The Best Ball Drops in Town 

The Mercury's Mega-Guide to New Year's Eve

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New Year's Eve is all things to all people, from seasoned, sozzled party veterans to those youthful, scampish amateurs, but there are so many parties on the big night that you might not know where to stick yourself. That's why we asked 14 of the bands, DJs, and venue owners in town about what we can expect from their New Year's Eve throwdowns. They gave us all the juice about the parties they've got planned, so you'll know exactly where to be when the ball drops.

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Lost Lander, Aan, Dana Buoy
Backspace, 115 NW 5th, 8 pm, $12, all ages

One of Portland's only all-ages New Year's Eve celebrations has a dark cloud hanging over it: The cherished Backspace venue—one of the only remaining all-ages venues in town—will be evicted on January 1, 2013, unless it can raise $10,000 by year's end. For more info on that, visit indiegogo.com/savebackspace, but meanwhile, Lost Lander's Matt Sheehy tells us about the night's festivities (which hopefully won't be Backspace's final hurrah).

What makes your New Year's Eve show the finest New Year's Eve show in town?

MATT SHEEHY: The great thing about Backspace is that it's an all-ages venue. You can still drink there, though, if you're 21 and over. Your little brother could be your designated driver!

Do you have anything special planned for this show?

Absolutely. We'll have tons of glowsticks, black lights, and I'm working on creating fake snow. I grew up in Alaska and I never had the chance to attend a rave, so I'm hoping we can approximate something along those lines. But with totally different music.

At midnight, will someone in your band be available for kissing? The world wants to know.

We will all be available for kissing/hugging before/after/during the countdown to midnight. We're also completely disease- and boundary-free, collectively.

What song will you play at midnight? "Auld Lang Syne"?

We have a cover, but I can't spill the beans! I will say that I've never been more excited to play four minutes of dance music.

What is your New Year's resolution for 2013?

Learn how to play basketball so I can participate in next year's Rigsketball tourney.

Anything else to add?

A short plea, perhaps: Please don't let Backspace go under! This is vital to our under-aged Portlanders.

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Typhoon, Wild Ones, the Morals
Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi, 9 pm, $18-20

What do you have planned for this show?

KYLE MORTON (TYPHOON): I had a dream a few nights back in which we played our new songs with old songs embedded into parts of them. I woke up thinking that was a pretty good idea, so we set to hashing it out in real life. And yes, there will be snacks.

At midnight, will someone in your band be available for kissing?

We talked about it—like, for example, having a Typhoon kissing booth next to a Typhoon herpes-screening booth.

Will you be playing "Auld Lang Syne"?

Good idea. If we get our shit together, yes.

Do you have any favorite New Year's traditions?

New Year's Day dim sum.

What was your best New Year's Eve? And your worst?

Best: washing dishes at my dad's restaurant growing up, everyone working their asses off with pizza, champagne, and a good sleep to look forward to at the end of the night. Worst? Last year, I found myself in the position of having to plunge a toilet sans toilet plunger (nota bene, the mess was not my making).

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Weinland's NYE Supergroup, the Minus 5, DJ Safi
Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside, 9 pm, $22-25

What do you have planned this year?

ADAM SHEARER (WEINLAND): The Minus 5 start the night with their amazing music and built-in all-star greatness. Then the Weinland NYE Supergroup will play around 25 of the most classic dance songs of all time. We represent every genre from the last 40 years and turn it into a best-of, performed by a group of 20-plus Portland musicians, all of whom are selected for their specific skill sets. Chet [Jeffrey Lyster of Eels] shreds, Steven Bak can sing anything, no one can sing the Bee Gees like Brian Perez, and on and on. We'll have songs from Prince, MJ, Journey, Bell Biv Devoe (yes, I said that), Beastie Boys, the Stones, and heaps more.

Will someone in the band be available for kissing at midnight?

Yes, we all make out with everyone. The songs are selected to subconsciously push you all toward this.

Will you play "Auld Lang Syne" at midnight?

Yes, we always do. That, or we'll play "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'" and the whole room will be screaming, "Ma ma sa, ma ma coo sa ma ma se, ma ma sa, ma ma coo sa."

Do you have any favorite New Year's traditions?

Every year we do this. This is our fourth year. Bring your sweetheart or come alone and remain open to adventure.

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

Brownies, booze, and Wii bowling.

Anything else?

If you put our picture on the cover, we will bring Ned Lannamann on stage and force him to dance with himself to "Dancing with Myself."

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Two Beers Veirs w/Laura Veirs and Guests
LaurelThirst Public House, 2958 NE Glisan, 9 pm, $25

What makes your show the finest New Year's Eve show in town?

LAURA VEIRS: We have the best-looking band in town. Also, I'll be six months pregnant, wearing a sparkling crown and a Les Paul. 

Anything special planned? Cover songs?

I worked hard to learn Jimi's solo for "The Wind Cries Mary." Now I have to get it to flow with a rockstar spread-legged stance, instead of the tight-lipped-nerd-hunched-over concentrated look. 

At midnight, will someone in your band be available for kissing?

We are all married, so give it a try and see what happens.

What will you play at midnight?

Led Zeppelin's "The Song Remains the Same." I had to practice it for two months. Our lead singer Annalisa Tornfelt does a mean Robert Plant.

Do you have any favorite New Year's traditions?

Joining a gym and getting the body of my dreams.

What was your best New Year's Eve? And your worst?

Best: dancing all night on a Brooklyn rooftop with a man dressed up as a unicorn. Worst: waking up covered in mud in a cow field in Colorado.

How would you describe your 2012, overall?

I bought a red Porsche and had a midlife crisis.

What is your New Year's resolution for 2013?

To be more patient. Godammit.

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Get In!: Magic Mouth, Shy Girls, DJ Cooky Parker, & more
Dig a Pony, 736 SE Grand & Union/Pine, 525 SE Pine (limo service between venues provided)
8 pm, $15

What makes this New Year's Eve show the finest New Year's Eve show in town?

DJ COOKY PARKER: Wow, so many things. The DJ lineup is incredible, two of my favorite Portland bands are performing, and oh yeah, free limo rides!

Anything special planned?

We are recreating the lighted ball drop from the Woods last year.

Champagne is traditional for New Year's, but what drink do you recommend for your set?

Absinthe?

At midnight, will you be available for kissing?

Indeed I will be!

What was your best New Year's Eve? And your worst?

Worst was when I was grounded back in high school. I had to watch Dick Clark all by myself. Best: Surely last year at the Woods, it was epic. It closed one week later. I'm still so very sad about that.

How would you describe your 2012, overall?

Jam-packed with music.

What is your New Year's resolution for 2013?

To get better at doing the "Cabbage Patch" and the "Roger Rabbit."

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

Brunch with aquavit at Broder.

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The Parson Red Heads, Ozarks, Josh and Mer
White Eagle, 836 N Russell, 9:30 pm, $12-15

What makes this show the best New Year's Eve show in town?

EVAN WAY (THE PARSON RED HEADS): At no other show will you find two of the greatest albums of the '90s being performed from start to finish! Our dear friends Ozarks (who I am playing drums for these days) are covering Grandaddy's epic Under the Western Freeway, and the Parsons are playing Weezer's "Blue Album!" You won't see these sets performed by these bands again, so it's pretty once-in-a-lifetime. We wanted to make sure this year was special in its own right—we've performed "classic" albums from front to back before (Tom Petty's Wildflowers, the Beatles' A Hard Day's Night), but nothing quite like the "Blue Album." This album is really important to a whole different generation than the records we've played before. Hard to find someone of our generation who wouldn't say this was a serious cornerstone of their music collection. And it is also just about the single most fun album to play EVER.

Champagne is traditional for New Year's, but what drink do you recommend for your set?

Well, if you want to honor the "Blue Album," you'll spend the evening drinking Heineken. But considering this is Portland, and we have so many other, and better, beers to choose from... I don't really see that happening. Who knows—maybe when we sing the lyric "somebody's Heinie is crowding my icebox," there will be a sea of Heineken-holding hands raised to the sky!

At midnight, will someone in your band be available for kissing?

We'll be available for kissing all night EXCEPT at midnight. We've sworn to have a kiss-free countdown.

What song will you play at midnight (if you can spill the beans)?

Pre-midnight, you'll be hearing "Only in Dreams," as we'll be wrapping up the "Blue Album." But there is a special song planned for immediately afterward. It is a secret.

Do you have any memorable New Year's traditions?

This is our only New Year's tradition—I can't think of a better one! Play one of your favorite albums at an awesome venue in an awesome city on everyone's favorite night to see a show. Don't need to ask me twice!

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DJ Anjali and the Incredible Kid
Bossanova Ballroom, 722 E Burnside, 9 pm, $15

What makes your New Year's Eve show the finest in town?

THE INCREDIBLE KID: We create an opening into a pocket universe of all-joy, all-fun dancing mayhem. And everyone's invited.

Anything special planned for this show?

the incredible kid: With the help of Shane Carruth, we are building the first operational time machine, which will be the arrival point for the first visitors from the future at the stroke of midnight at our party.

Champagne is traditional for New Year's, but what drink do you recommend for your set?

Mahua: the Indian "country liquor" created from the flowers of the Madhuca longifolia tree that is brewed by Indian tribals. Only drink one cup!

Will someone be available for kissing at midnight?

No one will be able to get a tongue in edgewise.

Will you be playing "Auld Lang Syne" at midnight?

"Auld Lang Syne?" Hell to the no. Definitely something fresh. Definitely a banger. Truthfully, Anjali and I switch off playing the midnight song every year. It's Anjali's turn this year, and she's not telling.

What was your best New Year's Eve? And your worst?

Our first New Year's Eve party together was a ton of fun. Between nudity and illicit substance use, people were getting kicked out by the dozens. The worst? How about the most different? At a hotel New Year's Eve party at a hill station in Central India, we learned that at these functions all the vices are sequestered in a corner where the alcohol, tobacco, and meat are discreetly served and hastily consumed.

What is your New Year's resolution for 2013?

Become a little less of a Portland secret.

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

Vietnamese food.

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Quasi
Bunk Bar, 1028 SE Water, 9 pm, $12-14

What makes your New Year's Eve show the finest New Year's Eve show in town?

SAM COOMES (QUASI): I didn't know there were any other shows.

Do you have anything special planned for this show?

A miniature reproduction of Qin Shi Huang's tomb in marzipan.

Champagne is traditional for New Year's, but what drink do you recommend for your set?

Depth Charge and kava.

Will you play "Auld Lang Syne"?

I'm not really interested in "Auld Lang Syne," but if people are screaming for it, who knows. Is this a song that makes people happy? Is this something people actually want to hear? I don't really know. I've never gotten anything out of it, personally. It's got an interesting title, though.

How would you describe your 2012, overall?

Untenable, but stable.

What is your New Year's resolution for 2013?

Shred more.

Recommended hangover cure for New Year's Day?

Acid.

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Lord Dying, Long Knife, Bi-Marks, I Need Lunch
Star Bar, 639 SE Morrison, 9 pm, free

What makes your New Year's Eve show the finest show in town?

JOSH DAVIS (STAR BAR): First, it's free. Four bands. Champagne toast at midnight. Party favors. All for free.

Do you have anything special planned for this show?

The first three bands have original material (in this order: Bi-Marks, Long Knife, and Lord Dying). I Need Lunch, the final band of the evening, will be all Dead Boys covers... and they will most definitely dress and act the part.

Champagne is traditional for New Year's, but what drink do you recommend for your set?

Shot and a beer. You can't go wrong with that.

At midnight, will someone in one of the bands be available for kissing?

Everybody in Long Knife (but the bassist) will be available for kissing. It is encouraged, in fact.

Any favorite or memorable New Year's traditions?

Not that I can remember. Maybe that is the tradition.

What was your best New Year's Eve? And your worst?

They are one and the same, I suspect.

How would you describe your 2012, overall?

Awkward, but filled with love... like a giant pink gorilla trapped in a bedroom closet.

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

No sleep; keep the party going until the 2nd and pay the price then.

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The Miracles Club, Jeffrey Jerusalem Band, Brainstorm, Hosannas, Magic Fades,
DJ Beyondadoubt, DJ E*Rock, DJ Zack;
pre-party cocktail hour w/Zac Pennington & Luke Wyland duo

Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison, 9 pm, (7:30 pm cocktail hour), $18-25

What makes this the finest New Year's Eve show in town?

JEFFREY JERUSALEM: The diversity and talent on the bill is insane. Some of Portland's most entertaining performers have a hand in this one. From Beyonda to Miracles Club to Brainstorm? Kind of unbeatable.

Do you have anything special planned for this show?

I've got the über-talented boys of Brainstorm backing me up and we're working on some tight collaborations that include the disco and house vibes I work with, combined with the jangly, West African sounds they're so good at conjuring.

What drink do you recommend for your set?

Well, I'm not above Red Bull and vodka, so if you need that sort of thing to stay awake until the wee hours, do your thing. But if you're anything like me, you'll maintain a steady flow of cheap white wine to the gullet. Anything, really, except for heavy, bitter microbrews. That stuff is a gut bomb.

At midnight, will someone in your band be available for kissing? The world wants to know.

The world would hope so, considering that I've got Patrick and Adam from Brainstorm backing me up. There are none more handsome than those fools.

What song will play at midnight?

Miracles Club will be on stage at that moment, so I'm sure they've got something brilliant planned.

What was your best New Year's Eve? And your worst?

Knock on wood, but I feel like I've got a pretty strong record for fun New Year's Eves. I think it's all about expectation management. I just like to surround myself with friends and loved ones, and don't expect much more than a few drinks and a few thrills. Otherwise you wake up on the 1st with a gnarly hangover and that sense of doom you have when you reflect on your behavior from the previous evening.

What is your New Year's resolution for 2013?

Figure out what yoga is all about.

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DJ Nine Inch Nilina, DJ Uptown Alley
Valentine's, 232 SW Ankeny, 9 pm, free

What makes your New Year's Eve show the finest in town?

NILINA MASON-CAMPBELL: It can be anything you want! Your full-time destination, a stopover on the way to the next event, something free to do, an ultimate dance party, beautiful young pretty things—you name it!

Do you have anything special planned? What kinds of stuff will you spin?

We're planning to do a balloon drop once the clock strikes midnight. Look forward to having your photo snapped by moi, too! I'll be playing a mix of electro, rap, old-school (think 1978), Top 40 (Miguel, Biebs, RiRi), and more. DJ Uptown Alley will also be gracing the decks and I know she has a love for all things disco. And Bruce Springsteen. The best summation is that Valentine's will be pumping like an up-tempo jukebox.

Champagne is traditional, but what drink do you recommend? 

I recommend sparkling wine topped with St. Germain. Ultra classy, boozy, and bourgie.

At midnight, will you be available for kissing?

I may (insert wink). I'm a single lady this year, but it all depends on who shows up. A high-five is a definite guarantee, though!

Do you have any favorite or memorable New Year's traditions?

When I was a kid, my mom and I would step out the door and bang on pots and pans. Now it's just making sure the right song is on. 

What was your best New Year's Eve? And your worst?

Best was probably last year when I hung out at a friend's apartment and we celebrated midnight to the tune of Britney's "Till the World Ends" before jumping in a cab to go shake our asses on the dance floor of Dig a Pony to the tunes of Purple & Green and drunkenly sip other people's drinks. Worst was a few years ago. After party hopping between Holocene and a house show throughout the night, I ended up being stranded by someone who I presumed to be a best friend (after she drank all my booze and had me pull favors for her left and right that night), with no cab fare to get me back across the river. Luckily, another friend got out of bed and came and got me around 4 am while I sat crying outside the Clinton Street Theater.

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'60s Groove Pop Revival & Motown Get Down
w/the Satin Chaps,
Brownish Black, DJ Hippie Joe, DJ Von Tussle
Someday Lounge, 125 NW 5th, 9 pm, $15

What makes your New Year's Eve show the finest New Year's Eve show in town?

PETER DEAN (THE SATIN CHAPS): Our saxophonist will be removing an item of clothing every hour on the hour starting at 8 pm. Spoiler alert: He's starting the night only wearing four items of clothing.

Anything special planned for this show?

As stated above, there may be nudity. Beyond that, we have a virtual cornucopia of surprises planned. But if we told you what they were, they wouldn't be surprises. Suffice it to say, people will tell their children about this night—children that may well be conceived as a direct result of the aforementioned surprises.

Champagne is traditional for New Year's, but what drink do you recommend for your set?

Milk. It might be counterintuitive, but with the amount of getting down that's going to be going down, folks will need the nutrition that can only be delivered by a good old-fashioned glass of ice-cold two percent.

Will someone in your band be available for kissing at midnight?

As luck would have it, a full 50 percent of the band will be herpes-sore-free and ready to smooch away at the strike of 12.

What song will you play at midnight?

We're big fans of a German NYE song called "Guten Rutsch (Ins Funky Neue Jahr)." However, if someone slips us a Jackson (or maybe a few Deutschmarks), "Auld Lang Syne" might ring out.

Do you have any favorite New Year's traditions?

Aside from the traditional Satin Chaps' Chapping of an Audience Member's Hide? Not really.

What was your best New Year's Eve? And your worst?

Best: The whole crowd singing along to "Celebrate Good Times," 12:00 am, January 1, 2011. Worst: An audience member throwing up on our organist, 12:02 am, January 1, 2011.

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

Hair of the dog that bit ya: two percent milk.

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Tony Starlight's AM Gold '70s Soft Rock Show
Tony Starlight's Supper Club, 3728 NE Sandy, 8 pm (dinner show) & 10:30 pm (cocktail show), $25-70

What makes your show the finest New Year's Eve show in town?

TONY STARLIGHT: It is easily the softest rocking in town.

Do you have anything special planned?

We dress in 1970s American native clothing. The finest polyester and the tightest of slacks.

What drink do you recommend for your set?

I'll be drinking Maker's Mark and soda.

At midnight, will someone in your band be available for kissing?

We all are, but we will kissing our wives or possibly each other.

Will you be playing "Auld Lang Syne"?

Yes.

Do you have any favorite or memorable New Year's traditions?

It's New Year's when I say it's New Year's, despite what time your phone says.

What is your New Year's resolution for 2013?

To be a little less humble.

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Egyptian Lover, Jamie Jupiter, Etbonz, White Rainbow, DJ Maxx Bass
YU Contemporary, 800 SE 10th, 9 pm, $15-20 (free entry after 1 am, w/Holocene stamp)

What makes your New Year's Eve show the finest New Year's Eve show in town?

JARED WHITE (DJ MAXX BASS): Egyptian theme! On account of Egyptian Lover. Plus the late-night shared ticket with Holocene. Plus the venue with the largest windows!

Do you have anything special planned?

Working on a pyramid. Wear gold and black!

Champagne is traditional, but what drink do you recommend?

That. And Pabst!

At midnight, will any of the bands or DJs be available for kissing? The world wants to know.

We're currently petitioning Egyptian Lover for this request.

What song will play at midnight?

"Bitter Sweet Symphony"? "It's So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday," Boyz II Men? "Once in a Lifetime," Talking Heads? We will see. Dealer's choice.

How would you describe your 2012, overall?

VG+ to EX.

What was your best New Year's Eve? And your worst?

New Year's Eve is my favorite and always good. It's everyone's birthday at once! Non-commercial, apolitical, irreligious.

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Caleb Klauder Country Band, the Barn Door Slammers
The Spare Room, 4830 NE 42nd, 9 pm, $15

What makes your New Year's Eve show the finest in town?

CALEB KLAUDER: Well, it's a honky-tonk at the Spare Room, one of the best dive bars in town. It's got a great dance floor, so it'll be an all-out dance party with "good vibes" as the main attraction.

Anything special planned for this show?

We are planning a Rhinestone Cowboy contest. Dress your best and bring on the bling. And at midnight we will have a special song for you all.

At midnight, will someone be available for kissing?

Kissing, yes, there will be men and women available for kissing. Kiss away, maybe I'll set up a kissing booth.

Do you have any favorite New Year's traditions?

Well, I love a big ol' bonfire, but we can't do that at the Spare Room. I am into the idea of a great social gathering with dancing and singing as a way of throwing off your old baggage. I like the paper boats with candles sent down the river to take away your fears and to make room for new opportunities in life.

What is your New Year's resolution for 2013?

To record a new album with the Country Band including all original songs, or songs written in the past few years by someone I know.

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

What's a hangover? Just kidding. Two parts coffee and Bailey's, one part eggs and bacon, one part couch, one part good ol' western movie, and a sauna in the late afternoon. Oh, and a slice of pumpkin pie with whipped cream.

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