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Reanimate Halloween weekend with live music around Milwaukee

A compilation of concert fliers with colorful graphics.
Nō Studios / Cactus Club / Linnemann's / Club Ritual

The Halloween bar scene can get … interesting. Some people love the amped-up atmosphere, others merely tolerate it to be around friends, and still others wouldn’t be caught dead there (or pretend dead). We’re all about providing alternatives — the cinema, for one. But there aren’t too many activities that deliver a bolt of lightning to your holiday weekend like live music.

The usual concert experience is enough to get even the most hastily thrown together pile of corpse parts moving. Like the watering holes around town, though, the live-music options tend to get dialed up around Halloween time. This year is no different, with bands pretending they’re other bands, themed DJ sets and concerts that double as music-video premieres.

We’ve collected and provided links for all those options below, but be sure to visit the calendar of your favorite Milwaukee venue to see what they have lined up.

Friday at 7 p.m.
Halloween Party/Music Video Premiere
Nō Studios

The multipurpose creative space in the Historic Pabst Brewery District will unleash a triple dose of local to get your weekend started right. The bill includes alt four-piece Secret Menu, Cullah and his premiere of eerie music video “The King,” and pop-soul band Moonglow bringing “cosmic love vibrations” to the headliner’s spot. Besides the music, there’s a costume contest with a top prize of $100. Tickets are $8 for the studios’ members, $15 in advance and $20 at the door. You can find more info on the event’s webpage.

Saturday at 7 p.m.
Sound System DJ Series: Halloween Edition
Black Cat Alley

If you’ve been to the free series’ previous events in August and September, you know what you’re in for. If you haven’t, what a perfect time to discover what DJs Asher Gray and Greyhouse can throw down in this unique environment. Nestled between Potbelly’s and the Sip & Purr Cat Café, you’ll find the two jocks spinning underground house and techno until 11 p.m., with a costume contest that could net you System Seltzers for a year or gift cards from event partners. Crossroads Collective will also have its outdoor bar set up with an array of beverages (including NA options) and snacks.

Saturday at 8 p.m.
Another One — A Halloween Shakedown
Linneman’s Riverwest Inn

This one’s for the Grateful Dead appreciators. Featuring a group of musicians from Milwaukee and Madison with a deep affection for the legendary jam band’s catalog, you’ll get a Dead-like experience in a building that traces its roots back to 1902. The $10 show is scheduled for 8 to 11 p.m., with potential to run a little over if the guys are feeling the grove.

Sunday at 4 p.m.
Halloween Cover Medley
Cactus Club

The storied Bay View spot has not one, not two, but THREE acts on the docket for this free show that runs from 4 to 8 p.m. Like Frankenstein’s monster (a metaphor I refuse to drop), they’re pieced together from local artists you already know and love, including:

  • Mr. Chainsaw performing the material of Alkaline Trio, featuring members of Greatest Lakes and HazeFader
  • Aliens Exist performing the material of blink-182, featuring members of Slug Rejector and Brat Sounds
  • The Nile Club performing selections from System of a Down, featuring members of … The Nile Club