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« Weird Era, Continued: Deerhunter to Perform Two Shows at Thalia Hall, 12/13/15 A Conversation with Clinton Sandifer, AKA ShowYouSuck »

Feature Fri Dec 18 2015

Where to Experience Your Ideal Music-Filled New Year's Eve

When you're mulling over your options of how to ring in 2016, there are plenty of spots where you can shout "happy New Year!" that are complemented by stellar music performances. We've rounded up our favorite venues to celebrate the New Year at, which include an electrifying festival, intimate soul shows, and endless rock riffs in a packed concert hall.

Lincoln Hall

Who: JEFF the Brotherhood, Diarrhea Planet, Tenement (December 30)/Juiceboxxx (December 31)
When: December 30, 9:00 PM; December 31, 10:00 PM
How much: $25 on the 30th, $35 on the 31st, $50 two night pass
What to expect: Shades of Jack White, a storm of guitars, ghosts with boners
What not to expect: Literal manifestations of band names (ideally)
Ideal cocktail pairing: Double Jack and Coke
Reasons to be excited: JEFF the Brotherhood and Diarrhea Planet are two of the better acts from Nashville's burgeoning garage rock scene, whose kingpin is Jack White and his Third Man Records. They do it in very different ways, though. JEFF is a two-piece comprised of actual brothers Jake (guitar/vocals) and Jamin (drums) Orrall, the latter of whom went to Columbia College before realizing no right-minded musician would leave Nashville for Chicago. Diarrhea Planet, meanwhile, has four guitarists and they somehow all manage to fit on stage--physically, musically, and ego-wise.
Reasons to be checking your watch: Some crowdsurfing dillweed accidentally kicked your buddy in the head, he's looking a little concussion-y, and now you're waiting for the Uber to fight traffic down Fullerton.
-Zach Blumenfeld

Riviera Theatre

Who: Lettuce with Future Rock and Turbo Suit
When: December 31, 8:30 PM
How much: $50 GA, $151 VIP
What to expect: Feeling like Kevin Flynn in TRON and then getting funked up to forget the trauma of evil cyberminds
What not to expect: Avoiding a certain pungent haze, a coherent musical experience
Ideal cocktail pairing: Hand grenade with a silicon garnish
Reasons to be excited: Lettuce is near the top of the modern funk game. What better music is there to welcome in the 2016 than the music that was seemingly invented for the bombast and drunken dancing of New Year's Eve? You've got horns, grooves, and smooth voices galore. But before you get them, you'll receive a reminder that technology is inescapable in the 21st century, with Turbo Suit melding the synthesized stuff with the funk and Future Rock straight up channeling the inner machinations of Space Cadet 3-D Pinball.
Reasons to be checking your watch: Does this set make sense? No. If you care about that, though, you're not having enough fun. Go buy another drink.
-Zach Blumenfeld


Who: The Promise Ring with Into It. Over It.
When: December 31, doors 9:00 PM, show 10:00 PM
How much: $46 advance, $51 day of, $200 for a two-person table
What to expect: Tearful reunions, some endearing rust, flashbacks to that one older cousin's coolest rebellious bedroom ever (you know, the one with the Jordan poster and Pinkerton on full blast)
What not to expect: The insufferable whininess that has pervaded emo pop-punk since Patrick Stump
Ideal cocktail pairing: Screwdriver, straight to the heart
Reasons to be excited: The Promise Ring is like that one girl/guy you broke up with because it was time to move to a different city: you used to love them, you still like them, and whenever you're back in town you get together to fool around for old times' sake before tearing yourself away again. The band broke up in 2002 after putting together a stellar run of early emo rock in the late '90s and since then, they've reconvened for a few more go-arounds. This is their latest, and they'll be playing their seminal 1997 album, Nothing Feels Good, in its entirety. Into It. Over It. adds a lovely local flavor to the bill and showcases our city as a still-thriving hotbed of emo pop-punk.
Reasons to be checking your watch: If you're afraid of the past? Well guess what, it's New Year's Eve. No better time for looking back, reflecting, and then headbanging a little.
-Zach Blumenfeld

The Empty Bottle

Who: The Gories + The Oblivians
When: December 31, 9:00 PM
How much: $35 advance, $40 at the door
What to expect: Some seriously ragged vocal cords, old '50s rock 'n rollers rolling over in their graves like Beethoven
What not to expect: To be able to hear at the end of the night
Ideal cocktail pairing: Old-fashioned, dumped on your head
Reasons to be excited: The Empty Bottle's layout makes it look like a big ol' garage, and to fit the bill, it's bringing in two classic garage rock bands to ring in the new year. The Gories harken back to the tradition of their Detroit brethren MC5 and play traditional blues riffs with a whole lot of distortion and reverb added. The Oblivians are much the same, but even more distorted and a little bit more Southern--they're from Memphis. If you want to hear where Jack White came up with his sound, you'll be here.
Reasons to be checking your watch: You see the ghosts of John Lee Hooker and The Sonics floating in the corner of the room and they're giving you the heebie-jeebies.
-Zach Blumenfeld

City Winery

Who: Robert Randolph & The Family Band
When: Early show at 7:30pm, and late show at 11pm
How much: $75-115 (includes glass of sparkling wine)
What to expect: All out funk and soul, a lively band, a few covers, and wine. Lots and lots of wine.
What not to expect: a lot of dance room
Ideal cocktail pairing: Indulge in some of the amazing champagne available at the venue
Reason to be excited: Robert Randolph and the Family Band are easily one of the mostly enjoyable bands to see live. Randolph's prowess on the pedal steel guitar is virtually unmatched and his music is full of warmth and unrestrained joy. Every Song they perform just explodes from the band. It would be hard not to have a smile spread across your face as he throws down with his amazing band.
Reason to be checking your watch: If you're catching the early show, you may want to leave early and reach your other NYE show. Otherwise, you'll be partying here without a care in the world.
-Julian Ramirez

Thalia Hall

Who: Brandi Carlie
When: 9pm
How much: $77, $1 of which will be donated to the Looking Out Foundation
What to expect: Emotive lyrics, a little bit of country, a little bit of rock and roll
What not to expect: Mosh pits, crowd surfing, extravagant light show
Ideal cocktail pairing: Stop at Dusek's right below the venue and treat yourself to a Velveteen sour before you head to the show. (Hopefully some Space Juice finds its way up to Thalia Hall from Punch House)
Reason to be excited: Brandi Carlile music is a perfect melding of rock and Americana that just breathes life into any one listening to it. Her lyrics are intimate and caring, settling themselves in folk storytelling traditions while still sound modern and new. Carlile's voice has this overwhelming and immaculate quality to it that makes it easy to get lost in her performances. Her beginnings were a little more raucous then her current sound, but she can easily get a crowd moving along to some of her more rocking songs.
Reason to be checking your watch: Carlile can indeed rile up a crowd, but her strength lies in more contemplative and somber songs. So it won't be as rowdy as some other NYE shows.
-Julian Ramirez

Logan Square Auditorium

Who: Windy City Soul Club
When: 9pm
How much: $20
What to expect: Classic and rare soul on vinyl, actual dancing
What not to expect: New soul on MP3 (or streaming for that matter)
Ideal cocktail pairing: Nice bourbon, neat
Reason to be excited: Windy City Soul Club knows how to throw an old school dance party. Their DJs know how to balance between songs you've never heard of (but will want to hear again) and sing along classics that will transport you back to when you first heard them. It's also a great opportunity to dress up a little snazzier than usual and dive into the NYE moment.
Reason to be checking your watch: There may be a few stretches of songs that test your patience before hearing some familiar Sam Cooke or Otis Redding.
-Julian Ramirez

East Room

Who: Neon Indian
When: 8pm
How much: $50 (includes champagne toast and two specialty cocktails)
What to expect: DJ set of moody electronic dance jams, 80s synth-pop, likely some funky disco
What not to expect: An actual set of live Neon Indian tunes
Ideal cocktail pairing: I'd say stick to a nice basic Gin and Tonic.
Reason to be excited: Alan Palomo, Neon Indian has been away for over four years with nary a song from his particular brand of psychedelic electronica, so the release of his fantastic VEGA INTL. Night School is something to be celebrated. The album is perfect dance music for the modern age, filled with the glitch notes and soothing synths you come to expect from Neon Indian. However Palomo's DJ sets tend to push aside his own chillwave aesthetics, opting more for sounds that inspire his music. It'll be a nonstop dance party and a peak into Palomo's musical obsessions.
Reason to be checking your watch: You can only take so many shots while nostalgic 80s synths careen over your head amongst a crowded venue.
-Julian Ramirez

Double Door

Who: Har Mar Superstar and many, many opening acts
When: 8pm
How much: $22 in advance, $25 at the door, $100-$150 for VIP ticketing
What to expect: A range of musical stylings, and a long night with a new act appearing before you had the opportunity to wish for the next act.
What not to expect:
Ideal cocktail pairing: A vodka soda. Classic and designed for longevity, which is perfect if you'll be catching every single act.
Reason to be excited: The caliber of acts is not to be missed here, and the party stretches over multiple levels of Double Door's venue.
Reason to be checking your watch: With so much variety, there is always a group that is just not your cup of tea. This will likely happen here.
-Sarah Brooks

House of Blues

Who: Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings
When: Doors at 8:30pm, with the music beginning at 10pm
How much: Tickets are available for $68.50
What to expect: A soul music dance party, and a performance so mesmerizing, you won't be able to stop smiling or moving for the duration of the set.
What not to expect: A dud of a New Year's Eve experience. It's not possible when you're in the presence of the great Sharon Jones.
Ideal cocktail pairing: Champagne. Arrive early to enjoy the drinks, and get ready to dance the night away.
Reason to be excited: I can tell you from personal experience that Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings are soul legends that are not to be missed. You are guaranteed to have the best New Year's Eve in recent memory - one that is way more fun than paying an overpriced bar cover.
Reason to be checking your watch: I literally can't think of any reasons. Maybe to see when midnight is approaching? This night is going to be just too good.
-Sarah Brooks

Reaction NYE at Donald E. Stephens Convention Center

Who: A host of artists over a two-day festival span, including deadmau5, Skrillex, Chance the Rapper, CHURCHES, Purity Ring, and much more.
When: December 30 and 31, 5:30pm-1:30am
How much: Tickets available in varying tiers: $130 or $154.50 for a two day pass, or $89 on December 30 and $99 on December 31, plus ticketing fees.
What to expect: Large crowds, massive dance parties, insane light shows and loud beats.
What not to expect: A chill, relaxed New Year's Eve celebration.
Ideal cocktail pairing: Vodka and Red Bull. You'll need the energy if you're going to be dancing the night away for eight hours straight.
Reason to be excited: The mix of both hometown favorites and revered international acts is one not to miss. A variety of genres await, including hip-hop, electronic music, and indie.
Reason to be checking your watch: As with all festivals, things will get a little raucous around you. Be aware of those people who will annoy the heck out of you as you try to enjoy the music.
-Sarah Brooks


Who: Nick Waterhouse & Numero Group DJs
When: 10:00pm
How much: $35
What to expect: A most-excellent atmosphere featuring Waterhouse's signature vintage musical stylings. With catchy soul and R&B influenced by the '50s and '60s, a funky dance party will absolutely ensue.
What not to expect: Electrifying light shows and special effects.
Ideal cocktail pairing: Tip your hat to the era of the 1950s and pair this classy music with a classy drink. Try a Manhattan or Gimlet, because they're delicious with a punch, and it is New Year's Eve, after all.
Reason to be excited: Great soul music in an intimate concert venue, without all the large crowds and expensive cover fees.
Reason to be checking your watch: Throughout Waterhouse's set, as you won't want it to end.
-Sarah Brooks

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »


  Chicago Music Media

Alarm Magazine
Big Rock Candy Mountain
Boxx Magazine
Brooklyn Vegan Chicago
Can You See The Sunset From The Southside
Chicago Reader Music
Chicagoist Arts & Events
Chicago Music Guide
Chicago Singles Club
Country Music Chicago
Cream Team
Dark Jive
The Deli Chicago
Jim DeRogatis
Fake Shore Drive
Gowhere Hip Hop
The Hood Internet
Jaded in Chicago
Largehearted Boy
Little White Earbuds
Live Fix Blog
Live Music Blog
Loud Loop Press
Oh My Rockness
Pop 'stache
Pop Matters
Resident Advisor
Sound Opinions
Sun-Times Music Blog
Theft Liable to Prosecution
Tribune Music
UR Chicago
Victim Of Time
WFMU's Beware of the Blog
Windy City Rock


Abbey Pub
Andy's Jazz Club
Aragon Ballroom
Auditorium Theatre
Beat Kitchen
Bottom Lounge
Buddy Guy's Legends
The Burlington
California Clipper
Concord Music Hall
Congress Theater
Cubby Bear
Double Door
Elbo Room
Empty Bottle
Green Mill
The Hideout
Honky Tonk BBQ
House of Blues
Kingston Mines
Lincoln Hall
Logan Square Auditorium
Mayne Stage
The Mutiny
Old Town School of Folk Music
Park West
The Promontory
Red Line Tap
Reggie's Rock Club & Music Joint
The Riviera
Thalia Hall
The Shrine
Symphony Center
Tonic Room
Uncommon Ground
The Vic
The Whistler

  Labels, Promoters
  & Shops:

Alligator Records
Beverly Records
Bloodshot Records
Dave's Records
Delmark Records
Drag City
Dusty Groove
Flameshovel Records
Groove Distribution
He Who Corrupts
Jam Productions
Jazz Record Mart
Kranky Records
Laurie's Planet of Sound
Minty Fresh
Numero Group
mP Shows
Permanent Records
Reckless Records
Smog Veil Records
Southport & Northport Records
Thick Records
Thrill Jockey Records Touch & Go/Quarterstick Records
Victory Records

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Transmission is the music section of Gapers Block. It aims to highlight Chicago music in its many varied forms, as well as cover touring acts performing in the city. More...
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