Tag Archives: nightlife

The Sets List: Colors and Chords, Local H, Louis Prima Jr. and more

On stage in Wisconsin: Colors and Chords, Local H, Louis Prima Jr. and more

Colors and Chords 

7 p.m. Nov. 24 at Turner Hall Ballroom, Milwaukee. $25. pabsttheater.org.

Want to help children and young adults on the autism spectrum develop graphic design skills with the help of professionals in the field? Of course you do. So you should stop by Colors and Chords, the fundraiser that pairs seven local bands (including Nineteen Thirteen, Testa Rosa and Jon Mueller and Chris Roseneau of Volcano Choir) with seven local artists, who’ll create works on the spot inspired by the bands’ 20-minute sets. You can discover more about the nonprofit they’re supporting, Islands of Brilliance, at islandsofbrilliance.org.

Local H 

9:30 p.m. Nov. 28 at High Noon Saloon, Madison. $13, $15 day of show. high-noon.com.

Chicago-based punk rock duo Local H has been performing with new drummer Ryan Harding for two years and so far he and original guitarist/vocalist Scott Lucas are living up to the 25-year reputation set by the band, cranking out singles, covers and a new album (Hey, Killer). And, most importantly, their live shows are still as chaotic and exciting as ever. They’ll return for a set to High Noon Saloon, with Madison acts The Hussy and Dumb Vision opening.

Louis Prima Jr. & The Witnesses 

4 p.m. Nov. 29 at Turner Hall Ballroom, Milwaukee. $40. pabsttheater.org.

Ready for a full day of big band and swing music? That’s what WMSE is offering for its second annual Big Band Grandstand, a fundraiser to support its operations. Headlining the day is Louis Prima Jr., heir to one of the swing era’s biggest names and a fine jazz and pop musician in his own right. He and his big band The Witnesses will be joined by the Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra’s Rhumba ensemble.

Kid Cudi 

8 p.m. Dec. 2 at the Orpheum Theater, Madison. $45, $50 day of show. madisonorpheum.com.

Kid Cudi burst on the hip-hop scene in 2008 with “Day ’n’ Nite,” but as his career’s progressed, he’s shifted from breakout star to cult favorite. That’s arguably a good shift for him — it’s given him the opportunity to experiment with unique sounds including frequent flirtation with indie rock. His latest record, Speedin’ Bullet to Heaven, is set to drop in less than a month, so glimpses of it should be visible in his set at the Orpheum.

Best Coast 

8 p.m. Dec. 2 at Turner Hall Ballroom, Milwaukee. $17. pabsttheater.org.

Sophisticated, sparkly and psychedelic — that’s Best Coast in a nutshell. The LA-based duo released its third studio album, California Nights, earlier this year, revealing it to be yet another dreamy yet dark exploration of the West Coast aesthetic they’re surrounded by. Hopefully they can bring some of that California sunshine along with the gloom to their Turner Hall gig. Midwestern indie rock band Cloakroom opens.

Central Wis. breweries have winning beers on tap

Beer is central to many Wisconsinites, but many of them don’t think of central Wisconsin as a hub for it. That’s a misconception worth changing. The heart of our state features a variety of breweries new and old, some highly acclaimed and others little known outside their communities. 

If you find yourself wandering around the central part of Wisconsin, here are some places to stop in for a cool one or two.

The first brewery on our list also is the oldest. Founded in 1857, Stevens Point Brewery is the fifth oldest brewery in the United States. It even provided beer to Union troops during the Civil War.

The little brewery survived Prohibition, the Depression and other historic milestones under the oversight of a variety of brewers/owners. In 2002, the brewery was purchased by Milwaukee real estate developers Joe Martino and Jim Wiechmann. The pair has continued and expanded on the brewery’s 158-year-old traditions.

Point beers have enjoyed some long-term popularity, including being named the best beer in America in 1973 by the late Chicago newspaper columnist Mike Royko. Since then the brewery has widened its variety of brews, including the higher-alcohol Whole Hog Ltd. specialty series, seasonal brews and gourmet sodas. The entertaining brewery tour always includes samples.

A growing number of beer geeks have discovered and are reveling in the beers from O’so Brewing Co., located in the Stevens Point suburb of Plover. Brewers James Vokoun and Mark Spilker specialize in the unexpected and their dedication to the craft of craft brewing shows.

Based in the Village Park strip mall off of Interstate 39, just south of Stevens Point, O’so boasts one of the nicest tasting rooms of any craft brewer in the state. The more than 20 tap lines feature nan extensive array of O’so’s well-known, seasonal and one-off brew and a rich cross-section of some of the state’s best craft beers, assuring that there is something for every taste.

If you’re stopping by, make sure you bring your designated driver so you can tap into some of O’so’s extreme offerings, including Grandpa’s Got a Gun (brandy barrel-aged American strong ale), Wheat You Talkin’ ’bout, Willis? (brandy barrel-aged wheat wine) and Spike’s Maple (an American strong ale made with 100 percent maple sap rather than water). At 10 percent ABV, this last beer is sure to “spike” your blood alcohol content.

Travel 20 minutes east of Plover and you will hit the tiny community of Amherst. Within an even tinier industrial park you will find Central Waters Brewing Co., which, along with O’so, has helped make central Wisconsin a craft beer mecca.

Owners Paul Graham and Anello Mollica have expanded on the brewery, first founded in Junction City in 1995, to embrace a wide array of craft beers that have established Central Waters’ reputation statewide. The small tasting room that fronts the brewing tanks offers a comfortable atmosphere and a wide array of interesting brews.

Known for beers like Mudpuppy Porter, Hop Rise Session Ale and Satin Solitude Imperial Stout, all featuring a heron on the label and available in area bottle shops, Central Waters’ Brewers Reserve series is capturing the public’s palates. Our personal favorite is the Great American Beer Festival Gold Medal Award Winner Bourbon Barrel Cherry Stout. Produced with 75 pounds of tart Door County cherries added to each barrel, the resulting beer is richly textured, sublimely flavorful and deceptively strong.

The brewery’s Space Ghost Imperial Stout, brewed with Anaheim chiles and Ghost peppers, also got top marks. Buy it if you can find it.

Central Waters isn’t the only brewery to festoon their labels with a heron. The Blue Heron Brewpub in Marshfield — which actually has a white heron in its logo — differs from the previous breweries in also being a full-service restaurant. The beers are balanced by a menu of pub standards and a few out-of-the-ordinary dishes, which received top marks on TripAdvisor and other sites.

Blue Heron regularly features three standards: Honey Blonde Ale, Tiger’s Eye Mild English Ale and Hop Heart IPA. But the brewery also produces interesting seasonals on a revolving schedule.

This month you will find Fainting Goat Maibock and Hip Wader Pale Ale on tap. Tappers Tripel Ale promises to have a little more kick than the rest of the lineup, while Rauch ‘Em Sock ‘Em Smoked Ale and Thunder Echo White Stout are varieties rarely seen. Couple either with the brewpub’s elk burger or “Grown Up Mac and Cheese” and the results will be more than satisfactory.

The Marathon County community of Wausau was originally known as Big Bull Falls when it was founded in 1836, owing largely to the particular bend of the Wisconsin River on which it is located. The name is carried on with Bull Falls Brewery, one of three craft breweries in Wausau. Brewmaster Mike Zamzow has created a variety of brews, some emblematic of the craft brew market and others a little more unusual.

Zamzow comes with a distinct brewing legacy. His great uncle Walter Zamzow was the secretary at Marathon City Brewery in Wausau, which closed in 1966 after operating for 75 years. Bull Falls’ signature beer, Marathon Lager, is based on the original Marathon Superfine recipe. The premium beer, lightly hopped, recreates an area favorite from an earlier time.

Zamzow also brews a Bock Lager, Bourbon Barrel Stout and Hefeweizen in addition to Holzhacker Lager (a Munich-style Helles beer). Midnight Star (a German-style schwarzbier) and Hop Worthy, the brewery’s IPA. The emphasis on lagers, which are more difficult and more costly to produce, sets Bull Falls apart from much of the competition.

Red Eye Brewing Co., also located in Wausau, is another brewpub, this one with a menu emphasizing wood-fired pizza. The menu also lists burgers, paninis and wraps, as well as sides, salads and starters.

Brewer Kevin Eichelberger has taken his brewery a different direction than Bull Falls, with an emphasis on IPAs, Belgian-style brews and other creative fare. Eichelberger’s current tap list includes Bloom (a Belgian wheat beer), Thrust (an American-style IPA), Scarlet 7 (a Belgian-style “dubbel”) and Charlatan (an imperial stout.)

Wausau also is home to one of five Great Dane Pub & Brewing Co. locations, the northernmost and the only one outside the Madison metro area. Those familiar with the Madison locations will recognize the beer menu, which includes Crop Circle Wheat, Emerald Isle Stout, Stone of Scone Scotch Ale and other favorites developed by Madison brewmaster Rob LoBreglio.

The Wausau Great Dane also offers a full service food menu much like its Madison cousins.


Stevens Point Brewery

2617 Water St., Stevens Point



O’so Brewing Co.

3028 Village Park, Plover



Central Waters Brewing Co.

351 Allen St., Amherst



Blue Heron Brewpub

108 W. 9th St., Marshfield



Bull Falls Brewery

901 E. Thomas St., Wausau



Red Eye Brewing Co.

612 Washington St., Wausau



Great Dane Pub & Brewing Co.

2305 Sherman St., Wausau



The Sets List: Meat Puppets, Dirty Heads, Jeremy Messersmith and more

Meat Puppets

8:30 p.m. Aug. 28 at Club Garibaldi, Milwaukee. $13. clubgaribaldi.com.

Is there a better way to celebrate the end of summer than by listening to some “face-melting” rock ’n’ roll by the Meat Puppets? Better be safe and pop into Club Garibaldi for this cowpunk pioneer’s first appearance at the venue in two years. The group — best known for an appearance with Nirvana on MTV Unplugged shortly before Kurt Cobain’s death, but a reputable force in their own right — has a history of rocking the venue hard, and their 2015 appearance should be no different.

Dirty Heads

8:30 p.m. Sept. 1 at the Barrymore Theatre, Madison. $27.  barrymorelive.com.

Dirty Heads has been an established reggae rock band for several years, but they took a big shift with their 2014 album Sound of Change, introducing more alternative rock and hip-hop influences than ever before. It paid off — their lead single, “My Sweet Summer,” picked up heavy rotation on indie and mainstream stations alike, only growing in popularity as summer turned to fall and listeners grabbed onto whatever reminders of warmth they could. At the Barrymore, they’ll prove they’re more than just a catchy single. Dutch funk rock band Chef’Special opens.

Jeremy Messersmith

TBA Sept. 8 in Oshkosh and Sept. 9 in Milwaukee. $20. jeremymessersmith.com.

There’s small, intimate concerts, and then there’s Jeremy Messersmith’s Supper Club tour. The indie pop artist from Minneapolis is traveling around the country, playing a series of musical potluck shows at random homes. He has two Wisconsin gigs coming up, in Oshkosh and Milwaukee, and that’s all we can tell you about them. Get tickets, and you get the host’s address and other important details. What happens next? That’s up to you.


9 p.m. Sept. 11 at the Orpheum Theatre, Madison. $25, $30 day-of-show. madisonorpheum.com.

On their last two records, LP3 and LP4, electronica duo Ratatat (Mike Stroud and Evan Mast) got experimental, trying out different genres, instruments and motifs. Magnifique, their first album in half a decade, gets back to their roots: guitar driven, synth-supported electronic rock. It’s been wildly enjoyed by fans of the band in live performance, so this Orpheum show comes with high expectations.

Rufus Wainwright

8 p.m. Sept. 12 at the Marcus Center, Milwaukee. $17 to $107. mso.org.

Considered one of the greatest vocalists and songwriters performing today, Rufus Wainwright vacillates between contemporary and classical notions of pop music with an enviable ease. So it makes sense that he’d want to perform an evening of his best work with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. The Marcus Center may not be the Pabst Theater (where he recorded his live album Milwaukee at Last!!!), but Wainwright loves the city whatever the venue.

Milwaukee’s gay nightlife on the move

Like San Francisco’s The Castro, New York City’s Chelsea and Chicago’s Boystown, Walker’s Point serves as a sort of nucleus to Milwaukee’s LGBT nightlife. For years, gay and lesbian bars and clubs have flourished in the area, also known as the Fifth Ward.

But a growing number of LGBT Milwaukeeans, particularly younger gays and lesbians, don’t like having their social life confined to the South Side neighborhood. They feel it’s isolating.

In 2007, the Milwaukee Guerrilla Gay Bar was formed as an “alternative scene for folks who crave something different than what the gay Walker’s Point circuit offers,” says the group’s website.

The first Friday of every month, MGGB organizes a “takeover” of one of Milwaukee’s straight bars by rallying hundreds of members and allies via Facebook and Twitter announcements. The location of the “takeover” is announced the day of the event, and “guerrillas” show up unexpectedly at the designated bar that night.

Three years after the first guerrilla attack, 2010 could be considered the year of the LGBT takeover of East Side and downtown nightlife. Two gay bars have opened in those neighborhoods, and several otherwise straight venues have begun promoting gay nights.

Before Walker’s Point became the focal point of the city’s gay nightlife, the East Side served that role, says Joe Brehm, owner of This Is It! at 418 E. Wells St. Milwaukee’s oldest gay bar, This Is It! has operated continuously for more than 40 years.

“I think the East Side was always more accepting of diversity than other (Milwaukee) neighborhoods,” Brehm says.

Hybrid Lounge helped revive the East Side’s gay tradition in March, opening at 707 E. Brady St. and becoming the only gay bar on the popular Brady Street corridor.

In June, Tempt opened downtown at 324 E. Mason St. Tempt promotes itself as filling the void of LGBT bars and nightclubs downtown, using the slogan “Let us ‘Tempt’ you with what Milwaukee has been missing!”

Also opening this year on the East Side – and just steps away from Hybrid Lounge – was “Beyond Pleasuredome” at Trocadero’s Redlight nightclub, 1758 N. Water St. “Beyond Pleasuredome” picks up where the upstairs nightclub’s original gay night, called “Babylon,” ended in 2008 with the close of Redlight to the public. Trocadero general manager Chad Ellingboe says the nightclub revived Thursday gay nights in response to patron demand.

“Beyond Pleasuredome” advertises itself as a dance party for anyone, “gay, straight or undecided.”

“We just want to offer good drinks and good music to anyone,” while “trying to be as gay-friendly as possible,” Ellingboe says.

According to him, East Side patrons appreciate the opportunity to drink and mingle closer to their homes, and the gay night also draws University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee students.

Notte Nite Lounge, 1033 N. Old World Third St., also started a Thursday gay dance night called “Crave” in October. That same month, Coa, located at Bayshore Towne Center in Glendale, initiated a Tuesday gay night.

“We’re the first of our kind in this area,” says Enrique Torres, Coa’s general manager. “We want to make the gay community

comfortable in a different location.”

Brehm says he’s happy with the expansion of LGBT nightlife beyond Walker’s Point and does not regard the new activity as a threat to his business.

“Milwaukee for its size has more gay bars than other cities of its size,” he says, adding that no matter what the neighborhood, “Milwaukee is very welcoming.”