Though it’s billed as a night of celebration, New Year’s Eve can actually be quite a stressful ordeal. Between the crowded bars, escalated Lyft and Uber fees, knowing you’re going to fuck up the date on your January rent check, the soul-crushing realization you’re nowhere near being the person you’d imagined you would be by this point in your life, and recognizing that death is just an inevitable specter that’s growing closer and more cruel with each year’s conclusion, many people forget the biggest NYE-related concern: What are you going to do?
With the utter abundance of great things going on in Milwaukee this New Year’s Eve, the pressure of finding the best way to begin another sun rotation is enough to make one consider just saying “Fuck it!” and sob in the comfort of their own living room whilst wearing pajama pants and watching a DVR’ed episode of Major Dad as the clock strikes midnight. Not speaking from personal experience or anything. With the dozens of fun events going on throughout town (not to mention private parties), there’s simply no single correct answer to this yearly quandary. Frankly, we’re as torn as you probably are, but at least we narrowed down our New Year’s Eve plans to one (or some) of these 12 concerts, comedy shows or dance parties. Good luck. Have a safe and happy new year.
ComedySportz New Year’s Eve
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’ 30th year and welcome in year 31 with two shows, all you can drink soda and champagne, and free appetizers for just $35. “Yes-and” your way into 2015.
Crappy Dracula + Towers at Tonic Tavern
Though these two bands seem to have been selected via some type of blind dart toss or name-from-hat situation, both Crappy Dracula and Towers are worth the price of admission at Tonic Tavern. That price is $5.
Cream City Cabaret + Dance Party + Service Industry Brunch at Riverwest Public House
Start your night with a cabaret show. Then dance. Then refuel with Riverwest Public House’s second annual Service Industry Brunch. Then sleep. You’ve earned it.
The Fatty Acids + I’m Not A Pilot + Parallel at Lulu Cafe
What will The Fatty Acids sound like in 2015? Yeah, probably still outstanding, but how can you know for sure if you don’t go? For $15 cash, you get to see one of the city’s finest bands from 2011-14 with I’m Not A Pilot, and Parallel (plus snacks).
The Get Down at Turner Hall
Though the Milwaukee institution usually unfolds on the dance floor at Mad Planet every month, The Get Down takes to Turner Hall each New Year’s Eve of late. Now 10 years old, “Milwaukee’s Biggest Dance Party” will dance in the new year with a steady diet of funk and soul records, along with an open bar, midnight pizza buffet, champagne toast, party favors, and a balloon drop.
Hot Room Comedy Showcase at Hybrid Lounge
If you don’t have a New Year’s resolution yet, might we suggest “finally explore Milwaukee’s vastly underrated stand-up comedy scene” as your mission for 2015? While you’re at it, get an early start on that shit (and your NYE) with an 8 p.m. show at Hybrid Lounge with the Hot Room Comedy Showcase. Not only is this show free, it also features a wide smattering of some of the city’s best and most active comics, including: recent Caste Of Killers Battle Royale winner Christopher Schmidt, Sammy Arechar, Allison Dunne, and Lisan Wood. Unfortunately, most of the performers on the bill are so good, they won’t be Milwaukee residents by this time next year.
Jim Gaffigan at Pabst Theater
If you missed Jim Gaffigan’s first two Pabst Theater shows this week or just want a second helping of primarily food-based humor, this is your last chance to see the veteran stand-up, actor, author, and proud glutton. At least until next year, probably.
Mad Planet’s New Year’s Eve Dance Party
If you can’t quite swing the price of The Get Down and/or you want to keep dancing until 4 a.m., this is for you. The dance party offers food and a champagne toast as part of the $15 cover.
Rev. Norb And The Onions + Aluminum Knot Eye at Circle-A Cafe
One of the many, many benefits of punk rock is that songs are usually short, sweet, and to the point. Green Bay pop-punk legend Rev. Norb (of Boris The Sprinkler fame) and his Onions will follow Aluminum Knot Eye. Stay for the whole show, and you can be out the door by 11 en route to the next stop of the night.
Struggle Session + Appleseeds + Iron Pizza + Dinny Bulca (last show) + Indonesian Junk at Bremen Cafe
Fresh off its raucous MILK YOURSELF split 45 with Strange Matter, Appleseeds bolsters a Bremen soiree that also features the swan song of Dinny Bulca…before the band morphs into the decidedly better Brat Sounds. As Bremen shows have been in years past, this show is free.
Trampled By Turtles + Har Mar Superstar + Fever Dream at Riverside Theater
If you liked Har Mar Superstar when he performed before The Pizza Underground at Hotel Foster this fall, you’ll love him when he’s supporting a real band that isn’t a transparent gimmick and some stupid joke a child star is playing on the world. For the second straight year, Duluth’s own Trampled By Turtles will help ease Milwaukee into another year with some sweet, satisfying sounds.
US Male + Midnight Reruns at Art Bar
US Male is one of the least active projects in the otherwise-ever-buzzing hive of activity that is the Breadking Collective. However, they’ve pledged to play more shows in 2015 (meaning some) than they did in 2014 (meaning none). Beyond the allure of the US Male reunion, Midnight Reruns (who arguably made the best Milwaukee album of 2013) will kick off what looks to be a colossal 2015—complete with a follow-up album we’re dying to hear—about two hours early.