We’re drawing to the close of 2016, and as always, we here at The Key recommend you give 2016 the boot with live music. Spending that special moment that brings us into our annual chance for a new start at a concert with hundreds or even thousands of people who are all on the same page as you — for those few hours, the feeling is exhilarating and even a little magical. Compare this to the cycle of looking at your phone, standing in circles trying to connect with people that you know primarily through Facebook and most times drinking way too much in your quest to achieve that perfect New Year’s Eve moment that movies like When Harry Met Sally have elevated just out of reality’s reach.
Given, I’ve been going the latter route for the majority of my adult life and some of my fondest memories are searching for lost phones or helping my friend figure out the name of the cute guy with the green hat the morning after. BUT I knew that after happening upon a house show on New Year’s Eve a few years back, no party could ever fill me with the same ecstasy as the music and all the people in that basement did in 2013. So, if you’re looking to try something new, check out your Philly-area options for musical New Year’s celebrations.
If you missed Philadelphia’s Kurt Vile perform this summer at XPNFest, then his Fillmore gig on New Year’s is not to be missed. Vile has been wowing the world in recent years, progressively garnering more attention with his 2015 release b’lieve I’m goin down — not to mention his more recent collaboration with veteran singer-songwriter Hope Sandoval on “Let Me Get There.” Act fast on this one, because I guarantee you won’t be the only one who wants to ring in the New Year with this uber cool indie-rocker.
The West Philadelphia Orchestra, an innovative Balkan folk / brass band straight out of (you guessed it) West Philly is bringing their music stylings to Underground Arts on December 31st. This 15-piece ensemble is sure to wow those of you who have never experienced one of their live sets and will find new ways to surprise veteran WPO supporters.
Speaking of uber talented primarily instrumental bands out of Philly, World Cafe Live is the hosting a NYE gig with party rockers of Darla. This eight-piece group just dropped their latest release, Darla Rolls The Dice!. Their upbeat tunes and performance is sure to have you stomping your feet and clapping your hands well past midnight.
Ring in 2017 with Philadelphia Songwriter’s Project winner Andrea Nardello at The Grape Room. Nardello is a folk-rock artist known for incorporating traces of blues and soul into her music. Her 2016 sophomore release Fire is the perfect representation of her abilities as a singer-songwriter, allowing listeners to explore intimate spaces of her head and heart. This is a show perfect for significant others or close friends looking for something a little more cozy.
Mo Lowda and The Humble at Ortlieb’s ($25, 21+)
What better way to close out the year than with some locally crafted rock and roll? Mo Lowda and The Humble bring to mind Kings of Leon but still manage to harbor a unique sound despite comparisons to such big names. These guys plus Ortlieb’s tacos sounds like a party to us.
The XPN Fest vets of David Wax Museum are bringing their country charm to Johnny Brenda’s to finish off another successful year. The group classifies their sound as “Mexo-Americana,” a compelling label for a band with an fascinating sound. If you’re bar hopping in Fishtown or are simply looking for a one-destination plan for the evening, I suggest moving this to the top of your list.
Cabinet, a six-man bluegrass outfit out of Northeastern Pennsylvania, will bring their stylings to TLA on on New Year’s Eve. Their sound doesn’t stop at bluegrass, as the boys are known to mix elements of folk, rock and even reggae into their sound. This is a show that is sure to get rowdy and will most likely have you dancing hours after the ball drops.
TJ Kong and The Atomic Bomb at Boot and Saddle ($10-$15, 21+)
Philly post-apocalyptic blues band Tj Kong and The Atomic Bomb are putting a nail in 2016’s coffin and sending it on its way at Boot and Saddle on NYE. Like many of us, the band is fed up with how this year has gone and are prepared to “Send 2016 to Hell,” per a late November Facebook post. If you feel the same, or are just trying to dance away your troubles into 2017, then this is the gig for you.
This isn’t a concert, but it sounds like a fun time and it’s at one of our favorite event spaces. The Philadelphia Psychotronic Film Society is having a cult movie marathon at PhilaMOCA of films all chosen at random by PPFS members. In addition, there is a two-team face off testing the movie knowledge of attendees. Definitely sounds like fun and a worthy alternative to a NYE concert.
Universal Funk Order at Arden Gild Hall ($25, 21+)
Dark Star Orchestra at the Electric Factory ($49.50, all ages)
Start Making Sense/Band From Mars at Ardmore Music Hall ($26-$80, 21+)
Mary Fahl at Tin Angel ($35, 21+)
David Bromberg Quintet at World Cafe Live Philadelphia ($50-$80, all ages)