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 6-12, 2023.
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 6
Craig Ferguson: The Fancy Rascal Tour @ The Pabst Theater
“Craig Ferguson is a multiple Grammy nominated, Peabody and Emmy Award-winning actor, writer, producer, director and comedian with a diverse career that encompasses film, television and the stage. He is a New York Times bestselling author and has recorded numerous standup specials for Netflix, Epix, Comedy Central and Amazon. The wildly popular Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson ran on CBS for ten years and remains a cult favorite on YouTube racking up millions of views every year on fan posted bootleg clips.”
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 7
WMSE’s Local/Live: Motel Breakfast @ Anodyne Walker’s Point Roastery
“Join us at Anodyne in Walker’s Point as Sid and Milwaukee Record’s Matt Wild host another free, all-ages edition of Local/Live with Motel Breakfast! These Midwest misfits navigate adulthood through emotional anthems somewhere between Hot Mulligan, Dr. Dog, and Bruce Springsteen. Motel Breakfast is a tight-knit crew of small-town souls who found solace and lifelong connections in their passion. The bond between Motel Breakfast’s members is what sets them apart. Led by vocalist/ guitarist Jimmy Denovsky, alongside guitarist Mick O’Donnell, Conor Brennan’s keys, Drue deVente’s bass, and Jesse Nasadowski’s drumming, they seamlessly blend the gravity and playfulness of life through their output.”
The Nile Club + Social Cinema, Harrison Gordon, LoBi @ Cactus Club
Somewhere on Highway 33, between the bustling Wisconsin towns of Horicon and Beaver Dam, stands a 40-foot pyramid. Sometimes known as The Pyramid, sometimes known as The Nile Club, it was built in 1961 and has been closed since 2009. Taking its name from the loony landmark is Milwaukee band The Nile Club. Like its namesake, the group is delightfully bizarre and unlikely—heavy and sludgy one minute, jammy and melodic the next. Want menacing shout-alongs AND groovy math-rock workouts? How about horns, organs, sea-shanty psychedelia, AND heart-on-its-sleeve emo? You can find it all on The Nile Club’s excellent, eclectic, and never-dull 2023 record Wake Up With A Sense Of Pride.
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 8
Meltt + Black Challenger @ Cactus Club
“In 2019 Meltt released their debut full-length album Swim Slowly, a diverse twelve track reflection on love, mortality, time, personal growth and the hazy line between the spiritual and material worlds. Now, in 2023, the band is looking forward to embarking on new journeys and sharing what they’ve been cooking up over the past few years. The band has been praised for their combination of heavy riffs, colorful instrumentation, detail oriented production, and multi-layered song-writing. With an equal love for the blissfully tripped out and the powerfully crunchy corners of music, a Meltt song or show is designed to transport the listener to spaces they have only previously dreamt of.”
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 9
Grace Weber + B-Free, Klassik, MYSO @ The Pabst Theater
“The Paperflower Tour is a celebration of Grace Weber’s newly released sophomore album, an intimate collection of songs that delve into the depths of Weber’s emotions and experiences. Her soul-stirring vocals and captivating stage presence have garnered praise from fans and critics alike, solidifying her position as one of R&B’s most promising talents.”
Snag + Coma Regalia (split LP release), Dreamwell, Blind Equation, RIOTNINE! @ Cactus Club
It’s a real “gestures broadly at everything” time in human history. Not a day—hell, not an hour—seems to go by without a new horror or crisis shattering what’s left of our collective psyche. For Milwaukee climate-anxiety punk band Snag, that chaos is both global and personal. “On The Human Condition,” a standout track from the group’s split LP with Indiana punk band Coma Regalia, deals with “the internal chaos and despair of a young person who feels powerless amid the endless parade of crises and horrors that pervade daily life in 2023.” It’s bleak stuff (sample lyric: “Every day you wake up / You only make it worse”), but, happily, there’s some hope in the end.
Mustard Plug + Something To Do, Meskales @ X-Ray Arcade
Skank your way down to Cudahy to see 30-year-ska staples Mustard Plug headline a Thursday-night soiree that also features local support from Wisconsin ska-punk stalwarts Something To Do and Meskales. DJ Kyle Skanson will spin records between sets.
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 10
Rat Bath (record release) + Gold Steps, Kat And The Hurricane @ The Back Room @ Colectivo
If Rat Bath was a video game, it would be a video game loaded with (free!) DLC. The Milwaukee group’s debut album, 2022’s Rat From Hell, wasn’t just an opening level of cowpunk, queercore, and self-described “y’allternative” tunes, but a fully realized concept album about a witch defeating a trauma-signifying demon. The DLC is even more pronounced on Rat Bath’s sophomore album, Call Me A Monster. First of all, Monster is a queer dual-character “murder country rock opera” about a star-crossed vampire (Susanna) and time-traveler (Cadence). Second of all, the lead-up to the record release show has come complete with a DIY alternate reality game of in-character journal entries hidden throughout the city, secret prizes, and mind-bending lore. If you’re a fan of collecting and obsessing over every single note, letter, and audio log in an 80-hour video game, Call Me A Monster is for you.
Dark Star Orchestra @ The Pabst Theater
“Performing to critical acclaim for over 20 years and over 3000 shows, Dark Star Orchestra continues the Grateful Dead live concert experience. Their shows are built off the Dead’s extensive catalog and the talent of these seven fine musicians. On any given night, the band will perform a show based on a set list from the Grateful Dead’s 30 years of extensive touring or use their catalog to program a unique set list for the show. This allows fans both young and old to share in the experience. By recreating set lists from the past, and by developing their own sets of Dead songs, Dark Star Orchestra offers a continually evolving artistic outlet within this musical canon. Honoring both the band and the fans, Dark Star Orchestra’s members seek out the unique style and sound of each era while simultaneously offering their own informed improvisations.”
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 11
Kesha + Jake Wesley Rogers @ The Rave / Eagles Club (sold out)
Worldwide pop sensation Kesha returns to her familiar stomping grounds of The Rave, which she claims to be “absolutely obsessed with,” for what’s sure to be another outstanding show. This stop comes a few months after the release of Kesha’s latest album, Gag Order, but she’s likely to play material that spans her undeniable and hit-laden catalog.
Lauryl Sulfate + Her Ladies Of Leisure (record release) + Black Challenger, Before Dawn, DJ Kittens @ Landmark Lanes
“It’s an album release party! It’s a birthday party! It’s an afterparty! It’s a sexy meditation on the nature of mortality! Lauryl Sulfate + Her Ladies Of Leisure are releasing a new album. We’re fukken excited about it. AND Lauryl and Kate from Before Dawn are celebrating their birthdays in the most Scorpio way ever: With a gnarly dark synth dance party in a secret underground cavern known only at THE MOON ROOM. WHAT?! YOU WANT IT. YOU NEED IT. IT IS HAPPENING.”
Greg Carwright And The Good Nights + Sugar Stems @ Cactus Club
Greg Cartwright is coming to town to play a benefit concert for our dear friend Lee Olson (donate to his GoFundMe page and/or Amazon Wishlist HERE). Since that show quickly sold out, he’s added a late show with Milwaukee’s own Sugar Stems!
Beauty Steps (record release) @ Jazz Gallery Center For The Arts
Some songs drill down and focus on one idea—love, sex, the power of partying, whatever—while other songs contain multitudes. “Peaches,” a standout single from Milwaukee psych/dream-pop duo Beauty Steps, is the second kind of song. Its sound is groovy and trippy, its vocals are sweet and smooth, and its lyrical themes cover life, death, and everything in between. “Peaches in a palace, peaches in a casket, it’s all the same,” croons singer D’Amato near the end of the song. Yes, Beauty Steps marks a welcome return for D’Amato—he of his famously overstuffed live band and a slew of impossibly catchy R&B/hip-hop/soul hybrids. He’s joined here by Robert Weiss; together, they cook up a positively sublime song that bodes well for Beauty Steps’ debut full-length, Show Me Where.
Jeff Tweedy @ The Pabst Theater
“Beloved songwriter and Wilco frontman, Jeff Tweedy, is back with his highly anticipated third book, WORLD WITHIN A SONG: Music that Changed My Life and Life that Changed My Music. The book is a reflection on fifty songs that have enhanced his own craft and impacted the way he remembers his past. Join us for a conversation on the transportive power of music, along with a few acoustic performances by Tweedy at beautiful and intimate Pabst Theater. As a bonus, each ticket includes a SIGNED copy of WORLD WITHIN A SONG.”
Chicken Wire Empire + Feed The Dog, Valley Fox (Night 1) @ Miramar Theatre
“Since their formation in 2014, Chicken Wire Empire has captivated audiences around the world with their distinct brand of bluegrass and intricate bridging of traditional and modern acoustic sounds. Their high energy shows are ever-evolving, with new music constantly woven into the setlist and improvisational jams leading listeners in new directions with every performance. The band’s ability to cohesively improvise through complex arrangements is a testament to their virtuosic musicianship and years of experience playing together. Fans of bluegrass, jamgrass, and Americana music alike will appreciate Chicken Wire Empire’s innovative approach to the genre and can expect a dynamic and relentlessly engaging listening experience.”
Adam Sandler @ Fiserv Forum
You know what’s great? Adam Sandler. You know what else is great? Seeing Adam Sandler when he brings his “I Missed You Tour” to Fiserv Form. Oh, and he’ll be joined by a “surprise guest”! (Please don’t be Rob Schneider.) If seeing Adam Sandler is cool, consider us Miles Davis. LET’S GO.
Lake Street Dive + Monica Martin @ The Riverside Theater
“Join us for an easy-going, semi-acoustic evening with Lake Street Dive. Come sing along as the band performs a revue of their 18-year catalog of songs. Join us in our most relaxed, basement couch setting for deep cuts, fan favorites and maybe some works in progress. Since forming in 2004, Lake Street Dive have matched their sophisticated musicianship with a fearless refusal to limit their sound. The Boston-bred band also possess a keen talent for combining sociopolitical commentary with immediately catchy pop gems. Lake Street Dive continue to create joyously soulful rock & roll with equal parts ingenuity, intelligence, and irresistible abandon.”
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 12
Milwaukee Record Halftime Series: Steph Lippert Project @ 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: the always excellent Steph Lippert Project!
Gary Gulman @ Turner Hall Ballroom
“Over 25 years in comedy, Gary Gulman has established himself as an eminent performer and peerless writer. It’s no wonder the New York Times wrote, ‘Gary is finally being recognized as one of the country’s strongest comedians.’ Today, Gulman is one of the most popular touring comics, selling out theaters around the country. He is currently on his Born On 3rd Base Tour, in which he hilariously chronicles his impoverished childhood on food stamps, free lunch and welfare checks while skewering our current Tale of Two Cities-esque wealth gap.”