When the year starts winding down, the bulk of the best concerts in Chicago seem to arrive on the last day, New Year's Eve. While some people dress up to drink in hotel ballrooms (or stand out in the cold) at New Year's Eve parties, some of Chicago's best music venues mark the arrival of 2017 with celebratory shows. Whether you prefer hip-hop, EDM, soul or jam bands, you'll find a reason to dance at one of the top New Year's Eve concerts in Chicago.
RECOMMENDED: Our guide to New Year's Eve in Chicago
New Year's Eve concerts in Chicago
New Orleans bounce music's "Queen Diva" Big Freedia headlines Chop Shop's New Year's Eve celebration, bringing her booty-shaking music to the venue's 1st Ward event space. She's joined by Har Mar Superstar, the pop singer alter-ego of Sean Tillmann, touring behind his '80s-tinged, Julian Casablancas-produced record, Best Summer Ever. Local noise pop trio the Cell Phones support.
Foxygen drummer Shaun Fleming brings the band's retro-inspired energy to his solo project, Diane Coffee. His latest record, Everybody's a Good Dog, is a constantly shifting, Bowie-esque journey through glam, psych and orchestral rock of yore. Armed with a commanding stage presence and capable backing band, Flemming is living proof that a great record collection can yield some heartfelt homages. Modern Vices opens on December 30 and Yoko and the Oh Nos supports on New Years Eve.
The daughter of soul singer Donny Hathaway and an accomplished R&B performer in her own right, Lalah Hathaway is a Berklee grad with a voice that soars through soul, jazz and pop arrangements. At a pair of special concerts on New Year's Eve, Hathaway will sing tracks from her most recent Stax release, Where It All Begins.
Oakland, California metal trio High on Fire brings 2016 to a punishing conclusion at the Empty Bottle, performing a two-night stand that doubles as a New Year's Eve party and a celebration of the venue's 25th anniversary. Led by Matt Pike (who also plays with stoner metal act Sleep), the group specializes in ominous arrangements outfitted with sludgy chords and triumphant riffs—we can't think of a more appropriate soundtrack to greet the first hours of 2017.
In the late aughts, Chicago production duo Aaron Brink and Steve Reidell were the kings of the mashup, combining Wilco and Kanye West, Common and Flying Lotus and a host of other unlikely pairings. The pair hasn't really slowed down, most recently creating a mashup of "Go Cubs Go" and Chance the Rapper's "No Problem" that provided the soundtrack for countless World Series victory celebrations. The Hood Internet headlines Lincoln Hall's New Year's Eve celebration, performing with local rapper ShowYouSuck as Air Credits, with support from Celine Neon and DJ Manny Muscles.
Indiana folk rockers Houndmouth greet the new year with a pair of concerts dubbed Two Nights Before the Future, celebrating four years since the release of the group's first EP. The trio headed to Nashville to record its latest album, Little Neon Limelight, which references contemporary folk, Southern rock, alt-country and everything in-between. Southern soul singer Durand Jones supports on December 30 and Tennessee crooner the Kernal opens on New Year's Eve.
Smart Bar residents Garrett David, DJ Heather, Jeff Derringer, Justin Long, Olin, Sassmouth, Savile and Sevron get behind the turntables to ring in 2017 on the dance floor. Artist Nate Love will be creating an installation to accompany the interstellar festivities, while hosts Nico and Imp Queen lead the countdown until midnight.
After celebrating her 70th birthday at the Riv, punk godmother Patti Smith headlines a New Year's Eve concert at Park West. You can expect some special guests and spirited renditions of the Ramones- and Blondie-inspired tunes that populate the seminal, genre-fusing release, Horses.
React Presents' gigantic, two-day New Year's Eve party is dominating the New Year's Eve concert scene again this year, and will bring Flume (Dec 30) and Zeds Dead (Dec 31) to the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont. The rest of the lineup includes Anderson .Paak & the Free Nationals, Danny Brown, Gucci Mane, Noname and more. Why hang out at a hotel downtown when you can rage at a convention center in the 'burbs?
Though it's most easily described as a jam band, Chicago's own Umphrey's McGee has been exploring genres ranging from heavy metal to prog rock throughout expansive sets since the group's inception in the late ’90s. Yes, you'll witness a prodigious amount of improvisation and noodling, but Umphrey's devotion to art rock and odd time signatures always keeps things interesting. Here, the group headlines the Riviera and two nights at the Aragon Ballroom, culminating in an epic three-set performance on New Year's Eve. Colorado funk group the Motet opens the December 30th show.
Send off 2016 while cutting a rug to tunes spun by the Windy City Soul Club DJs, one of many rare groove DJ ensembles in the city. Digging into their bins of dusty 45s, they hold down a monthly party at Empty Bottle. Mods will eat up their dedication to Northern Soul, so complete they might as well ride up in Lambrettas.