Welcome to December: What’s happening in Milwaukee this month
December is a notoriously slow month for live music, what with all the holiday celebrations, family gatherings, and Seasonal Affective Disorders to contend with. But there are a few glimmers of hope during this bleak month, as long as you’re willing to leave your house and brave the cold, unrelenting mistress that is winter in Milwaukee.
Club shows of note
The big news (and, let’s face it, some of the only news) this December is the second-annual Riverwest Fest. On Dec. 16 and 17, a murderer’s row of local acts will descend upon the clubs of Riverwest, demonstrating just why the oft-maligned neighborhood is still worth a damn. Bands like Group Of The Altos, The Fatty Acids, John The Savage, Catacombz, Burning Sons, Brief Candles, Absolutely, and Fahri will perform, setting up shop in every venue from Stonefly and Uptowner to the Cream City Collective and the Riverwest Public House. Look for a full preview of the fest in the upcoming weeks.
Not to be forgotten, Trolley celebrates the release of its excellent new album, Things That Shine And Glow, Dec. 3 at Linneman’s, and the Liam Gallagher-led Beady Eye comes to The Rave Dec. 6. Meanwhile, The Cactus Club hosts Maritime and a re-united El Oso Dec. 17; the triple-threat of Call Me Lightning, John The Savage, and Absolutely Dec. 23; and the glorious reunion—and what’s being cheekily billed as “the final show”—of The Mistreaters Dec. 30.
Big-ticket theater gigs
There’s no bigger show this month than Wilco at the Riverside Theater Dec. 9. Unfortunately, it’s sold out, so you’re probably out of luck on that one. The rest of December is relatively quiet for the Riverside/Turner Hall/Pabst Theater trifecta, though the Dec. 22 Braid and Smoking Popes set at Turner should prove to be quite the night, not to mention a good warm-up for The Promise Ring reunion (!) early next year.
Movies, garage sales, and Hover Crafts
The Times Cinema will screen a few classics this month, including Metropolis Dec. 2-4; Nosferatu Dec. 3; and the shiny-happy Rolling Stones tour doc Gimme Shelter Dec. 18 (just in time for Keith Richards’ 68th birthday!). For fans of Bill Murray and/or a drunken Bobcat Goldthwait, Turner Hall’s Beer And a Movie series returns Dec. 9 with Scrooged. Over at the Oriental Theatre, the new Lars von Trier joint, Melancholia, also begins Dec. 9, and promises slightly less Antichrist-like genital mutilation, and more topless Kirsten Dunst.
Looking to get in on the whole “shop local” thing all the kids are talking about? The excellent Hover Craft sets up shop at Sweet Water Organics Dec. 3. (with a great after-party at Frank’s Power Plant), and the Urban Garage Sale moves into Turner Hall Dec. 10.
Oh, and New Year’s Eve
If the thought of hitting the town on New Year’s Eve gives you the willies, you’re not alone; next to Halloween, St. Patrick’s Day, and every other Thursday, it’s the single biggest “amateur night” in town. Still, there are a handful of reasons to brave the drunken, yelping hordes. The ever-pale Jim Gaffigan returns to the Pabst Theater for his annual New Year’s shows Dec. 30 and 31; and The Get Down takes over Turner Hall for another epic, sweaty, and balloon-filled New Year’s Eve bash.