New Year’s Eve, OpenAir style

While this list aims to help you hash out your New Year’s Eve agenda, OpenAir also understands that it may complicate things. So many bands. So many choices. Denver comes alive every December 31. And not just to celebrate the dawn of a new year, but also to showcase some of Colorado’s finest musicians. This breakdown will guide you through some great options for ending 2012 with a bang, a bump, a strum, or a wail.

  • The Knew with FaceMan, Strange Americans, and DJ Patrick Lee at the Hi-Dive

Doors at 8 p.m., 21+
Denver rockers The Knew take a break from recording a new album for a two-night stint at the Hi-Dive, starting December 30. The band, which calls to mind the sounds of My Morning Jacket with elements of the Clash, appropriately opened for Deer Tick in July and have performed at Austin’s South by Southwest festival and the CMJ Showcase in New York City.

  • Slim Cessna's Auto Club with Munly & the Lupercalians and Casey James Prestwood at the Bluebird Theater

Doors at 8 p.m., 16+
Many Coloradans will say Slim Cessna rules New Year’s Eve in Denver. The local musician and his band take over the Bluebird Theater on December 30 and December 31 for their annual holiday show. Earning nods from the likes of Spin Magazine as one of the best live bands in the U.S., you will not regret ringing in the New Year with the raw energy delivered by these alternative country legends.

Doors at 8 p.m., 16+, A year after performing in front of a sold out Oriental Theater, Paper Bird returns for its second annual New Year’s Eve Gala. This past year saw the Americana folk darlings perform and record an original score composed in collaboration with Ballet Nouveau Colorado. This show will mark trombonist Tyler Archuletta’s farewell, as he will depart from the band to pursue other goals. There’s also a VIP ticket option, which includes reserved seating with an open bar and hors d’oeuvres.

Doors at 8:30 p.m., 21+
Gauntlet Hair released its debut full length on Dead Oceans Records (home to bands like Akron/Family, Nurses, and Bishop Allen) in October. It’s been a fast ride for Craig Fleischman (aka Craig Nice) and Andy Rauworth, who started Gauntlet Hair after arriving in Colorado via Chicago a few years ago. Mixing heavy beats with reverb-ridden guitars, the duo produces experimental pop that early on found an outlet at Denver DIY venue Rhinoceropolis. Toss a punk-influenced electro set from Pictureplane in to the mix, and the only question is not “if” but “when” the dancing will commence at this show.

Doors at 8 p.m., 16+
Vocalist Julie Almeria made her debut with Denver’s Bop Skizzum back in November, and already the alternative funk group has found its groove with the new addition. Expect a new release early next year, but in the meantime you can hear the band perform some of that material on New Year’s Eve. Also check out Eldren and Lizzie Huffman, who both recently performed in our OpenAir studio. Ticket prices include a midnight champagne toast for attendees 21 and older.

  • The Hollyfelds with Vibes on Velvet and The Jekylls at the Skylark Lounge

Starts at 9 p.m., 21+
Before heading in to the studio at the beginning of 2012, local alternative country beloveds the Hollyfelds return to one of their favorite Denver venues. And don’t miss the much-anticipated live debut of the Jekylls, which features members of the Hollyfelds as well as other local bands. Music to drink whiskey to while you’re counting down to midnight.

Doors at 7:30, All Ages
If big crowds and the arena atmosphere are your game, consider partying with Pretty Lights, whose origins lie in Fort Collins. Producer Derek Vincent Smith, the man behind the samples and beats, has come a long way since playing at an “after party show on NYE in a bowling alley in Fort Collins, CO to about 100 people” four years ago. Pretty Lights has helped fuel a widespread resurgence of electronic music in Colorado. And this concert will define the word “party”.

Doors at 7 p.m., 18+
The Foot. expanded its reach this year, both geographically—thanks to multiple tours stretching to the East Coast—and across the blogosphere—thanks to the band’s Adele cover. This fun and energetic group of guys caps off a solid 2011 with a performance at the Marquis.

  • Lipgloss presents Reuben Wu’s Ladytron DJ set at City Hall

Starts at 9 p.m., 18+
Take Denver’s biggest indie-themed dance party and add a DJ set from Reuben Wu of Ladytron, ruler the English electronic pop scene. The night will also feature sets from local DJs. Bring your dance shoes.