New Year’s Eve can be a tricky road to navigate. If successful, you’ll be getting smashed while looking smashing in your best formal wear, or stumbling into some speakeasy performance by a local rockstar. Less successful, you're paying through the nose to go to some bar you can go to for free any other night of the year, or, worse, you’re drinking Korbel in your pajamas while watching a Law & Order marathon. Alone.
To help guide you into 2013, we picked 13 of the best parties, concerts, and shows to make it the most memorable night of this year—or next.
For those who want to dress up and be classy:
Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, 7pm and 10pm
It seems time might stop altogether if the New Year was not ushered in by China Forbes, Thomas Lauderdale, and the internationally-flavored, small-scale orchestral sounds of Pink Martini. The Portland Youth Philharmonic joins in for this annual tradition, as the band culls from a nearly 20-year repertoire.
Aladdin Theatre, 10pm
Portland's own blonde bombshell takes a break from performing with Pink Martini to throw a riotous New Year's show of her own. We saw her NYE show two years ago, and even though she had a wicked cold and was on crazy sinus drugs—her snot towel became a running joke and totally clashed with her shimmering gown—she still bowled us over with her voice and had us rolling in our seats with her dirty wit. Come to think of it, maybe the cold medicine helped...
50 Shades of Bond
Fez Ballroom, 9pm
In case you didn’t properly celebrate James Bond’s 50th birthday earlier this year, it is not too late to show deference to the dapper secret agent! Come dressed to kill to this 007-themed party with 5 bars and 10 bartenders serving up ice-cold martinis... to your specifications.
For those who want to dance till they drop:
Portland Art Museum, 9pm – 4:30am
If you’re looking for more than the usual drinking, dancing, and sloppy kisses at midnight, head on down to PAM for InspireTruth, a "transformative" affair, with art, live music, and an army of DJs spread out over three dancefloors. Performers range from the tsunami sound of MarchFourth Marching Band to bass-heavy VibeSquaD to ambient Solovox to the tribal trip-hop of Kaminanda, among many many others. We're giving away a pair of tickets here.
Dig a Pony / Union Pine, 8pm
DJ Cooky Parker, known for digging deep into the soul stacks for his monthly dance night In the Cooky Jar, revs up a NYE dance party that cannot be contained to one location. Limos will be onhand to usher you and your friends between Dig a Pony and Union Pine, where the nonstop action includes live sets from Parker, Shy Girls, Magic Mouth, Nathan Detroit, and so many more.
DJ Anjali and the Incredible Kid
Bossanova Ballroom, 9pm
It's been 12 years since Portland DJs Anjali and The Incredible Kid made their New Year's debut, and in that time the party has only gotten bigger: the duo played to the largest crowd in their career on NYE 2012. This year, they hope to make the party even more massive, as they bring their Bollywood and bhangra beats back to the Bossanova Ballroom.
'60s Soul Revival
Someday Lounge, 9pm
This year’s funkiest NYE celebration pairs matching-suit swingers The Satin Chaps, who deal in European go-go steeped in soul, sex, and style, with rockin' soul outfit Brownish Black. As singers Vicki Porter and M.D. Sharbatz trade sparring vocals in this raw R&B/garage hybrid, they simultaneously answer the musical question: what if Etta James joined the Animals? Tease up your hair and slip on your dancing shoes for this rare night of soul!
For those who want to ring the bell with music:
Weinland's NYE Supergroup
Doug Fir Lounge, 9pm
For the fourth year running, folk-rock outfit Weinland enlists an army of friends and local musicians to transform, like some Mighty Morphin' Power Ranger of Rock, into a superbad cover band. Warm up those vocal chords and sing along with a setlist that spans the best of the last five decades. Special guests include The Minus 5, featuring Peter friggin’ Buck and once-and-future Young Fresh Fellow Scott McCaughey.
Two Beers Veirs
Laurelthirst Pub, 8:30pm
Celebrate the wooden anniversary of Portland songstress Laura Veirs' traditional New Year's rowdy hoedown with a passel of special guests, including Nate Query and John Moen (the Decemberists and Black Prairie), Luz Elena Mendoza (Y La Bamba), Mike Coykendall, and Garth Klippert (Old Light), among others. Brace yourself for hootenanny barnburners, face-melting renditions of classic rock anthems, and everything in between.
Mississippi Studios, 9pm
If you’re tired of pinballing through the NYE crowds, come see how professionals do it, when the dozen members of band-meets-orchestra, Typhoon, squeeze onto the Mississippi Studios stage for an intimate show.
Bunk Bar, 9pm
Stealing away moments from their busy schedules, Sam Coomes (Deep Fried Boogie Band, Blues Goblins) and Janet Weiss (Wild Flag, Sleater-Kinney), make a special hometown NYE appearance. The formerly married duo has returned to the basement and is hard at work on a new album that, according to the band, will "come out sometime after it's done." Something to look forward to after the glimmer of NYE has faded.
David Grisman Bluegrass Experience
Alberta Rose Theatre, 7pm and 10pm
Master mandolin player David Grisman, a featured musician on the Grateful Dead’s 1970 country-rock-folk fusion masterpiece American Beauty, brings his foot-stompin' "dawg music" to town. Harmonious local folk duo, Shook Twins, open both the early and late shows.
And for those who want to laugh:
Helium Comedy Club, 7:30pm and 10pm
Comedian Jimmy Pardo, host of the Never Not Funny podcast, or "Pardcast," and a frequent guest on Conan, performs back-to-back NYE sets. Late-night guests will receive a ticket to a future comedy show, party favors, midnight champagne toast, and a post-show dessert buffet! You know what they say, “Come for the comedy, stay for the dessert buffet.”