14 Great New Year's Eve Shows To Ring In 2016

By Justin Freeman in Arts & Entertainment on Dec 10, 2015 5:12PM

If you want to ring in 2016 with awesome music and great people, it's time to start planning.

2015 is slowly coming to an close and you’re looking for something that’ll end the year with style, but don’t quite know where to start looking. We’ve been there before and got your back, so we did some research and threw together a list of some of the more interesting New Year’s Eve concerts and shows around town to get you started. In no particular order, they’re listed below.

And if you're thinking of checking out Chicago's first Riverwalk New Years Eve concert, Chi-Town Rising, it is our humble opinion that you have some way better options to choose from.

All shows are 21+ unless otherwise noted.

JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound at Emporium: To put it lightly, JC Brooks is a really good party band. They’ve heavily influenced by '70s soul, Stax Records and the Memphis sound in particular. They also have a healthy dose of Goner Records garage punk sensibilities added in. Whenever we see them, they get party started and keep the party moving all night long. Tickets are $30.

John Oliver at Chicago Theatre: For a lot of folks, Last Week Tonight came out of nowhere and catapulted John Oliver to stratospheric heights. They’re not entirely wrong, but that’s missing some of the picture. Between a fantastic run on The Daily Show and The Bugle—his podcast which was basically a blueprint for Last Week Tonight—his success has been a long time coming. That’s he’s sold out three shows so far at Chicago Theatre isn’t a huge surprise anymore. A New Year’s Eve show has been added, and though it's not a music concert, we had to mention it. If you’re into it, act quick. Tickets are going fast. Tickets range from $58.50 to $78.50. All ages.

Local H at Cubby Bear: Local H New Year's Eve shows are a local tradition, and the band often tries to outdo their already electric live shows by tacking on various themes and challenges. This year the duo is applying the theme of "Mad Max" to their set. Scott Lucas and Ryan Harding are being pretty secretive about just what that means, but we're betting the results will be positively post-apocalyptic. The band is coming off a pretty triumphant 2015, highlighted by the release of their 8th studio album Hey, Killer, so we expect this will be a blow out set. Tickets are $25.


Lil Jon (DJ Set) at Studio Paris: Lil Jon is doing a DJ set at a posh, trendy nightclub in the Loop. After that, he’ll probably hang out in VIP and order bottle service. Drunk bros will inevitably scream, "TURN DOWN FOR WHAT!" It’ll probably be a hot mess, but good times will probably be had. If those last few sentences seem exciting and you have deep pockets, this is for you. Tickets start at $175.

Ministry at Concord Music Hall: 2015 has been a rough year for the old school Chicago rock scene. This summer, Neo lost its lease and was subsequently kicked out of its longtime location. Due to financial concerns, The Alley is moving out of their iconic storefront near Belmont and Clark. Punkin Donuts shut down. As things around us change, we find ourselves admiring that the local industrial originators of Ministry simply refuse to die (no matter how many times they threaten to). We also find ourselves looking forward to going ballistic if they play “Stigmata.” Tickets are $52.50 each or available in packs of four for $160. 17+

Tink at The Shrine: In between recording an album with Timbaland, a high profile collaboration with Sleigh Bells, her Winter’s Edge 3 mixtape receiving solid reviews, performing to a full house at the Metro, being on the cover of Fader, and modeling for Uniqlo; it’s safe to say that Tink is having a really good year. Taking inspiration from Aaliyah and Da Brat, Tink is one of the more interesting artists in the city. Here is your chance to become a believer. Tickets are $50.



Nobunny at Beat Kitchen: Cheap beer and dirty punk more your thing? Nobunny loves you. He’d probably love you even more if you went to his new year’s eve show at Beat Kitchen though. Nobunny shows are frenzied and chaotic. He’s also quite prolific and has recorded albums for Burger Records, Goner Records, Hozac Records and seemingly everyone in between. The cool kids over at Store Brand Soda, one of the better DIY punk sites in the city, recommend this as one of their NYE picks as well. Tickets are $25.

Brandi Carlile at Thalia Hall: Brandi Carlile is a folk singer from the Seattle area whose latest album, The Firewatcher’s Daughter just received a Grammy nomination for Best Americana Album. To us, her work evokes the feeling of aimlessly driving down the highway at night while listening to Patsy Cline on the radio as soft fresh snow falls around you. Sitting down and having a cocktail with a friend at Thalia Hall as she performs sounds like fantastic way to ring in the new year. Tickets start at $77. 17+

Reaction (Skrillex, CHVRCHES, Run the Jewels, Purity Ring, more) at Donald E Stephens Convention Center (Rosemont): Reaction is React’s swan song to 2015, a two-day decadent, Las Vegas-style blowout featuring some of the biggest names in music. The headliners are impeccable, but the undercard of local bands is just as impressive as Celine Neon, ShowYouSuck and My Gold Mask join Chance the Rapper, Purity Ring and Skrillex to end 2015 with a bang. 2 day passes are currently $130. Tickets for the 30th are $89 while tickets for the 31st are $99. 18+

Mucca Pazza at Chicago Athletic Association: Local circus punk marching band stalwarts Mucca Pazza bring their unhinged lunacy to the opulently dapper downtown hotel, the Chicago Athletic Association. In addition to ringing in 2016 with a headlining set in Stagg Court, the hotel’s renovated basketball court, the band will play surprise pop up sets at some at the hotel’s bars and restaurants throughout the night. Sophisticated weirdness will be had. Tickets are $25.

The Promise Ring at Metro: The Promise Ring, Milwaukee based second wave emo pioneers, are playing their first show in Chicago since performing at Riot Fest three years ago. That, in of itself, is good news. When you add in that they’re playing their landmark album Nothing Feels Good in it’s entirety, it becomes great news. When you discover that local emo champions Into It. Over It. are opening, it becomes stellar news. Warning. We may cry when Promise Ring plays “Red and Blue Jeans.” Tickets are $46. 18+


Matthew Dear at [warehouse somewhere in Chicago]: Matthew Dear’s music is hedonistic. Arguably one of the best DJ and producers in the world, Dear has earned himself a cult following throughout the years with his majestic and almost religious sets of pristinely dark electronic pop. Dear isn’t performing at an overpriced club to bring in the new year, he’s playing at a grimy warehouse somewhere in the city. If you’re looking to escape amateur hour, this may be for you. Tickets are currently $30. The location will be given out on the day of the show to ticket holders only.


Diarrhea Planet at Lincoln Hall: Diarrhea Planet shows are notoriously rambunctious. They run around stage and scream like feral savages while assaulting you catastrophic drums and an impenetrably thick wall of guitar. Opening for them are garage rock lifers, Jeff the Brotherhood, and underrated garage rock rapper, Juiceboxxx, who sounds like he was raised on a diet of nothing but Beastie Boys and The Ramones. We predict that a gnarly circle pit will emerge at some point during the night, and wouldn’t have it any other way. Tickets are $35.

And if you must...

Chi-Town Rising: Do you find yourself jealous of Jenny McCarthy hosted New Year’s countdowns celebrations in Times Square where you could be surrounded by thousands of tourists in the bitter winter cold hoping to catch a glimpse of a random celebrity? Fret no longer. Your answer has arrived! Located downtown near Lower Wacker and Michigan right on the lake, you can catch headliners Chicago and band American Authors and quite possibly be on TV as the newly launched Chi-Town Rising aims to be an answer to the televised Ryan Seacrest hosted NYE celebrations in NYC. Tickets are $150.