Larry Busch Big Band
New Year's Eve is a great time for a fresh start, if you're willing to view bar-hopping as a means to self-improvement. Whether you're seeking a stiff drink, a love connection, a cathartic concert or a place to ponder heartfelt resolutions, local nightspots can help you start 2013 right. New events are still being announced; check The Guide for the latest details.
Whiskey Jacks Saloon, 8 pm
Folk, funk and blues are the specialties of this Milwaukee group, who play a mix of covers and original tunes.
East Side Club, 8:30 pm
Explore two floors of fun at one gleeful party. Lube will rock the upstairs while Larry Busch Big Band perform swing standards, waltzes and tangos on the lower level.
Tricia's Country Corners, McFarland, 9 pm
Hits by artists such as Keith Urban, Steve Earle and Blake Shelton fill this band's twangy repertoire.
Pooley's, 9 pm
This band zeroes in on the kind of classic rock that powers county fairs and wedding receptions: Journey, Bon Jovi, REO Speedwagon and more Journey.
Inn on the Park NYE Party
Best Western Inn on the Park, 9 pm
The hotel's classy Signature Lounge will whoop it up with music by DJ Todd Olsen, party favors, free appetizers and a champagne toast. For a more boisterous scene, head across the street to popular nightspots such as Genna's and Paradise Lounge.
Club Tavern, Middleton, 9 pm
This affable local trio will be just about anything you want them to be on New Year's Eve, from the space rockers of their latest release, The Slingshot Effect, to the mystical misfits of their rock opera, Major Arcana.
Hody Bar and Grill, Middleton, 9:30 pm
A five-person horn section fuels this upbeat cover band, whose song list includes '50s bebop, '60s soul and classic rock from the '70s and beyond.
Harmony Bar, 9:45 pm
This local band have been racking up awards left and right, including a Madison Area Music Award for their blues album Gimme the Jimmys and a Wisconsin Area Music Industry award for best swing or big band ensemble. See if their good fortune rubs off on you as you kick off 2013.
Crystal Corner Bar, 10 pm
Nothing fights a case of year-end regrets like a passionate set of Chicago blues. Thanks to seasoned guitarists such as Joel Paterson and Billy Flynn, this band serves up some of the best medicine in town.
Mr. Robert's, 10 pm
Though they're named after a region of Germany, this quintet have a sound that's pure Madison: energetic rock with a touch of funk and reggae.
Lazy Oaf Lounge, 10 pm
This six-man cover band tend to focus on Pearl Jam and Beatles songs, but they're not afraid to whip out "Thriller" if there's a crisis that calls for moonwalking.
Great Dane-Downtown, 10 pm
The local chain will celebrate the new year with music and party favors at multiple locations. Opt for the downtown Dane for a fun, casual vibe and close proximity to other Capitol-area events. DJ Vilas Park Sniper will provide the tunes while bartenders serve up locally produced suds and a free champagne toast.
Semi-fancy dance parties
Majestic Theatre, 8 pm
Perhaps you don't care who you'll be locking lips with at midnight. Maybe you're just looking for a good time, with some old-fashioned music and an excuse to primp a bit. Look no further than the Majestic Theatre for that classic party vibe. DJs Nick Nice and Mike Carlson will ride their decks through the eras, starting with tunes from the Everly Brothers and Frank Sinatra. Then it's on to James Brown and, if all goes according to plan, some marvelous modern releases. Stick around to see which song gets the first spin of 2013.
Inferno, 9 pm
At this secret-agent themed event, a cadre of DJs, including Psychotron, WhiteRabbit, Dyreckt and Jean LeDuke, will concoct a heady blend of industrial, electro and dubstep tunes as bartenders ready a champagne toast and a lineup of late-night snacks. Expect a dramatic countdown around midnight, even if there are no detonator clocks in sight.
Segredo, 9 pm
Segredo's flashy all-night party should give the other downtown venues a run for their money. To start 2013 on a positive note, cheerful balloons and a cool $1,000 will rain from the heavens. A half-dozen DJs - Mr. Physix, Mrhorror, Ryet, Radish, Billy the Kid and Chicago electro phenom Dani Deahl - will keep the bass bumping hour after hour. At 4 a.m., a complimentary buffet will appear so guests can carbo-load for more dancing. Groups can reserve VIP tables with bottle service and other luxuries.
Orpheum Theatre, 9 pm
Celebrate new beginnings as the historic State Street theater reopens following legal battles and foreclosure. At the main stage, you'll find rock tunes from Hometown Sweethearts, whose repertoire includes covers of Kinks and Kings of Leon songs. DJ VON's latest dubstep tracks, Mad Major Melvin's hip-hop-influenced trap music and Wyatt Agard's electro-house creations will sate the dancers in the crowd. Hit the lobby stage for performances by Kevin Kingsbury and Bryan Bakke, plus a beat battle hosted by Madison Media Institute.
Five Nightclub & Showbar, 5 pm
Dressing in drag is cause for celebration at this LGBT-oriented club known for its gender-bending performances. Blue-velvet frocks are ideal for this year's blue-themed New Year's Eve party, which will feature cerulean cocktails. Other highlights include dance-friendly music from DJ Tim Walters and a free buffet and champagne toast.
High Noon Saloon, 8 pm
Party on as Bill and Ted would by time-traveling with tributes to five most excellent bands from the '80s and '90s: Van Halen, Dio, Sublime, the Black Crowes and R.E.M. Plus, DJs Lovecraft and Richard Lopez just might share some early-'90s trance tracks.
Badger Bowl, 9:15 pm
Let these hair-metal aficionados pour some sugar on you in the form of guilty pleasures by Poison, Warrant, Firehouse and, of course, Def Leppard.
DLUX NYE Celebration
DLUX, 8 pm
Show your sweetie's palate a good time with gourmet hors d'oeuvres such as oysters Rockefeller and chocolate-covered strawberries and an open bar stocked with Milagro tequila, Hendrick's gin and several 12-year-old scotches. Other perks include a DJ and a champagne toast.
Natt Spil, 10 pm
This tucked-away club's dark, cozy ambiance is perfect for lovers in lust. Slip into red lighting for craft cocktails (try the Hot Bourbon Cider) and snacks like dumplings and shrimp cakes. DJ Jeremy Thomas will spin dance records that make your feet move and your heart race.
Merchant, 11 pm
Make romantic plans for 2013 as chef Michael Liotta builds four-course dinners from locally sourced ingredients (reservations required). For a calorie-free dessert, stick around for electronic ear-candy from DJs Wes 3 and Bruce Blaq, who'll hit the decks at 11 pm.
Marriott West, Middleton, 7 pm
After dining with other fans of local radio station WJJO, enjoy a sonic digestif from hard rockers Aranda, 12 Stones, Wayland and Sand.
Frequency, 9 pm
Masked Intruder are a local pop-punk band who hide their faces in color-coded ski masks. Celebrate their recent ascent to Fat Wreck Chords' roster - and your own achievements of 2012 - along with Whisky Pig, the American Dead, American Plains, Bereft and Iron Gate.
Mickey's Tavern, 10:30 pm
Wash down Basilisk's tunes with the bar's wintry Wisconsin brews, then switch to their therapeutic bloody marys when late night fades into early morning.
Liliana's, Fitchburg, 5 pm
Pair a five-course meal with a side of easygoing jazz from Midtown Jazz (5 pm) or the Rand Moore Quartet (8:30 pm).
Fountain, 8 pm
Though this talented guitarist performs at the Fountain nearly every Monday, expect his NYE set to be especially spirited.
Brink Lounge, 9 pm
Craving a lazy, hazy evening that will open your mind? This Grateful Dead tribute is just the ticket. They'll snake through the Dead's unusual chord progressions with a focus on musicianship, self-expression and good vibes.
Gatherings for good causes
Goodman Community Center, 8 pm
These Madison-based folk musicians earned a national reputation years ago thanks to their whimsical humor and friends like A Prairie Home Companion's Garrison Keillor. Half of the event's proceeds will benefit the Goodman Center.
Alchemy Cafe, 10 pm
Don we now our American Apparel? This might be the most hipster of all local New Year's Eve parties: a nonprofit radio station (WORT) hosting a funk band named after facial hair (the Mustache) at a restaurant loaded with vegan options (Alchemy) for an event dubbed "Nasty New Year's."
Louisianne's, Middleton, 5 pm
Wishing you were in sunny New Orleans for New Year's? Visit the French Quarter via crawfish and crab puffs at Louisianne's. If you know who you'll be kissing at midnight, tunes from jazz musicians Johnny Chimes (5 pm) and Lynnea Godfriaux (9 pm) should be a romantic prelude. If not, perhaps they'll serve as inspiration.
Sheraton Madison Hotel, 7 pm
After a year of providing much-needed services for African immigrants, this organization will unwind with six hours of dinner and dancing.
Essen Haus and Come Back In, 7 pm
Bust out the lederhosen and kick it German-style at this bash featuring unlimited food and drinks, a champagne toast, and la crème de la crème of nightlife freebies: downtown parking. Live at Nine will fill Come Back In with rock and blues, while the David Austin Band will lead polkas and the Hokey Pokey at Essen Haus.
Cardinal Bar, 8 pm
DJs Colorao, Chamo and Mr. Jones will explore the modern, urban side of the Latin music tradition at an epic nine-hour dance party.
Kabul Restaurant, 9 pm
DJ Nick International will cull tunes from around the world as the kitchen and bar whip up festive libations and free Mediterranean snacks.
D.I.Y. NYE events
Grab your favorite stringed instrument and join in the bass-slapping, foot-stomping fun at one of these participatory events.
Woof's, 10 pm
Whether you've been doused in glitter or smooched by a radioactive spider, you're eligible for drink specials at Woof's if you've made yourself glow. The bar will hand out bubbly at midnight, and DJ John Murges will deliver effervescent house music.
Poker, pianos and other surprises
Plan B, 8 pm
Win a trip to Sin City at the LGBT dance club, which will morph into a Vegas-style casino. Motivating tunes from DJs Lizzy T and Cover Gurrl will help partiers get lucky at roulette wheels, blackjack tables and beyond.
Ivory Room, 8 pm
Josh Dupont and Chris Lange will face off at this all-night ivory-tickling extravaganza. Guests receive a champagne toast, party favors and hours of showstoppers from the worlds of Broadway, cabaret, jazz and rock.