Regardless of the economic climate, Chicago venues have always been consistent when it comes to offering musical options for those looking to ring in the new year.
Be they up-and-comers or favorites in their particular genre, Chicago has long been a preferred destination for pop and rock acts to take to the stage come Dec. 31, and the last night of 2012 is offering no shortage of acts of note taking to Windy City stages to provide the musical backdrop.
Listed below are just a few of the bands and artists slated to perform on New Year’s Eve. Additional taxes and fees may not be included in the ticket prices listed below.
JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound – 9:30 p.m. Dec. 31, Mayne Stage, 1328 Morse Ave., Chicago. $45 (18 and older).
JD McPherson, 8 p.m. Dec. 31, Abbey Pub, 3420 W. Grace, Chicago. $25-$70 (21 and older).
Call it a reflection of the state of rock and roll today or just the personal preferences of this writer, but two of the most exciting albums to come out in the last 16 months have a foot steeped in popular music’s illustrious past as they do the present.
Brooks and Co.’s debut, last year’s “Want More,” sounds as if it were created in Muscle Shoals, Ala., than anywhere north of the Mason/Dixon line, and each of the 11 songs that make up the set leap out of the speakers with loads of passion and enthusiasm. Already favorites in their Windy City home base, Brooks and the Uptown Sound were a hot new discovery at this year’s Lollapalooza.
Hailing from Oklahoma, McPherson’s stellar “Signs & Signifiers” has Sun Studio spirit; there’s nothing ProTools about the 12 songs that make up his debut, and amen for that. From rave-ups (the locally fitting “North Side Gal”) to haunting slow tempo meditations (“A Gentile Awakening”), “Signs” may signify a blast for the past to some, but for others, it’s a welcome breath of fresh musical air.
FYI: (773) 381-4551, MAYNESTAGE.COM (Brooks), (773) 478-4408, ABBEYPUB.COM (McPherson)
Wanda Jackson, 9:30 p.m. Dec. 31, Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago. $55-$100 (21 and older).
Unless you’re well versed in your rock history, Wanda Jackson isn’t customarily included when rock architects (Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry, etc.) are thought of. But Jackson – “The First Lady of Rockabilly” to those in the know – is as important to rock’s early days as the three gents mentioned above; her influence on generations of women rockers who have followed is immeasurable as is her musical prowess.
Given much-due props as a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame three years ago, Jackson’s career has resurged as of late, recording “The Party Ain’t Over” with Jack White last year and October’s amazing “Unfinished Business,” which was produced by Justin Townes Earle.
FYI: (773) 489-3160, DOUBLEDOOR.COM
Airborne Toxic Event, 9 p.m. Dec. 31, Metro, 3730 N. Clark St., Chicago. $61 in advance, $71 day of show (18 and older).
Hailing from Los Angeles, Airborne Toxic Event is a stew brewed with one part punk, one part U2/Springsteen/Arcade-Fire grandiosity and a pinch of indie/power pop sprinkled in for good measure. Fans of their pair of long-players – 2008’s self titled set and last year’s “All at Once” – will be happy to know a new effort is slated to arrive come spring.
FYI: (773) 549-4140, METROCHICAGO.COM
Local H, 8 p.m. Dec. 31, Beat Kitchen, 2100 W. Belmont, Chicago. $25 (21 and older).
Home-based New Years Eve performances by the Zion-bred alt-rock duo has become something of a Windy City tradition. In September, Local H released the excellent politically and socially-minded “Hallelujah! I’m a Bum” which, like previous sets such as 2004’s “Whatever Happened to P.J. Soles” and 2008’s “Twelve Angry Months,” was well received by those in the know and deserved of greater exposure.
FYI: (773) 281-4444, BEATKITCHEN.COM
Los Lobos, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 31, - City Winery, 1200 W. Randolph St., Chicago. $85-$175 (21 and older).
Longtime favorites amongst many a Chicago rock band in the know, the pioneering Latin rock band spent part of 2012 celebrating the 20th anniversary of their stellar album “Kiko” and another part of the year on the road with Neil Young and Crazy Horse. Los Lobos will have plenty to celebrate when the clock strikes 12 New Year’s Day: 2013 marks the band’s 40th anniversary.
FYI: (773) 733-9463, CITYWINERY.COM
Robert Randolph and the Family Band, 8 p.m. Dec. 31, Park West, 322 W. Armitage Ave., Chicago. $60 (18 and older).
Robert Randolph’s emergence into the rock spotlight nearly a decade ago came at a time where new guitar greats were (and arguably remain) few and far in between, and to add to that, Randolph’s forte, the steel guitar, would arguably be a tough sell for anyone. But with a pair of excellent offerings – 2003’s “Unclassified” and 2006’s “We Walk This Road,” Randolph became a real-life guitar hero, impressing rock fans young and old and finding peers in legends such as Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy and Elton John.
While no news of a new set has been announced, Randolph is slated to join Clapton at Slowhand’s Crossroad’s Guitar Festival which, sadly, is being held in the Big Apple this spring instead of the Windy City.
Chicago-based favorite Karl Dennison’s Tiny Universe is slated to join Randolph and Co. at Park West.
FYI: (773) 929-1433, JAMUSA.COM