It’s been quite a year, Milwaukee! Over the past 360 or so days, literally thousands of musicians, comedians, and other performers have entertained our fair city. The local music scene continued to grow and improve. Milwaukee comedy said goodbye to a handful its finest stand-ups via departures to other cities, but an encouraging crop of motivated newcomers more than filled those gaps with promising material. Meanwhile, world class touring talented wasn’t shy about coming to town on a regular basis, too.
Though we’re excited to see the great things 2016 holds in regard to Milwaukee art and entertainment, it’ll be tough to say goodbye to 2015. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of local comics, area bands, dance parties, and even a few noted national entertainment commodities crowding the city’s entertainment calendar this New Year’s Eve. Milwaukee Record sifted through it all to assemble this handy New Year’s Eve guide. From Jim Gaffigan to breakfast with Juiceboxxx, here’s how you’re ending 2015.
Jim Gaffigan at Pabst Theater
As Milwaukee puts a bow on yet another impressive year in regard to comedy (both growing it locally and bringing a wealth of great touring talent), the city will laugh 2015 off with an impressive—yet, by this point, expected—way as comedian/author/actor Jim Gaffigan will return for the ninth straight end-of-year Pabst Theater residency that will culminate with a NYE performance. The gut-busting gourmand will dole out laughs with his beloved material about food, marriage, and, um, probably more stuff about food.
The Living Statues with Midnight Reruns at Lulu Cafe
Midnight Reruns’ new record Force Of Nurture is arguably the best Milwaukee release of 2015. With a late January/February tour planned, this could be one of your last chances to see the Reruns this winter. Conversely, The Living Statues’ 2015 was quieter than usual, which can only signal big things for the popular Milwaukee rock outfit 2016. Come for the show. Stay for Lulu’s late night snack buffet.
Soup Moat with Static Eyes at High Dive
Even with this guide, the decision of exactly where to be when the clock strikes midnight is a tough one to make. Fortunately, this show begins around 7 p.m. and ends at 9 o’clock on the dot. Ponder where you’ll be counting down 2015 while watching two of the city’s most underrated acts for free.
Shane Mauss at Milwaukee’s Comedy Cafe
With all due respect to Frank Caliendo (very little), comedian Shane Mauss might be the funniest comic with direct Wisconsin ties working today. The La Crosse native relocated to California long ago, but he graciously makes sure to swing through his home state fairly regularly to extol his heady and hilarious scientific material to Wisconsin comedy clubs. The up-and-coming comic will come to the new and in no way whatsoever improved Comedy Cafe for a pair of New Year’s Eve performances.
NYE Comedy Showcase at Hotel Foster
If you’re looking for some locally sourced laughs before heading out to your midnight destination, Milwaukee’s Caste Of Killers Comedy Collective has rounded up a great cast of hometown and Chicago-based comedians for a special holiday showcase. Host Carson Leet will be joined on this $5 show by Geoffrey Asmus, Sam Gordon, Kyle Gagnon, Tall Boys Improv, and more.
Tigernite with The Bang Bang at Tonic Tavern
It’s been an unparalleled year for Tigernite. The glam rock quartet will close out its great 2015 that featured an outstanding album, an Offspring opening gig, loads of festival appearances, and a great music video with a headlining set at Tonic Tavern. The Bang Bang opens.
New Year’s Eve Minifest at Company Brewing
After yet another great year in local music, it’s fitting that Milwaukee’s music scene saves one of its best bills for last. From 9 p.m. to 4 a.m. on New Year’s Day, an eclectic and altogether awesome grab bag of area acts will take the stage at Company Brewing for what’s being billed as “New Year’s Eve Minifest.” Joining The Fatty Acids (which is playing its first and only show of the winter) are Surgeons In Heat, Zed Kenzo, Sat. Nite Duets, Surgeons In Heat, Siren, Queen Tut, Ruth B8r Ginsburg, Rio Turbo, and more.
The Get Down at Turner Hall
If there’s one constant in an ever-changing, ever-frustrating world, it’s The Get Down, Milwaukee’s long-running funk and soul dance party. For more than 10 years, DJs Andy Noble, Brent Goodsell, and Nesh have been spinning rare tunes to the delight of a dance-floor’s-worth of gyrating bodies, turning the night into a monthly showcase for both vinyl-based deep cuts and ridiculous dance moves. And while Noble and company have long called Mad Planet home for The Get Down, the party has been known to branch out into other venues, most notably Turner Hall for an annual New Year’s Eve blowout.
NYE Dance Party at Mad Planet
With The Get Down temporarily relocated to Turner Hall, Mad Planet is wide open for New Year festivities. What better way to fill that dance party-sized hole than with another dance party? If you want to stay away from downtown OR you simply want to keep dancing after The Get Down ends at 1 a.m., Mad Planet will be bumping until four in the morning.
MKENYEVE with The Crystal Method at Potawatomi Hotel & Casino (Event Center)
Las Vegas duo The Crystal Method has been doling out inventive and enrapturing electronic music for more than 20 years. Be on hand to witness the seminal DJs and producers add another “year active” to their already-staggering run with this special Potawatomi event. If that doesn’t pique your interest, perhaps a 7 p.m. Blood, Sweat & Tears show featuring American Idol finalist Bo Bice is more your speed.
Chimp Eats Banana at Art Bar
When someone asks how you spent the waning moments of the year, wouldn’t it be awesome to say you closed out 2015 and entered 2016 while watching Milwaukee’s premier Chumbawamba tribute band at Art Bar?
WhiskeyBelles at Cafe Centraal
The sweet harmonies and classic country instrumentation of the WhiskeyBelles are just as suited for crowds in rowdy country bars as they are at suburban farmer’s markets and virtually everywhere in between. Case in point: the beloved trio will bestow their affable folk-tinged ditties about drinking and refreshing covers of holiday standards upon a late night crowd at Bay View’s Cafe Centraal.
New Year’s Day Breakfast In the Thunderzone with Juiceboxxx + Dogs In Ecstasy at High Dive
Those with the tolerance and stamina to still be awake at 4:30 a.m. will be rewarded with a free breakfast “in the Thunderzone.” Okay, so the Thunderzone will actually be High Dive. There, patrons can absorb the previous night’s champagne with a complementary breakfast while enjoying the musical accompaniment of Juiceboxxx (with backing band) and Dogs In Ecstasy. Use the money saved on the meal for safe transport home before sleeping until January 3. Happy New Year, Milwaukee!