Even though there’s still close to two weeks between now and Halloween weekend, there’s so much going on in the Milwaukee from October 28 through October 31, you’ll probably need time to set your plans. With the holiday itself falling on a Monday this year, the city will play host to four nights of music that include full-fledged fright night festivals, dance parties, stacked local bills, steampunk galas, and—of course—tribute shows. Of the dozens of events closing out the month, here are Milwaukee Record‘s 19 recommendations.
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 28
Gloss Records Halloween Spooktacular @ Cactus Club
Months after its wildly successful Gloss Weekend jumped around to a handful of area venues, Milwaukee cassette label Gloss Records is back with a scary good assemblage of local bands that will get in the holiday spirit for a two-bar, two-night celebration dubbed the “Halloween Spooktacular.” Besides a nightly costume contest and silent auction, the event will bring Soul Low, Rio Turbo, Surgeons In Heat, and Sex Scenes to Cactus Club on Friday.
MAM After Dark: Steampunk @ Milwaukee Art Museum
In accordance with its new Haunted Screens: German Cinema in the 1920s exhibition, Milwaukee Art Museum will play host to a Steampunk-themed soiree. This particular After Dark features music from Buffalo Gospel and tours from Quasimondo Physical Theatre.
The Moth: Bouncing Back @ Anodyne Coffee’s Walker’s Point Roastery
If you’d prefer to wait until Saturday to drink heavily while donning a costume, perhaps a caffeinated beverage and a night of moving, deeply personal tales from one of the world’s best-known storytelling showcases is more your speed.
Halloween Harvest Costume Party @ Riverwest Public House
The 9th annual Halloween Harvest Festival blends entertainment and charity into one wonderful seasonal celebration. This time around, Evacuate The Earth, Tapebenders, Astral/Subastral, and Dark Sacazm will provide the music. The $5 cover goes to Hunger Task Force and Milwaukee Rescue Mission. If you’re low on cash, $5 worth of non-perishable food items, hygiene products, or socks will get you in.
Halloween Retro Dance Party @ Mad Planet
Just like the Retro Dance Party you’ve come to expect from Mad Planet, but 100 percent Halloween-ier. Besides the dancing, there’s also going to be a costume contest, with a $150 grand prize.
Hand Of Doom @ Club Garibaldi
‘Tis the season for Halloween cover shows. Though Hand Of Doom doesn’t rear its head often, the holiday is usually enough to coax Milwaukee’s premier Black Sabbath tribute band out of hibernation.
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 29
A Nightmare On Center Street II @ Company Brewing, High Dive, Jazz Gallery, and Club Timbuktu
Following a strong first year in the heart of Riverwest, Nightmare On Center Street will get a sequel. This time around, 15 acts from various segments of the local music scene will play at four Center Street businesses. Over the course of this neighborhood-uniting night, the four stages will play host to Airo Kwil, Zed Kenzo, Invaders, Chakara Blu, Lorde Fredd33, Awkward Terrible, The Fatty Acids, and more.
De La Buena + RAS Movement, and MC Spade One @ Mad Planet
What do these bands have to do with Halloween? Absolutely nothing, but if you have the means to get there, De La Buena is never to be missed.
Talking Heads Halloween Party @ The Gig
Three sets of Talking Heads covers. The Gig. You should probably go to this.
ELO + Weezer, AC/DC, and Coasters (Cover Show) @ Linneman’s Riverwest Inn
Speaking of covers, members Midnight Reruns, Phylums, Bad Wig, Slow Walker, Sat. Nite Duets, and more will taking the weekend off from playing their own music and, instead, will dress up to play the material of ELO, Weezer, AC/DC, and The Coasters.
Tigernite + Midwest Death Rattle, and SIN BAD @ Club Garibaldi
While it lacks the tribute band angle, this Halloween show just has a plain good lineup. Tigernite is always prone to costumes, no matter the night. Midwest Death Rattle will play songs off its dark, spooky, and just plain good new record, Post Apocalypso. Even if opener SIN BAD doesn’t plan to cover a set of comedian Sinbad’s material, their own music warrants punctuality.
Gloss Records Halloween Spooktacular @ Riverwest Public House
Gloss Records’ Halloween fun will continue at Riverwest Public House on Saturday with NO/NO, Soup Moat, Piles, and Moon Rats.
Scrimshaw + Brain-Bats @ Circle A Cafe
There’s no other Milwaukee band like Scrimshaw. Hell, there may be no other band anywhere like Scrimshaw. The delightfully weirdo art-rock band has been kicking it for more than a decade now, releasing album after album of warped lo-fi sketches and full-blown funk-tastic blowouts. Kitchen-sink instrumentation, chipmunk vocals, surrealistic lyrics, and a concept album sung from the perspective of a concerned Jewish grandmother are the norm. Horror-punk outfit Brain-Bats open.
MDC + The Crosses, War Torn, and No Hoax @ Cactus Club
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 30
King Eye & The Squirts + Adult Books, and Athletic Supply @ Cactus Club
For bands on road this time of year, Halloween weekend is just business as usual. Los Angeles-based Adult Books is blowing through town for a night, so the show must go on. Local support will be provided by King Eye & The Squirts and Athletic Supply.
Circle A In The Round @ Circle A Cafe
The last Sunday of each month, Riverwest’s tiny Circle A Cafe some how becomes even cozier when it plays host to the In The Round songwriter series. This installment of strummers and storytellers features Ryan Ogburn, Ryan Necci, and Derek Pritzl.
Fox And Branch @ Anodyne Coffee’s Walker’s Point Roastery
MONDAY, OCTOBER 31
Riverwest FemFest Halloween Ball @ Company Brewing
In its first two years, Riverwest FemFest has done an incredible job highlighting the wonderful work of our city’s many talented female musicians, all while raising thousands upon thousands of dollars to benefit the Milwaukee Women’s Center and Date Rape Awareness Milwaukee in the process. Seeking to bring their event (taking place the third week of January, by the way) to the next level and bring in more national acts to join in on the festivities, FemFest organizers are holding a Halloween Ball at Company Brewing. This show is a little bit different, as the aim is to recognize some of the men who have been especially supportive of the grassroots undertaking. Hodari, Gauss, Holy Shit! and DJ phenom Yung Zucchini will provide the night’s entertainment, along with New Boyz Club, whose frontwoman/FemFest co-organizer Johanna Rose will be departing for Europe soon after.
Bubba Sparxxx @ City Lounge (Cudahy)
If you missed the first time the man behind “Ms. New Booty” and “Ugly” came Cudahy’s way, you’re in luck! Bubba Sparxxx will return to City Lounge on Monday, October 31. Pre-sale tickets to this show, almost six months to the day since Sparxxx’s previous appearance, are $10. After a holiday weekend spent seeing local acts covering noted musicians at area bars, you can now spend Halloween proper watching the real deal at City Lounge.