Congratulations, kids. We’re less than 48 hours away from the end of 2016 and, frankly, that’s reason enough to celebrate.
So watchu going to do? There are loads of parties both big and small happening everywhere, each catering to every sort of taste, music preference and income level imaginable. If you’re up for getting down and going hard, there’s the two-night electronic dance music spectacular Decadence out at Rawhide. Or if you’d prefer something more high-end and stylish, there are top-shelf soirees at nearly every posh hotel in town.
For those who rather spend the final, fleeting hours of 2016 at a concert, there are plenty of those happening. too.
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Markus Schulz – Friday, December 30 – Maya Day & Nightclub
Can’t wait for New Year’s Eve for a night of bass-blasting debauchery? Get the party started one night early at Maya, when Markus Schulz stops by for a New Year’s Eve’s Eve performance. Schulz is one of the Valley’s most notable DJ success stories, having played the local circuit before making it big. He actually told us back in January that he kind of wishes he could have stayed here: “I didn’t want to move anywhere else; I wanted to succeed in Arizona. But it was very difficult in those days, and I wound up moving to London and then eventually to Miami, and that’s when my career went to the next level.” Poor guy. Given that he’s been producing music and touring for well over a decade, the DJ/producer is still going strong. Schulz is currently on tour and released his sixth studio album, Watch the World, earlier this year, which upholds a mostly trance and progressive theme. Expect the same style at his upcoming performance. AMANDA SAVAGE
Decadence Arizona NYE 2016 – Friday, December 30, and Saturday, December 31 – Rawhide
Quick prediction: if you’re a fan of electronic dance music, particularly the bombastic and high-energy kind that dominates big rooms and even bigger festivals,
Jim Brickman – Saturday, December 31 – Musical Instrument Museum
If you’re looking for a more low-key, intimate New Year’s Eve experience, head north of the bustle of central Scottsdale to the Musical Instrument Museum for a performance by pianist Jim Brickman. Unless you follow adult contemporary music, that name probably isn’t ringing any bells, although you’ve probably heard his music more than once. You might have heard one of his collaborations with Lady Antebellum or Olivia Newton-John, or heard one of his Grammy-nominated songs on Pandora, or in television commercials or shows like CBS Sports, Keeping Up with the Kardashians, and Jimmy Kimmel Live! He’s played at notable venues like the Grand Ole Opry, Carnegie Hall, Disney World, and the White House. Oh yeah, and did we mention that his sensible and balanced style of contemporary music has made him the most charted Adult Contemporary artist in history? MIM will host two different New Year’s Eve performances, one at 6 p.m. and another at 8. You can get tickets for about $50. AMANDA SAVAGE
New Years Punk Rock Eve – Saturday, December 31 – Rusty Ranch
Punks of the Valley have a few options when it comes to where to celebratate New Year’s Eve. They can check out Kevin Daly and the rest of Grave Danger shredding away at ThirdSpace’s “Suck It 2016!” shindig or head to North Phoenix to catch local bands like Inept Hero in action. Then there’s the enormous, day-long fiesta happening out at Rusty Ranch, the vintage-themed outdoor venue in Mesa, that will star several influential punk rock acts, as well as a number of Arizona bands. The one-two punch of legendary punkers Face to Face and Strung Out top the bill, which will also feature gigs by the Valley’s Authority Zero and rap-rockers Phunk Junkeez (who put on two attention-grabbing shows over Thanksgiving and apparently still in the mood to party). Other notable names scheduled to perform at the festival, which kicks off at 2:30 p.m., include LightSpeedGo, the psychobillies of Creepsville 666, No Gimmick, Hall 13, and Four Banger. BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
Dirty Heads – Saturday, December 31 – Marquee Theatre
There’s a certain strain of reggae fusion that has proved extremely popular in Arizona over the years, and few bands better exemplify that trend than Orange County band the Dirty Heads. The Dirty Heads are part of a bigger movement that, over the past decade, has seen reggae grow in popularity all over the United States. The fact that this landlocked state has embraced the music so enthusiastically points to a larger movement. For singer Dustin Bushnell, it’s gratifying to witness. “There’s a lot of music that comes out of California, especially Southern California, where we’re from,” he says. “That’s where Sublime was from. I think with a lot of younger people, that’s where they first find their reggae. They know Bob Marley, and then they listen to Sublime. From there, you can find that there’s a lot more reggae. We’ve seen it go all across the country now. Places we used to go when we were younger and no one was there — places that didn’t care about reggae — now you go there and the places are packed, and there are 20 local reggae bands, as well. It’s definitely growing.” The band will be joined in Tempe by genre-friendly local groups Katastro, Mouse Powell, Neato, and Highest
Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers – Saturday, December 31 – Celebrity Theatre
Say what you will about Roger Clyne's talents (which are substantial), when it comes to instigating a party, the native Arizonan is skilled. The stories surrounding the raucous Refreshments shows he was a part of back during the Fizzy Fuzzy Big & Buzzy days have been trumped by the kind of off-the-hook wingdings he hosts as frontman for the Peacemakers. The tequila-soaked "Circus Mexicus" beach blast held in Puerto Peñasco draws thousands of Peaceheads every year, for instance. Suffice it to say, RCPM's New Year's Eve celebration at the Celebrity Theatre is likely to be just as action-packed. No opening acts are scheduled, so the band will likely devote the entire evening celebrating New Year's Eve with songs like "Mekong" and "Nada," as well as tales of Mexican moonshine. BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
Straight No Chaser – Saturday, December 31 – Mesa Arts Center
A cappella music is a strange thing. It conjures up either images of old-man barbershop