The New Year looms, and with it the agonizing decision of where and how to ring in 2008.
If you're resolving to be hipper, tamer, weirder, a little bit more country or rock and roll, there is plenty happening in Madison on the last day of 2007 to help you along.
The faint of heart -- or the bearers of small children -- can coax their strollers to several different locations that are a part of the perennial U.S. Bank Eve. Fireworks are scheduled to go off at 10 p.m., which gives parents plenty of time to put their kids to bed before watching the ball drop on television with good ol' Dick Clark.
The non-breeders in town have plenty of more options if face paint and Bucky Badger aren't in the cards. For five bucks, The Annex promises party favors and hors d'ouerves along with with a melange of rock and funk by Blackstar Reggae, Cudasigh, Adam Isaac and the People, Paul Filipowicz, and The Water Street Winos. The downtown Great Dane, meanwhile, is offering free champagne and a long set of covers by the Hometown Sweethearts.
From the Dane, walk down to the Majestic Theatre to hear local favorites The Kissers, Mama Digdown's Brass Band, and Marcus King & Thee Royalty, where a $25 cover will also get you catered eats and a champagne toast. (This party is sponsored by Isthmus and thedailypage.com.) Across the street for $10, the King Club is hosting an all-night dance party for $10 with music by rising hip-hop group The Crest, who sources say have been keeping company with the likes of Mos Def and Ghostface, along with Desdemona and The Last Hope. Farther down King is the understated and cover-free Natt Spil, which typically delivers attractive faces and some fine DJs as well.
But if you're an east sider at heart, or simply more honky tonk than hip-hop, never fear. The Crystal Corner Bar remains the greatest down-home joint in the neighborhood. The vintage sounds of country will be performed by Pupy Costello & His Big City Honky Tonk and Earl Foss & His Brown Derby, and though it's pricier than other places in town (cover is $12, and $14 on the day), it's hard to argue with $2 cans of PBR and a vending machine with candy cigarettes.
A few blocks closer to the Capitol on East Wash, the High Noon Saloon is putting on a slightly more sophisticated affair for $10 with a lineup of the area's most notorious bands. DJ Jake Shut (of WORT and Crustacean Records) will spin between the sets of Things Fall Apart, Whore du Jour, Screaming Cyn-Cyn and the Pons, The Dials, Transformer Lootbag, and Awesome Car Funmaker.
Here are the essentials for a few other places in town, just to make sure you are weighing all your options:
- Angelic Brewing Company: Live music starts at 10 p.m., and word is out on a free breakfast that starts in the wee hours.
- Brink Lounge: For 28 bucks you see Dave Stoler and Westside Andy and Mel Ford Band at the basement venue on East Wash. Sounds a little steep? Remember that noisemakers and hats are included.
- Cafe Montmartre: Food through the night and spinning by Alkatronica and DJs Pete Augusta and Wyatt Agard is in store at this stop just off the Square.
- Cardinal Bar: Get dancing downtown with more beats by DJs Corey Lee, Von Stoll, and David Muhammad.
- Club 5: As if New Year's Eve wasn't classy enough, step into this venue by the Beltline for their early evening Country Hoedown, complete with cowgirls and cowboys. Yee-haw.
- Club Tavern: Middletonians can stay local, and halve the cover charge with a dinner purchase, at this friendly neighborhood spot that booked Lube for the evening. (That's a band, by the way.)
- The Comedy Club: For the partiers who prefer to sit than dance, Sean Kent, Johnny Beehner, and Tyler Kroll will do all of the entertaining for you.
- Harmony Bar: Eat up at the "world famous Harmony buffet" and catch tunes by Devil in a Woodpile, the Joel Paterson Group, and Cash Box Kings at this east side hangout.
- Inferno: Business attire is expected for this "office party," which will feature beats by DJs Alex Hall, Koob, Wyatt Agard, Psychotron, Cykophuk, and Dave J.
- Johnny O's and Madison Avenue: "Dressing up" for these joints can be roughly translated to "wearing as little as possible." Champagne is available, they say, but Long Islands may be preferred.
- Klinic Bar & Grill: This Park Street venue presents a trio of groups -- Y-Lab, Sounds of Reason, and Sophia's Revenge -- to ring ears through the night.
- L'Etoile: $85 buys you a four-course dinner, wine flights, and a champagne toast. All ages are welcome, but be sure to dress up a little.
- Mr. Roberts: Run Side Down returns to the Atwood bar for more than six hours of music from before midnight to well into the morning. There's no cover, and early guests will find an opening tribute to Ween.
- Restaurant Magnus: These proprietors are so bold as to require business casual attire upon entry. A more mature crowd will appreciate the fine dining, along with a set by Los Sureños Del Norte.
If all of these sound tempting, but there's a certain wildness that you're craving, something tells me that the service industry party at the Orpheum Theatre is the place where the pinnacle in debauchery may be found. Service employees get in for $10 instead of the standard $20 cover by showing a pay stub, and the fee includes a buffet and champagne at midnight. Live music lovers will enjoy performances by local favorites Sleeping in the Aviary and The Paper Cup Band, but the party is sure to heat up with the presence of four great DJs: Mike Carlson, Wyatt, Chuck Money, and The Real Jaguar. The service industry in Madison is already known for its partying ways, and the Orpheum is such a fantastic space that MTV might as well bring a camera crew to chronicle all these wasted and beautiful people.
Though it's important to find the right scene for your party temperament, the old adage is true -- it's never where you are, but rather who you're with. So kiss your lover (or a stranger), and have some giddy, champagne-infused fun. See you out there.