The Top 23 Bands To See On New Year's Eve In Chicago!


Now, before I roll out this year's definitive list of Top 23 Bands To See On New Year's Eve In Chicago, I just want to say that I'm really, really disappointed to see how many venues are making the shift to DJ's rather than live bands.  

Yes, DJ's have always been a part of New Year's Eve, but it now appears that they're the rock stars and the bands that made the very music they spin are relegated to the sidelines on the most prosperous night of the year for many a musician.

Having said that, did you know that Cheech & Chong are playing the Chicago Theatre with War on New Year's Eve?  Your first reaction might be a visible wince, but think about it, how bad can it be and you know you'll laugh your ass off at something! 

Before I let you guys get to the actual article, I would suggest anyone who loves music, but hates going out on New Year's Eve, I would respectfully point you in the direction of Robbie Fulk's annual pre-NYE gig, which always put Robbie in an interesting mood.  He's a cantankerous old git jammed into the body of an ageless Opie Taylor, his innocent cheeks still aching to be pinched, so if the monologues between songs start to last longer than the songs, you may find yourself chuckling more than you would have at any ten Cheech & Chong shows.

Without further adieu, here's that list I promised you, with pithy comments as deemed necessary:


Robbie Fulks Raps Up 2013 @ Fitzgerald's Dec 28 ($20)

Like I said, Robbie's a one-of-a-kind performer.  A good time will most certainly be had by all with a pulse.

Crowbar @ Cobra Lounge ($40-50)

Old school metal bar bringing you the very definition of old-school metal with these New Orleans sludge merchants, who just so happen to be celebrating their 25th Anniversary!

Los Lobos @ City Winery (two shows, tickets $85-$175)

These guys just keep on keeping on, don't they?  And they have a helluva lot more original members than the BoDeans, whom I'll be talking about further down this list.



Black Joe Lewis @ Metro ($60)

You know, you could go for Black Joe Lewis, or you could go simply to relish the decades of blood, sweat and tears spilled within the dank stone walls of this alternative music mecca.  Listen closely and you can still hear the Smashing Pumpkins opening for everyone because Shanahan was managing them.  The history of the place is staggering.  Black Joe Lewis are cool, too.  Consider it a $60 donation to the cause.

Dessa @ Schubas ($30 in adv/$35 day of show)
Pickwick @ Lincoln Hall ($30 in adv/$35 day of show)



Bernie Worrell Orchestra @ Reggie's Music Joint (FREE)

This is awesome, but how is such a thing possible?  Either the fine folks at Reggie's are saying "thank you" to their devoted patrons by treating them to a free show by this funk legend who, need I remind you, is a member of Parliament-Funkadelic AND the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame, or Bernie lost a bet.  If it sounds weird to you that Bernie and his orchestra are performing for free while the metal band in the main venue is charging $25 at the door, you are not alone.



Death @ Reggie's Rock Club ($20 in adv/$25 day of show)

This semi-legendary metal band, minus orchestra, will be playing the big room at Reggies and charging $25 at the door while stone-cold funk legend Bernie Worrell plays for free in the small room.  Death are great and I urge anyone who loves a riveting story to check out the band's documentary (viewable above in its entirety).
"BWEEEEE!!"
Flosstradamus @ Riviera ($60)

Based on their seemingly non-stop tweeting, how do J2K and Autobot find the time to actually perform?  If you haven't seen these guys and are skeptical of DJ shows, these cats will change your mind.  Chicago's own.

Karl Denson's Tiny Universe @ Park West ($45)
Zedd, Monsta, Nick Thayer @ Aragon ($42)
Tributosaurus as Chicago @ Martyrs ($50)
Mucca Pazza @ Double Door ($25-$28)


Cheech & Chong, War @ Chicago Theatre ($59.50-89.50)

Mentioned above, this is such a guaranteed good time.  The worst that could happen is that you get bored and leave early.  For the rest of your life, whenever anybody mentions Cheech & Chong, you get to brag about seeing them on New Year's Eve.  Complete strangers will stand in slack-jawed awe of your understated bad-assery.  Win/win.

7th Heaven @ Hyatt Regency O'Hare
Bella Cane @ Austin's Fuel Room
Becca Kaufman Orchestra @ Fitzgerald's ($30)
Gramatik @ Auditorium Theatre ($30.50-100.50)



Sons Of The Silent Age (playing the songs of David Bowie) @ Mayne Stage ($25-$35)


Wanna see a new bunch of Bowie snobs get their minds blown off?  Wonder what former Ministry/Revco singer Chris Connelly is up to these days?  Do you adore Shirley Manson from Garbage? If you answered yes to one or all questions, there's no better place for you to be on New years Eve than Mayne Stage to see this magnificent Bowie tribute band.  Connelly's admiration for the music of the Thin White Duke is evident in every aspect of the performance and his crack band is with him every step of the way.

"Why does everybody keep requesting 'Flirting With Disaster'?!"
BoDeans @ Copernicus Center ($49.50/$59.50)

This one will probably be packed thanks to decades of XRT airplay, but these guys look more like Molly Hatchet every time I see them (check out the bass player).  The guy in the headband is the sole remaining original member, take it for what you will.

Motion City Soundtrack @ Bottom Lounge ($45)
Henhouse Prowlers @ Red Line Tap ($20)

Roky Erickson @ Beat Kitchen ($30)

Yes, you read that correctly, the legendary (and certifiably mad) Roky Erickson is set to perform at the Beat Kitchen.  It might be a total trainwreck, but as I said concerning Cheech & Chong, for the rest of your life, you get to brag about seeig Roky Erickson.  There are quite a few people who will be impressed by that, none of them women, of course.  Worth mentioning that he plays the night before for ten bucks less.

Superior St. Rehearsal Facility

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