Our fat-free, dolphin-safe Milwaukee events calendar 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 for February 17-23.
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 17
SistaStrings + Phillip-Michael Scales, B~Free @ Cactus Club
Monique and Chauntee Ross have, quite literally, been involved with music as long as they can remember. The siblings have played string instruments since before they were in grade school. Along with two of their older sisters, Monique and Chauntee spent much of their youth learning gospel and orchestral standards and plying that early experience in a band called Sisters Of Praize that performed at churches, nursing homes, and corporate events. In recent years, they decided to blend their varying areas of expertise with their own material to start SistaStrings. Despite making a name for themselves by playing out frequently and accompanying the likes of Mike Mangione, Klassik, and Nickel&Rose, the dynamic duo had almost no recorded material to their name: until 2019, that is. That year, SistaStrings treated listeners to Lift, a five-song illustration of the Ross sisters’ uncanny skill set, artistry, and imagination. Soulful opener “Shea Butter Dreams” sparks the EP into existence before giving way to an astounding adaptation of “Deep River,” a touching biographical original called “Her Name Was,” and “Cadenza For Chauntee”—a gorgeous instrumental number—before reaching a smooth and uplifting landing conclusion with an unforgettable version of “Lift Every Voice.”
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 18
Trixie Mattel: Grown Up @ Turner Hall Ballroom
Actor, musician, television host, RuPaul Drag Race champion, and Milwaukee native Trixie Mattel will make her semi-annual trip back to Milwaukee to delight Turner Hall with her Grown Up tour.
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 19
Milwaukee Record Presents: Kingpin @ Avalon Atmospheric Theater
That’s right, moviegoers, we’re screening Kingpin at Avalon Theater on Wednesday, February 19. Tickets are available now. It stars Woody Harrelson as has-been bowler Roy Munson, who sees promise in the pin-toppling abilities of a young Amish man named Ishmael (Randy Quaid). The cult comedy classic earned generally positive reviews and made a respectable $32.2 million at the box office (compared to a $25 million budget). Oh, and did we mention Roger Clemens is in it? Don’t “Munson” your chance to see Kingpin on the big screen.
MSO Presents Ben Folds: One Night Only @ The Riverside Theater
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 20
414 Live: Fox Face @ 88Nine Radio Milwaukee
Punk music can sometimes become pretty generic pretty fast, but 2017’s Spoil + Destroy is far from run-of-the-mill. Fox Face ensures their feminist politics are the album’s focal point: “Watch out / This pussy will bite you back” Lindsay DeGroot, Mary Hickey, and Lydia Washechek scream in unison on “Nasty Woman,” a track aptly named after Donald Trump’s infamous jab at Hillary Clinton. Elsewhere, “I Believe In Science” is a rallying cry against climate change deniers (unfortunately, they do exist). What makes Fox Face stand out from their contemporaries is their passion—feminist-laced fury has never sounded so fresh.
Big Head Todd And The Monsters featuring Hazel Miller with Los Colognes @ The Pabst Theater
Nick Vatterott @ The Laughing Tap
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 21
All Messed Up 10: Friday Showcase @ Linneman’s Riverwest Inn
Taking more than 60 Milwaukee-area musicians and randomly shuffling them into more than a dozen ad hoc ensembles, All Messed Up, now entering its 10th year (!), has transformed from a creative way for local players to stave off the winter doldrums into an occasion worth looking forward to in its own right. On Friday night, buckle up for the debut (and only?) performances of The Best Dads, Hasenpfeffer Incorporated, Vice Presidents Of The United States of America, Gramp Stamp, Blank The Blanks, BANANACONDA!, Sweatpants Powerstance, and The Hitachi Magic Band.
Negative/Positive + The Nile Club, Neptune’s Core, Cherry Punch @ X-Ray Arcade
If you’ve been following Milwaukee band Negative/Positive over the last few years, you’ve seen the group grow up. Literally. The guitar-bass-drum trio formed at the inaugural Girls Rock Milwaukee camp in the summer of 2013, when its members—Ava Antonie, Ava Gessner, and Lola Flores—were 8, 9, and 10 years old, respectively. But six years, several releases, and countless shows later, the group has come into its own. Negative/Positive’s backstory—however novel and charming it may be—has been left in the past. If you want a glimpse of the future of Milwaukee music, here it is.
WWE Presents NXT Live @ Turner Hall Ballroom
For a while there, WWE’s great NXT show could be counted upon to come to Turner Hall every six months. That streak would’ve continued, except their November return was postponed until February. Now that you’ve had to wait a little longer than usual, maybe this show will hit even harder and go over even better than it typically does.
Trolley + The Mike Benign Compulsion @ Tonic Tavern
Church Of Misery + The Black Wizard, Forming The Void @ Cactus Club
The Carlos Adames Group @ Sharon Lynne Wilson Center For The Arts
Nick Vatterott @ The Laughing Tap
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 22
Future Plans + Brat Sounds @ High Dive
“I don’t want to see 30 / I don’t want to get married / I just want to stay hungry / I just want to stay bold.” That’s Brat Sounds singer Scott Cary in the opening seconds of “See Thirty,” a standout track from the new Bad Luck. But lest you think Cary is full of nothing but youthful bravado, he immediately pivots to this: “When I think of the time spent / Getting drunk in the basement / You could be the replacement / For the years I’ve been wasting.” That snarky-but-sentimental streak is par for the course on Bad Luck, Brat Sounds’ first full-length record in four years. Opener “Systematically Broken” is a frantic and fuzzed-out rocker that lives up to its title; “Motortrend” changes gears and delivers a gorgeous meditation on “the precious little time that we have”; and “Soil” equates settling down with dying and returning to the earth. (But in a good way!) Elsewhere, Carey and company channel their former Dinny Bulca quirks on hilarious songs like “Mona Lisa Frank” and closer “Algae.” There’s even time for a rowdy run-through of “Sloop John B.”
All Messed Up 10: Saturday Showcase @ Linneman’s Riverwest Inn
Want more All Messed Up? Want more delightfully named bands? Tonight, enjoy sets from April And The Purple Suns, Butt Force, Fechner, Placebo Gummies, Ditzy’s Bitches, superjumpkick, Jamiroquorn, and Charlie’s Angels.
I Should Know This with Ted Perry @ Ampersand Theater Company
Star Parks + Mike Adams At His Honest Weight, Chris Porterfield (Field Report) @ Cactus Club
Modern Joey + Undercover Organism, Wurk @ Pabst Milwaukee Brewery & Taproom
Nick Vatterott @ The Laughing Tap
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 23
Wückfinter @ Ray’s Wine & Spirits
Following a successful first installment that consisted of rare tappings and woefully under-dressed drinkers refusing to bow down to the season in the Ray’s Wine & Spirits parking lot, the Wauwatosa beer bastion and 3 Floyds decided they’d boldly take on winter yet again. The second annual Wückfinter returns to the “Rayborhood” with a winning wintry mix of craft beer, music, food, games, and more. From noon to 6 p.m., patrons can indulge in more than 20 varieties of 3 Floyds beer, a food truck operated by 3 Floyds chef Cole Ersel (a Milwaukee expat, formerly of Wolf Peach) and other food vendors, a specialty slushy made with 3 Floyds beer, an event-appropriate playlist curated by Rushmor Records DJs, oversized games like Jenga and Connect Four, and more. Bundle up. Wückfinter is coming.
The Cryptics + Standard Issue, Avenues @ Pabst Milwaukee Brewery & Taproom