Not that any of us need any more evidence of the severity of this country's economic woes, but a quick scan of this year's musical New Year's Eve celebrations is ample testament to how much all of us are cutting back: I cannot recall a quieter New Year's in Chicago in terms of high-profile rock celebrations ever.
Nevertheless, as on any other night of the year, there is plenty of great music happening--if you know where to look for it. And there are even a few welcome bargains, too.
Here is a rundown of the best musical option as 2008 becomes 2009 (and let's hope the next year is a better one for everyone!).
The Abbey Pub, 3420 W. Grace
The Abbey is presenting an evening of what it's calling "Future Rock"--electronica and progressive house music--with Daedelus, Dark Party (featuring Eliot Lipp and Leo123) and Ben Silver of Orchard Lounge. The show starts at 9 p.m. and tickets are $25 in advance, $30 on the day of the show or $75 for a V.I.P. package that includes open bar and hors d'oeuvres. For more information, call (773) 478-4408 or visit www.abbeypub.com.
Andy's Jazz Club, 11 E. Hubbard
Renowned jazz organist Joey DeFrancesco is playing throughout the night with his trio (drummer Byron Landham and guitarist Patrick Bianchi) as part of a $175 package deal that includes open bar and dinner. Tickets are available at www.andysjazzclub.com, or call 312-642-6805.
Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Congress Parkway
Local jam-band heroes Umphrey's McGee concludes a three-night stand at this regale venue starting at 8:30 p.m. on New Year's Eve, with three sets of music and special appearances by Chicago blues legend Koko Taylor and another surprise guest. Tickets are $65 or $75 plus service fees via Ticketmaster (www.ticketmaster.com; 312-559-1212) or without the fees at the theater's box office.
The Bottom Lounge, 1375 W Lake St.
The Bottom caps off its first year at its new location with a strong triple bill of local artists: Local H, who deserved much more attention than they received for their stellar 2008 album "12 Angry Months," up-and-comers Sybris and indie-pop favorites Office, plus the promised but unnamed "special guests." Tickets are $35; for more information, call (312) 929-2022 or visit www.bottomlounge.com.
Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee
Double Door boasts one of this year's best bills with a great night of entrancing guitars starting at 9 p.m. and featuring Hum, the reunited Champaign-based '90s champions of space-rock, the Life ant Times and Dianogah. The catch: It's already sold-out.
The Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western
On a completely different--and much more raucous--tip, the Bottle, which is always indie-rock party central on New Year's Eve, presents garage-rock maniac Jay Reatard, the undeniable and just as insane Miss Alex White, the Yolks and DJ Robert Q starting at 10 p.m. The cover is $25; call (773) 276-3600 or visit www.emptybottle.com.
Fitzgerald's, 6615 Roosevelt Rd., Berwyn
The venerable roots-rock club is holding a New Year's Eve Dance Party starting at 8 p.m. and featuring the Becca Kaufman Band for a $20 cover. (A separate show in the side bar starts at 9:30 and features Cole DeGenova & the People's Replublic for a $10 cover.) For more info, call (708) 7882118 or visit www.fitzgeraldsnightclub.com.
The Green Mill, 4802 N. Broadway
The famous jazz bar is hosting a "Battle of the Saxes" with Von Freeman and Edward Petersen from 8:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m., followed by one of its legendary jazz jams sessions until 4. The cover is $25 until midnight, $5 from midnight to 2 a.m. and free thereafter. Call (773) 878-5552 or visit www.greenmilljazz.com.
The Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia
Starting at 9 p.m., this beloved watering hole is sponsoring a cutting-edge dance party with Walk This Way vs. Gutterbutter and DJs Frier Tuck and Logan Bay. Call (773) 227-4433 or visit www.hideoutchicago.com.
Martyr's, 3855 N. Lincoln
In keeping with a tradition that's been running strong for the last few years, the premier local tribute band Tributosaurus morphs into Led Zeppelin starting at 9 p.m. and no doubt featuring this combo's usual array of surprising guests sitting in. The cover is $30; call (773) 404-9494 or visit www.martyrslive.com.
Metro, 3730 N. Clark
Metro ends the year in fine, droning, druggy style with Dandy Warhols and a special guest DJ in the main room starting at 9 p.m. Tickets are $55 in advance or $65 on the day of the show, with--in a very Live Nation touch--special four-person V.I.P. tables available for $500 and "formal attire encouraged." (For the Dandy Warhols? Really?) Meanwhile, down below in the nether region of Smart Bar, Green Velvet, Justin Long, Santiago and Ori Kawa will be working their magic starting at 9 for $30 in advance, $35 on the day of the show, $80 for a V.I.P. ticket or $500 for a "V.I.P. Platinum Package" that includes admission for four, reserved table and seating next to the DJ booth and a bottle of Moet White Star. Call (773) 549-4140 or visit www.metrochicago.com.
The New Year's Eve Rock 'n' Roll Ball
In its 12th year, this annual institution takes place at the Hyatt Regency O'Hare, 9300 Bryn Mawr Ave. in Rosemont, and features music by Chicago's Marty Casey and the Lovehammers, Dot Dot Dot (local power-popsters best known for a stint on "The Next Great American Band") and funk/soul champs Bumpus. General admission tickets are $49, V.I.P. tickets are $119 with an open bar and several packages are available with hotel accommodations. Tickets are available through www.ticketmaster.com, (312) 559-1212.
Reggie's Rock Club, 2109 S. State
Hands down, Reggie's has the most punk-rock evening in town, ringing in the new year with ringing eardrums. The high-energy bill starts at 8 p.m. and features Lawrence Arms, the Methadones, the Arrivals, the Copyrights and Off with Their Heads. Tickets are $20; call (312) 949-0121 or visit www.reggieslive.com.
Schubas, 3159 N. Southport
For a much more sensitive and musically soothing night, Schubas is presenting local pop maestros the Sea and Cake on the second of a two-night stand starting at 10 p.m. Tickets are $40 via www.schubas.com, or call (773) 525-2508.