We at létoile can't recall a year when there was more going on for New Year's Eve than this year. Perhaps everyone is just super-excited to blast into the next decade, or maybe it shows that the Twin Cities have finally reached a boiling point of creative talent. We'd like to believe the latter. Here's our comprehensive guide to What's What this New Year's Eve.
The swankiest shindigs in town
Want to see and be seen? Put these parties on your agenda.
Crystal Ball and reSOULution
@ International Market Square
275 Market Street
9 p.m. / 21+ / $35-80
The annual Crystal Ball is one of the biggest in town, and happens to boast our picks for Biggest Breakout of 2009, former Project Runway contestants Ra’mon-Lawrence Coleman and Christopher Straub. The twosome take a break from their busy schedules to co-host the fashion show, where they’ll also debut capsule collections of their latest designs as well as looks from OPM, Drama, Amanda Christine and more. The multi-level party also includes 12 DJs in two rooms, 20 bars, various lounges, and live music from The New Congress. CLICK HERE for a brand-new Q&A with Ra'mon!
"Mad" New Year's Eve Celebration
@ The Hotel Minneapolis
215 S. 4th Street
8 p.m. / $35; $199-299 per couple for hotel packages
Thanks to the success of Mad Men, ‘50s- and ‘60s-themed parties have been all the rage this season - all the better to dress to the nines for, we say. The swanky Hotel Minneapolis’ NYE fete includes a swinging soundtrack will be provided by jazz revisionists The New Standards, who are promising new tunes along with their usual mix of jazz-inflected pop covers. They’ll be joined by their choir, The Ascots, and seasoned multi-instrumentalist Ken Chastain. Discounted dinner and room packages are available if you want to make a night of it.
New Year’s Eve Casino and Lounge Show
@ Hell’s Kitchen
80 S. 9th Street
10 p.m. / $65-85
Our favorite underground eatery gets transformed into an old-timey casino lounge for New Year’s Eve. Try your hand at casino games while Vic Volare and his eight-piece Lounge Orchestra take the Hell’s Kitchen stage. Admission includes hors d’oeuvres and desserts, unlimited champagne, discounts on cocktails, midnight party favors, and the show. Make a night of it with dinner reservations and you’ll get a discount on the ticket price.
NYE Masquerade Ball
@ Bedlam Theatre
1501 6th Street S.
9 p.m. / $7-15
If New Year’s is just an excuse for you to dress as outlandishly as possible, Bedlam Theatre’s Masquerade Ball should provide the perfect backdrop. The evening’s eclectic music lineup includes the Mahadrin Klezmer Ensemble, DJ Asylum Soundsystem, and the singing saw-and-accordion outfit Dreamland Faces. Get crackin’ on your get-up now - prizes will be awarded for the best mask.
Naughty NYE Nutcracker (Not So) Suite
@ Ritz Theater
345 13th Avenue NE
8 p.m. / 21+ / $22-27 for show only, $75 for package
Ballet of the Dolls offer up their annual one-night-only “naughty” version of their fantastic “Nutcracker (Not So) Suite” production to close out its 2009 season. We love this campy, gorgeously-executed show, which twists the classic “Nutcracker” fable to nearly unrecognizable form. We’d cry, “the audacity!” if not for the excellent choreography and top-notch dancing, hilarious performances (particularly from life-sized Barbie and Ken dolls), and over-the-top costumes. This evening also includes pre-show appetizers and desserts, post-show dancing and midnight champagne toast, and ultra-naughty intervals.
Dance into the future
At these parties, dancing is the name of the game.
Transmission New Year’s Eve Celebration
@ Clubhouse Jager
923 Washington Avenue N.
9 p.m. / 21+ / $5-10 (SOLD OUT)
Jake Rudh’s popular Wednesday dance night will make a one-time move to Thursday especially to ring in the New Year. This week, there's no theme - just your favorite mix of new wave, indie-rock, and Brit pop, and your regular dance floor boppers. Per usual on ticketed Transmission nights, the event sold out well in advance.
Deep Space Danceteria
@ First Avenue Mainroom
701 1st Avenue N
8 p.m. / 18+ / $5-10
If "go big or go home" is your motto, First Avenue never disappoints when it comes to all-out parties. This year’s deep space-themed party, which will include a Moonwalk contest and Tang drink specials, a photobooth and a midnight “total eclipse,” is hosted by Drinking with Ian talking head Ian Rans, while the DJ booth is helmed by Too Much Love resident DJ Sovietpanda and friends. We’re hoping he brings out the Daft Punk and anything from the Tron soundtrack.
SOL2010: A Space Odyssey
900 Hennepin Avenue
9 p.m. / 21+ / $75-90
Another of the bigger parties in town is Solera’s multi-level bash, which will feature more than ten of the cities’ top DJs - including Bach, Jack Trash, and the Wants vs. Needs crew. Per the deep space theme, they’ll man the decks atop a giant spaceship stage, natch. To get you even more in the outer limits mood, our pal Timesquid (aka Hal Schuster) will be providing his zany blend of live video, alongside a live light show, go-go dancers and break-dancing robots, all hosted by MC Omaur Bliss. The ticket price includes open bar all night.
Timefog presents 2010: The Year We Make Contact
@ Secret Location
10 p.m.-8 a.m. / 21+ / $20-25
Still wanna party? This all-night danceathon put on by the techno geniuses behind the Timefog collective goes into the wee hours of the night. The sounds come courtesy of Timefog’s very own James Patrick and Mike Gervais, as well as special guest DJs Someone Else of Berlin and Tlilaxieu of Philadelphia, and too many others to list. In true throw-back rave style, the off-the-radar event will be held at an undisclosed location with limited capacity; email email@example.com to snag your spot on the list.
More dance parties:
The Moon Goons headline Metromix’s party at Chambers Hotel with DJ Johnny D. Ticket price includes open bar. (8 p.m. $20. 21+. 901 Hennepin Av., Mpls. 612-767-6900.) St. Paul gay bar Camp hosts a Black & White Ball, kicking off with a live comedy and variety show before going into a soul dance party and prizes all night long. (8:30 p.m. Free before 10 p.m. or $5. 490 N. Robert St., St. Paul. 651-292-1844.) DJ Frayz headlines GLBT club Rumours & Innuendo’s New Year’s Eve festivities. Also on tap: prizes, drink specials, midnight champagne toast, and a light show. (10 p.m. Free. 213 E. 4th St., St. Paul.) LUSH Food Bar has DJs Shiek and AJent Orange manning the decks all night and a free champagne toast at midnight. (8 p.m. Free. 990 Central Ave., Mpls.) The Centennial Showboat Theater sets off from Harriet Island to take a bumpin’ ride down the Mississippi. The hip hop-oriented lineup features a bunch of local MCs and DJs. (9 p.m. $25-50. Harriet Island, St. Paul. 651-227-1100.)
Rock ‘n roll out the New Year
More local bands play out on New Year’s Eve than any other year. Here’s our top picks:
Mark Mallman’s NYE Bash
@ Varsity Theater
1308 4th Street SE
8 p.m. / 18+ / $12
For his annual NYE blowout show, manic troubadour Mark Mallman is promising a cover of The Cure’s “Friday I’m in Love” with help from opening acts White Light Riot, First Communion Afterparty and Koo Koo Kanga Roo. His past NYE antics have included such stunts as him riding a moped on stage, a rollergirls singalong, and a cover of “Time of My Life,” so he surely must have more surprises in store. Bonus: Out-of-town DJs Attitude City put together the DJ playlist for the night.
2010: The Year We Make Contact
@ Marriot City Center
30 7th Street S
8 p.m. / 18+ / $25-30, $75 VIP
2009 has definitely been the year of Solid Gold. We get to brag that we’ve been seeing them play New Year’s Eve shows for the past four years, and they’ve always put on a memorable show. This year, it’s for a good cause - proceeds benefit Vega Productions, which supplies musical instruments and art supplies to area schools. Also on the lineup: veteran DJ Freddy Fresh, electronic jam-band Heatbox, and Histronic. This is Solid Gold’s last hometown show for a while, so let’s hope they bring out their new, surprisingly awesome cover of “Danger Zone.”
Lookbook, Mystery Palace, Estate, Beatrix*JAR + Gigamesh
@ Sauce Spirits & Soundbar
3001 Lyndale Avenue S
9 p.m. / 21+ / $10
Electro-pop fans, head to Sauce for an electro-fied New Year’s Eve. It’s hard for us to pick a favorite out of this bunch - electonic jazz maestros Mystery Palace, electro-pop duos Lookbook and Estate, experimental circuit benders Beatrix*JAR and remixologist Gigamesh. Admission includes one drink ticket, free champagne at midnight, and the chance to dance your face off.
Bonus: Check out this sweet just-released video by Estate for their brand-new song "In the Red"!
Unicorn Basement’s last show
@ 7th Street Entry
701 1st Avenue N
8 p.m. / 18+ / $6-8
Over at the Entry, underground electro two-piece Unicorn Basement headline its last show ever . Apparently, they were born on January 1, 2005, and five years was long enough. The difficult-to-classify band has long caused music writers some head-scratching, but we’ll just say their sound has a psychedelic-meets-punk feel using experimental electronic sounds. Gospel Gossip, Gay Beast and MC/VL round out the top-notch bill.
New Year’s Eve with Kill to Kill, Jenny Dalton, Aaron & The Sea
@ 501 Club
501 Washington Avenue S
10 p.m. / 21+ / FREE
Backed up with the around-town buzz their debut EP Fighter landed them in October, indie-pop band headlines 501 Club’s first-ever New Year’s Eve show. The deep-toned trio gets much of its appeal from Sylvia Izabella’s sweet-yet-piercing vocals that bring to mind a more chilled-out version of the ‘90s riot grrrrl. They’re joined by another indie pop sweetheart, Jenny Dalton, whose backing back includes Cody Weigel and Adam Marx of Seawhores. Aaron & the Sea kicks off the l’etoile-sponsored night with their dark and dreamy pop.
New Year's Eve at the Red Stag with Jeremy Messersmith + Brad Senne
@ Red Stag Supperclub
501 1st Avenue NE
11 p.m. / 21+ / FREE
If you’re in the mood for a more intimate, low-key New Year’s, head to Red Stag for an acoustic show by local singer-songwriter favorites Jeremy Messersmith and Brad Senne, sponsored by our friends at Secrets of the City. Snag some of the Stag’s famous truffle-oil popcorn, drink specials, and gift certificate and theater ticket giveaways from Master of Ceremonies, local entertainer Dylan Fresco. Get there early for a special prix fixe dinner from 5 to 10 p.m.
@ Station 4
210 E 4th Street
8 p.m. / 21+ / $10-12
Hot off a fall tour for his first album in a decade, ex-Hüsker Dü co-frontman Grant Hart plays a rare gig with a full band. Hot Wax is a return to form for the eccentric performer, which Pichfork called “1960s-infused garage pop clearly from the same soul who wrote all those era-defining Hüsker Dü classics.” Opening is the Phil Solem Band, led by the former frontman of the Rembrandts, and the Beautifics.
Pretty Kids Collective New Year's Eve
@ Nick + Eddie
1612 Harmon Place
8:30 p.m. / 21+ / $5
The so-called “Pretty Kids Collective” - The Idle Hands, Me and My Arrow, and Communist Daughter - play a show at the newly-revived Nick + Eddie. While we might cringe at the “pretty” moniker, we definitely won’t contest the fact that these are three of the rocking-est bands in the city at the moment. The eatery is also planning a tasty menu for the night and drink specials, so get there early if you’re so inclined.
New Year’s Eve Covers Night
@ Turf Club
1601 University Avenue W
9 p.m. / 21+ / $8
Turf Club’s third annual New Year’s Eve covers night boasts five hot local bands playing all-covers from the band of their choice. Vampire Hands is joined by Nate Nelson of Private Dancer to transform themselves into a psychedelic version of Television; Leisure Birds and Zach Rose (formerly of Young Dudes) take on The Monks; Daughters of the Sun aptly cover shoegaze legends Jesus And Mary Chain; Marijuana Deathsquad join with Total Fucking Blood and Gina to become Brian Eno; and Secret Language masquerades as Fleetwood Mac. While you’re there, head down to the Clown Lounge for DJ sets from Winship, TRL and Secret Language.
Black Blondie + Toki Wright
@ Triple Rock Social Club
629 Cedar Avenue S
9 p.m. / 18+ / $7-10
It’s a hip hop-infused night at Triple Rock Social Club with headliners Black Blondie, which deftly mixes hip-hop, jazz, acid-soul and rock with the fiery vocals of Samahara Daly. Also on the bill are Rhymesayers rapper Toki Wright, reggae-ska band The Prizefighters, DJ Turtleneck, and champagne jello shots (yes, you heard us).
More rock shows:
Piano man Cadillac Kolstad faces off with Cornbread Harris at the Nomad’s New Year’s Eve celebration. Also on tap: Fuck Knights, The Goondas, giveaways, and “French Champagne” (not to be confused with sparkling wine, of course.) (9 p.m. Free. 21+. 501 Cedar Ave., Mpls. 612-333-6424.) Pretty Boy Thorson is joined by God Damn Doo Wop Band for a punk-rock-meets-doo-wop lineup at the always-free Hexagon Bar. The Evening Rig and Banner Pilot also play. (9 p.m. Free. 21+. 2600 27th Ave. S., Mpls. 612-722-3454.) Club Underground is featuring an all-bluegrass lineup, among them “comedy erotica bluegrass band" Courtney McClean and the Dirty Curls - which includes one of our fave local writers, Max Sparber. (7:30 p.m. Free before 9 p.m. or $10. 355 Monroe St. NE., Mpls. 612-627-9123.) E.L.nO. and Lucy Michelle & The Velvet Lapelles play Lee Liquor Lounge’s NYE “Rock-stravaganza” with DJ Jill Riley. (9:30 p.m. $10. 21+. 101 N. Glenwood Av., Mpls. 612-338-9491.)