Monkey Business Institute
Mercifully, 2016 is coming to a close. And no matter how you want to send it off, we have a few options to help take the edge off a year that took away Bowie and Prince and gave us President-elect Trump.
Alchemy Cafe: Nasty New Year’s turns seven, and Alchemy Cafe’s annual $10 WORT benefit has quite the party planned. DJ Captain Smooth kicks it off at 10 pm, with funk outfit Better Yeti (pictured at right, formerly the Mustache) supplying the tunes beginning at 11, and a free champagne toast set for midnight.
Bartell Theatre: For the third year, the companies that work out of the Bartell Theatre will present their “Ball Drop Blitz.” Beginning Dec. 30, a brave group of actors, writers and directors will spend 24 hours creating a theatrical performance using suggestions pulled from a hat. It’s only $20, and there’s little risk of being puked on by a stranger. Ready or not, the show starts at 8 pm.
Cardinal Bar: The Bird is prepared to make you dance all night long — literally. DJs Chamo and Fusion will be kicking out the jams from 7 pm to 5 am.
Come Back In/Essen Haus: The neighboring bars will team up once again to offer a New Year’s Eve Extravaganza that includes two great bands, a buffet (open at 6 pm) and dinner (7-10 pm). Starting at 9 pm, the Tom Brusky Band takes the stage at Essen Haus, while Live at Nine goes live at 9 at the Come Back. $80 buys you all the fun.
Comedy Club on State: 2016 was pretty damn depressing, and there are few better ways to send it off than in a fit of laughter. Andrew Santino (pictured at right), a veteran of comedy proving grounds like The Meltdown and Just for Laughs festival (and former star of the short-lived ABC comedy Mixology), will be performing three shows (5:30, 8, and 10:30 p.m.). Opening are Steve Gillespie and Geoffrey Asmus.
Concourse Hotel: Those willing to shell out a little extra cash can get their money’s worth at the Concourse. With packages ranging from $199, guests will be treated to a midnight champagne toast and music from VO5, an 11-piece funk and disco band that includes Isthmus’ own Catherine Capellaro. Some packages include jazz from Gypsy swing masters Harmonious Wail, a steak and lobster dinner and a comedy show featuring Rocky LaPorte.
Crystal Corner: Hometown Sweethearts, an energetic Madison band specializing in both originals and covers, will be playing their first New Year’s Eve show in four years. The band starts at 9:30 p.m., so be sure to bring $20 and your dancing shoes.
DLUX: DLUX invites partiers to “dress up to get down.” For $85, they’ll be offering an open bar from 9:30 p.m. on featuring draft beers and kegged cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and a midnight champagne toast, accompanied by rockin’ beats with DJ Eugene Craven.
Edgewater: The Edgewater is offering a chance to escape Madison entirely with a destination New Year’s party. The theme is New York City, and guests will be treated to beer, wine and champagne, a midnight “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” buffet and music from 10-piece big band Talk of the Town. The party starts at 9 p.m. for a well-spent $100.
The Frequency: Those looking to rock into the New Year rather than ring it in need look no further than the Frequency. Mad City madmen Pachinko (pictured at right), Cold Black River and Wheelie King will be on hand to melt faces until the ball drops. It’s a $10 cover, and doors open at 8 p.m., with the show starting at 9.
Gib’s Bar: Willy Street’s craft cocktail bar invites you to have fun for a good cause. Thirty percent of the $20 cover (only $15 if you’re wearing gold) will be donated to Planned Parenthood. The package includes champagne punch, DJs and a samba dance performance, and it all goes down at 8 p.m.
Glass Nickel Pizza: Few combinations bring more joy than pizza and comedy. So why not indulge in both at Glass Nickel, where local improvisers from Monkey Business Institute (pictured at top) will take the stage at 7 p.m. $12 covers the show, and you can fill your stomach before you go out drinking.
Goodman Community Center: Those unable to decide between music and comedy would enjoy Madison staples Lou and Peter Berryman (pictured at right), folk singers known for their humorous observations about life. The show starts at 8 p.m., and proceeds from the $22 ticket price benefit the Goodman Center.
Great Dane Pub: For only $5, the Great Dane Fitchburg offers a chance to be someone else with their New Year’s Masquerade Party. A midnight champagne toast and party favors are included with the cover, and from 9 p.m. on DJ Dreckks will be there to make you dance until next year. Also $5: Downtown Great Dane offers live music from Vilas Park Sniper at 10 p.m., while Hilldale has Landology at 9 p.m.
Harmony Bar: Local rockers the Family Business (pictured at right) provide the tunes, and Harmony provide snacks, party favors and champagne toasts. Show starts at 9:45 p.m. for an affordable $15 cover.
High Noon Saloon: $10 buys you a night of killer music — tribute sets to Tegan & Sara, Against Me!, Black Sabbath, Otis Redding, Elvis and a combination of ’80s and ’90s hip-hop are planned. The show starts at 9 p.m.
Ivory Room: The Ivory Room continues the tradition of its annual Masquerade Party. Packages starting at $100 include an open bar, party favors and masquerade contest, with Dueling Pianos from Josh Dupont and Connor Brennan beginning at 8 p.m.
Kadampa Meditation Center: When most people think about 2016, they want to scream into a pillow. Kadampa invites you to channel that rage into something more positive — peace. From 7 to 9 p.m., they’ll be hosting a Candlelight Meditation for World Peace, which includes a meditation class for children.
Knuckle Down Saloon: Spend your New Year’s thinking of sweet home Chicago when the Cash Box Kings (pictured at right) perform at the Knuckle Down. The Windy City blues band takes the stage at 9 p.m., and will be joined by a secret guest, described as “one of the great young blues musicians in the world — direct from Tokyo, Japan!”
Liquid: Who needs a ball to drop when you can hear beats drop all night long? Liquid will host a pair of talented Wisconsin DJs: Madison’s Davilla (who’s also Liquid’s house DJ) and Milwaukee’s Hipp. Tickets are $25-$85, depending on the package. The show starts at 10 p.m.
Lucille: One of the Mad City’s newest institutions will debut their “Lucille Ball.” It’s pricey, but inclusive: $75 will cover hors d’oeuvres and chef stations, plus music from Tony Casta ñ eda Quartet from 7 to 10 pm. A late-night party (also $75) includes an open bar, a champagne bar, party favors and music from DJ Fuzzy Duck, starting at 10:30 p.m.
Madison’s: Starting at 9 p.m. and for a scant $20 admission (with bottle service starting at $282), partygoers get an “ultrasophisticated dance party” from DJ Brook, along with a midnight champagne toast. Wearing gold isn’t required, but it’s encouraged. For early partiers, the Jon Hoel Quartet plays jazz starting at 6 p.m.
Majestic: DecaDance is back for the fifth year, with DJs Nick Nice and Mike Carlson spinning 100 years’ worth of music, from Louis Armstrong to Daft Punk. Science has yet to create the time machine, but $25 gets you a century’s worth of dancing. Set your clocks for 8 pm, folks.
Merchant: Merchant’s New Year’s festivities begin early, with a $75 three-course meal (and optional $25 cocktail pairings) at 5 pm, with the late-night party set for 11, when DJ Phil Money starts the dance party. If you want to skip dinner, it’s just a $10 cover.
Mickey’s Tavern: Willy’s wildest dive has a punk rock New Year’s planned that can’t be beat. Starting at 10:30 p.m., Fire Retarded, Wood Chickens and Kazmir will rock you into 2017.
Red Zone: If you want a New Year’s so good it’ll make a grown man cry, be sure to stop in for Red Zone’s festivities. Music will come from ’80s rock cover band Cherry Pie starting at 9 pm, and $15 gets you a ticket and one free drink (an extra $25 for all-you-can-eat bar food).
Zimbrick Family Eve: Those looking for a family-friendly option should check out Zimbrick Family Eve. Split between Monona Terrace and Middleton’s Keva Sports Center, Zimbrick will offer arts and crafts, cookie decorating, live animals from the Henry Vilas Zoo and more. The fun starts at 4 pm at Keva and 5 pm at Monona Terrace.