For many people, New Year's Eve has become a night to stay in and let the amateurs stumble through the streets in search of the ultimate party. But if you have music on your mind, it can be the best night of the year to see a show that's bound to have some surprises. This year it seems jamming is where it's at, with boogie bands like Gov't Mule, Widespread Panic, Sound Tribe Sector 9 and Galactic laying it down from coast to coast. In the meantime, Kanye West and the Black Eyed Peas will be doing their best to give the night some hip-hop flavor.
Kanye and Fantasia usher in 2006 at the Aladdin Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, a city otherwise busy reliving the '90s: the Fremont Street Experience in downtown will host Cheap Trick, Gin Blossoms and Spin Doctors; Hootie and the Blowfish will be at the Silverton Casino; and the Goo Goo Dolls will rock the House of Blues. Matchbox Twenty will bring it back together for a gig at the Joint in the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino (and will play the same venue the following night).
In Los Angeles, the Giant Village festival on Wilshire Boulevard will feature a dozen acts including Black Eyed Peas, Death Cab for Cutie, Crystal Method and Z-Trip. Interpol's Carlos D will DJ at the El Rey Theatre and reunited rockers Buckcherry play the Viper Room.
If you're in New York and you like your new year spiced with some monster jams, Madison Square Garden is where it's at thanks to a show featuring the Black Crowes and the North Mississippi Allstars — or you can go across town to the Beacon Theatre, where Gov't Mule will be playing their third consecutive night. If indie rock is your taste, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah are sitting in at Irving Plaza with the National. The Continental has a punk bill featuring Murphy's Law and the Dickies. If soul is your bag, James Brown is headlining at B.B. King's Blues Club for two shows, and — whaddya know? — electro-jammers the New Deal are playing a late gig after midnight.
If you happen to be in the vicinity of Mashantucket, Connecticut, you can ring in the new year with Sean Paul at the Foxwoods Casino, or hop over to Atlantic City, New Jersey, to chill with Kool & the Gang at the Atlantic City Hilton or Erykah Badu at the House of Blues. Yo La Tengo will also be out and about, playing at Maxwell's in Hoboken. And if you need your rock bigger and louder, hop over to Sayreville for a show by Velvet Revolver at the Starland Ballroom, or spend it with Mötley Crüe and several thousand of your new best friends at the Palace of Auburn Hills in Auburn Hills, Michigan.
Chicago is also a jam-friendly zone, with Keller Williams and Umphrey's McGee touching down at the Aragon Ballroom. Train hits the House of Blues along with Soul Asylum and Fastball, and the New Pornographers, Rogue Wave and Colette play at Metro.
Even hip-hop haven Atlanta is getting its jam on, with Widespread Panic playing the Philips Arena and alt-hip-hop/electronica acts Prefuse 73 and Sound Tribe Sector 9 taking over the Tabernacle. Meanwhile, Arrested Development will bring a positive vibe to the Hyatt Regency Hotel and Collective Soul are at the Underground Atlanta. If you're in Florida, check out Sevendust at the House of Blues in Lake Buena Vista or Barenaked Ladies at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa.
Things will still be a bit mellower in still-recovering New Orleans, with a show by Better Than Ezra at the House of Blues (they play on the 30th, too) and jam rockers Galactic playing at the reopened Tipitina's Uptown.
It's back to the jam as you head west to Denver, where the Yonder Mountain String Band is playing at the Fillmore Auditorium with Leftover Salmon frontman Vince Herman.
As you can imagine, San Francisco will also be getting its twirl on, with Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh & Friends co-headlining with the John Mayer Trio for the third straight night at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, while Les Claypool does his traditional New Year's stomp at the Fillmore with the Phenomenauts. Across town, the F---ing Champs and Trans Am — who are so friendly with one another they formed the side projects Trans Champs and the F---ing Am — will bring some (mostly) instrumental mayhem to Bottom of the Hill.
Also in S.F., the String Cheese Incident will play at the Concourse Exhibition Center, She Wants Revenge are at the Mezzanine, the Supersuckers are at Slim's and comedians David Cross, Doug Benson and Zach Galifianakis will perform at the Palace of Fine Arts.