The calendar can’t prevent Athens from celebrating the heck out of its second-favorite holiday (with Halloween slightly edging it out as the best annual excuse to turn up and/or throw down). New Year’s Eve on a Monday? No problem—we’ll party all weekend long. Here are this year’s best bets for live music. For complete listings, see The Calendar.
Drivin’ N Cryin’
40 Watt Club · 8 p.m. · $20–$25
Georgia’s finest Southern-alt-rock collective returns to the 40 Watt to cap off another year of seemingly constant touring. In July, the group reissued its 1997 debut, newly dubbed Too Late to Turn Back Now, on New West. An upcoming full-length, produced by Nashville guru Aaron Lee Tasjan, is slated for a spring release. Rockers Dan Baird and Homemade Sin share Friday’s bill.
Flicker Theatre & Bar · 9 p.m.
The owner of one of Athens’ strongest and steadiest singing voices, Claire Campbell is known for her bold and lovely solo output, as well as her work with local neo-roots mainstay Hope for Agoldensummer, where she performs alongside sister Page. Campbell headlines Flicker on the 28th with support from fellow Athenian SJ Ursrey (Honeychild), plus North Carolina blues upstart Heidi Holton.
Photo Credit: Daniel Fell
Theo Zumm, Madeline
Go Bar · 10 p.m.
Athens natives Theo Hilton and Madeline Adams return to Go Bar for what has become an intimate holiday tradition. The expats—New Orleans-based Hilton fronts roving emo act Nana Grizol, while Adams is a member of tropical-punk Atlanta band Flamingo Shadow—will give friends and townies a mid-2000s nostalgia blast, as Hilton’s punk confessionals mesh seamlessly with Adams’ stirring folk snapshots.
Squalle Mixtape Release Party
40 Watt Club · 9 p.m. · $5
Local rapper Torrance “Squalle” Wilcher has released several notable collections of lyrically daring, socially conscious hip hop, including 2016’s Black Picassoul and the following year’s truly dope Dope Souls. He’s set to drop yet another mixtape Saturday and is celebrating at the 40 Watt alongside Caulfield, Kxng Blanco, Ke Turner and others.
Lona, Ceiling Fan
Caledonia Lounge · 9 p.m. · $5–$7
Townies of a certain age will find camaraderie at the Caledonia Saturday, where Lona and Ceiling Fan present an indie-rock double thriller. A long-running concern of multi-instrumentalist Clay Leverett, Lona incorporates elements of twang and stomp while remaining dedicated to hooky, driving rock and roll. On-again, off-again power-pop crew Ceiling Fan most recently released the angular Survival EP in 2014.
Photo Credit: Ian McFarlane
Randall Bramblett Band
The Foundry · 8 p.m. · $20–$25
Townies of an even certain-er age can relive the Allen’s Hamburgers days at The Foundry, where Randall Bramblett hosts a star-studded holiday show. The roots-rock icon, who helped establish Athens as a music destination back in the 1970s, has enjoyed a remarkable second act over the past decade-plus, releasing solid records at a steady clip, including 2017’s Juke Joint at the Edge of the World.
Hendershot’s Coffee Bar · 7 p.m. · $5
Hosted by rapper Larry “LG” Gresham, Sunday’s all-ages, pre-New Year’s Lituation showcase features local hip-hop talent both up-and-coming and well established, including scene godfather Elite tha Showstoppa, aforementioned standout Squalle, geek-rap favorite Blacknerdninja and newbie Britt LB, plus other guests. DJ Kountry Boy provides beats and bangers.
Kishi Bashi, Linqua Franqa
40 Watt Club · 9 p.m. · $25–$35
One of Athens’ most successful exports shares a very cool New Year’s Eve bill with the town’s most important emerging figure. Electropop enchanter Kishi Bashi followed up 2016’s critically acclaimed Sonderlust with a reissue of his rare Room for Dream EP the next year. Linqua Franqa—aka Athens-Clarke County Commissioner Mariah Parker—smartly and engagingly connects the dots between hip hop, politics and the study of language. Local pop musician Pip the Pansy opens.
New Rears Eve Ball
Georgia Theatre · 9 p.m. · $10
The Theatre’s throwdown is notable not only for its hosts and headliners—indefatigable DJ crew Booty Boyz, whose encyclopedic knowledge of pop music is matched only by their burning desire to make you dance, dammit—but also for the opener: Mayor-elect Kelly Girtz, himself a music buff who will make his DJ debut under the meta moniker Everybody Girtz. An educator by day, Hizzoner will donate his door cut to Family Connection-Communities in Schools of Athens.
Whatever the Hell Is Happening at Go Bar
Go Bar · 10 p.m.
Ye Olde Go is the NYE spot for night owls and party animals. Kick off the evening however you like, so long as you scoot over to the eclectic Prince haunt around midnight. Enjoy the sounds of “spiritual mountain psychedelic shrymp folk” transplant Frank Hurricane and punk mystics Shade, plus Can Band, who will tuck deftly into the krautrock legends’ dizzying groove. DJs Winston Parker and Fog Juice will spin you right ’round into the wee hours.