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. And for those currently in winter denial because of the unseasonably warm temperatures, don’t get too cocky. It’s coming.
Club shows of note
On Dec. 21-22, the third annual Riverwest Fest once again lets loose a murderers’ row of local bands on multiple Riverwest venues. Sat. Nite Duets, Crappy Dracula, Kane Place Record Club, and a Death Dream reunion (!) are just a few Day One highlights, while Juiceboxxx, The Fatty Acids, Heavy Hand, and Young Holidays fill out a packed Day Two. Check the Riverwest Fest website for a complete schedule.
Mad Planet will also be home to a handful of solid shows this December, including Kool Keith Dec. 13, and an “ugly holiday sweater” party with The Fatty Acids, Surgeons In Heat, Phox, and Canopies Dec. 15.
Meanwhile, farther south, the Sugar Stems will celebrate the release of their new record Can’t Wait Dec. 21 at the Cactus Club. A week later on the 28th, John The Savage will play what is being billed as its final show. Before that sad day arrives, you can relive some fun John The Savage memories here.
Big-ticket theater gigs
Looking for a few offbeat holiday shows to wipe away memories of grade-school Christmas pageants gone horribly wrong? Turner Hall is the place to be. The one and only “Mexican Elvis,” El Vez, will bring his sure-to-be-ridiculous “MEX-mas” celebration to the ballroom Dec. 10. (This is the man responsible for the wonderfully titled G.I. Ay, Ay! Blues). Not to be outdone, professional wacky person Sufjan Stevens will stage a Christmas Sing-A-Long Dec. 13.
If the holiday thing isn’t your bag, there are plenty of other reasons to drag your grouchy ass to Turner this month. Nada Surf plays Dec. 7, and Of Montreal plays the following night. Emo legend Braid will perform its 1998 album Frame & Canvas in its entirety at Turner Hall Dec. 14, while the Get Down crew will stage its New Year’s Eve blowout on the 31st.
Movies, found footage, and Dustin Fucking Diamond
December is rarely a great month for cinema, but Milwaukee will see its fair share of local and national movie goodness. Fresh off his Best Music Video win for Altos’ “Sing (For Trouble),” director Sean Williamson will premiere his new feature film Heavy Hands at the Oriental Theatre Dec. 13. (An after party will follow at The Hotel Foster.) If that’s not enough, The A.V. Club will host a screening of Bad Santa at Turner Hall Dec. 11. On Dec. 28, a documentary on the legendary Bones Brigade skateboarding crew will also screen at Turner. In between will be the return of the Found Footage Festival, which sets up shop Dec. 19 at Turner Hall.
Finally, on Dec. 29 at Turner Hall, the city—nay, the world!—will bear witness to Dustin Diamond’s Bayside Bash. The Man Formerly Known As Screech will preside over an ’80s and ’90s dance party complete with old-school video games and photo ops with the double-D himself. And then the universe will mercifully end, reset itself, and slowly begin the imperceptibly slow journey back to a world in which Kevin The Robot whizzes and beeps once more. Let’s do this.