WELL, YOU'VE WASTED another year. Almost.
There's still one final chance to redeem yourself—it's not too late to turn 2014 around. Because you've still got New Year's. And it's right around the corner.
Planning the ultimate New Year's Eve should not be taken lightly. If you do it right, you'll find yourself at the best party of your life, surrounded by attractive revelers, stunning music entering your earholes, and a warm sense of well being toward one's fellow humans—acquired either naturally or chemically—beating down all the sadness and shyness and soreness that rears its head the other 364 stupid days of the year.
But if you do New Year's wrong? You'll begin 2015 with a hangover and nothing to show for it except the lingering flavor of vomit and Cook's California Champagne on your tongue, and some gnarly chin-burn from last night's regrettable, stubble-enhanced hookup.
So don't mess this up! Luckily, we're here to help. We've scoped out the finest New Year's Eve parties this city has to offer, and compiled the ultimate guide to the very best ways to run down the clock on the old year. When the time comes to ring in the new one, you'll be sitting pretty.
2015's going to be the best year yet.* Here's how to get started.
* It might be! Shut up. You don't know.
w/Hook and Anchor
Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside, 9 pm, $25-28
It's become a Portland New Year's institution—an all-star dance party with Weinland, augmented by the best singers in town. Every year, the excellent folk-rock band fronted by Adam Shearer dusts off their spangles and spats, transforming themselves into a party-pleasing jukebox packed with hits, and turning out excellent cover versions of killer jams. And every year, they stack the bill with an astonishing roster of guests. This year it's Laura Gibson, Dave Depper, Liz Vice, members of Blind Pilot, and karaoke-ist extraordinaire Steven Bak, and more. If you've never spent New Year's with Weinland, make this year your first. It's bound to become a tradition.
w/Houndstooth, DJ Cooky Parker, DJ Bobby D
Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi, 9 pm, $25-30
Ural Thomas is Portland's soul man number one. The 75-year-old singer is spryer than you are, with a twinkle in his eye and an ever-present smile on his face—all the more remarkable when you consider the man has seen it all—ups and downs, success and obscurity. Now he's found the backing band of a lifetime, a ship-tight, whip-smart outfit called the Pain, named after Thomas' 1967 gem "Pain Is the Name of Your Game." But rest assured, you'll be feeling absolutely no pain at tonight's party of note-perfect R&B, augmented by Houndstooth's tight-woven tapestry of electric folk, and Pain drummer Cooky Parker spinning sweet 45s. Seeing Ural Thomas is a life-affirming, soul-electrifying experience.
w/Ben Tactic, DJ Kiffo, DJ Rymes, Like a Villain
Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison, 8 pm, $25
You're forgiven if you don't immediately recognize the name of Holocene's NYE headliner. Les Sins is the new alter ego of Chaz Bundick—AKA the mastermind behind Toro y Moi. As Les Sins, Bundick sheds the chillwave vibes of his earlier stuff, applying his accumulated songcraft and inventive approach to sonic architecture to a livelier, dancier venture. The intriguing sounds and synths are still front and center, only this time with house, techno, and Euro-dance beats running underneath. If you're looking for cool, choppy, futuristic sounds to move your feet to when the ball drops, Les Sins has your number.
w/the Woolen Men, Still Caves, Therapists
The Know, 2026 NE Alberta, 8 pm
In an alternate universe, Satyricon stayed open, SE Division remained a dodgy no man's land of dive bars and practice spaces, and the Whines became the biggest band in Portland. Their 2010 album Hell to Play is an incandescent joy, a sloped-shoulder collection of lo-fi garage rock and Nudie-suit country. The band lost some momentum when singer Karianne Oudman moved to Alaska, but the Whines have played some on-and-off gigs in the past couple of years, and now they're headlining a fantastic year-end bill that probably contains the most tunes-per-ounce of any New Year's Eve show out there. Could 2015 be the year of the Whines? You won't hear me whini... er, complaining.
w/Cahalen Morrison and Country Hammer, the Earnest Lovers
The Spare Room, 4830 NE 42nd, 9 pm, $15-20
Forget all the funk-meisters and bass-droppers and techno-lizards. Armed with nothing but some old-fashioned instruments ("guitars," "drums," "vocals"), the Caleb Klauder Country Band is the best dance band in town, and you can brand that on my behind. If you've ever seen the crowd that Klauder draws to the Spare Room's dance floor, you know they usually bring their A game. Still, you don't need to be a pro stepper to enjoy the twanging honky-tonk that Klauder and his expert band of pickers provide. This isn't Nashvegas-style country, full of glitter and glitz—this is the real deal, full of heart and soul and American sweat. When the clock turns over to 2015, you just might be able to trick yourself into thinking it's 1975, or 1955, or 1935.
w/the Moody Dudes, Kevin Lee Florence
White Eagle, 836 N Russell, 9:30 pm, $12-15
Every year the Parson Red Heads tackle one of their favorite albums. In past years they've tried the Beatles, Weezer, and J.J. Cale on for size, and tonight they're covering Fleetwood Mac's Rumours from start to finish. It's all the fun of the late '70s with, hopefully, slightly less cocaine psychosis and intra-band cheating. They're bringing some special guests aboard, too, with Radiation City's Lizzy Ellison playing the part of Christine McVie and Jamie McMullen as Stevie Nicks. The rest of the night's also devoted to covers: Kevin Lee Florence will open the night by doing all of Springsteen's Nebraska, and the Moody Dudes (featuring members of Blitzen Trapper and Ozarks) are bravely handling the Eagles' Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975). No need to be heroes, guys—you can skip the six-and-a-half minutes of agony that is "Lyin' Eyes" if you want to.
Dig a Pony, 736 SE Grand, 8 pm, $10-15
Yes, yes, we're all responsible adults, but sometimes even the best of us need the skilled hand of an expert DJ to guide us through the night. Luckily, Dig a Pony's got two of 'em: Beyondadoubt, the itinerant former Portlander, is making a New Year's Eve homecoming. And she's joined by Maxx Bass, curator and shopkeep of the fine Clinton Street Records, as well as one of the DJs keeping it down at the monthly Booty Bassment party. This pair of skilled spinners will lay down dance classics from bygone years, as well as the sickest new sounds, from human to electronic and beyond. There's only one thing you can do, and it's to work that body.
Ponderosa Lounge at Jubitz Truck Stop, 10350 N Vancouver, 9 pm, $10
I'll admit that I am not actually familiar with the band that calls itself Humptulips. Judging by their press photo (six dudes on a railroad bridge, most of 'em in jeans, a couple in cowboy hats), I'll venture a guess that they're a bunch of old-fashioned country-rockers. It doesn't matter—because how badly do you want to see a band called Humptulips perform at Portland's greatest truck stop? Badly, right? Humptulips. Amazing! To sweeten the deal, the Portlander Inn is right on the premises, so go ahead and have that midnight tequila. (Have two!) There's even an overnight deal for couples that includes dinner.
w/Red Dons, Red Shadows, Terokal
Star Bar, 639 SE Morrison, 8 pm, free
Cleaned out your wallet for Christmas? Don't get your next paycheck 'til after January 1? Or maybe you're just a cheap bastard? No cash, no problem—the Star Bar's excellent New Year's party is absolutely free. (Drinks, of course, will cost ya.) Star Bar's not skimping on talent, either, as seminal hardcore punk band Poison Idea is here to help you pound the first few moments of 2015 deep into your skull. One of the few legendary bands from Portland's olden days of yore, Poison Idea walked along that razor-wire of fast and furious rawk by injecting it with guitar-driven power and a sense of intelligence not always found in the oi-oi party-hearty realm of punk rock. They're still doing it, too—they've got a new album called Confuse and Conquer planned for 2015, so expect to hear some future classics as the clock ticks down.
w/Bryan Zentz, Camino Acid, JAK vs. Andrew Boie, ET vs. Uungh
Rotture, 315 SE 3rd, 9 pm, $10-15
Closer PDX's New Year's Eve party features Annie Hall—not that Annie Hall. (No, it won't be four hours of Diane Keaton singing "Seems Like Old Times" as dishes crash around her.) This Annie Hall is the Spanish-born, Canada-based DJ and producer, who marries hard-hitting Detroit techno with exploratory, vision-quest electronic music. Expect plenty to move your hips to, and some excellent sound—a custom soundsystem installation by One Wub will ensure that you can feel every bit of bass in your solar plexus.
w/Patrick Lamb, Soul Vaccination
Sentinel Hotel, 614 SW 11th, 7 pm, $50-150
I hate to break it to you, but you're not classy enough to go to this party. This one's for fancypants... and you? You're a garbage person—and fairy godmothers aren't real. Even in your nicest duds, you'll probably be kicked out in two seconds flat, because this bash is exclusively for the highfalutin, not the likes of you—just look at the event poster, with all those elegant sponsors: Sunset Audi! Jema Bitar Property Managers and Developers! Danish Marine Yacht Services! Plus they're touting special guest Gino "Living Inside Myself" Vannelli, so yeah. Stop dreaming. The very pricy tickets go to benefit the Children's Cancer Association, so write 'em a check, then do everyone else a favor and stay home. Loser.