somehow, Peters’ popularity hasn’t translated to the U.S., where he now resides in relative anonymity compared to the aforementioned humorists. Though the Riverside holds about 2,500 people, this will be one of Peter’s smaller shows these days.
Saturday, October 17
Ringo Starr & His All-Star Band at Riverside Theater
Ringo Starr was in the Beatles. You don’t need any more information.
Maritime (album release) + Bobby Flowerz at Cactus Club
Reminisce about The Promise Ring all you want. Reissue their albums and pine for the good old days. The fact of the matter is that Davey von Bohlen and Dan Didier’s subsequent project has existed almost twice as long, has put out more records, and frankly, has put out better music on and album-by-album basis under the Maritime moniker than The Promise Ring. More than four years removed from the release of Human Hearts, Maritime is back on wax with its best album to date, the single-laden Magnetic Bodies/Maps Of Bones. This release show will almost assuredly double as the band’s final Milwaukee show of 2015. Bobby Flowerz opens.
Sunday, October 18
Rx Drugs + William Seidel at Tonic Tavern
If you’re going to be all nitpick-y about it, Rx Drugs has played exactly zero shows and have released just as many songs. We haven’t heard so much as a note of the new band’s music. Whatever. With current and former members of The Championship, Dashboard Confessional, Hugh Bob & The Hustle, and Trapper Shoepp & The Shades in the new band’s ranks, are you going to doubt these guys are great? We didn’t think so. Even better, former Decibully frontman William Seidel will play a rare solo outing. Oh yeah, it’s free.
Friday, October 23
Craig Finn + Esme Patterson at Cactus Club
Whether it’s on account of budding music manager Ben Perlstein’s local roots, Partisan Records’ undeniable affinity for Wisconsin, or some combination of the two, Milwaukee has recently been privy to a great deal of events that would’ve bypassed the city without a second thought only a few years earlier. Echoing frequent Sylvan Esso tour stops, and The Replacements making Milwaukee one of their few pre-breakup performance sites, The Holdsteady’s front man, Craig Finn (whom Perlstein represents), will swing by the cozy confines of the Cactus Club for an uncharacteristically intimate show in support of his latest solo record, Faith In The Future.
Friday, October 23 to Saturday, October 24
Latest Flame Farewell Shows at Club Garibaldi
After more than 10 years in action and a number of respected records in his catalog, Latest Flame Records owner Dan Hanke is calling it quits with his label, at least in the physical sense. To help him extinguish Latest Flame in grand fashion, a combined 15 bands will play two Club Garibaldi shows in as many days. Joining lauded locals like Body Futures, Testa Rosa, and Heavy Hand are touring talents like Police Teeth, We Are Hex, and Troubled Hubble. The special nature of this celebration/funeral will also serve as a reunion show for The Response and will also bring IfIHadAHiFi back for a rare outing.
Tuesday, October 27
Bill Burr at Riverside Theater
With all due respect to Louis CK, Aziz Ansari, Russell Peters, Kevin Hart, and other top-tier contemporary comic talents, you’d be hard-pressed to find a comedian in today’s saturated stand-up comedy market who has more loyal fans than Bill Burr. With his tireless work ethic, his sidesplitting takes on everyday minutiae, and his utterly fearless stage persona (he took on the city of Philadelphia and won!), it’s not hard to understand why. Fortunately, Burr treats Milwaukee audiences much better than he does crowds in Philly and he makes sure to come to town semi-regularly. This fall, the respected comic, Monday Morning Podcast host, and Saul Goodman associate on Breaking Bad will return to town for a pair of shows. Remarkably, tickets are still available
Thursday, October 29
Field Report + Joseph Huber at Pabst Theater
This seems familiar. Last October, Milwaukee folk phenoms Field Report celebrated the release of its latest and greatest record, Marigolden, before a well-attended and gracious Pabst Theater lower level. Following 12 months spent largely on the road, a Summerfest headlining set, and the addition of adoptahighway’s Barry Paul Clark to his already-airtight backing band, Christopher Porterfield’s project will return for a victory lap before, one can assume, hunkering down to write another gorgeous record with which to repeat the process. This time around, former .357 String Band member and beloved roots music mainstay Joseph Huber will provide opening support.
Saturday, October 31
Vic And Gab (last show) + Testa Rosa at Pabst Theater
In case you haven’t heard, Vic And Gab—the busy indie-pop project fronted by the eponymous siblings Victoriah and Hannah Gabriela Banuelos—is coming to an end. No, not the band…just the band as you know it. After making a name for themselves in Milwaukee and beyond with their infectiously beaming ditties, the project will continue on in a new direction and with a new band name. Say goodbye to Vic And Gab and wish them well with their new project on Halloween with a show at Pabst Theater. This show quickly outgrew the original site, Cactus Club, but the sisters will still have a post-show DJ set at the Bay View bar.
Doomtree + LIZZO, Rusty P’s and LMNtlyst at Turner Hall
Doomtree is one of those rare commodities that brings all types of listeners together. The eclectic Minneapolis rap collective has been building a staggering following of late, and has played virtually every big Midwestern festival, ranging from Eaux Claires to Riot Fest. On Halloween, Doomtree will take its material back indoors for a tough-to-miss holiday affair at Turner Hall that also features 88Nine darling LIZZO, as well as LMNOP’s collaborators in the Rusty P’s and LMNtlyst.