Best Ways to Ring in the New Year

From ratchet rappers to Crescent City trombonists, we got you covered this New Year's Eve.

Not Your Normal New Year’s Eve

The title is no misnomer. Local comedian and solo performer Jill Bourque has made a point of bringing absurdist comedy to the Palace of Fine Arts every New Year’s Eve, and regardless of how well-known her headliners are in the comedy world, they generally hew to the line of convention-defying, borderline-obscene abnormality. This year’s star is Brent Weinbach, a postmodern poop humorist who won the Andy Kaufman Award at the HBO Comedy Festival, and starred in a YouTube film that entailed him swimming through his mother’s fallopian tube — just to give you an idea of his sensibility. He’ll perform alongside such other local favorites as Alex Koll, Kevin Camia, Liz Grant, Natasha Muse, Steve Lee, and Bourque herself. Plus musical relief from the Foxtails Brigade, a band fronted by Weinbach’s sister, Laura. — R.S.

Details: At Herbst Theatre (401 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco). 8 p.m., $25-$59.

Best part: Might involve the Russian alphabet, if you’re lucky.

What “poop” means in this context: Just take it literally. Really.

How to gameplan: Go to YouTube. Search “Andy Kaufman wrestles a 327 pound woman.”

Out with the Old, In with the New

Literally. After a way-too-long construction hiatus, the well-loved Lakeshore bar Easy Lounge is finally re-opening January 3, with an all-new interior and full kitchen. But three days earlier, they’ll be hosting a special New Year’s Eve cocktail event, featuring as sponsor St. George’s Spirits, and as guest bartenders the guys from Jupiter Olympus, a pop-up bar company known for its out-there drinks and general party-rock spirit. There’ll be music, sure (from DJ Tom LG) but for those of us who know the real meaning of the holiday — that is, drinking, unencumbered by such distractions as live performance — this is what’s up. Beware, though, tickets are going fast. — E.C.

Details: At Easy Lounge (3255 Lakeshore Ave., Oakland). 8 p.m., $20. Tickets at

Don’t worry: Dry ice, vaporized tonic, and whatever other mad-scientist flourishes these guys throw at you are totally safe to drink.

Pro tip: Load up on the (free!) appetizers before you start on the cocktails.

The Velvet Teen

The Velvet Teen is a local indie-rock mainstay. Hailing from Santa Rosa and Petaluma, they’ve built a loyal national fan base through four albums, as many EPs, and ten years of touring. And Bottom of the Hill is like a second home to these guys, one of many San Francisco venues where they became a noteworthy pioneering act of the “Noise Pop” quasi-genre. Persevering through the loss of beloved drummer Logan Whitehurst in 2004 and even adding a fourth member in 2009, the band’s sweet indie rock has not gotten softer over the years — rather, it’s become more jagged, and propellent, and exciting. — W.B.

Details: At Bottom of the Hill (1233 17th St., San Francisco). 10 p.m., $15-17.

What to wear: Your black Velvet Teen t-shirt circa 2003.

Who to bring: Your little cousin who hasn’t heard of them yet.

What to eat before: Eh, nothing.

Devin the Dude

“Swag” is fizzling out; “cloud rap” is wafting in. Both owe many of their attributes to precursors like Devin the Dude, whose oeuvre could represent an aesthetic movement unto itself. Known as one of the most prodigiously talented and woefully underrated rappers of all time, the artist born Devin Copeland has released seven solo albums to date, all with the Houston label Rap-a-Lot Records. He has a rambling, stream-of-consciousness, near-liquid flow that can enrich even the plainest of backing tracks. The Dude has a sense of humor to boot, often making fun of his unerring sweet tooth for marijuana (which is probably his favorite muse). Lest you doubt that the words “woefully underrated” really apply, consider these other three words: Shattuck Down Low — i.e., the venue Devin is most likely to headline when he’s in the Bay Area, even though he outstrips most arena-level rappers. That’s unfortunate for him, and extremely fortuitous for hip-hop heads in Berkeley. Particularly on the biggest party night of the year. —R.S.

Details: At Shattuck Down Low (2284 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley). 8 p.m., $25.

What colors to sport: Green, purp.

When the contact high wears off: There’s always the doobie ashtray.

Wax Idols/Terry Malts

For classic punk lovers, this is the perfect event. As New Year’s Eve goes, this is one of the cheapest options out there, and best of all, both bands hail from Oakland. Wax Idols is mainly the project of Heather Fedewa, who writes songs and manages most of the band’s affairs under the name Hether Fortune. Earlier this year Wax Idols put out No Future on Hozac Records — which remains without a doubt one of the most overlooked releases of the year. Terry Malts is the second coming of Magic Bullets, who scrapped the band’s original name (and sound) to pursue a more purely punk and garage sensibility. — W.B.

Details: At Hemlock Tavern (1131 Polk St., SF). 9 p.m., $10 (includes champagne toast).

What to drink: Tall cans, in the alley before.

Accessories of choice: Alt eyewear/sleeves.

Who to bring: The dude who works at the stationery store.

Paul Mooney

Whether or not you’ve ever met Paul Mooney in real life, it’s easy to feel a personal connection to, or distinct apprehension of, the famed comedian. For one thing, most of us grew up with his characters: Homey D. Clown on In Living Color (conceived by Mooney and played by Damon Wayans); Negrodamus and resident “Ask a Black Dude” expert in Chappele’s Show; and host of BET’s 25 Most @#%! Moments in Black History. We’ve also witnessed his trenchant, often unsparing critiques of race politics in America. A distinct sense of scholarship and well-honed anger inform Mooney’s material, much of it delivered in the cadence of a scold. That said, he cuts a striking figure, and has the self-possession of a Shakespearian actor. Seen live, he’s riveting. — R.S.

Details: At Black Repertory Theatre (3201 Adeline St., Berkeley). 7, 9, and 11 p.m.; $25-$100.

Beware of: Ruthless clowning, especially if you bear any resemblance to Sarah Jessica Parker.

And on that note: Any setup that includes the words “white Hollywood” is bound to have a great punchline.

World Town NYE 2012

They’re perhaps best known for doing a verse on the 2010 Far East Movement megahit “Like a G-6,” but the Cataracs — aka Niles Hollowell-Dhar and David Singer-Vine, potentially the most hyphenated duo in hip-hop history —have been doing it up in their own right for years, ever since they met at Berkeley High and started making beats in their bedrooms. Their musical talent also runs much deeper than mere rapping: They wrote and produced “G-6,” as well as several other Top 40 techno-hop masterpieces (including “Bass Down Low” by their protégée, Dev, and Snoop Dogg’s charmingly titled “Wet”). This New Year’s Eve makes for something of a homecoming show for the LA transplants, who’ll be DJing a set along with Nicky Romero and Hard Rock Sofa, both of which will be making their San Francisco debuts, and Dev. — E.C.

Details: At Space 550 (550 Barnevald Ave., San Francisco). 8 p.m., $65. Tickets at

Finally, once and for all: It’s a jet. A G-6 is a jet.

Beware of: Having that godforsaken song stuck in your head for at least a week after the fact. Hello, 2012!


Unless you’ve spent the last six months using a waffle iron to connect to the Internet, chances are you’ve heard of this white rapper chick from East Oakland — the one responsible for unleashing “Gucci Gucci” onto the world. Although Kreayshawn may never produce another hit, she’s a sight to behold in concert, partly because of her entourage (which used to involve a full-fledged “White Girl Mob” yet now includes only the similarly petulant V-Nasty), but mostly because of her sartorial choices. Just check out the photographs from Kreayshawn’s August 25 appearance at Slim’s, for which she sported pajama pants, a midriff-bearing mesh shirt, two-toned hair, and her signature librarian glasses. That only means that Kreayshawn’s New Year’s Eve show at Regency will be well worth the price of admission, especially when you consider the supporting acts: Wallpaper, Roach Gigz, DJ Amen, and our new favorite frat-boy obsession, Starting Six. — R.S.

Details: At The Regency Ballroom (1300 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco). 9 p.m., $35-$125.

What to know going in: She squashed the beef with Rick Ross, but Lil Debbie is still on the outs.

Also: “StupidFacedd” has extra consonants, apparently.


The folks behind Countdown are billing the event as “NorCal’s Largest NYE Massive Music Festival,” and — syntactical adventurousness aside — they must be right: We’re talking 15,000 people, 100-plus acres, 24 artists, 3 indoor stages, and innumerable carnival rides. Yup, you read that right: It all goes down at the Tulare County Fairgrounds, which means Ferris wheels, slides, moon bounces, and various other county-fair goodies, though suffice it to say you may be hard-pressed to find deep-fried Oreos or rib cook-offs. Instead: a deep slate of dance, trance and techno artists, including Headhunterz, Cyperoptics, Cosmic Gate, and, most excitingly, Diplo, who’ll be flying up for a 1 a.m. DJ set after playing another show in LA. — E.C.

Details: At Tulare County Fairgrounds (215 Martin Luther King, Jr. Way, Tulare). 6 p.m., $60. Tickets at

What to bring: Glowsticks, obvi.

Bonus: It’s 16- (rather than 21-) and up!

Trombone Shorty

Even before The Wire creator David Simon lit up HBO with his brilliant new show about post-Katrina New Orleans, Trombone Shorty was the pride and joy of NOLA’s Treme. Shorty, whose given name is Troy Andrews, was born into a musical family, and music has been his business since age six. He’ll turn 26 the day after this show, but the virtuosic horn player has been cutting albums for a decade already. His longtime band Orleans Avenue will bring the joyous fusion of funk, soul, R&B, and quintessential New Orleans jazz to San Francisco two nights in a row. — W.B.

Details: At The Fillmore (1805 Geary Blvd., SF) on Dec. 30-31. 9 p.m., $25-59.50.

What to eat before: Try to get your hands on some gator meat.

What to wear: Try to look nice.

Accessories of choice: Try a monocle.

Holla Back New Year’s Eve with Umar Bin Hassan

We lost a lot of wonderful artists in 2011, but few made a greater impact than poet Gil Scott-Heron, who remained in the pop-culture limelight up until his death. He was the subject of a fabulously vivid, pretty heartbreaking New Yorker profile in 2010, which detailed his contributions to poetry and to the hip-hop canon, as well as his protracted struggle with crack addiction. The headline pretty much said it all: “New York is Killing Me.” That same year, Heron appeared at Yoshi’s San Francisco jazz club to perform cuts from his last album, I’m New Here, which included a blues track called “Me and the Devil” that might have been the best attempt, by any artist, to link a modern genre back to its musical lineage. This New Year’s Eve, Heron will be remembered, and celebrated, in a special tribute by fellow Last Poet Umar Bin Hassan. Called “So Far So Good,” the event will also feature The Usual Suspects, DJs, a bar, food, and special guests. — R.S.

Details: At EastSide Cultural Center (2277 International Blvd., Oakland). 9 p.m., $20.

Great revelation: Rap is poetry.

And: Poetry can hit hard.

The Fresh & Onlys and Thee Oh Sees

Why not spend the last moments of 2011 listening to two of the bands that defined Bay Area music this year, as some of the most celebrated artists of the Bay Area’s much-ballyhooed garage-rock renaissance? The Fresh & Onlys and Thee Oh Sees have more in common than that, actually: Both bands are wildly prolific, creatively indefatigable, and absolutely legendary live. The pysch-pop-rockers will be joined by another local rising star, White Fence, for a sure-to-be-satisfying show put on by the ever-reliable booking organization FolkYeah. — E.C.

Details: At Brick and Mortar Music Hall (1710 Mission St., San Francisco). 9 p.m., $15-$20. Tickets at

Beware of: TOO MUCH ROCK!!!! Just kidding, flannel-induced overheating.

Bring: Earplugs.

Correction: a previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Countdown is happening at Alameda County Fairgrounds. The event’s location was changed to Tulare County Fairgrounds after press time. Furthermore, it’s now 16-and-up, rather than 18-and-up.


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