It’s been a rough year, Milwaukee. Still, between all the celebrity deaths, frightening political developments, and various other sources for internet outrage, at least a few decent things happened. Come Saturday, much of the city will hit the town to say goodbye to an unforgettable 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.
Aluminum Knot Eye + Static Eyes, and Ravi/Lola @ Circle-A
Like last New Year’s Eve, garage rockers Static Eyes will play an early evening show in Riverwest. As you finalize plans for midnight and beyond, cram into Circle-A to start your night with an eclectic lineup of locals.
Direct Hit! + Juiceboxxx, Bad Grades, and Assault & Battery @ Club Garibaldi
It’s safe to say no band in Milwaukee had a bigger year than Direct Hit! The city’s premier pop-punk project inked a deal with Fat Wreck Chords, which released its wonderful Wasted Mind this summer. They toured with NOFX, opened for Blink-182 at the Marcus Amphitheater, and released a half dozen music videos along the way. Direct Hit! will close out its huge 2016 with a show that also features Juiceboxxx, new punk supergroup Bad Grades, and Assault & Battery. Cover comes with free Stone beer while it lasts, a champagne toast at midnight, and visuals courtesy of WC Tank.
Close Up Of The Serene and Club Ritual present: NYE!!! @ Cactus Club
Across from the show at Club G, you’ll find “an alternative to the alternative” at Cactus Club. From 9 p.m. and into the wee hours of the morning, Asher Gray, Max Holiday, Liquid City Motors, MS 115, and a special late night guest DJ will bump “left-field club music” as Bread Mothers take the dance party to the next level with trippy visuals.
The Get Down @ Turner Hall
No matter where it’s held, The Get Down is always “Milwaukee’s Biggest Dance Party.” However, on New Year’s Eve, the local rite of passage gives people a little extra room to move by relocating to Turner Hall. With packages ranging between $65 and $85, this extra special Get Down offers attendees an open bar from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m., party favors, and a champagne toast.
New Year’s Eve Retro Dance Party @ Mad Planet
If you’d prefer to ring in the New Year at The Get Down’s usual site, Mad Planet is hosting its own dance party that rages until 4 a.m. The $15 cover comes with complementary food and a champagne toast at midnight.
Bill NewYearsEve @ High Dive
About a block from Mad Planet, those lovable weirdos at High Dive are hosting a seasonal celebration with a theme associated with famed TV scientist Bill Nye (get it?!). From 9:30 p.m. to 3 a.m., Kiings and 88Nine DJ Tarik Moody will provide the bar’s soundtrack. A free breakfast buffet will be served at 3 a.m., minutes before (ORB), Sports Bar, “and a few more” take the stage to play ditties to the remaining ragers.
2017 New Years Ball with Milo + Queen Tut, Bo Triplex And His Beautiful Band, The Quilz, and Yung Zucchini @ Company Brewing
Continuing down Center Street, Company Brewing is hosting what could be (with the possible exception of the Garibaldi show), the best New Year’s Eve event in town. Jay Anderson’s new Voodoo Honey label and Noh Life Music Group have joined forces to assemble an astounding bill that features Milo, Queen Tut, Bo Triplex And His Beautiful Band, and The Quilz. Funnyman Sammy Arechar will DJ under his Yung Zucchini alias. Don’t forget to try a delicious Milwaukee Record Re-Porter when you’re there.
Tigernite + Mortgage Freeman @ LuLu
No band in Milwaukee played out more often this year than Tigernite. The lovable glam rockers will close out 2016 with, get this, another show. The lively local outfit will bring its glittery, facepaint, costumes, and criminally catchy catalog to LuLu, where they will split a bill with the always fun likes of Mortgage Freeman.
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’ 32th year and welcome in year 33 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 2017.
Mike Benign Compulsion + Testa Rosa, and Liv Mueller @ Shank Hall
Though this show lacks much of a holiday theme, Shank Hall has rounded up a rock solid cast of three acts that warrant attention all year long.
Jim Gaffigan @ Pabst Theater
The tradition continues for the 10th year, as comedian, actor, and author Jim Gaffigan puts a bow on yet another late December Pabst Theater residency with a sold-out New Year’s Eve performance.
Johnny Beehner @ Milwaukee’s Comedy Cafe
From local comedian to Letterman-caliber talent who now lives in Los Angles, Johnny Beehner will return to Milwaukee for a single-night headlining appearance in the familiar confines of Milwaukee’s Comedy Cafe.
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.
5 Cards Studs @ The Knick
The 5 Card Studs are among the city’s longest-running and best tribute acts. Let the suit-clad band take you into 2017 with a medley of songs you know and love. And since you’ll already be at a hotel, you don’t have to worry about driving.
Built On Sin @ The Metal Grill (Cudahy)
Speaking of tribute acts, The Metal Grill is playing host to Built On Sin, who will cover classic rock favorites, seminal hair metal classics, and modern radio rock hits. The $40 cover includes the show, and all-you-can-drink domestic beer and rail cocktails, along with free appetizers from 8-11:30 p.m.
New Year’s Eve @ Riverwest Public House
Over on Locust Street, Riverwest Public House is hosting something of a variety show. The celebration starts with music from Dumpster Doves, then Dora Diamond And Friends will take the stage for a cabaret show, before the event turns into a full-on dance party. A post-NYE breakfast will be served at 4 a.m.
Rock The Burbs with The Weeks + GGOOLLDD, Jay Matthes, and Alyce Hart @ Waukesha County Expo Center (Waukesha)
If you live in the suburbs or feel like ringing in another year in Waukesha, this is the show for you.