As someone who is pretty much on call to hear live music on the
other 364 nights of the year, I'm often hesitant to venture into the
clubs on New Year's Eve. It has to be something pretty special to
drag me away from the proverbial fireplace, but there are a few
shows that offer strong contenders as we bid farewell to 2006 on
For rock fans, the most exciting show in town is probably the
Raconteurs at the Riviera Theatre, 4746 N. Racine. In 2004, Jack
White's other band memorably rang out the year at the Aragon
Ballroom with the Flaming Lips. His side-project collaboration with
Detroit power-pop favorite Brendan Benson and the rhythm section of
Cincinnati's garage-rockin' Greenhornes is even more tuneful and
high-energy than the White Stripes -- or at least it's better suited
to a party. The Features open at 10 p.m., and tickets are
$80. Call (312) 559-1212. (The same bill plays the Riv at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, but that show is sold out.)
My other top pick is an inspired Chicago-centric pop-punk tag
team at Metro, 3730 N. Clark. In a bill sure to make many nostalgic
for the Fireside Bowl circa 1997, the reactivated Smoking Popes,
who are gearing up to record a new album in 2007 (and are
providing samples of the new tunes online at www.myspace.com/smokingpopes)
will share the stage with their old pals the Alkaline Trio,
who recently left Vagrant to sign to V2 Records. The show starts at
10 p.m. and tickets are $66. Call (773) 549-4140.
The main room offering at the House of Blues, 329 N. Dearborn, is
an odd one, bringing Canadian roots-rockers the Tragically Hip
together with Orthodox Jewish rapper and jam-band favorite
Matisyahu starting at 9 p.m., and at $145 per ticket, it's
pretty pricey, too. But plenty of rock fans raved about "Boys and
Girls in America," the 2006 album from emo-punk Springsteen fans the
Hold Steady, and the Brooklyn band will perform on the club's
smaller backporch stage starting at 10 p.m., for the more reasonable
price of $45. Call (312) 923-2000 for more information about either
Speaking of jam bands, local favorites Umphrey's McGee are
spending New Year's Eve at the Aragon, 1106 W. Lawrence, with
openers Taj Mahal and the International Rhythm Band
starting at 7 p.m. (tickets, $65; call 312-559-1212), capping a
three-night stand that starts tonight (the North Mississippi
Allstars open at 6 p.m.) and continues Saturday (Los Lobos
opens at 7 p.m., and tickets Friday and Saturday are $32.50). But if
that's not quite your pot o' patchouli, Chicago's ever-groovy Poi
Dog Pondering perform at the Vic Theatre, 3145 N. Sheffield,
starting at 9:30 p.m. Sunday; tickets are $40 in advance through
Ticketmaster (312-559-1212) or $45 the day of show at the box
office. Call (773) 472-0449.
For its 10th year, the New Year's Eve Rock 'n' Roll Ball has
moved from Navy Pier to the Sheraton Hotel, 301 E. North Water
Street. This year's performers: Collective Soul and Chicago
hard-rocker band the Lovehammers, aka the group fronted by
Marty Casey from the reality show "Rock Star." Tickets are $85
Of the area's other coolest rock clubs, the Abbey Pub, 3420 W.
Grace, features singer-songwriter Josh Kelley plus Chicago
rockers Strain Busy Sky and Todd Carey and Matthew
Santos starting at 8 p.m. (tickets, $48, or $80 with admission
to the hosted-bar VIP section; call 773-478-4408), while HotHouse,
31 E. Balbo, is hosting a night of Latin and African dance with a
masquerade carnivaland a burlesque show with Yves Francois et
Rocambu Jazz. The fun starts at 9 p.m. Tickets are $75 in
advance or $90 the day of the show. Call (312) 362-9707.
Equally funky will be the sounds at the Park West, 322 W.
Armitage, as Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings and openers the
Budos Band take the stage at 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $30. Call
Always one of the most raucous parties in town, the Empty Bottle,
1035 N. Western, starts its festivities at 9:30 p.m. and presents a
lineup including Girl Talk, Lando Mondo Versus Waterbabies (a
supergroup with members of Mahjongg and Waterbabies) and White
Savage. Tickets are $25. Call (773) 276-3600.
Out in Berwyn, FitzGerald's, 6615 Roosevelt, hosts slide guitar
master Sonny Landreth, the rootsy soul of the Pat
McLaughlin Band and opening act Patrick Sweany starting
at 8 p.m. Tickets are $40. Call (708) 788-2118. And back in Chicago
at Martyrs', 3855 N. Lincoln, Tributosaurus, the city's best
cover band, becomes Sly and the Family Stone after openers the
Big Three get things rolling at 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $30.
(Tributosaurus also performs its Sly set at 10 p.m. Saturday with a
$20 cover.) Call (773) 404-9494.
At Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, Chicago's Beatles-inspired
garage-rockers the Redwalls perform after an opening set by
Catfish Haven at 10 p.m. Tickets are $20. Call (773)
525-2508. At Subterranean, 2011 W. North, Th' Legendary Shack
Shakers and Scott H. Biram stir things up starting at 9
p.m. Tickets are $70. Call (773) 278-6600.
The powerhouse blues singer and adopted Chicago favorite
Shemekia Copeland takes the stage at Buddy Guy's Legends, 754 S.
Wabash (the cover is $30 and the show starts at 9:30 p.m.; call
312-427-0333); genuine Chicago blues greats Magic Slim and the
Teardrops perform at Kingston Mines, 2548 N Halsted, after
opener Joanna Conner (tickets, $25; call 773-477-4646), and
the Beat Kitchen, 2100 W Belmont, presents forward-looking Chicago
metalheads Russian Circles along with Maps & Atlases
and Teith starting at 10 p.m. for the most reasonable cover
of $12. Call (773) 281-4444.
Meanwhile, if you're like me and you're mulling staying home and
watching 2007 arrive on TV, the traditional "Dick Clark's New
Year's Rockin' Eve" broadcast at 9 and 10:35 p.m. on WLS-Channel
7 is pretty dire, with performers including Rihanna, Ludacris, KT
Tunstall, Christina Aguilera, Rascal Flatts, Fergie and Meat Loaf,
but "MTV Goes Gold: New Year's Eve 2007" at 10 p.m. is slightly more
promising with a lineup that includes Chicago pop-punk stars Fall
Out Boy as well as Gwen Stefani, Nas, the Pussycat Dolls, Ciara,
AFI, Chamillionaire, Lady Sovereign and Three 6 Mafia.