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 September 11-17, 2023.
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 11
Curbsitter (record release) + Useless Information, World In Action, Pay Dirt, Jagged @ Cactus Club
If you’re looking for a heady dose of homegrown,’80s-inspired punk, look no further than this record release show from local band Curbsitter. The group released the hyperactive and hyper-enjoyable 6-track Grip On Reality back in 2022; tonight, Curbsitter celebrates the release of its Grip On Reality 7-inch.
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 12
Jason Isbell And The 400 Unit + Wednesday @ 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 in support of the just-released (and wonderful!) Weathervanes. Making the show even sweeter is a can’t-miss opening set from hot-shit-band-of-the-moment Wednesday.
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 13
Run Bambi Run @ Milwaukee Repertory Theater (through October 22)
If you’re looking to sum up the zeitgeist of ’80s Milwaukee, look no further than the Violent Femmes and Lawrencia “Bambi” Bembenek. The legendary folk-punk group formed in 1981 and were famously “discovered” busking outside the Oriental Theatre by The Pretenders. Bembenek, meanwhile, was a former Milwaukee police officer (and a former waitress at the Lake Geneva Playboy Club) who was charged with the murder of her husband’s ex-wife in 1981. Why bring up the connection? Because Femmes frontman Gordon Gano has written original songs for Run Bambi Run, a new rock musical about the city’s “infamous femme fatale.” The musical, with a book by Eric Simonson (Lombardi) and directed by Mark Clements, will run at the Rep through October 22. If you’ve ever dreamed of a story of murder, prison escapes, and the miscarriage of justice set to the jittery punk of the Femmes/Gano, you’re in for a treat.
Milwaukee Night Market @ West Wisconsin Avenue between 2nd Street and Vel R. Phillips Avenue
It’s the final Milwaukee Night Market of the season! “The 2023 Night Markets will be held on June 14, July 19, August 16 and September 13 from 5 to 10 p.m. on West Wisconsin Avenue between 2nd Street and Vel R. Phillips Avenue. This year, the event footprint has expanded to include 2nd Street between Wells Street and Michigan Street, adding nearly 20 more vendor booths. The diverse lineup of vendors features a variety of artists, restaurateurs, farmers, crafters and makers of all sorts that will showcase their talents to the estimated 30,000 attendees each night.”
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 14
Toad The Wet Sprocket + The Verve Pipe @ The Pabst Theater
“Toad the Wet Sprocket is still making new music and touring with the same spirit of independence that started it all over three decades ago and credit their success to the unwavering support of their fans. In their most recent music releases and live performances, the band has continued to stay true to their roots while evolving their sound. And now, in 2023, they are happy to announce their 2023 ALL YOU WANT Headline Tour, which will take them to cities across the country to once again reconnect with their fans and share their music.”
Third Space Presents: HOSTS @ Third Space Brewing
Last year, Third Space Brewing graciously added even more entertainment to Milwaukee’s well-stocked summer concert calendar by debuting its “Third Space Presents” music series on its gorgeous new outdoor deck stage. This year’s series has been bringing a wide range of outstanding Wisconsin acts to the brewery every Thursday night, and concludes tonight with a season-ending performance by HOSTS.
Minneapolis Benefit: Milorganaut + FORCE, RIOTNINE!, Jagged @ Cactus Club
Some of Milwaukee’s best hardcore/grindcore/punk/skramz bands will assemble at the Cactus Club tonight to raise money for a recent mass shooting at a Minneapolis house show. A $10-$20 donation is suggested for this all-ages show.
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 15
China Lights @ Boerner Botanical Gardens (through October 29)
“China Lights 2023 features a complete new theme and 100% new lanterns. Join us to explore biodiversity in the ocean world and beyond with our larger-than-life light displays. The animated crab, glowing mandarin fish and the giant octopus tunnel are just some of the highlights of this year’s event. Visitors are going to see something different at every turn as they walk through the garden at night. We continue to renovate and expand the interactive playground area with even more photo opportunities in 2023!”
Harvest Fest Block Party @ Great Lakes Distillery
“Join us for our Harvest Festival Block Party on Friday, September 15th from 6-10pm at the one and only Great Lakes Distillery. It’s a hootenanny brought to ya by the fine folks at GLD and the brew wizards over at Lakefront Brewery! Get ready to stomp, clap, and holler to the foot-stompin’ beats of our musical headliner, the sensational Stillhouse Junkies with opener Pay the Devil! The Stillhouse Junkies ‘ll have y’all swingin’ and swayin’ with their rootsy melodies, so come on down and let’s have a real barn burner of a time!”
Not Another D&D Podcast @ The Pabst Theater
“Welcome to the campaign after the campaign! Three unlikely adventurers attempt to right the wrongs caused by a party of legendary heroes who screwed up the world while trying to save it. DM Brian Murphy is joined by Emily Axford (Moonshine Cybin), Jake Hurwitz (Hardwon Surefoot), and Caldwell Tanner (Beverly Toegold V) for this D&D play podcast.”
Rod Tuffcurls & The Bench Press @ Turner Hall Ballroom
“Ain’t no party like a Rod Tuffcurls & The Bench Press party….the live performance powerhouse band from Chicago carefully curates each show from a truly eclectic and massive repertoire to give the audience an unclassifiable experience of joy. Come see for yourself this September at Turner Hall!”
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 16
Bay View Bash @ Kinnickinnic Avenue
Even though most of Milwaukee’s major festivals are now in the rear view mirror, one of the city’s biggest and best undertakings takes place this weekend. Yes, Bay View Bash makes its long-awaited return to Kinnickinnic Avenue on Saturday for a day of live music, food and retail vendors, and fun. Find out everything—literally everything—you need to know about the big bash HERE.
Milwaukee Tacos And Tequila Festival @ Franklin Field
Do you like tacos, tequila, and world-renowned rappers who really popped off in the early 2000s? If you answered yes to even one of those questions, we have some good news for you. Milwaukee Tacos And Tequila Festival is coming to Franklin Field for a day of tacos, tequila, and performances by “throwbacks.” Those “throwbacks” include the likes of Nelly, Fat Joe, Chingy, Petey Pablo, Mike Jones, Ying Yang Twins, Twista, and more.
Bully + Wombo @ X-Ray Arcade (sold out)
While Bay View Bash bashes away about three miles to the north, and Tacos And Tequila Festival rages a few miles to the southwest, frequent Milwaukee visitor Bully will be doing its thing in nearby Cudahy at X-Ray Arcade. Wombo will play in support of the Nashville rock outfit.
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 17
Milwaukee Record Halftime Series: Dark Psychic @ 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.
Awkward Nerd Book Fair @ The Cooperage
“Relive the nostalgia of your youth with a classic ’90s themed Book Fair for adults! It’s like the Fair you remember, but all grown up‚—and with a nerdy bent. Adult attendees will enjoy talks and signings from comic superstars, best-selling sci-fi authors, fantasy writers, and even some work that’s a little naughty and bawdy. Vendors will include local booksellers, authors, game sellers, collectibles, book themed items, and more. There will be themed cocktails and mocktails, a photobooth and special visit from a Red Dog. Who is big. We’ve taken all the fun, memorable aspects of the classic Book Fair and compiled it into a day of fun and nostalgia for adults! Plan to curl up in our book nook or participate in some ’90s themed crafts in the Craft Area.”
Goose @ Miller High Life Theatre
“Goose fluidly traverse genres with head-spinning hooks, technical fireworks, and the kind of chemistry only possible among small town and longtime friends. Following 2016’s Moon Cabin, the Norwalk, CT quintet quietly took flight, playing countless shows during their ascent while slowly and steadily amassing a nationwide following. Dripfield, the band’s third studio offering (released in 2022) is an introspective dissection of Goose’s journey, anchored by a theme of balance.”