New Year's Eve Music
Most everywhere—New Year's Eve feels like the Super Bowl Sunday of music: That is, even if you rarely leave the house to catch a band, this year-ending Wednesday should offer enough options, excitement and accoutrements (How does one argue with kisses, champagne and noisemakers?) to bring even the most devoted couch-dweller into a local haunt.
This year, Raleigh's downtown is a hub of particular strength: Listen in for live-band hip-hop with The Urban Sophisticates and O-Period (who's grown profoundly since his days leading the obsolete rap-rock Squeezetoy) at THE POUR HOUSE. Blocks away, the big party is FIRST NIGHT RALEIGH, which hits high notes with songwriter Clair Lynch at the FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH and the strong jazz of John Brown Quintet on the MAIN STAGE. It's too bad, though, that Artsplosure followed last year's smart headline booking of Tift Merritt with The Smithereens, a band that seems more appropriate for the fifth anniversary of Raleigh Downtown Live. The Motörhead-ish metal of Slugnut headlines a VOLUME 11 cacophony, while a dozen DJs gather on Martin Street for a dance party at BERKELEY CAFÉ. And the honky-tonk terror of Unknown Hinson (dude is a vampire, y'all) joins forces with good-timin' Rebel Son at LINCOLN THEATRE.
On the other side of this alleged Triangle (insert New Year's resolution for efficient area-wide public transportation here), Abbey Road brings the Beatles back to CAT'S CRADLE, while, with Twilighter, Chapel Hill's got shambling indie rock underground suited for revelry into the wee hours. The night's best deals, though, comes with package deals: Three of the area's highest-energy acts (Red Collar, Kerbloki, Hammer No More the Fingers) gather at LOCAL 506, while a panoply of Music Maker Relief Foundation bluesmen including Cool John Ferguson and good ol' Captain Luke gather for a blow-out at BROAD STREET CAFÉ. And if you need a little more spunk in your blues for the big party, head toward RTP, where Mel Melton & The Wicked Mojos plan to turn Melton's restaurant, PAPA MOJO'S ROADHOUSE, into the night's real party joint. But if the choices seem overwhelming, remember to just head for the music. —Grayson Currin
See last week's Now Serving for info on local restaurants' offerings for New Year's Eve.
Raleigh, Wake Forest
Various venues—For the 18th consecutive year, Artsplosure sponsors Raleigh's New Year's Eve celebration, which will feature nearly 100 local artists performing in 25 venues throughout downtown Raleigh, including the N.C. Museum of History, the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences and the Raleigh City Museum. Festivities begin at 2 p.m. with a children's celebration at the history and science museums. Evening entertainment will include 1980s post-punk combo The Smithereens; Durham's Chuck Davis and the African American Dance Ensemble; Orange County's Transactors Improv and Paperhand Puppet Intervention; and many more. Admissions buttons are $12. Visit www.firstnightraleigh.com.
For those interested in a more genteel New Year's Eve, the N.C. Symphony plays Meymandi Concert Hall at the Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts, along with the Time for Three string trio and dancers from the UNC School of Dance. Concert tickets are $30-$60; there are some package tickets available for $275 that include dinner with music director Grant Llewellyn, dancing and a champagne toast at midnight. Visit www.ncsymphony.org.
For those north and east of the City of Oaks who would prefer to ring in the year in a small town of oaks, Wake Forest kicks off a year of celebration to mark its centennial with First Light, an outdoor festival. Revelers can try out their karaoke skills and listen to live music from the Atlanta, Ga.,-based Voltage Brothers and the Will McBride Group. Wake Forest is billing First Light as an alcohol-free, family friendly event. The festivities start at 6 p.m. along South White Street. Visit www.wakeforestnc.gov. —Samuel Wardle