If you’re in need of New Year’s Eve plans, why not spend the night rocking in a new decade? Chicago music venues offer a party without the cheesy bar packages or lame ball drops. From party animal Andrew W.K. to emo icons American Football, here are a few of our favorite ways to welcome 2020.
This is technically a pre-NYE concert, but no Roots tour should go unnoticed. The hip-hop icons host a funky dance party, led by Questlove (Ahmir Thompson) and Black Thought (Tariq Luqmaan Trotter). Watching them perform as the house band on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon is one thing, but their live act is legendary.
Details: December 30, 9 p.m., at Riviera Theatre; $50–$94
For those who want to feel the feels, don’t miss American Football’s three-night residency at Schubas. The kings of Midwest emo celebrate the 20th anniversary of their self-titled debut album. The intimate setting is perfect for the post-rock playlist, including their third album released this past spring.
Details: December 29–31, 10 p.m., at Schubas Tavern; $50
The partiest New Year’s Eve event is also the most positive with Andrew W.K. at the helm. You’ll be head banging to “It’s Time to Party” one moment and getting 2020 inspiration from one of his motivational speeches the next. If your New Year’s resolution is to finally crowd-surf, there’s no better place to be.
Details: December 31, 8 p.m., at Concord Music Hall; $29.99
Toronto collective BadBadNotGood blends instrumental hip hop, jazz, and soul in what can only be described as a contemporary groove. While their last album dropped in 2016, the release of a recent single with Jonah Yano, “Key to Love (Is Understanding),” hints at new material ahead. Arrive early to hear the latest in free jazz from Chicago composer and clarinetist Angel Bat Dawid.
Details: December 30 and 31 at Lincoln Hall; $40
Motion City Soundtrack
Scream your pop-punk heart out along with Motion City Soundtrack at the House of Blues. The Minneapolis quintet is back on the road on a headlining tour after calling it quits three years ago. Does it get any more real than singing “The Future Freaks Me Out” on New Year’s Eve?
Details: December 31, 8:30 p.m., at House of Blues; $95–$104
Nashville rock-and-roller Sweany cut his teeth in Ohio, and you can hear the Rust Belt in his bluesy growl. His latest album, Ancient Noise, was recorded at the legendary Sam Phillips Recording Studio in Memphis. Sweany’s gritty riffs and emotionally honest lyrics bring a contemporary blues spin to the stage.
Details: December 31, 8 p.m., at Reggie’s; $20
Wallow in the doom-metal ooze of Sleep for three nights at Thalia Hall. The California stoner metal trio has been delivering a slow-burning wall of sound since the 1990s. Their 2018 release, The Sciences, is a marijuana concept album, perfect for ringing in the legalization of weed in Illinois come midnight.
Details: December 29–31 at Thalia Hall; $50–$80
White Mystery knows how to throw a party. The sibling duo from Chicago is seasoned in supplying fuzzy garage rock with an upbeat groove. Miss Alex White on guitar and Francis Scott Key White on drums will have you simultaneously head banging and singing along to their catchy, retro-tinged rock as the next decade arrives.
Details: December 31, 9 p.m., at The Hideout; $15
William Elliot Whitmore
Ring in the New Year with roots virtuoso and one-man band Whitmore. The singer-songwriter will have you stomping your feet and singing along about devils and sinners in an old-school crooner’s voice. The punk-country party continues with the Hill Country Devil, Nathan Graham, and DJs from Bloodshot Records.
Details: December 31, 9 p.m., at Sleeping Village; $25–$35
Windy City Soul Club
If you’d rather be twisting the night away, join the Windy City Soul Club crew at Logan Square Auditorium. DJs will spin Motown, northern soul, and sing-along classics on original vinyl. If you’ve never boogied at this long-running event, now’s the time to put on your dancing shoes!
Details: December 31, 9 p.m., at Logan Square Auditorium; $25