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 October 25-31.
MONDAY, OCTOBER 25
Poets Monday: Matt Cook @ Linneman’s Riverwest Inn
Stanza by repetitive word-lust stanza, Matt Cook has shuffled through the grunt work to earn the iota of attention poets get these days. He served as Milwaukee’s poet laureate from 2015-17, and has released a number of prose poetry books, including 2017’s Irksome Particulars. Through it all, Cook has married his refreshingly self-effacing and circular thoughts on the problems of the day—from hokey municipal narratives to the classic rock obsession among contractors—in a loose hug that billows the size of the city’s poetry presence.
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 27
Milwaukee Record Midweek Music: Caley Conway @ Crafty Cow Tosa
This fall, Milwaukee Record is bringing live music to the new Crafty Cow Tosa (6519 W. North Ave., Wauwatosa). The weekly concert series, called “Midweek Music,” features a total of eight Wednesday night performances from an eclectic array of local artists. There is no cover for these all-ages shows, which run from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. And if a free weeknight show isn’t already great enough on its own, Crafty Cow Tosa is offering $2 Indeed Brewing Company pints. Crafty Cow will also have a “Cheap Date” special, which includes two entrees, an appetizer, and two drinks for just $29. Tonight’s installment features a solo set from the incomparable Caley Conway. Her latest release is 2021’s excellent Bliss Or Bust EP.
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 28
Milwaukee Record Halftime Show: Fight Dice @ Cactus Club
After a season away, the Milwaukee Record Halftime Show series has returned! This season, we’ve assembled a stacked roster of 17 performers that will provide FREE all-ages entertainment during halftime of Green Bay football games. Like previous seasons, 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 game long. This week, Dungeons & Dragons-inspired Milwaukee rock-and-roll super group Fight Dice will treat Cactus Club to a delightfully geeky halftime performance.
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 29
Vincent Van Great & Amanda Huff + Black Challenger (record release), American Progress @ Best Place At The Historic Pabst Brewery
On the new Vincent Van Great and Amanda Huff EP, Troublemakers, Van Great sets aside his hip-hop chops and showcases his smooth singing voice, top-notch songwriting skills, and flare for production in other genres. Huff, meanwhile, offers velvety vocals that elevate the ambitious record to untold levels. The pair partner up on warm and uptempo pop-leaning offerings like “Treats” and “Tease,” they trade verses on R&B jams like “Double Strawberry Plush” and “2 Cool,” and they boldly traverse darker and more experimental territory in the title track and release-stealing banger “God Mode.” This isn’t just the pairing we never knew we needed, it’s also one of the best releases in Milwaukee music this year.
Halloween Weekend @ Mad Planet
Is there a better place to spend Halloween weekend than the eternally goth-friendly Mad Planet? No, no there is not. DJs James Freshluggage and Paul H. will handle Retro Dance Party duties on Friday night, while the Riverwest club will host a combination costume contest / ’90s and ’00s dance party on Saturday night. Will Mad Planet be decked out (more than usual) for the Halloween season? You bet it will.
Nineteen Thirteen @ Sharon Lynn Wilson Center
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.
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 30
Group Of The Altos + Chris Porterfield @ Cactus Club
Putting the “treat” in “trick or treat,” long-dormant post-rock outfit Group Of The Altos is getting the (big) band back together for this Halloween Eve show at Cactus Club. Save for a surprise single in December 2020, the self-described “surly high school orchestra” hasn’t put out a new release since 2015’s R U Person Or Not. That record was a wonderfully jagged and breathless album, full of new ideas and scuffed-up versions of old ones. What does 2021 hold for the oftentimes 12-piece band? “The Altos will bring a whole bunch of instruments and intend to get loud,” says the group. Field Report namesake Chris Porterfield opens this can’t-miss show.
Gin Blossoms @ Potawatomi Hotel & Casino
At some point in the last decade and a half, the world (finally) agreed that the Gin Blossoms were/are great. The band is responsible for a slew of wistful, jangly alt-rock classics that sound just as fresh in the ’20s as they did in the ’90s: “Hey Jealousy,” “Found Out About You,” “Til I Heart It From You,” “Follow You Down,” etc. The group’s latest album, Mixed Reality, was released in 2018.
Nightmare On Center Street @ Company Brewing
It’s an all-day Halloween party at Company Brewing! A pet costume contest kicks things off from noon – 4 p.m., followed by modular synth music and accompanying visuals on the patio from 6-10 p.m. Two local bands will play a little musical dress-up from there: Fellow Kinsman will play the music as The Cars, while Fight The Heathens will play the music of System Of A Down. Hell yeah. After that, from midnight until close, buckle up for some costumed “scaryoke.”
Diet Lite (Nirvana) + Falling Flat (Limp Bizkit), Tigera (Judas Priest) @ Bremen Cafe
Speaking of bands doing the music (and looking the part of) other bands, indie-rock faves Diet Lite will channel Seattle’s finest at this Bremen Cafe show. We also can’t wait for Tigera doing Judas Priest, because, as we all know, Priest is the best, man! Priest is the best, I’m telling you! Hey, lemme tell you. Rob Halford is the baddest motherfucking singer aroooouuuund! And K.K. Downing, man? That motherfucker can play some guitar! Priest is bad, man! Priest is number one in heavy metal, man!
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 31
Cosmic Lavender Country Tour: Lavender Country + Andrew Sa, Cosmic Country Showcase @ Cactus Club
If there’s a better way to spend your Halloween than with the legendary Lavender Country—the “world’s first gay country band”—we’d like to hear it. Formed in 1972 and still led by singer and guitarist Patrick Haggerty, the group is known for such tunes as “Cryin’ These Cocksucking Tears” and “I Can’t Shake The Stranger Out Of You.” Surrounding this show will be the Cosmic Country Showcase, “an homage to country variety shows like Grand Ole Opry with an extraterrestrial-psychedelic twist.”