Ring-a-Ding-Ding in the New Year! 

The Mercury's Guide to Portland's Best Ball Drops


2013 is drawing to a close. Quick! What are you doing for New Year's?

Don't worry, we've got you covered. We took stock of the 10 best parties in town and asked participating bands and DJs what to expect from their New Year's Eve celebrations. They let us know exactly what's up their sleeves, from what to drink to whom to kiss to which song they'll be playing at midnight. There's a lot to choose from, so take a look at what Portland's best New Year's parties have on tap—and with our help, you'll be in the exact right spot at the start of 2014.

Built to Spill

Three-Night Celebration w/Slam Dunk, the Apostrophes; Mission Theater, 1624 NW Glisan, Sun-Tues 8 pm, $22-25

While a new Built to Spill album won't arrive until 2014, Portland doesn't have to wait for a dose of their woolen, rugged rock. The Boise legends—who hold their band rehearsals right here in Portland—take over McMenamins' intimate Mission Theater for a three-night stand with their excellent new bassist and drummer (Helvetia's Jason Albertini and Steve Gere). Guitarist Brett Netson told us what's in store, although he didn't spill the beans on what they'd play as the ball drops at midnight.

What makes your three shows the finest New Year's Eve shows in all the land?

BRETT NETSON: It's a few hours of your life where you won't be expected to do anything.

Anything special planned? Cover songs? Costumes? Explosions?

Three f^#&#*king guitars and a shit-hot rhythm section, motherf%@ker.

New Year's Eve: the funnest night of the year, or amateur hour?

Usually all the above are true. 

Champagne is traditional, but what should people drink at your show?

Ayahuasca. Water is good.

How was your 2013?

It seems like the internet has made time go faster.

What is your recommended hangover cure for New Year's Day?

Bob Dylan or Deep Purple. Lots of water.

Do you have a New Year's resolution for 2014?

Letting go of the Protestant work ethic. It is a lie.

Anything else?

The new Quasi record is awesome. Power to the people. Happy New Year!

Weinland's NYE Supergroup

w/Old Light; Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside, 9 pm, $23-25

At year's end, folk-rock band Weinland morphs into a mammoth supergroup with guest singers, musicians, and cover songs galore. Weinland singer Adam Shearer gives us the lowdown on this year's sold-out show.

MERCURY: There's a lot going on this New Year's Eve. What makes your show the finest in all the land?

ADAM SHEARER: Weinland's NYE Supergroup is officially a Portland tradition. We play 20-30 overtly sexual, crazy, ironic, fun cover songs from the last 40 years, and we scour all the best bands and karaoke joints to find you the best singers you may not have heard yet. We have dancing girls, a horn section, ringers, and all kinds of good stuff.

What New Year's Eve beverage do you recommend?

Five-Hour Energy drink, girl, 'cause you're gonna be workin' the dance floor. (Disclaimer: Five-Hour Energy drink is gross. Don't drink it! The Mercury asks the same questions every year, so we write in answers like this to see if they are even reading them.)

At midnight, will anyone in your band be available for a smooch?

Yes. All of them, every last one.

What song will you play at midnight?

Quit asking that! We usually play a Prince song... but this year... we're gonna play a Prince song!

What are some of your best NYE memories?

Weinland's NYE Supergroup 2012 and 2010. Cherry years.

What is your recommended hangover cure for New Year's Day?

Wii + weed + a good hard cry.


Original lineup reunion w/Deathcharge, Long Knife, Wild Mohicans, Reactor;
East End, 203 SE Grand, 8 pm, $7

Seminal Portland anarcho street-punk band Defiance has reunited with its five original members to play songs from their first two singles and album. Mike Arrogant, Alaric Brown, Kelly Halliburton, Tony Mengis, and Eric Niff set us straight for this year's blowout.

MERCURY: What makes yours the finest New Year's Eve show in all the land?

ARROGANT: We are the best band in the fucking world.

MENGIS: Who doesn't wanna see 40-year-olds playing songs they wrote when they were 20?

Anything special planned? Costumes?

NIFF: Do I have any special plans for New Year's Eve? Yes. Reunite with Defiance on drums after 15-plus years. It should be a special moment indeed.

HALLIBURTON: We've got a fun night in costume planned—we'll all be wearing our fat suits and baldhead wigs. Oh, wait...

New Year's Eve: the funnest night of the year, or amateur hour? Discuss.

ARROGANT: Amateur hour, but it's so fun to watch.

MENGIS: Both. It's usually okay if I don't end up downtown. Or worse, a bar with a lot of Mardi Gras beads.

Champagne for New Year's is traditional, but what should people be drinking at your show?

NIFF: If I drink on New Year's Eve? Guinness and cider, and lots of water. The people can drink whatever they like. They don't have to drink at all if they choose.

MENGIS: Hayrides.

At midnight, whom will you be kissing?

MENGIS: Sean from Wild Mohicans.

BROWN: Well, I'm glad you asked because I've been taking a lot of yoga and exercise classes to limber up because I'm kissing my own dick at midnight.

How do you feel about "Auld Lang Syne"?

HALLIBURTON: Boring, overdone, and sappy.

MENGIS: Kelly is probably the only of one us that could learn and play it.

What's one of your worst NYE memories?

ARROGANT: One year I accidentally got hit in the face with a bottle rocket at the stroke of midnight.

Defiance formed in 1993. Do you remember that New Year's?

BROWN: Do I remember New Year's 1993? Absolutely not, I can barely remember last month.

HALLIBURTON: I have absolutely no recollection of what I did on that New Year's... probably best that way, since it was undoubtedly something shameful and irresponsible.

ARROGANT: We did our first few shows as Defiance in December of 1993, but no idea what we did for New Year's.

What is your recommended hangover cure for New Year's Day?

HALLIBURTON: Tylenol PM and a dark, quiet room.

BROWN: My recommended hangover cure is definitely a "Portland" hot toddy. I take a nice large glass of Carlo Rossi and put it in the microwave for about two minutes.

Caleb Klauder Country Band

w/Copper & Coal; The Spare Room, 4830 NE 42nd, 9 pm, $20

Fronting a crack country band, Caleb Klauder traditionally rings in the New Year at the Spare Room, transforming the Northeast Portland dive into a classic honky-tonk with a packed dance floor.

MERCURY: What makes your show the finest New Year's Eve show in all the land?

CALEB KLAUDER: Our New Year's Eve show is the best in the land because it is at the World Famous Spare Room Lounge (I made that up), and you can dance your face off all night long to two of the hottest honky-tonk bands in Portland. Plus, cheap drinks.  

Anything special planned?

We have a very special event this year: the second annual Rhinestone Cowboy/Cowgirl Contest. Dress in your best cowperson bling. Prizes.

New Year's Eve: the funnest night of the year, or amateur hour?

NYE is one of the funnest nights of the year. This year is especially good because it lands in the middle of the week, so you get a nice Wednesday off of work.

Please recommend your favorite New Year's Eve beverage.

Whiskey is the preferred New Year's Eve beverage at a honky-tonk, although no one will look at you strangely if you order a martini.  

What song do you play at midnight?

At midnight, "Auld Lang Syne" is a fine song. It has a good sentiment, but we might quickly bust into something a little more appropriate like "Can I Go Home with You."

What's one of your best NYE memories?

My best memory is standing around a big bonfire when I was a young boy. All the friends and family that were involved and all the songs—that was a time when you knew there were deep connections and that you were part of a great community.  

Surfer Blood

w/Wild Ones, Ages and Ages: Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi, 9 pm, $30-35

Florida's Surfer Blood are coming to cooler, rainier climes to ring in the New Year. They're holding down the festivities at Mississippi Studios, and the entire band answered our inquiries about what might go down.

What makes yours the finest New Year's Eve show in all the land?

SURFER BLOOD: We have party streamers.

Anything special planned? Cover songs? Costumes? Explosions?

We will play really loud. 

New Year's Eve: the funnest night of the year, or amateur hour?

Most of us have been through over two dozen New Year's [Eves] by now, so hopefully it still isn't amateur hour.

At midnight, who will you be kissing?

My girlfriend will be in town to make sure I don't smooch the ground at the end of the night.

What song do you play at midnight? How do you feel about "Auld Lang Syne"?

I am not sure the meaning of "Auld Lang Syne," so I recommend the "Happy Birthday" song. After all, it is the Earth's calendar birthday. Plus, everyone already knows the words.

Any New Year's advice?

Don't drink someone's homemade moonshine out in the woods in the middle of nowhere. You will unknowingly puke onto your own campfire enough to fully extinguish it. (Worst New Year's ever.) 

Are you happy or sad to see 2013 end? How was your year?

I was told the world would end with a grand apocalypse at the end of 2012, so really I can't complain about 2013. It is all uphill from here.

What is your recommended hangover cure for New Year's Day?

Pad thai delivery, coconut water, and SpongeBob SquarePants episodes. And don't check your social media posts from last night.

What's your resolution for 2014?

300 dpi. No flash. Brannan filter.

Please feel free to add anything else you like. The floor is yours.

I know the floor is mine. But it is okay. I brought a sleeping bag and a pillow this time.

Pwrhaus & Shy Girls

Holocene NYE 2013 w/Le1f, Shy Girls, Phone Call, Pwrhaus, Miracles Club DJs,
DJ SPF666, DJ Kiffo, Radiation City DJs; Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison, 8 pm, $25

Holocene has a stacked bill for New Year's, including queer hiphop visionary Le1f, the hometown seducers of Shy Girls, and soul satisfiers Pwrhaus, who release a new full-length album tonight. We spoke with both Dan Vidmar of Shy Girls and Pwrhaus frontman Tonality Star about the big NYE show and Pwrhaus' new self-titled record, which documents the most recent developments in the troubled relationship that's fueled all of Star's love songs to date.

There's a lot going on this New Year's Eve. What makes your show the finest New Year's show in all the land?

DAN VIDMAR: Le1f is incredible, and Holocene is the king of NYE parties. Also, if you didn't already buy tickets to Riff Raff, then I think we both know you're coming to Holocene anyway.

This show serves as Pwrhaus' record release. Is that just convenient timing, or does the album have anything to do with New Year's?

TONALITY STAR: Last New Year's Eve, I saw my long-lost love again for the first time in a long time. It was a very special night... and forever a part of this record.

Are you happy or sad to see 2013 end?

STAR: 2013 was one of the most intense and strangest years of my life. I am looking forward to seeing what's next! New Year's is most definitely time to celebrate—not ruminate.

Do you have any New Year's traditions?

STAR: As far as holidays go, I really like the idea of New Year's. Our planet revolves around the sun—seems right to mark the rotation with a celebration. The idea of starting over again is nice too!

At midnight, will anyone in your band be available for a smooch?

VIDMAR: I am taken. However, our keyboardist Akila [Fields] is available for a smooch....

What is your recommended hangover cure for New Year's Day?

VIDMAR: Greasy diner food.

Do you have a New Year's resolution for 2014?

STAR: Being happy with where things are at, [and] working to make them better. Happy New Year, Portland! Our town is special!

DJ Cooky Parker

50 Cuts Deeper: 50 years of Lesser Known Dance Trax, 1963-2013
w/DJ Cooky Parker, Sex Life DJs; Eagles Lodge, 4904 SE Hawthorne, 9 pm, $10

As the clock ticks toward midnight, DJ Cooky Parker will spin 50 years' worth of great dance tracks. It'll be a dance party for crate diggers and booty shakers alike.

MERCURY: There's a lot going on this New Year's Eve—what makes yours the best New Year's party in all the land?

COOKY PARKER: The fact that it's at the Eagles Lodge, it's only 10 bucks, the drinks are 1972 prices, and we're going 'til 4 am! 

Anything special planned?

We are transforming the Lodge into a full-on discotheque and DJing a 50-year history of amazing, but lesser-known dance music.

What song do you play at midnight? How do you feel about "Auld Lang Syne"?

I'm a sucker for tradition.

What is your recommended hangover cure for New Year's Day?

NOT waiting for an hour to eat brunch.

Do you have a New Year's resolution for 2014?

Yes, to make my first album!

The Parson Red Heads

Performing J.J. Cale's Naturally w/Free Car Walsh AKA Walshatron 3000 (Joe Walsh tribute), Ryan Sollee (performing Tom Waits); White Eagle Saloon, 836 N Russell, 9 pm, $12

Each year, the Parson Red Heads cover a different album in full, and this year they're trying on J.J. Cale's 1972 debut Naturally. The Parsons' Evan Way tells us more.

MERCURY: Why did you choose to cover Naturally this year?

EVAN WAY: This J.J. Cale record was basically the soundtrack to our first foray into living in Portland. When we were up here for an extended period for the first time, it's all any of us listened to for some reason. It just got into our heads! And when we were trying to think of what album to do this year, the one thing we knew is that we wanted to make sure we kept it varied—last year we did Weezer's "Blue" album, and we didn't want to just become the band that does early-'90s nostalgia records on NYE. Then around that time, I heard the news that J.J. Cale passed away. So it seemed like a no-brainer—we needed to pay tribute to him, and to the album that meant so much to all of us.

Will this be the typical Parsons lineup?

We've got the biggest band we've ever had for any of these NYE shows—a nine-piece for at least a good portion of the songs. [We'll have] keys, Eric Earley sitting in on harmonica and some vocals, a horn section, and even a guy devoted to percussion and the infamous J.J. Cale drum machine. It's going to be a feat of some magnitude to fit this band on the White Eagle stage.

What about Walshatron 3000, the Joe Walsh cover band, who's also on the bill?

[Parsons bassist] Charlie [Hester], Eric Earley, and Brian Koch [both of Blitzen Trapper] have talked awhile about putting together some sort of cover band. They wanted to do Judas Priest at first. But I think they all realized that maybe Joe Walsh would fit the vibe of the night a bit better. 

Is New Year's Eve the funnest night of the year, or amateur hour?

I used to think that NYE was absolute amateur hour. I am not a big fan of large crowds, especially large crowds of folks getting drunk and pumped. I guess I'm just an old man at heart. But ever since doing these NYE shows, my tune has changed in a big way. I SO look forward to the night now—I start planning the next one the very next morning! 

Champagne is traditional, but what should people be drinking at your show?

The man himself, J.J. Cale, probably said it best: "One drink of whiskey, one drink of gin/one drink of vodka and I told my friends/things don't seem quite like they used to/as reality leaves/so does the blues."

What song do you play at midnight?

I am really hoping that we can time it so that "After Midnight" is played right after the countdown. That would just be so epic, wouldn't it?

DJ Anjali and the Incredible Kid

Bossanova Ballroom, 722 E Burnside, 9 pm, $17-22

Portland's longest-running New Year's hosts might very well be DJ Anjali and the Incredible Kid, who started DJ'ing their best bhangra and Bollywood tracks on New Year's Eve in 2000. They tell us what's in store for this year's dance party.

MERCURY: What makes yours the finest New Year's Eve party in all the land?

DJ ANJALI AND THE INCREDIBLE KID: You'd be hard-pressed to find a more diverse crowd of fun-loving booty shakers than the lovely souls who pack our New Year's Eve party every year. When we started 13 years ago, it was our dream to bring all types of Portlanders together on the dance floor, and we are misty-eyed about the fact that people keep celebrating with us year after year.

Anything special planned? Costumes? Explosions?

Anjali is running with a Bollywood glam theme this year. She has an outfit on the way from India for her dance performance, and while things may be exploding above your head, we are all about blowing up the dance floor.

New Year's Eve: the funnest night of the year, or amateur hour?

It's amateur hour for some of the promoters and performers. We started doing this 13 years ago, yo!

Any terrible NYE memories?

One year we traveled to a double caldera in Central India. Instead of getting away from it all like we thought, we ended up in a mountain resort town catering to Indian tourists. At the resort's New Year's Eve party a committee of men DJ'ed straight from a home computer perched on a table, apparently without the benefit of any DJ software.

What is your recommended hangover cure for New Year's Day?

A really good fiery-hot Thai lunch.

Do you have a New Year's resolution for 2014?

Convince more and more people that you can have the time of your life dancing to music that isn't in English.

Anything else to add?

We promise not to feature that stretchy white fabric that is such an eyesore at so many events in Portland. And bring your best dancing shoes—we are not into dress codes.

The Satin Chaps

New Year's Eve Soul Stomp w/the Satin Chaps, Brownish Black, DJ Hippie Joe;
The Secret Society, 116 NE Russell, 9 pm, $17-20

The go-go soul stirrers of the Satin Chaps are once again closing out the year with a bang, performing at the Secret Society with fellow soul party band Brownish Black. Satin Chaps drummer Luke Strahota gives us the scoop.

MERCURY: What makes your show the finest New Year's Eve show in all the land?

LUKE STRAHOTA: Imagine going to a show where it felt like Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, Booker T and the MG's, and James Brown were all performing. That's us!

Anything special planned? Cover songs? Explosions?

We've had the good fortune to play a few shows this year with longtime Portland soul man J.R. Pella. He'll be joining us for a few songs. So yeah, there will be explosions once J.R. hits the stage. Both bands will get on stage to do our version of "Baby Hold On" by the Mohawks.

New Year's Eve: the funnest night of the year, or amateur hour?

If I weren't in a band I probably would never leave my house on New Year's. However, I've never really had a bad NYE and I have totally been "the amateur" more than a few times, even when I was way too old to be an amateur anymore, so I give the amateurs a break. All amateurs mean well. 

At midnight, will anyone in your band be available for a smooch?

I believe all the Chaps will be available for smooches this year. Last year there was some concern about fever blisters, but since we've had a high turnover of members this year, we should be in the clear. 

What song do you play at midnight? How do you feel about "Auld Lang Syne"?

We love "Auld Lang Syne." We play it every year. 

What are one or two of your best/worst NYE memories? Do you have any New Year's traditions?

One of my favorite memories was when the Satin Chaps played the Matador. It was just nuts, the crowd was falling into the band, it was totally packed and sweaty and it just felt like a giant, drunken, dancing love-in.

What is your recommended hangover cure for New Year's Day?

Before I go home I try to eat a couple of Whiffies brisket pies and a side of chili cheese fries. Then right before I go to bed I eat a melatonin, gulp some NyQuil, and take four Advil. The next day I usually drink a lot of Pepsi milk and watch a lot of Russ Meyer.

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