.Out with the Old, In with the New

The top New Year’s Eve events the East Bay has to offer. Plus a few in San Francisco.

Blackball Universe YouTag Party

Blackball Universe (230 Madison St., Oakland) is a hole-in-the-wall that you want to crawl into. It’s understated on the outside, with a nondescript door that leads up a narrow staircase. Inside, though, rooms covered in art flow into each other, leading back to a cozy bar decorated like an old speakeasy, with velvet cushions and all. It’s the home of the Blackball Universe music label and artist collective, and also holds the studio of Blackball founder Xavier Dphrepaulezz.  The charismatic, dapper musician performs as Fantastic Negrito, often drawing sidewalk crowds on First Fridays by delivering black roots music with a host of accompaniments. For the second year in a row, Dphrepaulezz will be inviting the public to join the Blackball family for a night of New Year’s celebration and music. The party is called YouTag, because the walls will be covered in white paper and guests will be invited to scribble out their 2014 memories and 2015 resolutions. Markers, food, and drinks will all be supplied. All you need to bring is a creative willingness and the inclination to dance. The party is all ages and free, but donations are encouraged. — S.B.

7 p.m. BlackballUniverse.com


Psychefunkapus, anyone? Forgotten, alas, just like most of the band’s peers in the late 1980s and early 1990s thrash-metal-funk scene. Yet one export from the mostly forgotten Bay Area cultural moment endures: Primus. Led by a bass-playing exhibitionist straight out of the ‘burbs, and with a taste for the sort of outdated headgear that typically ruins celebrity aspirations, Primus’ ascent is an unlikely one. Nevertheless, three decades after forming in San Lorenzo, it has a new and suitably baffling album. A reimagining of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory’s 1971 movie soundtrack, Primus and the Chocolate Factory with the Fungi Ensemble is the lingering aftertaste of a long-running lyrical fixation on food. Primus adapted it — with visuals — for a New Year’s Eve show at the Fox Theater (1807 Telegraph Ave., Oakland) last year, where the band returns to wonk and gurgle and croak in 2015. The way trends go, a thrash-metal-funk revival could happen. In the meantime, it’s really fun to say “Psychefunkapus” out loud. — S. L.

9:30 p.m., $50–$65. TheFoxOakland.com

Hog’s New Year’s Eve Butcher’s Banquet and Beer Bonanza

For the meat-lover with a taste for beer, what better place could there be to ring in the new year than at Hog’s Apothecary (375 40th St.), Oakland’s most gourmet beer hall? The recent spate of rainy weather forced chef John Streit to scrap his initial plans for a pig roast, but the new three-course menu sounds equally compelling from a carnivorous standpoint: lamb sweetbreads, boudin blanc with melted leeks, ale-braised pork coppa, and a yet-to-be-determined dessert. Each course will come with a beer from Craftsman Brewing, Hog’s beer guru Sayre Piotrkowski’s favorite California brewery. Of particular note: Craftman’s Acorn Saison, a limited-batch brown beer for which acorn meat — rich in tannic acids — is added to the boil. Reservations are a must for either of the two available seatings — 5:30 for guests fueling up for other late-night festivities, 9 p.m. for those who’d like nothing better than to raise a glass of cold beer when the clock strikes midnight. — L.T.

$65. HogsApothecary.com

OAK NYE: 2015

This New Year’s Eve, Oakland’s Top Ten Social party promoters are ready to really outdo themselves. They’ve planned three elaborate events, each offering a different type of celebratory experience. For those looking for something fancy, they will be holding a prix-fixe dinner party at modern Japanese restaurant Ozumo (2251 Broadway, Oakland) which will offer two additional pop-up bars for the night, and a lineup of DJs including heyLove* and Sake One. Reservations are required for the four-course dinner, which costs $75 at the door. People who just want to dance can also pay $40 for admission. Those who don’t want to be tied down to a table but still want great food should choose the OAK NYE Lungomare Ultimate Dinner Party. The event will offer a buffet of the restaurant’s signature Italian dishes, as well as hors d’oeuvres. Lungomare’s heated waterfront patio has couches to lounge on, while a lineup of DJs will spin in the two dance floors inside. The dinner and party requires reservations and costs $50 a person at the door, while tickets to only the party cost $40. (I think it’s obvious what the best deal is.) And finally, those who already have dinner plans can cut out the food aspect altogether and go straight to Old Oakland’s Parliament nightclub for the OAK NYE Lounge Party. This event will shake the sleek party spot with hip-hop and R&B brought by DJs Davey D of Hard Knock Radio, Dion Decibels, who has backed up the gamut of Def Poets, and Lady Ryan of The Social Life. Admission is $35, with opportunities for bottle service climbing up from there. Compared to fancy hotel and club parties happening in San Francisco, Top Ten Social’s tasteful events are uber-affordable and will likely have a more enjoyable, intimate vibe. — S.B.


Kool A.D.

The viral 2008 track “Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell” set the tone for hip-hop outfit Das Racist’s four year existence as culture-savvy provocateurs both derided as asinine gimmickry and hailed as a singular lyrical force with funky and tuneful production. Notably, Das Racist was adept at and willing to push back against the former. Cofounder Victor Vazquez, who plays on New Year’s Eve at The New Parish (579 18th St., Oakland), moved back to the Bay Area after Das Racist split in 2012, releasing a spate of mixtapes and solo albums under his stage name Kool A.D. The most recent, Word O.K., from earlier this year, opens with, Aaaye, just sent this email to myself/gonna read it off of my phone now. It’s the internet in your face — a theme rolled over from Das Racist, and though Word O.K. frequently strikes a tone of jest, Vazquez’s rapping surges with creative invention. In a marathon verse on “Life & Time,” Vasquez creates an absurd crime narrative around 3-D-printed guns, drops a palindrome for amusement, takes ill-informed critics to task, and professes inferiority to Nas. Even Kool A.D.’s most perplexingly self-effacing lines connect. — S.L.

9 p.m., $27–$35. TheNewParish.com

Namaste New Year’s Yoga

Every year, when that clock strikes midnight, all the hopefuls blow a resolution into the confetti-filled air, promising that this year will finally be the one in which they get it together. But as they awake with a hangover on New Year’s Day, that promise is overshadowed by a headache, and the hopes for better health consciousness and work efficiency slowly dwindle. But that doesn’t have to be the case. Those who want to get a good start on self-care in 2015, and could use a bit of help doing it, can enter a workshop at Namaste Yoga. On New Year’s Eve, the high-end yoga studio’s Grand Lake location (3229 Lakeshore Ave.) will be offering a session from 6–8:30 p.m. that will focus on building intention and making mental and emotional space for new things to come. Instructor Antonia Fokken will guide the class through posture practice, deep release poses, guided meditation, a writing session, and restorative yoga ($40). On New Year’s Day, instructor Sadie Chanlett-Avery will host a special workshop from 11 a.m.–1 p.m. called “New Year’s Day: Declutter and Renovate,” at Namaste Rockridge (5416 College Ave.). Through yoga and meditation, attendees will clear stress, set intentions, and organize their insides to a healthy stasis ($25). — S.B.


Extra Action Marching Band

It’s hard to convincingly argue that a background in high school marching band competitions is actually cool. At least, it’s hard with words, but the Extra Action Marching Band, a mobile San Francisco institution of brass and drums, routinely proves its potential for unparalleled hipness in those cumbersome instruments and weird helmets that so many awkward teenagers gravitate toward for a sense of belonging. Appearing on New Year’s Eve at Brick & Mortar Music Hall (1710 Mission St., San Francisco), the Extra Action Marching Band features flag spinning, varying degrees of nudity, and, if a recent sighting can be believed, fake body parts grotesquely affixed to exposed skin. Cabaret flair crossed with paradiddle glee and wheezing horns — it’s John Philip Sousa’s nightmare, the stifled band geek’s dream, and an ensemble format typically associated with militarism and authority twisted into the service of chaos. — S.L.

9 p.m., $30–$35. BrickAndMortarMusic.com

Museum of Exotica

Last week, the Express published a cover story by Anna Pulley called “The Power of No.” In part, the story described a rising culture of events that center around sexiness, but don’t involve sex. Among these events are Second Base parties and Underground Sexy parties hosted by a local duo that goes by Club Exotica. For those who were excited by our story, and want to ring in the new year by bringing their sex positivity to the next level, the promoters are hosting a new year’s party called Museum of Exotica ($40–$80). To apply for admission, each person must fill out a form that asks for a description of his or her “sexiness” level, a recent photo, and a link to his or her Facebook profile. Once in, every attendee is required to wear a playful outfit that exemplifies “full self-expression,” and would definitely turn heads on the street. The idea is to create a safe atmosphere that encourages people to play and explore with others in ways that they would normally feel uncomfortable doing, while also practicing strict consent principles. Although the location is only disclosed to those cleared for admission, the event description promises “twisted stairways, hidden coves and rooms, Balinese beds … gorgeous carpets, and sensual altars” among other intimate décor. Guests may arrive beginning at 9 p.m., but from 11:30 on, the doors will be closed for the “ceremony” to take place. Doors will re-open from 2–3:30 a.m. to welcome people with half price tickets, then close again for continued music and performances until the experience ends with drumming at 7 in the morning. This event is obviously not for everyone, but if you’re interested in something really different this year, here’s your chance. There’s room for 400, and the promoters are sure it will sell out. — S.B.


Con Funk Shun

There’s a reason Con Funk Shun has been sampled by Madlib, The Coup, and Toro y Moi, among countless others: The classic East Bay funk outfit is composed of alchemists — players who, when gathered together with instruments in a room, transubstantiate sound into the force we call “groove.” Every producer wants groove on her records. Every rapper wants groove beneath his flow. Con Funk Shun made thirteen albums between 1973 and 1986 and landed dozens of singles on the R&B charts. An early hit, “Clique,” showcases the act’s dialed-in take on instrumental party-funk, while chatter, clinking glasses, and claps busy the background. After the group disbanded, vocalist Felton Pilate produced M.C. Hammer’s early successes, effectively bridging generations of homegrown East Bay artists. Returning due to popular demand, Con Funk Shun appears this New Year’s Eve to groove at Yoshi’s (510 Embarcadero West, Oakland). — S.L.

8 p.m., 11 p.m., $69–$99. Yoshis.com

New Year’s Eve Celebration at Homestead

Homestead (4029 Piedmont Ave., Oakland), Piedmont Avenue’s wood-hearth-centric temple of California cuisine, has based its entire aesthetic and culinary philosophy on the self-sustaining, DIY work ethic of those original American homesteaders of yore. The restaurant’s New Year’s Eve Celebration embodies that same ideal, with a five-course prix-fixe menu wherein nearly every imaginable food item will be made from scratch in-house — down to the edible party favors that will be passed out to guests who stick around until midnight. Entrée options will include turbot, ribeye steak, and crispy spaetzle, all served with truffle. A wine pairing option will be available for an extra $60, but those looking for a more affordable booze option will be happy to know that dinner comes with a complimentary glass of sparkling wine — and a second round when the clock strikes twelve. Vegetarian and gluten-free options will be available. — L.T.

5:30–11 p.m. (for the last seating), $100. HomesteadOakland.com


Even the website for POPNYE is an event. A central image displays glowing knobs and gleaming firework explosions, while a high-production-value trailer depicts an arena full of flashing lights and crazed fans in ridiculous costumes pogo-ing up and down to an insistent four-on-the-floor thump. A voiceover welcomes “dreamers” and promises “glimmers of bliss falling like rain” on a journey toward self-fulfillment in the new year. On YouTube, the POPNYE video has more views than some rock bands amass in a career. And apparently, the website is still under construction. It confirms the obvious: EDM is a phenomenon. The event features a Dutch dance invasion composed of producers Armin van Buuren and Bingo Players, along with the duo Firebeatz, and the San Francisco outfit The M Machine, who’ll offer strains of house and trance for the eager throngs descending once again on Oracle Arena (700 Coliseum Way, Oakland) for this year’s POPNYE. — S.L.

6 p.m., $50–$150. POPNYE.com

Chabot Science Center Balloon Drop

New Year’s Eve was always the most anti-climactic holiday for kids. A severe sense of FOMO (fear of missing out) compels children to attempt to stay awake, but they always inevitably fall asleep before the clock strikes twelve. Some parents might call the disappointment character-building, but those who would like to avoid a temper tantrum can take their offspring to the Chabot Science Center (10000 Skyline Blvd., Oakland). The center will be counting down to New Year’s in different time zones, celebrating three climactic calendar-switching moments at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., and 4 p.m. Each time, kids will count down the clock together, then be showered with hundreds of falling balloons. And in the meantime, they can participate in special (and educational!) activities set up around the center. For those hyper-conscious parents worried about the waste of all that excess latex, don’t worry, the center composts the balloons when they’re done with them. Way to go, science. — S.B.

$5 plus $12–$16 admission. ChabotSpace.org

Hemlock Tavern New Year’s Eve Bash

Thanks to the efforts of Tony Bedard, the longtime Hemlock Tavern booking maestro whose own contributions to the Bay Area outsider rock canon the Express chronicled in an Icky Boyfriends article this year (“We Still Suck,” 9/17), an impeccable rock lineup graces the Polk St. haunt’s backroom this year. Headliner Terry Malts’ hooks are magnetic because they demand attention and because they seem to attract all of the broken glass and metal shavings in the vicinity, like pop-punk sharing the eye of a tornado with the wreckage of a steel mill. Meanwhile, no two Scraper sets are alike, with frontman Billy Schmidt’s guitar riffs finding new ways to whinny and crunch between hoarse outpours of bizarre lyrical imagery. The newest act of the lot, Quaaludes, augments punk fury with inventive song structures, at once solidifying as an ensemble and finding new ways to cleverly collapse. Take a tip from Bedard: It’s booking, not “curation.” —S.L.

9 p.m., $12–$15. HemlockTavern.com

Plank New Year’s Eve “Exclusive Party”

Champagne, balloon drops, music, and food are all really fun. But, they can also start to feel pretty “last year” as you’re waiting for the new one to begin. Plank’s New Year’s party will have all of those things, but with the bonus of a warehouse full of games. The massive restaurant and game hall that recently opened in Jack London Square (98 Broadway, Oakland) boasts bowling lanes, bocce ball, cornhole, carnival and arcade games, as well as a full restaurant and beer garden. It’s pretty comprehensive, and it would be a challenge to get bored in the giant play space. For New Year’s Eve, Plank will be throwing in a live band and a buffet to top it off. Tickets go for $60 per person (or $110 per couple), and include a $20 game card and two drink tickets. Although the venue is massive, Plank representatives have ventured to name their party exclusive, because they’re sure it will sell out. To request a reservation, party-hopefuls should fill out an online form on Plank’s website. — S. B.

8 p.m.–1 a.m. PlankOakland.com

New Year’s Eve Party at Comal

This is the third year that Comal (2020 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley) has hosted a big New Year’s gala, and it comes as no surprise that the event has been a hit each year: The upscale Mexican spot is probably the most handsome restaurant in downtown Berkeley, and, with all of the tables cleared out to transform the space into a massive indoor-and-outdoor dance hall, it might be the most festive place in town to dance the night away — especially with a steady stream of antojitos (Mexican street snacks) to keep your energy up. This year’s array of tasty bites from chef Matt Gandin will include molotes (lettuce-wrapped fried masa “canoes”), flautas, mole negro chicken wings, chipotle deviled eggs, and more. Each $45 ticket includes food for the whole night. Beer, wine, tequila, mezcal, and cocktails — including a special New Year’s Eve creation — will be sold a la carte. Advance tickets are highly recommended. — L.T.

9 p.m.–1 a.m. ComalBerkeley.com


Beginning in the late 1980s, the charred and versatile East Bay rock outfit Neurosis skewered the conventions of its regional hardcore peers and foreshadowed the Bay Area’s current reputation for innovative metal. The band’s 1989 debut EP, Aberration, featured a careening take on hardcore, while the 1992 full-length Souls at Zero established the band’s iconoclastic effect on most strains of extreme rock since. Turgid tempos of doom-metal give way to precise thrash riffs and enveloping noise, a vocabulary of atmospheric passages the band augmented the following year on Enemy of the Sun. Neurosis is your favorite band’s favorite band, as evidenced by the openers at its upcoming Great American Music Hall (859 O’Farrell St., San Francisco) appearances. The main support is Tragedy, a blackened hardcore act based in Portland that usually headlines its own local appearances, and the opener is Kowloon Walled City, a local metal band whose left-field proclivities are indebted to Neurosis’ earlier innovations. — S.L.

Tuesday, Dec. 30, and Wednesday, Dec 31, 8 p.m. $21–$41. SlimsPresents.com 

The original version of this reported misstated the cost of the wine pairing option at Homestead. It will be $60, not $100.


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