A rocking new year: 10 local bands to see in Pennsylvania on New Year’s Eve

A rocking new year: 10 local bands to see in Pennsylvania on New Year’s Eve

NEW ORLEANS, LA - MARCH 21: Jesse Miller (L) and Luke Miller of Lotus performs onstage during the 2014 BUKU Music + Art Project at Mardi Gras World on March 21, 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Josh Brasted/WireImage)

By Kalena Thomhave

December 20, 2023

Bands of all sizes and styles will say goodbye to 2023, and hello to 2024, with New Year’s Eve shows across the state.

An oft-covered standard poses the question, “What are you doing New Year’s Eve?”

The answer for many Pennsylvania musicians is “working.”

Bands throughout the state are taking to the stage to ring in the new year. We’ve put together a roundup of ten local Pa. bands (one of them is actually an orchestra) performing on New Year’s Eve across the state. No matter where you are, there’s a local band rocking in 2024. 

Big Blitz at Thunderbird Music Hall – Pittsburgh

The band Big Blitz will be at Pittsburgh’s Thunderbird Music Hall on New Year’s Eve, with the small setting of Thunderbird sure to provide an intimate but intense show. The Pittsburgh-based saxophone and drum trio will play its take on noise jazz, and the band Beauty Slap is also performing. Check out this Tribune-Review article from 2019 that details the band’s roots — the three musicians got their start busking, and formed their band when they were still in high school.

Daddy-O and the Sax Maniax – Hershey

Daddy-O and the Sax Maniax, based in northeastern Pa., will perform at the community-organized New Year’s Eve in Hershey event held in ChocolateTown Square. The 11-piece horn band has been performing around Pa. as well as farther afield for decades. In fact, Daddy-O and the Sax Maniax played during President Bill Clinton’s inauguration celebrations in Washington, D.C. in 1993. Read this Morning Call article and learn how the band brought an extra sax and an extra pair of sunglasses to their performance just in case the new president decided to join them on stage to play his instrument of choice.

Lotus at Union Transfer – Philadelphia

Instrumental jam band Lotus will perform on New Year’s Eve at the fantastic Spring Garden concert venue Union Transfer. The Philadelphia-based band doesn’t stick to just one genre, blending rock, electronica, house, and funk music in a distinctive sound that bass and synth player Jesse Miller described to American Songwriter as “full blown space-disco-synth orchestra.”

Mike Pinto at Mr. Smalls Theatre – Pittsburgh 

Mike Pinto, a songwriter from Bucks County’s Fairless Hills, has developed his own style of music: a mix of reggae, ska, and surf rock. Pinto will open for Tropidelic at Mr. Smalls Theatre on New Year’s Eve. Read his recent interview with Top Shelf to learn about his recent tour, how much he loves Sublime, and what inspires him as an artist.

Snacktime at Brooklyn Bowl – Philadelphia

Snacktime got their start on the streets in the early months of the pandemic, taking their dance music via brass band directly to the city of Philadelphia. The funk band, which Philadelphia Magazine called “a true civic treasure,” will perform at Brooklyn Bowl on New Year’s Eve. They may play one of their most-loved hooks, which channels N.W.A., to explain the band’s true feelings about the Philadelphia Parking Authority. For more on Snacktime, read the Philly Mag article on “the Snacktime phenomenon.”

Dance Hall Devils at V Spot – Scranton 

Dance Hall Devils are a Scranton-based outfit that plays a bevy of pop-punk covers for crowds at the bars and venues they frequent in northeastern Pa. On New Year’s Eve, the band will take over Scranton’s V-Spot Bar. If you’re into bands like Blink-182 or Paramore, you might be interested in attending a Dance Hall Devils show, which the band members described to AP News as being like a “pop-punk, acid trip birthday party.”

YAM YAM at XL Live – Harrisburg 

YAM YAM’s music, a blend of soulful funk and jazz, is ideal for a night on the town ringing in the new year. Though YAM YAM has toured the country, the band hails from Harrisburg and will be performing on New Year’s Eve at Harrisburg’s XL Live concert venue. Asked to describe their music, guitarist Tom Fuller told WITF that it was “junk” — a portmanteau of jazz and funk — while keyboardist and singer Mike said their style was “definitely groovy.”

Philadelphia Orchestra at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts – Philadelphia

If contemporary popular music isn’t your thing, might we interest you in some orchestral sounds? The Philadelphia Orchestra is also ringing in the new year with a New Year’s Eve celebration performance. The grammy-award winning group, featuring guest composer Thomas Wilkins and baritone Paulo Szot, will play Broadway musical favorites as well as orchestral classics. Plus: Free champagne! To get an idea of why this show will be special, you should read about one of the orchestra’s guests for the evening, Thomas Wilkins. The composer gave an incredible interview just a couple months ago to the Minnesota Orchestral Association in which he said, “my hope is always that an audience leaves the building a better human being than the way they entered.” And when better to improve yourself than at the new year?

Chelsea Reed and the Fair Weather Nine at Chris’ Jazz Café – Philadelphia

In an article in the Syncopated Times, you’ll learn that Chelsea Reed started her band for “the chance to sing her favorite songs for an audience.” Lucky you, her favorite songs are great for dancing — swing dancing that is! Chelsea Reed and the Fair Weather Band will play New Year’s Eve at Chris’ Jazz Café. She’ll be performing three sets with a nine-piece band. You can also purchase tickets for a three-course dinner at the jazz café or simply eat a la carte. Bonus: the band just released a Christmas album.

Twisted Lid at the Rathskeller Café – Erie

Erie-based Twisted Lid is made up of five musicians covering all sorts of rock from the 60s onward so you can sing and dance along to your favorites. On New Year’s Eve, the band is playing in Erie at the Rathskeller Café. Read more about the band in the Erie Times-News.

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