Finish the Year Right 

There's a Lot to Do on New Year's Eve. Calm Down. We Can Help.

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WE DON'T ENVY YOU, Portlanders. So many excellent New Year's Eve options await you, but difficult decisions must be made. That being the case let our New Year's Eve guide—featuring performing musicians making the case for their own shows—help you select a resolution-breaking, ball-dropping, midnight-kissing event that is just right for you.

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The Performer: Crooked Fingers

The Show: w/the Heligoats; Bunk Bar, 1028 SE Water, 9 pm, $12

The Reason You Need to Be There: Crooked Fingers' Eric Bachmann has been drowning his sorrows with liquor's sweet kiss since you were in short pants, junior. The former Archers of Loaf frontman is the Merle Haggard of indie rock, plus he penned the classic boozing anthem, "New Drink for the Old Drunk." Also, if you are in search of a New Year's smooch with a disheveled bearded guy with an Icky Mettle poster on his studio apartment wall, well, you are in luck.

What are the odds that—come midnight—someone in your band will be available for kissing? ERIC BACHMANN: "We will all be available. We all have herpes."

Will you be playing "Auld Lang Syne" during your New Year's Eve performance? "No. We will likely roll through midnight without noticing the year has changed—living in the moment, I guess. We're not tremendously sentimental."

Any special plans for the show? Cover songs? Streamers? Those tiny popper things shaped like miniature champagne bottles? "Not necessarily. It's too soon to tell, but we definitely won't bring props. We will be busy playing music."

What is your best New Year's Eve memory? The worst? "My mother lived in Key West when I was in my early teens, we would get drunk and eat lobster. It happened more than once, so I have several 'best' memories. The worst memory doesn't exist for me, I've spent New Year's Eve alone more than once but I quite enjoyed it each time."

You be the bartender: What is the best drink to accompany your set on New Year's Eve? "Bowmore Islay Single Malt over one cube of ice."

There are always plenty of events going on around town on New Year's Eve, what makes your show better than all the rest? "We are an alternative band."

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The Performer: Lazer Sword

The Show: w/Elliot Lipp, R/D, Virtual Boy, Tyler Tastemaker, plus more DJs upstairs at Rotture; Branx, 320 SE 2nd, 9 pm, $20

The Reason You Need to Be There: If you want to dance and do not like fucking around, Lazer Sword are here for you. The Berlin/LA duo of Lando Kal and Low Limit are all business when it comes to dropping thick slabs of pure bass, pulsating electronica, and a cavalcade of hyper-mixed beats that will make you leave it all out on the dance floor.

You be the bartender: What is the best drink to accompany your set on New Year's Eve? LOW LIMIT: "If you want to maintain the same vibe that we will be enjoying onstage, you have to abide by our drinking schedule as well. You're going to have to start out with about three beers in your system at the beginning of our show. One Jameson on ice enters the picture once we begin, but pace yourself (you'll be dancing for the most part anyways). Once we are 30 minutes into our set, you have permission to dive in the deep end, shots are absolutely okay from here on out."

Will you be playing "Auld Lang Syne" during your New Year's Eve performance? "I wouldn't rule it out entirely. It's very likely that something seasonal will be played."

Any special plans for the show? Cover songs? Streamers? Those tiny popper things shaped like miniature champagne bottles? "The best-case scenario would be a midnight balloon launch, which we're working to get the permits for right now. It's very much like your standard balloon drop, but instead, chambers below the floor open to reveal helium-filled balloons that float to the ceiling."

What is your best New Year's Eve memory? The worst? "When I was around 10, we bought flashlights and ran around the neighborhood shining them in the neighbors' windows on New Year's Eve. Can't really beat that."

What are the odds that—come midnight—someone in your band will be available for kissing? "Well one of us will have our girlfriend present, but I'm not going to say who. It's gonna be up to the ladies out there to determine which one of us is safe to smooch. Think Russian roulette, but instead of a bullet you get a riled-up drunken woman in your face."

There are always plenty of events going on around town on New Year's Eve, what makes your show better than all the rest? "The slight but unique chance of the aforementioned midnight balloon launch is plenty reason, no? And my mom might be at the show. It's going to be bananas, we haven't had a less-than-100-percent awesome show in Portland ever."

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The Performer: Talib Kweli

The Show: w/Lynx & Janover, Medicine for the People, & more; Refuge, 116 SE Yamhill, 9 pm, $27-45

The Reason You Need to Be There: Until we get that Black Star reunion tour, spending the last day of the year with Talib Kweli will just have to do. Kweli's social and political rhymes are just as uplifting as ever, even if they come as part of an event that promises, "More Fun, More Love, More Integrity." I'd rather it say, "More Champagne."

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The Performer: Two Beers Veirs

The Show: w/Jackstraw; LaurelThirst Public House, 2958 NE Glisan, 9 pm, $20

The Reason You Need to Be There: Two Beers Veirs is the alter ego of one Laura Veirs, as in the very same woman who released the lovely July Flame, easily one of the best recordings of 2010. She'll be backed by a trio of Decemberists—John Moen, Nate Query, Chris Funk—and two non-Decemberists, Annalisa Tornfelt (Black Prairie) and Jon Neufeld (Jackstraw). Expect Veirs to mix original material with old-timey country covers, plus as many special guests as the tiny LaurelThirst stage can hold will likely accompany her.

What is your best New Year's Eve memory? What is your worst?

LAURA VEIRS: "The best: last year being super pregnant and partying (non-alcoholic style) with the best of 'em 'til 2 am. My worst memory was puking on the side of my house in Seattle."

Will you be playing "Auld Lang Syne" during your New Year's Eve performance? "Probably. We did last year. We also played 'Celebration' by Kool and the Gang."

Any special plans for the show? Cover songs? Streamers? Those tiny popper things shaped like miniature champagne bottles? "I'll probably don my Two Beers Veirs beer bong helmet at some point. Expect many raging old-time covers, some Laura Veirs originals, and some appearances by lauded local 'special guests.' Last year we had some confetti popper thingies and I hope we have some again this year. Also, Jackstraw is going to bring down the house in the second set."

What are the odds that—come midnight—someone in your band will be available for kissing? "Everyone is taken, so kissing one of us would be a major challenge of the night."

You be the bartender: What is the best drink to accompany your set on New Year's Eve? "Alternating Maker's Mark on ice and water."

There are always plenty of events going on around town on New Year's Eve, what makes your show better than all the rest? "WE GOT SPIRIT, YES WE DO! WE GOT SPIRIT, HOW 'BOUT YOU?"

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The Performer: Keith Sweat

The Show: w/Mint Condition, Tracy Harris, Mike Phillips; Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W Burnside, 9 pm, $55

The Reason You Need to Be There: Keith Sweat is sex. I'm no sexologist, but I'm pretty positive Sweat invented boning right after he released his masterwork, 1987's Make it Last Forever. Tonight there will be so many panties hitting the Crystal's floor that the roof to Lola's Room might very well collapse. Also, everyone in attendance will get pregnant. Fact!

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The Performer: the Helio Sequence

The Show: w/Ramona Falls, Dirty Mittens; Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi, 9 pm, $22-25

The Reason You Need to Be There: Any time you get two heavy-hitting bands like the Helio Sequence and Ramona Falls in the same room, greatness is bound to happen. The Helio boys are hard at work on their follow-up to 2008's Keep Your Eyes Ahead. In fact, if you are lucky, they just might debut some new material tonight. Meanwhile Brent Knopf of Ramona Falls is fresh off the Menomena (his other band, perhaps you heard of 'em?) victory tour of Europe and will be singing all your favorite songs from their flawless debut, Intuit.

You be the bartender: What is the best drink to accompany your set on New Year's Eve? BENJAMIN WEIKEL: "If you're feeling good, a shot of Patron Gold. If you're feeling bad, two shots of Patron Gold."

Will you be playing "Auld Lang Syne" during your New Year's Eve performance? "Nope. We're already a little sappy and sentimental, let's not go overboard."

Any special plans for the show? Cover songs? Streamers? Those tiny popper things shaped like miniature champagne bottles? "We are currently trying very hard to introduce some new songs from the upcoming record. Also thinking about doing a cover, but not sure what to do. Any suggestions?"

What are the odds that—come midnight—someone in your band will be available for kissing? "Not a chance. I will kiss my girlfriend and Brandon [Summers] will kiss his wife. We're good proper boys."

What is your best New Year's Eve memory? The worst? "The best (or worst?): Watching Joe Haege of 31Knots strip on stage at a joint show at Berbati's many New Years ago. The worst: The endless years of crying myself to sleep—girlfriendless with no midnight kiss."

There are always plenty of events going on around town on New Year's Eve, what makes your show better than all the rest? "Hmmm, we're probably not the best. Maybe we should rent a clown?"

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The Performer: DJ Anjali and the Incredible Kid

The Show: The Woods, 6637 SE Milwaukie, 9 pm, $12-15

The Reason You Need to Be There: The bhangra and Bollywood sets from DJ Anjali and the Incredible Kid explode like fireworks at Diwali. This one-two punch behind the decks is as dependable as they come, and tonight's show will mark their 10-year anniversary of soundtracking off-the-chain dance parties that creep into the early morning hours.

There are always plenty of events going on around town on New Year's Eve. What makes your show better than all the rest? DJ ANJALI: "We've been doing this for a decade, which means we like to party. No one throws it down quite like we do. Genres are out the window, we're playing anything that makes you move!"

Will you be playing "Auld Lang Syne" during your New Year's Eve performance? "I'm hoping to find a Bollywood bounce mash-up of this classic."

Any special plans for the show? Cover songs? Streamers? Those tiny popper things shaped like miniature champagne bottles? "Yes. For the first time ever Anjali and the Kid will have a flying streamer thingy."

What are the odds that—come midnight—someone in your band will be available for kissing? "Hmmm, I know everyone wants to snog the Kid, but he's taken!"

What is your best New Year's Eve memory? The worst? "My best NYE memory was actually my best friend's worst. It was after midnight, I'd been raging a burner-heavy party with my typical left turns of Desi, DnB, and vintage Bollywood, poppin' bottles on stage and having the time of my life. Meanwhile, I had no idea what was happening to my friends. Hours into my set I got a phone call onstage that I needed to take my friend home.

She'd been snacking in the green room, scarfed down several hash brownies, got lost wandering the streets by herself, and ended up having a meltdown. The Kid himself was too fucked up to play but someone how he managed to get on stage and press play for a few songs. I drove to my friend's house, put them to bed, and returned to the club to pack up."

You be the bartender: What is the best drink to accompany your set on New Year's Eve? "Anything bubbly, 'cause we keep it poppin'!"

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The Performer: Langhorne Slim

The Show: w/Sassparilla, Jessi Adele; Mission Theater, 1624 NW Glisan, 9 pm, $20-25

The Reason You Need to Be There: How about give me one good reason not to be there? Yeah, my point exactly. Langhorne Slim is a one-of-a-kind, lightning-in-a-bottle performer. Along with his raucous backing band, Slim's stylized rock and roll sound is equal parts genuine soul and reckless energy. Folks, the man is a sight to behold.

Will you be playing "Auld Lang Syne" during your New Year's Eve performance? LANGHORNE SLIM: "To the disappointment of some, and to the delight to others, no we will definitely not."

Any special plans for the show? Cover songs? Streamers? Those tiny popper things shaped like miniature champagne bottles? "All that and more. In fact we are currently training miniature elephants to juggle and give massages. It's going to be huge!"

What are the odds that—come midnight—someone in your band will be available for kissing? "Extremely high, and my money is on [bassist] Jeff Ratner."

What is your best New Year's Eve memory? The worst? "They tend to be hard to remember but the last couple of years we have played in North Carolina with the Avett Brothers and those shows are always tons of fun."

You be the bartender: What is the best drink to accompany your set on New Year's Eve? "Scotch and soda."

There are always plenty of events going on around town on New Year's Eve, what makes your show better than all the rest? "It just is my friend, it just is. One side note: I'm extremely happy to be residing in Portland as of six months ago and very excited that we are throwing our first of what will become an annual NYE party in town. We want to make it amazing and there ain't a town I'd rather bring the New Year in than Portland."

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The Performer: Weinland

The Show: w/Sallie Ford and the Sound Outside, DJ Safi; Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside, 9 pm, $15-17

The Reason You Need to Be There: Adam Shearer might be one of the finer songwriters around, but the Weinland frontman knows what you want from a New Year's Eve party—to dance like a motherfucker. That's why Weinland sheds their sad-bastard stylings for one night of the year, and transform into a roof-raising party band like no other.

There are always plenty of events going on around town on New Year's Eve. What makes your show better than all the rest? ADAM SHEARER: "Backup dancers in matching outfits? A Marvin Gaye cover followed by a Katy Perry cover followed by a Hall and Oates cover? Cello. Horns. Dancing with a bunch of other people who can't dance. It is seriously going to be the best party in town, just ask anyone who went last year."

Will you be playing "Auld Lang Syne" during your New Year's Eve performance? "Yes, twice. Hey isn't that a Scottish poem originally written in 1788?"

Any special plans for the show? Cover songs? Streamers? Those tiny popper things shaped like miniature champagne bottles? "Yes to all! This is the ultimate guilty pleasure night for the astute Portland music fan—it's Weinland's New Year's Super Group (second annual). Weinland likes to party but a lot of our music has historically been pretty mellow, so in order to have a huge party show we went out and learned 25 dance hits. Yeah, that's right, 25. We went around to the best karaoke bars, we pilfered your favorite local bands, and we found the best-kept secret singers in Portland and we're gonna put them in front, give them a spotlight and a microphone and tell them: 'This is your shot baby, you'll look back one day and say that's the point when everything changed.' That and the amazing Sallie Ford and the Sound Outside is supporting us that night, plus we may just play a few hit tracks from the just-recorded, and yet to be announced, new Weinland record."

What are the odds that—come midnight—someone in your band will be available for kissing? "100 percent. Charge the stage and make out. If there ain't no bling, then it ain't no thing."

What is your best New Year's Eve memory? The worst? "Best: last year! We did this same show, at the Mission Theater last year, and I remember having a moment where I realized we'd never played a show like that before. I looked out onto the floor (all the tables and chairs had been removed) and the whole floor was seething with people dancing and losing their shit. Then I looked up to the balcony and the whole balcony was filled with slightly older people dancing and grinding! Literally every person in the room was on their feet and making it count. It was amazing. It made me forget all previous bad memories. Except that time I fell behind the couch and couldn't get out, and then a few hours later I woke up to my friends laughing because I was sleeping in between the back of the couch and the wall. That was rubbish."

You be the bartender: What is the best drink to accompany your set on New Year's Eve? "Whatever sets you free. It's New Year's Eve, we're not going to be acting like ourselves and we won't expect you will be either."

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The Performer: Strength

The Show: w/We Like Cats, Benoît Pioulard, DJ Beyondadoubt, DJ Copy, DJ Zac Eno, Sex Life DJs; Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison, 8 pm, $12

The Reason You Need to Be There: The band that once offered to "rub you down with brandy," Strength is a hip-thrusting trio whose swirling disco-pop sound can raise the temperature of any dance floor. Joining them is an army of diverse Portland talent, from the restrained, delicate folk sounds of Benoît Pioulard to the crate-digging LP collection of DJ Beyondadoubt.

What is your best New Year's Eve memory? What is your worst? STRENGTH: "John [Zeigler] peed in a litter box. Patrick [Morris] almost died in the snow. Same year."

Will you be playing "Auld Lang Syne" during your New Year's Eve performance? "We don't speak Chinese."

Any special plans for the show? Cover songs? Streamers? Those tiny popper things shaped like miniature champagne bottles? "We will be playing 'Old Leg's Sign.'"

What are the odds that—come midnight—someone in your band will be available for kissing? "We don't kiss on the mouth."

You be the bartender: What is the best drink to accompany your set on New Year's Eve? "Whatever they make in prison."

There are always plenty of events going on around town on New Year's Eve, what makes your show better than all the rest? "DJ Beyonda and DJ Copy, same show."

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The Performer: Caleb Klauder Country Band

The Show: w/Reeb Willms; The Spare Room, 4830 NE 42nd, 9 pm, $10

The Reason You Need to Be There: If you want more hootenanny than stiff NYE celebration, Caleb Klauder is your man. Klauder and his stellar backing band torch through traditional country numbers, honky-tonk, Western swing, and even some rockabilly for good measure. When the ball drops, get ready to square dance into the year 2011.

There are always plenty of events going on around town on New Year's Eve, what makes your show better than all the rest? CALEB KLAUDER: "We are gonna have an all-around honky-tonk holiday bash. The Spare Room has a rack (bar) right up at the stage and last time we played there was some shirt removal once the dollars started showing up on the stage. This is always a possibility again. The Spare Room also has plenty of extra booths (excellent for kissing in dark corners) and plenty of room for dancing."

Will you be playing "Auld Lang Syne" during your New Year's Eve performance? "Yes, we will play 'Auld Lang Syne' at midnight."

Any special plans for the show? Cover songs? Streamers? Those tiny popper things shaped like miniature champagne bottles? "Yes, we will have champagne and streamers, 'the works' at midnight."

What are the odds that—come midnight—someone in your band will be available for kissing? "You'll have to come see as to which band member is available."

What is your best New Year's Eve memory? The worst? "My best New Year's Eve memory is being proposed to at a Calobo show at the Roseland Theater in 1996."

You be the bartender: What is the best drink to accompany your set on New Year's Eve? "The 'Rowdy Chowdy'—two shots of Jameson whiskey in separate glasses. Double fisting! Or, the 'Pee Pee,' a Paul Brainard concoction. It's a sort of hot buttered rum with apricot brandy and whipped cream. Yummmy!"

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The Performer: Pure Country Gold

The Show: w/the Pity Fucks, the Sons of Bitches; Slabtown, 1033 NW 16th, 9 pm, free

The Reason You Need to Be There: No need for the tux and tails on New Year's Eve. The cacophonous Pure Country Gold duo will keep things loud and loose for this free punk rock show. And when it comes time to lock lips with a stranger, chances are their breath will taste like domestic beer. Deafening music, frosty cans of PBR, and pinball—as if you need anything else in life.

You be the bartender: What is the best drink to accompany your set on New Year's Eve? PATRICK FOSS: "We like foo-foo drinks. Dudes always bring us whiskey onstage and then we want to puke. We like lemon drops. We're pussies."

Will you be playing "Auld Lang Syne" during your New Year's Eve performance? "We'll be doing an 'Auld Lang Syne'/'Achilles Last Stand' mash-up."

Any special plans for the show? Cover songs? Streamers? Those tiny popper things shaped like miniature champagne bottles? "Nope. Another no-frills show by a no-frills band. We're gonna get drunk though. That'll be special."

What are the odds that—come midnight—someone in your band will be available for kissing? "We'll definitely be available and want lots of tongue."

What is your best New Year's Eve memory? The worst? "I destroyed a hotel in San Francisco one year with some friends. That was the best. The worst was two years ago when I stayed home and played cards with my roommates. Being boring is boring."

There are always plenty of events going on around town on New Year's Eve, what makes your show better than all the rest? "It's free. The club won't be full of douchebags. We are Pure Country Gold—we are better than all the rest."

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