It’s been a rough year, Milwaukee. Still, between the celebrity deaths, frightening political developments, and various other sources for internet outrage, at least a few decent things happened. Come Sunday, much of the city will hit the town to say goodbye to predominately terrible last 365 days, and to welcome in a year that couldn’t possibly be as bad as its predecessor (could it?).
In effort to help those of you who’ve yet to cement your New Year’s Eve plans and to aid those of your who plan to bounce around to partake in a few of the festivities taking place around town, we’ve combed show listings to assemble this handy New Year’s Eve entertainment guide. Be safe out there, Milwaukee.
GGOOLLDD @ Turner Hall
Though we hate to see The Get Down be displaced from its recent Turner Hall home, at least it’s for a good reason. A whirlwind 2017 in which GGOOLLDD moved, played SXSW, toured, performed the fucking Catalina Wine Mixer, and released its best EP to date will end with a New Years Eve show in Milwaukee. Ring in 2018 and dance through the winter with one of 2017’s most productive local acts.
Abby Jeanne + Tony Peachka, and Paper Holland @ Cactus Club
Since the outset of 2017, the owner of one of Milwaukee’s—if not Wisconsin’s—best voices released her debut album, stole the show at Local Coverage, played virtually every local event ending in “Fest,” put a few music videos and a radio-ready single out into the world, and earned heaps of glowing local press on the way to winning over hoards of new listeners. With her biggest year yet nearing its conclusion and with plans to make 2018 even better, it’s only fitting that Abby Jeanne will be on stage when the calendar turns. Join Abby Jeanne and friends at Cactus Club for the singer’s “Electric New Year.” The show also features Minnesota-based Tony Peachka and Paper Holland.
Milwaukee Record Halftime Show with Paper Holland @ Cactus Club
Before Abby Jeanne’s “Electric New Year” begins, opener Paper Holland will also play a free early show at Cactus Club for the season finale of our Milwaukee Record Halftime Show concert series. Sure, the game will be basically meaningless, but you’re going to miss football and you’re going to miss eating a brat while watching a local band play a 15-minute set at 1:30 p.m. once the season ends.
NO/NO + Tigernite @ LuLu
LuLu isn’t exactly a traditional Milwaukee venue, but the Bay View bar and restaurant pulls out all the stop and becomes local music hotbed every December 31. A year removed from sharing the stage (or floor?) with Mortgage Freeman, Tigernite will return to play 2017 off with NO/NO. The $20 cover includes a snack bar, champagne toasts, and the chance to see two of the best Milwaukee bands of this (or any) year perform.
Horseshoes And Hand Grenades + Sloppy Joe, and Joseph Huber @ Pabst Theater
Wisconsin bluegrass mainstay and Central Waters beer inspiration Horseshoes And Hand Grenades head up a magnificent triad of roots projects. Joseph Huber will handle opening duties, fresh off his outstanding new album, The Suffering Stage, and a European tour.
New Year’s Eve Dance Party @ Mad Planet
Mad Planet is already among the best places in Milwaukee to work up a sweat on the dance floor, but New Year’s Eve brings the Riverwest club to another level. Enjoy hits from the ’70s, ’80s, ’90s, and this young century from 9 p.m. until 4 a.m. The $15 cover also includes a champagne toast and food.
Ain’t A Thing But A Chicken Wang with Foreign Goods, House Of Renji, and B~Free @ Company Brewing
Just down the block from Mad Planet, Company Brewing will be abuzz with VoodooHoney’s “Ain’t No Thang But A Chicken Wang” ’80s and ’90s dance party that will feature the DJ prowess of Tarik Moody and DJ Annalog, along with performances by B~Free, Foreign Goods, and Genesis Renji. The event starts at 10 p.m. and the first 20 people in attendance get a sample of “wangs” while supplies last.
The Record Company + Field Report @ Riverside Theater
We all know about The Record Company by this point. The Grammy-nominated band that’s fronted by Milwaukee ex-pat Chris Vos previously sold out Turner Hall and is now ready to say goodbye to 2017 with a NYE gig at Riverside Theater. Field Report, another beloved Milwaukee-sired project with national appeal, opens.
Harlem Globetrotters @ BMO Harris Bradley Center
Based on how this year has gone, it wouldn’t be all that shocking if the Washington Generals won. With 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. games, this offers family-friendly fun away from the bars.
The Wizard Of Oz @ Miller High Life Theatre
Keeping with the family-friendly theme, there’s no place like Miller High Life Theatre (formerly Milwaukee Theatre) for a production of what’s been called “the greatest family musical of all time.” The final performance in The Wizard Of Oz’s High Life Theatre run brings flying monkeys and more to the stage for a 1 p.m. show.
A Charlie Brown Christmas @ Marcus Center (Todd Wehr Theater)
Marcus Center has been hosting First Stage’s production of A Charlie Brown Christmas since December 24. The run will conclude with a 1 p.m. show on December 31. Don’t be a blockhead and risk missing this holiday classic. Buy your tickets today.
E.T., The Extra-Terrestrial In Concert @ Marcus Center (Uihlein Hall)
We don’t know what E.T. has to do with New Year’s and, frankly, we don’t really care. E.T. is awesome. Sure, you’ve seen it a hundred times, but how many times have you watched it with the accompaniment of Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra? If your answer is any fewer than 10 times, you’re messing up. The 2:30 p.m. showtime will also ensure you’ll be done by dinner and you’ll have the whole night to do whatever you want.
The Tritonics @ The Tonic Tavern
If seeing live music in a bar sounds like your kind of New Year, but staying up until midnight does not, head to Tonic Tavern, where the Bay View bar will host The Tritonics for a special 4 p.m. show. There’s no cover and you can be out of there and home by 7 p.m. Or you can stick around Tonic for a dance party that runs from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m.
New Year’s Eve Comedy Shows @ ComedySportz
Dick Chudnow berthed the flagship ComedySportz location in 1984. Since then, the Milwaukee sketch and improv hub has become a full-blown franchise, now boasting 25 locations in three countries and a list of now-famous players that’s too long and impressive to even attempt writing here. Say goodbye to CZs’ 33rd year and welcome in year 34 with two shows, all you can drink soda and champagne, free pre-show appetizers, and a bag of party favors for just $35. “Yes-and” your way into 2018.
Kevin Bozeman @ Jokerz Comedy Club
If the prospect of starting 2018 in the basement of Silk Exotic isn’t too depressing to consider, Jokerz Comedy Club is hosting the stand-up stylings of Kevin Bozeman. The comic has appeared on Comedy Central, on NBC’s Last Comic Standing, and on stages throughout the country. Presumably, most of those stages weren’t beneath an active strip club.
Goblin King Masquerade @ 42 Lounge
Like Labyrinth? Well, 42 Lounge has just the New Year’s Eve party for you. The Goblin King Masquerade features a champagne toast and DJ Scottaconda playing songs that will make you want to dance the magic dance. There’s also a $95 VIP package with unlimited Labyrinth-themed cocktails, snacks, and a photo op with a professional Jareth cosplayer.
Adult Onesie and Kigurumi Party @ 42 Ale House
Over at 42 Lounge, the St. Francis nerd bar is offering a comfortable take on a typically rowdy holiday. Throw on your best onesie, kigurumi, or set of pajamas for a unique party. Beyond the comfortable attire, customers can partake in tabletop games, video games, and food served all night long.
Stellar Spark New Year’s Eve @ The Rave
The Rave’s annual Stellar Spark show takes over four rooms and multiple rooms with the sounds of more than a dozen DJs. Join Zomboy, Must D!e, Megalodon B2B Krimer, Ponicz And Tynan, and many more.
New Year’s Eve @ High Dive
High Dive also offers some localized DJ sets by the likes of Joey Turbo, Asher Gray, and Sweet Breeze DJs. This free event runs from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. and includes a free midnight champagne toast and a complimentary late night breakfast.
The Dapper Dive @ Riverwest Public House
We go from High Dive to The Dapper Dive. No Stress Collective will bring a night of club hits and a photo booth to Riverwest Public House. At 3 a.m., Public House will cook up its service industry breakfast.
Behind The Weekend + Bum Alum, Heavy Petz, The BBys, and The Women @ Bremen Cafe
Elsewhere in Riverwest, Bremen is hosting free show with a ton of bands. The fun starts at 9 p.m. and roars well into the New Year.
Brew City Bass NYE @ Miramar Theatre
Last but not least, Miramar Theatre will bounce Milwaukee into 2018 with a night of bass provided by Haywyre, Exmag, COFRESI, FlipMod, Jailbreak, and more.