Milwaukee is chock full of things to do, but only a handful of events are worthy of the lofty honor of “Record Recommended” (patent pending). Here are our recommendations—brought to you by Lilliput Records—for December 18-24, 2023.


The Sleighriders @ Shank Hall
“Forty of the best, most experienced, most professional musicians of the Milwaukee music scene join together again for the annual Sleighriders show and charity auction! These musicians join forces in one gigantic rockin’ band. It’s a very special holiday event that you don’t want to miss and a true Milwaukee tradition. For over 30 years these musicians have donated their time and talents for charity. This year is no exception as we sponsor Variety of Wisconsin helping disabled children. A show not to be missed!”


Week Knees + Buena Cara, Barely Civil, Dear Mr. Watterson @ Cactus Club
Aside from sporadic performances, accomplished Milwaukee emo outfit Barely Civil has been relatively quiet since releasing its outstanding album I’ll Figure This Out in late 2020. That silence (at least in the recorded sense) was emphatically broken in late 2023 when the first Barely Civil single in more than three years hit streaming platforms. “Coasting, Mostly” is nothing short of a ripper. Vocalist Connor Erickson’s impassioned bellows are punctuated with frenzied instrumentation, complete with a pounding rhythm section and an intricate wall of guitar. We could dust off words like “angular” or “math-y” to describe it further, but why waste any more time? “Coasting, Mostly” rules. According to the band’s label, the boisterous track is the lead single from a forthcoming LP that’s due out sometime next year.


Decent Criminal + Chinese Telephones, Iron Pizza, Gorrila Knifefight @ Bremen Cafe
Hey! California-based Decent Criminal is bringing its stellar punk/power pop to Bremen Cafe! And some fantastic local acts are on the bill as well! Punk stalwarts Chinese Telephones recently released their first new music in 15 years (the Outta My Hands EP), and the always-wonderful Iron Pizza is set to release some new synth-damaged tunes in 2024.

Brett Eldredge @ Miller High Life Theatre
“The holidays just got a whole lot better! ‘Tis the season for Mr. Christmas himself Brett Eldredge to bring his GLOW LIVE holiday tour to Miller High Life Theatre! Don’t miss this unforgettable night of Christmas classics.”


The Longest Night: Blacktop + ANDII, Maximiano @ Linneman’s Riverwest Inn
“Blacktop is the independent recording project of Milwaukee-based multi-instrumentalist and producer Austin Wood. Blacktop draws from a large pool of influence—from Ethiopian jazz and Latin rhythms of the 1960-70s to modern pop and alternative artists such as levitation room, Babe Rainbow, Skinshape, Loving, and Kate Bollinger. With nearly all recording, mixing, and production being done in Wood’s home studio, the music of Blacktop is adorned with gentle and dreamy vocals, washed-out guitars, and acoustic percussion and rhythmic elements. The project’s core is rooted in the spiritual and Zen philosophy of dwelling in the present moment, mindfulness, and impermanence.”


VOID CAMP: CONVERT + Astral Hand, Slow Walker @ Cactus Club
When is a winter solstice rock show not just an ordinary winter solstice rock show? When it’s VOID CAMP. (“This winter solstice, the void stares back.”) Hatched by the Lords of Data in Milwaukee heavy-psych band Astral Hand—the group’s 2023 album is called Lords Of Data, dontcha know—the two-night VOID CAMP features, among other highlights, a reunion set from beloved Milwaukee band Slow Walker on Friday night, and some god-tier experimental artists on Saturday night. Both nights, of course, come complete with appropriately trippy light shows.

The Lovelies + Combustor @ Shank Hall
Milwaukee musician Liv Mueller formed the initial version of The Lovelies in 1995, during her time in Austin, Texas. A new version of the group took shape when she returned to Milwaukee in 1996. Several records (including 1997’s Baby Justice), oodles of shows, national tours, WAMI awards, and plenty of local and non-local acclaim followed. The Lovelies called it quits in 2004, though holiday reunion shows at Shank Hall have been frequent occurrences in the years since. This year’s holiday reunion show will also feature Combustor, an old-school Milwaukee punk-rock band made up of old-school Milwaukee punk-rock legends; the group’s self-titled debut was released earlier this year.

Bunny Blues + The Nile Club, Well + Good @ Linneman’s Riverwest Inn

Friday Night Retro Mixtape: DJs Mosh Wah + Sage Schwarm @ Mad Planet


The Commercialists Play The Music Of The Vince Guaraldi Trio’s “A Charlie Brown Christmas” @ Turner Hall Ballroom
“Your favorite holiday tradition is back! The Pabst Theater Group and The Jazz Estate Present The Commercialists play the music of the Vince Guaraldi Trio’s ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ this December to kick off your holiday festivities!”

Holiday Special: Testa Rosa + Chris Rosenau, Mark Waldoch, The Hallelujah Ward, Nelson Devreaux, Caley Conway @ The Cooperage
“The Cooperage welcomes you back to our annual Holiday Special! Join us for an evening filled with cheer as we welcome some of our favorite artists to perform all of your favorite holiday favorites! Mark Waldoch, Chris Rosenau, Nelson Devreaux, Caley Conway, The Hallelujah Ward, Testa Rosa and more will be here to lead the way and you’ll be there to join in!”

A Very Merry MKE Music Night LXIV: Cullah + Mie, Tlalok, Rob Knapp, Snow Patrol @ Anodyne Walker’s Point Roastery
“Enjoy a magical evening filled with warm holiday cheer and fantastic performances. The cozy ambiance, combined with the aroma of freshly brewed coffee, will create an irresistible atmosphere in which we can indulge ourselves while delighting in the beautiful music. From heartwarming renditions of classic carols to soul-stirring original compositions, every note will resonate sweetly in our hearts. As the night unfolds and we gather with loved ones, sipping on steaming mugs of hot beverages and indulging in delectable seasonal treats, we are sure to experience a holiday celebration unlike any other.”

VOID CAMP: Waveflier + Apollo Vermouth, Cathedral Becomes Tomb, Almighty Amanitus, Tidal @ Cactus Club

Pat McCurdy @ Shank Hall

Let’s Dance: A Night Of David Bowie @ Mad Planet


Milwaukee Record Halftime Series: LUXI @ Cactus Club
Our Halftime Series is back! This season, we’ve assembled a stacked roster of 15 acts that will provide FREE all-ages entertainment during halftime of Green Bay’s games. Like previous seasons, the concert series will take place at Cactus Club. Also like previous seasons, Miller High Life will sponsor our football-focused festivities, meaning fans can enjoy “The Champagne Of Beers” and Miller Lite for $10 for a bucket of five beers all game long and “Record Recommended” High Life and Mystery Shot specials for $6. Meanwhile, MKE Distilling Company’s new vodka will be featured in Bloody Marys and Cactus Bombs throughout the season. This week, multi-threat electro artist LUXI drops by for a special Packers/Christmas Eve performance.

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