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 November 29 – December 5, 2021.
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 29
Ruth B8r & Friends + Dandy L. Freling, Ellie Jackson @ Cactus Club
It’s been nearly two years since neo-soul/folk group Ruth B8r Ginsburg graced Milwaukee with its presence. Not that the members of the activist-minded outfit have been quiet: Johanna Rose has released several solo records, for example, and Steph Lippert has stayed busy with her Steph Lippert Project. “First show in almost two years, last show for a while (who knows!)” says Ruth B8r. “Come see us while you can!”
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 30
Twin Tribes + BLOOD, CONVERT @ Cactus Club
If you’re looking for a dark, goth-y, and synth-y night of dark, goth-y, and synth-y live music, look no further. Hailing from Brownsville, Texas, Twin Tribes will provide all of the above and more, drawing on two years of material and their latest LP, Altars. BLOOD, the sinister solo project of GGOOLLDD member Nicholas Schubert, will play in support, along with fellow local act CONVERT.
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 1
Luke Callen + Long Mama, Lady Cannon @ Cactus Club
Conversely, if you’re looking for a folksy, roots-y, and acoustic-y night of folksy, roots-y, and acoustic-y live music, look no further than this show. Hailing from Minneapolis, Luke Callen will provide all of the above and more, drawing on four years of material and his latest LP, Hard Sardine. Two top-shelf Milwaukee acts will play in support: country-tinged Long Mama and the genre-shifting Lady Cannon.
Present Music: Unsilent Night @ Saint Kate – The Arts Hotel
This sounds amazing: “Unsilent Night is an original composition by Phil Kline, written specifically to be heard outdoors in December. Kline’s luminous 4-track surround soundscape will be performed by the public on smartphones and bluetooth speakers carried throughout downtown Milwaukee, including a scenic jaunt along the Riverwalk and through neighboring parks. Present Music founder and former artistic director, Kevin Stalheim, will serve as bandleader and lead participants along a pre-determined route. Each participant plays just one of the four tracks from their personal device—the magic begins when the crowd hits PLAY, all at the same time!” Find more info HERE.
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 2
Jason Isbell And The 400 Unit + Strand Of Oaks @ The Riverside Theater
Alt-country powerhouse and one of modern music’s finest songwriters Jason Isbell returns to the familiar confines of Riverside Theater along with his 400 Unit backing band and opener Strand Of Oaks. The show serves as belated support of last year’s outstanding Reunions. It’s not Isbell’s latest release, however: the new Georgia Blue is a collection of covers of Georgia artists such as R.E.M., Cat Power, and Indigo Girls.
Nineteen Thirteen @ Anodyne Walker’s Point Roastery
Nineteen Thirteen is a group that’s more normal than its two-person lineup may suggest—and one that’s much, much weirder. On one hand, founding Violent Femmes drummer Victor DeLorenzo and cellist Janet Schiff produce surprisingly accessible music, especially considering the musicians play the drums and a 100-year-old cello, respectively. On the other hand, Schiff’s cello is often processed through a dizzying array of effects pedals, DeLorenzo’s occasional cool-cat vocals seem beamed in from another dimension, and the overall effect is akin to listening to a band crash the Roadhouse from Twin Peaks. It’s familiar, but it’s also slightly off-center.
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 3
Flat Out Friday @ Fiserv Forum
Motorcycle racers riding on top of a track that’s slathered in Dr. Pepper syrup and it’s fucking awesome! Need we say more?
Flat Out Friday Official Afterparty: WebsterX + Population Control, Mosh Wah @ The Cooperage
An official Flat Out Friday afterparty at The Cooperage headlined by the one and only WebsterX and his latest album, 1 Of 1, is fucking awesome. Need we say more?
An Evening With Dead Horses @ Cactus Club (early and late shows)
Last year’s Birds—the follow-up to 2018’s My Mother The Moon—found the dynamic duo of Sarah Vos and Dan Wolff (and a few featured players) bringing Dead Horses’ well-established roots stylings to new territory. The stripped-down quintet of songs was a brief but memorable effort that shone with mesmerizing standouts like “Birds Can Write The Chorus” and “All I Ever Wanted.” Now, Vos and Wolff are bringing Dead Horses to the Cactus Club for a special two-show evening. The early show begins at 6 p.m., while the late show begins at 9 p.m.
Primitive Broadcast Service (vinyl release) + Deadfinger @ Club Garibaldi
On the new Colors For Chameleons, Primitive Broadcast Service (Bryan Dorn, J.D. Morgan, Andy Steffenhagen) delivers a noisy seven-track soundtrack to the decaying structures and ideals of the American Midwest. “City Of Clocks” opens with the sound of squeaking metal before launching into a driving blast of Sonic Youth-esque noise flecked with lyrics about the economy and bumming a smoke. The epic-length ghost story “Murmur” haunts the record for nearly eight minutes before ending in a sudden grease-fire explosion. The even-longer album closer “Bobby Says” spins a soldier’s story over a nail-bed of strangely tuned guitars and math-rock time changes. “Word Is A Virus,” meanwhile, takes William S. Burroughs’ concept of control and updates it for modern pandemic times. It also sports a chorus that sounds like it’s been put through a blender.
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 4
Mama Tried Motorcycle Show 2021 @ The Rave / Eagles Ballroom (also December 5)
Last year, Mama Tried (and its affiliated festivities) was among the first Milwaukee events canceled on account of COVID-19. At long last, the sprawling indoor invitational that showcases an amazing array of more than 100 vintage and custom bikes returns to The Rave for two days of chrome-plated celebration. Also included: craft beer, a pop-up ice bar, and tons of vendors.
Chelsea Handler @ Miller High Life Theatre
Chelsea Handler’s current tour is called the “Vaccinated and Horny Tour,” which is really funny. If you, too, are vaccinated, check out Handler’s show at Milwaukee’s Miller High Life Theatre. We’ll leave issues of horniness up to you.
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 5
Milwaukee Record Bye Week Extravaganza: Green Day Packers @ Cactus Club
As part of the Milwaukee Record Halftime Show series—which provides FREE all-ages entertainment during halftime of Green Bay football games—Cactus Club is also hosting a “Bye Week Extravaganza.” The Pack won’t be playing, but you can stave off the bye week blues with an extended performance by Green Day Packers (a novelty band with a very specific concept that’s fronted by Milwaukee Record’s own Tyler Maas). As always, our friends at Miller High Life will sponsor our football-focused festivities, meaning fans can enjoy “The Champagne Of Beers” and Miller Lite for $2.50 a bottle or $10 for a bucket of five beers all day long. Inside the bar area, a DJ will spin Green Bay-themed novelty tunes, and Cactus’ TVs will show ’90s era Packers action and/or what’s sure to be a Vikings or Bears loss happening that day.
Hover Craft 2021 @ 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. Like pretty much every event happening in or around the city, Hover Craft canceled its 2020 event on account of COVID-19 concerns. However, it returns to The Pritzlaff Building on Sunday, December 5 from 12-6 p.m. Like other recent years, more than 100 vendors will partake in the Hover Craft festivities. Admission is $5. Kids get in free. Check out the full vendor list HERE.
Milwaukee Krampusnacht @ The Bavarian Bierhaus
If you’re looking to spice up your holiday season with a little something off the beaten Hallmark Christmas movie path, look no further: After a COVID year off, the annual Milwaukee Krampusnacht returns to the Bavarian Bierhaus. Buckle up for a night of costumes, music, food and drink, arts and crafts, and general tributes to the half-goat/half-demon Krampus, a figure from Alpine folklore who punishes naughty children and acts as a foil to the do-gooding Saint Nicholas. Tickets are only $5. Find more info HERE.
Arlo McKinley + Justin Wells @ The Back Room @ Colectivo
If you haven’t heard of Arlo McKinley yet, you should know he comes with John Prine’s seal of approval. Before Prine’s heartbreaking death, the legendary folk singer handpicked McKinley to join his Oh Boy Records label, an honor granted to only a handful of musicians over the last couple of decades. In August 2020, McKinley released Die Midwestern on the independent label, and his follow-up to 2014’s self-titled debut received high praise from music media and fans ever since.