The best New Year’s Eve concerts in Chicago

Before 2019 arrives, celebrate New Year's Eve with Noname, Galantis and more great bands and DJs
pitchfork 2018, noname
Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas
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As 2018 draws to a close, many of the best concerts in Chicago are concentrated on New Year's Eve. If you'd rather skip the New Year's Eve parties but don't want to spend the evening sitting on the couch, why not head to some of Chicago's best music venues to ring in 2019 with a celebratory performance. This year, local hip-hop star Noname headlines a three-night homecoming at Thalia Hall, Swedish DJ duo Galantis takes over the Aragon and stalwart indie-rockers Guided By Voices take the stage at Bottom Lounge. Find the best year-end rock, rap and electronic shows with our guide to Chicago's New Year's Eve concert lineup.

RECOMMENDED: Our guide to New Year's Eve in Chicago

New Year's Eve concerts in Chicago

Bully
Photograph: Alysse Gafkjen
Music, Rock and indie

Bully

icon-location-pin Empty Bottle, Ukrainian Village
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Distilling the ’90s grunge sound to its emotionally charged, dirstortion-drenched core, Alicia Bognanno and her band Bully deliver rock and roll anthems that pack a punch. Tracked live to tape at Steve Albini's famous Electrical Audio studio in Chicago, the band's 2017 record Losing confronts the confusion of uncertain times with screamed refrains and barrages of power chords. If you're looking for a particularly cathartic way to spend the last hours of 2018, this show is just the ticket.

Galantis
Photograph: Teddy Wolff
Music, Dance and electronic

Galantis

icon-location-pin Aragon, Uptown
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Even if you don't know them by name, you're probably familiar with the some of the music that Swedish DJ duo Christian Karlsson and Linus Eklöw have been responsible for. As producers, Karlsson helped pen "Toxic" for Britney Spears, while Eklöw had a hand in Charli XCX's hit single "I Love It." Working together as Galantis, the pair has produced some inescapable EDM tracks, including "Runaway (U & I)," "Peanut Butter Jelly" and "No Money." You won't be able to order bottle service, but the Aragon will probably resemble a packed club when Galantis touches down in Chicago for two year-end performances.

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Greensky Bluegrass
Photograph: Jamie Van Buhler
Music, Folk, country and blues

Greensky Bluegrass

icon-location-pin Riviera Theatre, Uptown
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This Michigan-based quintet puts a progressive spin on traditional bluegrass music, augmenting mandolin and banjo arrangements with trippy light shows. While its music is a far cry from hat of the Grateful Dead or Phish, Greensky Bluegrass has found a following among jam-band fans thanks to its constantly changing setlists and extended improvisations. The group takes over the Riviera Theatre for four nights at the end of the year, joined by the Jeff Austin Band on December 28 and 29, and Horseshoes and Hand Grenades on December 30. On New Year's Eve, it's three straight sets of Greensky Bluegrass with mandolin solos galore.

Guided by Voices
Photograph: Sandlin Gaither
Music, Rock and indie

Guided By Voices

icon-location-pin Bottom Lounge, Downtown
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Stage-kicking, beer-swilling power-pop singer-songwriter Robert Pollard continues to churn out snappy, lyrically obtuse rock at a breakneck pace—Guided By Voices already has a new album (Zeppelin Over China) and pair of EPs planned for release in the first few months of 2019. After celebrating New Year's Eve at the Empty Bottle last year, the Dayton rockers return to Chicago to ring in 2019 at Bottom Lounge. Take a swig of Jose Cuervo and settle in for a sprawling three-hour set that splits the difference between the band's energetic contemporary output and tracks from classic records like Bee Thousand and Do the Collapse.

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Mucca Pazza
Photograph: Jason Creps
Music, Rock and indie

Mucca Pazza + Absolutely Not

icon-location-pin Lincoln Hall, Sheffield & DePaul
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Local 30-somepiece marching band Mucca Pazza sends off 2018 with a jovial celebration at Lincoln Hall, which should please band geeks and the musically inept alike. Armed with mismatched uniforms, horns, cellists, guitarists, drummers and enthusiastic cheerleaders, the collective explores everything from Balkan music to big band arrangements while marching in unconventional formations. On New Year's Eve, they'll be joined by local punk rockers Absolutely Not and the Fuzzbox DJs.

pitchfork 2018, noname
Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas
Music, Rap, hip-hop and R&B

Noname

icon-location-pin Thalia Hall | Chicago, IL, Lower West Side
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On her latest album, Room 25, Fatimah Warner (better known as Noname) establishes herself as one of contemporary's hip-hop's most skilled lyricists, deftly exploring a transitional period in her life through a stream of poetic stanzas. The Bronzeville native mixes bravado with deeply personal reflection, often packing both sentiments into the span of a few seconds of her jazz-inflected arrangements. After spending much of the year on the road, Noname returns to Chicago for a trio of year-end shows at Thalia Hall, including a New Year's Eve performance.

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RJD2
Photograph: Nick Fancher
Music, Dance and electronic

RJD2

icon-location-pin Sleeping Village, Avondale
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Ramble Jon Krohn, better known by his stage name RJD2, is a master manipulator of beats and melodies, mixing samples, synths and live instrumentation. His track “A Beautiful Mine” served as the theme for Mad Men, showcasing his ability to take a few old samples and turn them into something at once familiar and vital. RJD2 headlines Sleeping Village's first New Year's Eve bash, digging into his collection of records and showing off his turntablist chops both before and after the clock strikes midnight.

Photograph: Courtesy Windy City Soul Club
Music, Funk, soul and disco

Windy City Soul Club

icon-location-pin Logan Square Auditorium, Logan Square
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Find your New Year's groove as your dance your way into 2019 to a soundtrack of Northern Soul, Motown hit and regional cuts supplied by the Windy City Soul Club DJs. On New Year's Eve the monthly party takes over Logan Square Auditorium for the evening, filling the historic venue with rug-cutting tunes. Come for the all-vinyl playlist and dress to impress.

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