This Week in Milwaukee
Meat Puppets, NYE and the Polar Bear Plunge
Thursday, Dec. 30
Meat Puppets w/ Retribution Gospel Choir and Los Yegeros @
Club Garibaldi, 9 p.m.
With more than a little help from fervent supporter Kurt Cobain, ’80s underground rock luminaries Meat Puppets scored a major-label deal and eventually a minor alternative hit (“Backwater”) in the early ’90s. Reunited after a couple of breakups, the group has recorded some fine, back-to-basics records and is again playing the type of small clubs in which they cut their teeth. They return to Club Garibaldi tonight after completely packing the venue in April, and this time they’re joined by a co-headliner that’s a pretty decent draw in its own right: Retribution Gospel Choir, the rock-minded project of Low’s Alan Sparhawk.
Jim Gaffigan @ The Pabst Theater, 7 p.m.
Not since “Weird Al” Yankovic has a comedian mined more material out of food than Jim Gaffigan. On Gaffigan’s latest comedy album, King Baby, his seventh, the slow-talking Indiana stand-up riffs on waffles, ribs, bologna, condiments and Dunkin’ Donuts, and returns to one of his most fruitful muses: bacon. The album was part of a busy 2009 that saw Gaffigan expand his acting profile with appearances on “Law & Order” and “Flight of the Conchords” and in the movies 17 Again, Away We Go and The Slammin’ Salmon. The comedian performs tonight at the Pabst Theater in advance of his annual New Year’s Eve gig at the same venue.
Psycho @ The Times Cinema, 9 p.m.
Filmed with a scant budget amid considerable studio objections, leading Alfred Hitchcock to use the crew from his “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” television show to save money, Psycho went on to become one of the director’s most iconic films. Its unprecedented violence laid the groundwork for generations of slasher films, yet Hitchcock’s masterpiece is just as compelling when its knife-wielding sociopath is off the screen, as the director revels in unrelenting psychological despair and wildly entertaining audience manipulation. For the film’s 50th anniversary, the Times Cinema screens a 35 mm print of the movie through Sunday.
Friday, Dec. 31
The Hold Steady w/ Jaill @ The Riverside Theater, 9 p.m.
Celebrated by fans as a literary rock ’n’ roll savior and derided by detractors as a glorified bar band, Brooklyn’s The Hold Steady divides its time between rousing tales of spiritual redemption and the American dream and more commonplace accounts of passing out at concerts, stumbling around drunk and making out at a detox tent—stories that lyricist and frontman Craig Finn packs with allusions to the works of Jack Kerouac and fellow Minnesotan John Berryman. The group’s typically divisive latest album, this year’s Heaven Is Whenever, is Finn’s rumination on aging. The Hold Steady headlines the Riverside Theater’s New Year’s Eve party with Jaill, the good-spirited Milwaukee garage-pop band that this year released its Sub Pop debut, That’s How We Burn. Tickets to the show also include admission to the Get Down dance party, running concurrently at the Turner Hall Ballroom.
Pezzettino w/ Antler Antennas and Plight of a Parasite @ Stonefly Brewery, 9 p.m.
Experimental accordionist Pezzettino left Milwaukee for New York this year, but she’s maintaining close ties to her hometown. Her latest album, Lub Dub, is a collaboration with local hip-hop producer The LMNtlyst, who provides fittingly eccentric, wide-ranging beats for her quirky pop songs. Pezzettino shares this New Year’s Eve bill with Antler Antennas, a danceable, electronic-minded Milwaukee sextet that will be celebrating an EP release, and Plight of a Parasite, a new project from members of the local hip-hop group Figureheads. Radio Milwaukee’s Tarik Moody closes out the long night with a DJ set from 2 to 4 a.m.
A STATUS Soiree @ The Vox Box, 8:30 p.m.
Milwaukee composer Brian Myers will premiere his first musical, STATUS, a meditation on social networking scored for piano and a trio of singers, at New York’s Strawberry One-Act Festival in February, and the local theater community is marking the achievement with a cocktail event at the Marian Center for Nonprofits’ Vox Box. The first in a series of planned monthly mixers for the theater community, the event will feature music from founder Lisa Golda.
Saturday, Jan. 1
Polar Bear Plunge @ Bradford Beach, noon
In the city’s boldest New Year’s tradition, hundreds of weather-defying swimmers head to Bradford Beach for the Polar Bear Plunge. They’ll be jumping into Lake Michigan at noon, but the organizers suggest you get there early to find parking, since plenty of bundled-up spectators come to watch others take the plunge. For those who need a little liquid warmth before taking the plunge, a dozen area bars will shuttle patrons to and from the beach.