We understand how busy you get during the holidays. There are gifts to buy, family to see, John Zorn Christmas albums to listen to -- it all gets very time-consuming.
So we won't get on your case if you're just now figuring out what to do on the last day of the year. In fact, we'll help out because we're so nice. Here's our guide to all the notable shows going down on New Year's Eve.
Get home safely.
Ted Leo & the Pharmacists, Kurt Braunohler
Funny, smart, tuneful, committed, compassionate and danceable. The world could use a thousand more Ted Leo's. Don't take the only one we have for granted. –Michael Tedder
Madison Square Garden
Any time I encounter Phish, I just ask one question: Why? It certainly has to do with the death of Jerry Garcia in ‘95. Sure, the only two reputable Phish albums – Junta and Hampton Comes Alive – came out in ’89 and ’99, respectively. But how else would you account for this totally gifted fanbase? Musicianship? I don’t think so. Who actually cares about Phil Lesh? There aren’t enough people in Vermont to explain this. Adorno couldn’t account for the drench of phaser and flanger. Besides, what Trey Anastaiso did with Stuart Copeland and Les Claypool in Oysterhead -- this is not a good band.
And yet, here I am. Writing a listing for the Phish’s New Years Eve show at Madison Square Garden. It’s sold out, for the fourth night in a row. –Dale W. Eisinger
The Bowery Ballroom
How many times do we have to tell you that you need to see Patti Smith at least once, so she can both make you feel both glad that music exists and sad that no one does it like her anymore? One more time? Okay. –MT
B.B. King Blues Club & Grill
Even if you have to battle the throngs of Times Square loyalists to make this one, it’s worth an elbow or two to the face. After years now of Brooklyn stealing the black milk of rock ‘n roll originals, it might do us all some good to check out the archetype in the form of Chuck Berry. He’s a genuine original, and our generation’s best touchstone is his song “Roll Over Beethoven” from that ridiculous Saint Bernard movie Beethoven. In hindsight, it would appear that entire film was built around a young exec at Universal acquiring film rights to Berry’s unmistakable R&B classic. Ageism be damned: Berry’s looking as limber as ever these days. –DWE
AraabMUZIK, Balam Acab, Light Asylum, Laurel Halo, Run DMT
285 Kent Avenue
New Year's Eve can be a stressful time. Go to the right (wrong) party and it's all about how you look, who you're there with, status and cool points. Maybe you need something more relaxing? If so, check out this line-up, as the two headliners have released some of the most blissful, lost-in-your-thoughts music of the year. What's more, AraabMUZIK's chopped-up gauzy soundscapes are rooted in house music, so there will be a danceable pulse holding down all the drifting prettiness. Also, we still think Run DMT is a hilarious name. -MT
Deer Tick, J-Roddy Walston & The Business, Dead Confederate, Virgin Forest
I’m including this here mainly because I know Deer Tick really knows how to throw a party. As proof, I always cite this video of the Rhode Island rockers covering “La Bamba,” which sounds kind of pedestrian but actually ends up being one pretty ridiculous display of thrash. Balance that with the sleepy sprawl of Dead Confederate and the crash of bowling pins, and I’m sold. –DWE
Head Mule Warren Haynes offered up a pre NYE-hang to benefit the voter-registration organization Headcount. If you won that, good for you. Maybe talk Warren into peppering the set with some of those Tom Waits and Zeppelin covers covers he likes to do? Everyone loves those. -MT
The Bad Plus
The Minneapolis crossover jazz stars return to their place of major-label discovery, playing one of two final residency shows on New Year’s Eve. They’ll be appearing without the vocal support of Wendy Lewis, but that doesn’t mark The Bad Plus’ music as any less relatable. I don’t think I agree with the idea of “The Vanguard on New Year’s Eve” because I still can’t play a blues scale on my guitar (last year’s resolution). But the underground historic jazz venue is kind of unmistakably New York, right? Just make sure to bob on two and four, all you squares. –DWE
New Kids on the Block, Boyz II Men
I’m just going to say this: I collected New Kids on the Block trading cards when I was very, very young. This was not because I knew anything about the group’s music or any of its members. My brother collected baseball cards and I knew I had to collect cards as well. NKOTB had the most stylized pack. I’m interested to see how the shelf life of this band plays out, considering they were packaged as a thing. Not hating on things, but the McKnight brothers’ veneer sort of says it all -- as does the ridiculous price tag here. At least Boyz II Men can sing. –DWE
Gogol Bordello, Terminal 5, $45/Matt & Kim, Super Mash Bros, Body Language
These two headliners have two things in common. Both offer guaranteed high-energy sing-a-long shows, and both are absolutely adorable in their own way. Whether Gogol is giving you love advice through the prism of geopolitical inter connectivity or Matt & Kim are saluting one of the best streets in all of Brooklyn, you will shout, you will fist-pump, and you will go "Awwwww." A can't-lose proposition, the both of them. –MT