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 November 27 – December 3, 2023.


Chris Isaak: It’s Almost Christmas Tour @ The Riverside Theater
“Crooner Chris Isaak is here to help you kick off the holiday season with his Holiday Tour at the Riverside Theater this November! Hear hits like ‘Wicked Game’ along with classic holiday songs as only Isaak can sing them. Over the course of his forty-year career, Platinum-selling and GRAMMY-nominated singer & actor Chris Isaak has performed to sold-out crowds across the globe with his longtime band Silvertone. His music and film credits include thirteen critically acclaimed studio albums, twelve chart-topping singles along with several motion pictures, such as The Silence of the Lambs and That Thing You Do!


Ryan Davis + Julia Blair, King Courteen @ Cactus Club
“After more than fifteen years of music released on labels like Feeding Tube, Load Records, Astral Spirits, Bruit Direct Disques, Petty Bunco, All Gone, and others (including, if not primarily, his very own Sophomore Lounge imprint) as/alongside such outfits as State Champion, Tropical Trash, Equipment Pointed Ankh, Roadhouse, and others, Dancing On The Edge—a seven song, 53 minute basement folk opus—is the first collection of material released under Kentuckiana-based visual artist, multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Ryan Davis’ birth name. The tunes on the album range from bare-boned, achingly crooned avant-honky tonk tales to jovial, full-band excursions into long-form experimental country-tinged rock modes. Continuing in the tradition of the TVZs, Terry Allens, Souled Americans, and DC Bermans before him, this 2xLP reimagines the exceedingly dated archetype of modern day ‘indie troubadour’ music and the inherent trappings therein.”

A Christmas Carol @ The Pabst Theater (through December 24)


Milwaukee Record Presents: Barb And Star Go To Vista Del Mar @ Avalon Atmospheric Theater
Iron your best pair of culottes and reschedule your Talking Club session because Milwaukee Record is screening Barb And Star Go To Vista Del Mar! Both written by and starring Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo (who also wrote Bridesmaids together), Barb And Star follows two quirky Midwestern friends, co-workers, and roommates who embark on the vacation of a lifetime and wind up saving Vista Del Mar, and maybe the world, in the process. The film was supposed to hit theaters in 2020, but the pandemic pushed it to a video-on-demand release in early 2021. Despite not having a theatrical presence, the offbeat comedy—with a few hilarious musical numbers incorporated throughout—still resonated with audiences watching at home, got rave reviews, and quickly earned “cult classic” status. Oh my gooooooossssssh!

Midweek Music: Caley Conway @ Crafty Cow Tosa
Caley Conway is difficult to pin down. Over the course of 10 years the ever-busy Milwaukee singer-songwriter has explored the spaces between folk, jazz, rock, and post-rock. Conway’s latest EP is similarly difficult to pin down. The three-track Only A Dark Cocoon is inspired by the classic Joni Mitchell song “The Last Time I Saw Richard” (from 1971’s Blue), but it’s not a tribute album. All three songs borrow liberally from Mitchell’s lyrics, but it’s not a cover album. Think of it more like a reimagining or an expansion, with Mitchell’s gorgeously rendered song of romantic disillusionment and the hope that lies beyond it serving as a beam of light, and Conway’s voice and sensibility serving as a prism. The colors that emerge are fascinating.

Cliffdiver + Action/Adventure, Keep Flying, Honey Creek @ X-Ray Arcade

Lily And Madeleine + Brian Dunne @ Anodyne Walker’s Point Roastery

The Maine + flor, daisy grenade @ The Rave/Eagles Club


Angel Olsen @ Turner Hall Ballroom
“American singer-songwriter Angel Olsen is an indie singer/songwriter who delivers her vulnerable songs with a distinctive warble informed by vintage country. Olsen’s early, spare, acoustic songs grew increasingly lush and dramatic across her first several albums. Olsen has released six studio albums, with her latest EP Forever Means out April 2023.

Yippee Ki Yay: The Die Hard Parody @ Marcus Performing Arts Center (through December 2)
“An acclaimed retelling of the classic film Die Hard from Richard Marsh—Fringe First-winner, London poetry slam champion, BBC Audio Drama Best Scripted Comedy Drama award-winner, and New York cop (one of these is untrue). When gunmen seize an LA skyscraper, off-duty policeman John McClane is the hostages’ only hope. This uplifting action romp (and unauthorized parody) pays affectionate tribute to the iconic 80s festive fan favorite. Essential viewing for Hans Gruber superfans and newcomers alike.”

Joe Pug + Anna Tivel @ Cactus Club

State Of Sound: Bug Moment @ Radio Milwaukee


Brian Posehn @ X-Ray Arcade
“Brian Posehn is a writer, actor, and comedian known from The Big Bang Theory and multiple acclaimed stand-up specials. His comedy rock album Grandpa Metal (2020) was released to rave reviews in the metal world. He co-created and stars in an upcoming cartoon for Nickelodeon.”

Christmas In The Ward @ Catalano Square
Seasonal music, theatrical performances of holiday classics, a visit from Santa, and a tree lighting ceremony all await you in Historic Third Ward at the Christmas In The Ward event. There will also be hot chocolate and beer available for purchase.

Harry Potter In Concert @ The Riverside Theater (through December 3)

Friday Night Retro Dance Party: DJ Paul H @ Mad Planet


Smoking Popes + Sludgeworth, Teenage Halloween, Devon Kay And The Solutions @ The Back Room @ Colectivo
“Smoking Popes built a relationship with their legion of fans by melding raw songs about bittersweet heartache with soaring melodies, power chords and infectious energy. From their early indie releases to their critically acclaimed major label albums, Smoking Popes developed a unique blend of buzzsaw guitars, caffeinated rhythms and heartfelt crooning vocals, combining the angst of punk with the smooth sophistication of Frank Sinatra, creating music both urgent and timeless, and influencing a generation of musicians in their wake.”

The English Beat @ Turner Hall Ballroom
“When The Beat rushed onto the music scene in 1979, it was a time of social, political, and musical upheaval. Into this storm came The Beat, trying to calm the waters with their simple message of love and unity set to a great dance beat. The Beat was all about inclusion, and this showed in their personnel and their musical influences. The band crossed over fluidly between soul, reggae, pop, and punk, and from these, they created an infectious dance rhythm. They became an overnight sensation and one of the most popular and influential bands of the British Two-Tone Ska movement. Consummate showman that he is, Dave Wakeling has continued to keep The Beat alive and strong. Dave continues to tour the world as The English Beat with an amazing all-star ska backing band playing all the hits of The Beat, General Public, and his new songs.”

Diet Lite + Shoobie, Chapped Lips @ Bremen Cafe

Milwaukee Zappafest XXV @ Best Place

Awkward Nerd Events Presents: Goblin King Bingo! @ Cactus Club

Santa Cycle Rampage @ Wisconsin Bike Fed

Nineties By Nature @ Mad Planet


Milwaukee Record Halftime Show: HOSTS @ 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. This year also brings two new sponsors into the mix. Our friends at Transfer Pizzeria Cafe will be coming by games (excluding Mondays and holidays) to drop off some pizza for everyone to share. Meanwhile, MKE Distilling Company’s new vodka will be featured in Bloody Marys and Cactus Bombs throughout the season. This week: country crooners HOSTS!

Milwaukee Krampusnacht @ Best Place and Historic Brewery District
Since 2017, Milwaukee Krampusnacht has celebrated the half-goat/half-demon Krampus—a.k.a. a figure from Alpine folklore who punishes naughty children and acts as a foil to the do-gooding Saint Nicholas. The annual blowout boasts a family-friendly night of costumes, music, food and drink, and arts and crafts. As expected, there’s a LOT going on for Milwaukee Krampusnacht 2023: vendors spread across three Brewery District locations, a “comedy roast of Santa Claus” (lol), a “hodag calling contest” (lol), live music from Xposed 4heads and other local acts, and, of course, the American Ghost Walks Krampus Parade.

Hover Craft @ The Pritzlaff Building
Since 2009, Hover Craft has brought skilled local artists, crafters, retailers, and others residing beneath the broad “maker” umbrella together to bring Milwaukee-made goods to area consumers during the holiday season. Today, from noon until 6 p.m., it returns to The Pritzlaff Building for another installment.

All Messed Up 12: The Drawing Potluck @ Linneman’s Riverwest Inn
“Welcome to All Messed Up 12, Milwaukee’s annual randomized musical experiment that puts musicians together into bands randomly to see what perfect strangers can create together!”

WMSE’s 9th Annual Big Band Grandstand @ Turner Hall Ballroom

Wisconsin Vintage Fest @ Fiserv Forum

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