The year 2023 is on its way out the door so it’s time to find a hot show to ring in the New Year. There’s no shortage of shows to attend—from Ural Thomas and the Pain to Reptaliens to a Cowboy Prom at Polaris Hall. We're hipped you to many of these picks as they came out, but there's one more for your consideration: a FREE dance night downtown, featuring sounds by Zyah Belle. Most of this week's Hear in Portland is "must see" NYE shows, but if you're looking ahead to January, the kick-off aparty for Portland Music Month looks hard to beat.   

PSA: Don't forget that from 8 pm on December 31 until 3 am on January 1, Trimet transit is free—including Portland Streetcar and C-TRAN in Vancouver, WA. And I hear you, that would be great... if any of it ran late. Well, your wish is mixed results! MAX trains are running on longer schedules—two hours later for the blue, orange, and green lines; an hour and a half later for the red.


Upcoming local event(s) featuring local artist(s).       


Behold! An end-of-year closer show from high-concept music project Reptaliens inside Revolution Hall's smaller burger-bar-adjacent venue, Show Bar. Those new to Reptaliens can start with their most recent full-length, Multiverse, which represented a more down-to-earth, guitar-rock approach than their previously synth-powered sound. Fans will hope for the group to also bust out material from the more surreal, sci-fi, conspiracy-influenced corners of their catalog. Their 2020 EP Wrestling paired moody songs with invigorating beats on “Listening,” and “Do You Know?” And that's just the vibe to pump up these dreary winter nights, and welcome in January's cold-but-curiously-seasonable reputation. Offering sturdy support to the NYE bill is Portland’s psych and hard pop band Aan, who will slay irresistible bangers like recently released single “Black Hole.” While Rev Hall’s roof deck is typically closed between November and March, the team sometimes opens it up on nice weather nights, so cross your fingers for clear skies! Maybe we'll get a chance to ring in the New Year with that banger view of the city skyline. (Show Bar, 1300 SE Stark, Sun Dec 31, 9 pm, $20, tickets here, 21+)

New Year's Eve Cowboy Prom: Jenny Don't and the Spurs

Feel like getting into some themed throwback vibes? Head to see one of Portland’s most stalwart country music acts Jenny Don’t and the Spurs, as the band headlines a NYE event dubbed Cowboy Prom. Portland’s longtime masters of cowpunk and outlaw country have been carrying on in honor of their beloved former drummer, Sam Henry, who passed away in 2022. (Henry also performed with Jenny in her previous band DON’T, and was best known for his work with punk rock group the Wipers.) There’s a lot to love about Jenny Don’t and the Spurs’ sound, even to someone who wouldn't consider themself a country-western music fan. Over a foundation of cinematic strumming, the twangy vocals of Jenny Don’t feel nostalgic and pitch-perfect. She demonstrates a mastery over vibrato that, at times, strikes us as reminiscent of Dolly Parton. Look forward to this upbeat desert rock to kick in the new year. (Polaris Hall, 635 N Killingsworth Ct, Sun Dec 31, 9 pm, $30, tickets here, 21+)

Ural Thomas and the Pain

One simply can’t go wrong in choosing Portland-based soul legend Ural Thomas and the Pain for their NYE entertainment. Thomas is one of the city’s shiniest gems, having established his solo career in the ’50s and ’60s, and resumed sparkling in 2013, with his acclaimed band. In 2022, when Thomas was 82, the band released its third full-length Dancing Dimensions, the group's first album of entirely new songs that didn't fall back on Thomas’ preexisting catalog. The Pain band is comprised of musicians decades younger than Thomas: Scott Magee on percussion, Brent Martens on guitar, Arcellus Skys on bass, Steve Aman on keyboards, Willie Matheis on tenor sax, Dave Moonie on trumpet, and Bruce Withycomb on baritone sax. Largely lauded as one of the best albums to come out of Portland in 2022, Dancing Dimensions feels both nostalgic and new, offering 14 tracks of phenomenal soul. If you're just giving it a spin now, make note of the sublime interstellar grooves on its title track, the upbeat sunshine vibes on the jingle-worthy “Gimme Some Ice Cream,” the climactic and sentimental “Do You Remember the Times We Had,” and the lighthearted “My Favorite Song.” Thomas’ voice sounds as lovely as ever; he leads harmonies that sometimes feel like time-traveling to an Earth Wind & Fire concert. All the tracks on Dancing Dimensions are the ideal makings of a terrific NYE set. Other acts on the bill include Portland-based folk rock band the Builders and the Butchers, soul- and blues-infused rock from Hopeless Jack, comedy from surrealist realist Adam Pasi, and groove maintenance by DJ Cooky Parker. (Star Theater, 13 NW 6th, Sun Dec 31, 9 pm, $35, tickets here, 21+)

No Wallflowers New Year’s Eve

One of Portland’s most standout R&B singers, Zyah Belle AKA Yam Grier, spent two months learning how to DJ so she could DJ her own Birthday party back in October, and in the months since, she's been popping up as a DJ at spots like buzzy downtown bar Pink Rabbit. Zyah's birthday event was called No Wallflowers in homage to her upbringing in the Bay Area, where the parties are jumping and the people dance. For New Year’s Eve, Zyah Belle is headlining her second No Wallflowers party, taking over Pink Rabbit's next door cocktail bar Fools and Horses and tapping DJ and producer Isaiah Sims to assist in providing dance-worthy sounds. The event’s organizers request attendees to use the dance night as an opportunity to dress to impress. And because this rare gem is a FREE NYE party, guests are also encouraged to RSVP and arrive early. Catch the vibe with this promotional video, shot by Riley Brown, which teased the upcoming event. (Fools and Horses, Sun Dec 31, 10 pm, 226 Northwest 12th, FREE with RSVP, 21+)

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by YAM GRIER (@zyahbelle)


Some upcoming music buzz to add to your radar.

Portland Music Month

We've been shouting about it for the past few weeks, but it feels appropriate to remind you that January is Portland Music Month! Instead of sinking into hibernation mode, consider supporting the city's local music scene at any of the dozens of shows Music Oregon organized for this blistering blowout. Every ticket sold donates one dollar of its ticket price to the nonprofit's Echo Fund, a competitive grant program that provides independent “musician empowerment grants,” supporting artists in various ways, like paying for studio time, pressing a record, paying for publicity, and much more. Some notable shows to see include a kick-off party at Holocene featuring J. Graves and Bridal Veil (Jan 3), a chance to see smooth purveyors of late-night grooves Night Heron at Mississippi Studios (Jan 5), Golden Boy and New Body Electric at Show Bar (Jan 11), and former Portlanders Y La Bamba headline Wonder Ballroom Jan 27). Check out the full calendar of shows at