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A New Year’s Eve concert guide for Chicago’s diehard music lovers


It’s the final countdown. The last night of the year to catch one of the great musical acts coming through town before January brings us a lot more silent nights.

From a real party animal to a blues legend and a Led Zeppelin tribute, these are the top 10 noisemakers on New Year’s Eve:

JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound

Before Bloodshot Records celebrates its 20th anniversary in January, get to know one of its current marquee acts with a high-energy set by these soul revivalists led by James Brown incarnate JC Brooks.

Emporium Arcade Bar, 7 p.m. $25 (in advance);

Andrew W.K.

With hits like “Party Hard,” “It’s Time to Party” and “Party ‘Til You Puke” (and that’s just off his first album), this metal-pop oddball really knows how to throw a rager on New Year’s Eve. Motivational speeches and cardio blasts by wife Cherie Lily are included to kick-start the 2015 resolutions.

Thalia Hall, 9:30 p.m. $40 (in advance);


The Sudanese artist brings one love melding distinct styles of krautrock, free jazz and funk with heavy percussion. Don’t know his name yet? Trust his CV that lists his working sessions with Montreal, Yeasayer and Eleanor Friedberger.

Schubas, 10 p.m. $25 (in advance);

The Muffs

Last year at this time, Kim Shattuck was kicked out of touring with The Pixies. This year, she regrouped with The Muffs — the slapstick punk group famous for covering “Kids In America” in the ’90s — and all she has to say about it is “Whoop Dee Doo”? The band hopefully aims to get more credit in 2015.

Reggies, 8 p.m. $25 (in advance);

Bob Mould

The Husker Du frontman caps off his Chicago three-peat (City Winery and Old Town School of Folk Music in March, Downtown Sound in June) with a final bash to celebrate the 25th anniversary of his solo debut “Workbook.” Comedian Margaret Cho warms up the night with a good roasting.

Metro, 9 p.m. $50 (in advance);

Led Zeppelin 2

The stairway to a Led Zeppelin reunion was officially closed in 2014 after Robert Plant reportedly turned down a multimillion-dollar proposal. That’s not stopping Chicago’s Led Zeppelin 2 from churning out incredible covers of “Immigrant Song” and “Kashmir,” steered by the Plant/Page energy of frontman Bruce Lamont and guitarist Paul Kamp.

House of Blues, 8 p.m. $50;

Shemekia Copeland

Dust off those holiday blues with the official “queen” Shemekia Copeland. A favorite of the Obamas, Buddy Guy and Mick Jagger, Copeland’s soulful vocals ring in the new year on a high note, accompanied by complimentary glasses of sparkling champagne from City Winery’s own catalog.

City Winery, 7:30 & 11 p.m. $45-65;

Zeds Dead

The night’s big beats come courtesy of this Canadian dubstep duo closely aligned to mixmasters Steve Aoki and Diplo. Releases like “Rudeboy” and “Rumble in the Jungle” have standard notes of electro house and hip-hop, but take cover for reworks of Foo Fighters and Bon Iver that really mix things up.

Aragon, 8 p.m. $50;

Mucca Pazza

The holiday parades aren’t over yet. Local freak rock marching band Mucca Pazza turns Double Door into one big pep rally with polished brass and full-on regalia that is band nerds living out Sgt. Pepper fantasies. Sinister synth trio My Gold Mask revs it up with their own drum circle.

Double Door, 9 p.m. $25 (in advance);

The Milk Carton Kids

Contemporary folk continued to have a big year in 2014 and saw this group win its first award from the Americana Music Association. Described as a mix of Gillian Welch, Paul Simon and The Everly Brothers, The Milk Carton Kids’ sound is what’s often missing in the folk revival.

Space, 6 & 10 p.m. $30-80;

Selena Fragassi is a local freelance writer.