This New Year’s Eve, prepare for more music than you can handle. As we mentioned previously, December 2019 is uncharacteristically loaded with excellent music. Funk’n jam’d, if you will. The weekend leading up to and through New Year’s Eve especially is full of heavy funk, jam, and spirited rock that will satisfy any music aficionado’s dancing fever. Especially for a Tuesday.
Keep your calendar handy: Several acts have multiple nights of music planned, giving you more opportunity for less FOMO — and with multiple sets of music, you might be able to do more than one in a night.
Friday, December 27
The New Mastersounds (photo: Josh Huver)
One of the funkiest bands from England, the New Mastersounds, have been performing regularly in the Bay Area since the early 2000s. They’ve released a number of live albums from past SF appearances and they’re coming back again. Count on opening band Josh Hoyer and Soul Colossal to bring authentic, middle-American rock and roll to the Bay. Tickets here.
A different breed of funk musicianship will also be headlining Friday night, not too far away at the Fillmore. Saxophonist Karl Denson will be joined by Colorado-based groove masters the Motet and DJ Logic. Additionally, the Bay Area’s master of light and color Mad Alchemy Liquid Light Show will be on all evening. Tickets here.
Check out the music video for the Motet’s “Highly Compatible” and see if they’ll work for you:
Saturday, December 28
Con Brio (photo: Estefany Gonzalez)
Did you go to one of the shows listed above but still wish you could have done both? Fear not. Both the New Mastersounds Karl Denson/the Motet/DJ Logic repeat at their respective venues. Find tickets for night two at the Chapel here, and night two at the Fillmore here (both the Fillmore and the Chapel are all-ages venues).
Another option is to head down to Santa Cruz for Con Brio and Mestizo Beat at Moe’s Alley. The first 21+ option on our list, expect a high-energy dance party that moves the audience through funk, soul, and master-class instrumentation that lasts late into the evening. Don’t forget to stretch first. They’re also playing Bottom of the Hill on New Year’s Eve, but this will likely offer a more laid-back (and cheaper) option. Tickets here.
Sunday, December 29
Green Leaf Rustlers (photo: Carolyn McCoy)
You know what rock and roll veterans say: Never miss a Sunday show!
One of two Sunday-Funday options to get your funkin’ fix in comes with NOLA legends Dumpstaphunk at Great American Music Hall. Another all-ages show, this one is a themed evening that features two sets. One will showcase Oakland legends Tower of Power as they collaborate with Dumpstaphunk on their own music, as well as select favorites by Sly and the Family Stone. In the mix will also be David Garibaldi and Greg Errico, original drummers for Tower of Power and Sly and the Family Stone, respectively. Tickets here.
Catch a preview of the OG Tower of Power here:
If you’re in the South Bay or Santa Cruz area on Sunday, consider an evening with the Green Leaf Rustlers at Felton Music Hall (previously known as Flynn’s Cabaret & Steakhouse, and Don Quixote’s International Music Hall before that). Chris Robinson (the Black Crowes) and Greg Loiacono (the Mother Hips) come together as Green Leaf Rustlers for a hazy, sage-filled back porch celebration. If you’re lucky, Chris might feel like testing some of his Black Crowes material for the upcoming Shake Your Money Maker anniversary tour. Tickets here.
Monday, December 30
Spafford (photo: Joshua Huver)
Monday picks up a little bit of steam, but still pales in comparison to NYE proper. The good news, though? They all repeat on Tuesday. Save on the NYE premium and catch one of these double-headers a day early:
Great American Music Hall hosts the return of jam band Spafford. The quartet with a penchant for improvising entire sets (and even studio releases) make their return after ending their 2018 fall tour at the same venue last November. All ages. Tickets here.
Speaking of jam bands, the mother of all Grateful Dead cover bands — featuring three of the living members from the original group — is headlining two nights at the brand-new Chase Arena in San Francisco. Dead & Co., featuring John Mayer on lead guitar, might be the right option if you’re looking for the biggest production value. All ages. Tickets here.
For higher energy than downtempo Dead, get your Americana rock and roll spirit rambling with the the Mother Hips at Moe’s Alley in Santa Cruz. Opening act Triptides describe themselves as “sun warped psychedelic rock” and are worth checking out on that merit alone. They only play on the 30th. Tickets here.
Taking the stage in Felton’s intimate Felton Music Hall for an eccentric evening of world-funk rhythms will be Beats Antique performing a DJ set. Featuring opening acts David Starfire and Motion Potion, the Oakland natives are kicking the dust up in Santa Cruz early to make for their NYE encore at the Catalyst. Tickets here.
At the Chapel, however, there will be no chill. Fantastic Negrito headlines on Monday with opening act Tory and the Teasers to celebrate the end of the decade, dubbing the two-night residency the “Take That Bullshit And Turn It Into Good Shit 2019 Into 2020” NYE Celebration. Tickets here.
Bill Graham Civic Auditorium will pull double-duty with world-renowned DJ Deadmau5 with Justin Martin and Qrion. This show is 18+, so prepare for a sea of young ravers in downtown SF. Most likely to have the least chill on a Monday or Tuesday night. Tickets here.
Wrapping up our options in the East Bay is the imaginative and thunderous rock and roll pining of Portugal. The Man. If you’ve never seen them, consider one of their two performances happening. If you have seen them, consider again on behalf of opening act Chicano Batman, a vibrant band from Los Angeles. Tickets here.
Tuesday, December 31: New Year’s Eve
Text Me Artists (photo: Amy Lombard)
As previously mentioned, all seven of our Monday night recommendations repeat on the 31st. The only exception to that is the Coffis Brothers replacing Triptides in Santa Cruz and MeloDious opening the night at the Chapel with Fantastic Negrito. The Deadmau5 show will also feature a fourth performance on the 31st: a LIGHTS remix set. Click the band names for tickets to the Tuesday night shows from Portugal. The Man, Spafford, Dead & Co., Fantastic Negrito, The Mother Hips, Deadmau5, and Beats Antique.
If you want to keep your contribution as local as possible, we recommend the NYE celebration thrown by local label Text Me Records at the New Parish, headlined by Andre Power and Sasha Marie from Soulection and TMR artists Tia Nomore, Ricky Lake, Drew Banga and Nanosaur. Tickets here.
If you’re hoping to avoid New Year’s Eve traffic, consider the South Bay and beyond. Felton Music Hall offers a more mellow show as Santa Cruz’s own Marty O’Reilly and the Old Soul Orchestra headline with the sharp tongues of the North Bay’s Rainbow Girls opening. Tickets here.
Abandoning his NYE post at the Fox, Les Claypool and Sean Lennon will bring the Claypool-Lennon Delirium to the Warfield. Opening is the legendarily defunct and short-lived heavy thrash band Sausage. Sausage was the original lineup of Primus featuring one of the Bay Area’s favorite jam drummers, Jay Lane. Tickets here.
A hard-rocking option is Lagwagon and opening act Pulley at Slim’s. Punk rock isn’t dead, but if you tune into the Lagwagon tune “Falling Apart” it may provide an accurate depiction. This will be a great night for anyone that wants to punch-dance 2019 away. Tickets here.
Hands-down the funkiest option available on New Year’s Eve proper is also one of the most intimate. 2020 Grammy-nominated Lettuce are poised to take over the 500-cap room of the Independent. Some fans may be initially turned off by the $150 ticket per person, but it comes with an open bar available for all patrons. This will be one of the best shows of the night, nationwide. 21+. Tickets here.