Devout live music fans know the city never takes a month off.
The music calendar usually grinds to a halt at the beginning of the New Year. It’s one part come-down from the New Year’s Eve late-night celebrations and three parts crippling cold that keeps people cozied up at home. Over the past couple years, January has witnessed quite the renaissance in live music. The month now plays host to a couple music festivals, like Local Coverage (January 13 at Turner Hall Ballroom), where 10 local bands cover each other’s songs, and the five-day DIY blowout Riverwest FemFest (January 18-22 in Riverwest), and the rest of January has enough shows now to satisfy any musical appetite.
While the revitalized January schedule starts slow this week, things kick into high gear this weekend. Legendary Southern California ska punk band Reel Big Fish co-headlines the Rave on Saturday night with protest punk group Anti-Flag and openers Ballyhoo! and Milwaukee’s own Direct Hit!, who are fresh off its Fat Wreck Chords debut, Wasted Mind.
The tour celebrates the 20th anniversaries of both Anti-Flag’s debut record Die for the Government and Reel Big Fish’s Turn the Radio Off, an album that capitalized on the ’90s ska trend and included the band’s most popular song, “Sell Out.”
This week also features two tributes to music icons we lost in the past year. On Friday night, local musicians (Bill Camplin, John Sieger, Chris Hanson with Robin Pluer, Liv Mueller, Panalure, Mood Vertigo) pay respect to Leonard Cohen’s oeuvre at Shank Hall. The show starts at 8 p.m. And on Saturday night, DJs Frank Straka & Megan Minya host a David Bowie-themed night on Mad Planet’s dance floor. Doors open at 9 p.m.
Stream of the Week
Should you listen to the new brash and brisk single from hardcore punk band Midwives? Yes. Released on New Year’s Day, “No” feels like a resolution to trudge forward regardless of what’s in your way.
This Week in Live Music
Thursday, January 5: Sonny Knight and the Lakers at Shank Hall, 8 p.m. ($15) – (1434 N. Farwell Ave., ShankHall.com)
Also: Rusty Pelicans and AUTOmatic at Tonic Tavern, 9 p.m. ($5) – (2335 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., TonicTavern.com)
Friday, January 6: Milwaukee remembers Leonard Cohen featuring Bill Camplin, John Sieger, Chris Hanson with Robin Pluer, Liv Mueller, Panalure, Mood Vertigo and more at Shank Hall, 8 p.m. ($10) – (1434 N. Farwell Ave., ShankHall.com)
Also: Drugs Dragons with Ku Mays, Kate Moths and Punk Guilt at Cactus Club, 9 p.m. ($6) – (2496 S. Wentworth Ave., CactusClubMilwaukee.com)
And: The Red Flags with Hi/Jack and Alcohol Is Rehab at Landmark Lanes, 9 p.m. – (2220 N Farwell Ave., LandmarkLanes.com)
And: Hairball at Turner Hall Ballroom, 8 p.m. ($18 advance; $25 door) – (1032 N. 4th St., PabstTheater.org)
And: Lil Rev & Friends at Walker’s Point Anodyne Coffee, 8 p.m. ($10) – (224 W. Bruce St., AnodyneCoffee.com)
Saturday, January 7: Reel Big Fish and Anti-Flag with Ballyhoo! and Direct Hit! at The Rave, 8 p.m. ($21.50-$26.50) – (2401 W. Wisconsin Ave., TheRave.com)
Also: The Flat Five featuring Kelly Hogan, Nora O’Connor Kean, Alex Hall, Casey McDonough and Scott Ligon at The Back Room @ Colectivo Coffee, 8 p.m. ($15) – (2211 N. Prospect Ave., PabstTheater.org)
And: A Tribute To David Bowie hosted by DJs Frank Straka & Megan Minya at Mad Planet, 9 p.m. ($5) – (533 E. Center St, Mad-Planet.net)
And: Cactus Club Comedy & Music Show with Joseph Huber at Cactus Club, 9 p.m. ($7) – (2496 S. Wentworth Ave., CactusClubMilwaukee.com)
And: Reverend Raven & The Chain Smoking Altar Boys at Club Garibaldi, 9 p.m. – (2501 S. Superior St., ClubGaribaldis.com)
Sunday, January 8: David Dondero with Adam Helwin and King Courteen at Cactus Club, 9 p.m. ($8 advance; $10 door) – (2496 S. Wentworth Ave., CactusClubMilwaukee.com)