January 2nd, 2010 5:33 pm | by Local Cut Music | Posted In: Columns, Live Cuts

Our New Year's Eve Diary (With Soundtrack)

croghan and quasiThis began as an epic idea: We should get all of WW's freelancers to report on their crazy New Year's Eve parties, thus painting a kaleidoscopic picture of the whole Portland nightlife at the end of the decade. But as it happened, only five people signed up for the project. And one of them wrote an elaborate, non-bloggy review. Some of the others were out-of-town, partying at friends' houses or overlapping at the same venues we were for the evening. Some people just wanted to get drunk and not think about writing. But the four of us who did blog New Year's Eve—from Holocene, Doug Fir, Berbati's Pan and Mississippi Studios—took it as an opportunity to reflect on the year that was, and to marvel at the decades still to come. Or, at least, we blogged.

I feel that you should know your bloggers, so here they are in order of appearance:


Casey Jarman (CJ)

Matthew Korfhage (MK)

Michael Mannheimer (MM)

AP Kryza (APK)

I have also prepared a rough playlist of some of the songs mentioned (and hinted at) over the course of this post. The idea is that you'll listen and read at the same time. If it isn't working right (it wasn't working earlier), click here.

4:53 pm, Home (alone)
I send the girlfriend, who works too late to have any fun going out tonight, a photo of the awful mustache I've shaved onto my face. She text replies "You should keep it for tonight. That way I don't have to worry about some hussy trying to get a midnight kiss." I don't think she thinks I'll do it. CJ

8:48 pm, Holocene
Who would have known it would be so hard to convince the bouncer we belong here? Somehow, tooth and nail, we fight our way through the wrong entrance into an empty stage and a wall full of neon and are finally part of the party. MK

9:00 pm, Home
Seriously considering staying in, sipping champagne, and listening to UGK/Outkast's "Int'l Players Anthem" on repeat. Am I that old already? Jeeeeezzzz. MM

9:05 pm, Home
No, really: why aren't people talking about "Int'l Players Anthem" as the song of the decade? I always forget just how special Andre 3000 is until he drops gems like the opening few bars here. "Im so like a Pip, Im glad its night." Is he even human? MM

9:28 pm, Home (alone)
After finishing up some fried rice I cooked up in the Christmas Wok (thanks, girlfriend's parents!) I want to leave the apartment, but I'm hoping Anderson Cooper will come out on CNN. Seems like Kathy Griffin is about to bully him into it. Also, Kathy Griffin is not funny. And Anderson Cooper is not a very good straight man. Probably because he's gay. CJ

9:30 pm, Outside Holocene
After downing a few cheap beers (One thing that didn't change in 2009? I'm still broke) I head out with Nick and Alex to Holocene. When we get there Nick tries to find a place to hide the bottle of whiskey he bought our friend Fife for driving out to Hillsboro to pick him up during surprise Snowpocalypse 2K9. He decides to wait it out until Fife arrives. Thank God it's not raining yet. MM

9:45 pm, Holocene
The DJs have been competent enough we don't even notice that Guidance Counselor has started its set in the other room, and that the post-Gang-of-Four dance-punk rush is being not merely pumped through the front room speakers, but also through the backroom amps and out of the backroom guitars and drums and mics, even. MK

9:48 pm, Holocene
A woman just told me she punched another woman in the vagina. She seems proud. MK

9:54 pm, The Pearl
Walking through the Pearl District listening to jazz. I kept the mustache, sorta by accident. I look like a douche. And apparently there's no one at Berbati's, where I suggested my friends Kate and Shauna meet me. Somehow they talked their way out of paying a cover and still got in. Girls have magic powers, I guess. CJ

10:12 pm, Holocene
Holocene's co-owner told me her V-padded chest pads were the future as viewed by people 100,000 years ago. In the back room, my bartender said the V-shaped chest pads are what they'll all wear 100,000 years in the future, as viewed from now. Otherwise, the rest of the staff dresses like martinets and doesn't give a damn. MK

10:15 pm, Holocene
The theme at Holocene is New Year's Eve 102,010. Basically that means you spend a normal night at Holocene, only the drinks are more expensive, the staff is dressed in all white, and there are lasers everywhere on the dancefloor that are blinding my eyes. Kinda bummed I missed Guidance Counselor but they sounded great while we waited outside. MM

10:20 pm, Berbati's
It really is still pretty dead here. And all my plans are going by the wayside. I was gonna stop and catch Dazz Band at the Crystal, then jump to the Someday Lounge. But Kate and Shauna look bored at the end of the bar on Berbati's restaurant side. I try to entertain them, but fail. Pat Benetar's "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" is playing. "This song makes me want to punch people," Kate says. If you knew Kate, this would be funny, because she speaks very quietly and, to the best of my knowledge, has never actually hit anyone. I don't think it would hurt if she did. CJ

10:40 pm, Holocene
A drunk girl who looks all of 19 starts grinding against Fife at the bar. "Do you know her?" I ask. His response is drowned out by her friend yelling in my ear. MM

11:05 pm, Berbati's
After chatting with Berbati's booker Matt King—who, it should be noted, has spies at other venues to tell him how the turnout is, and turnout is not particularly good at most places—we head over to the club side of Berbati's. My dreams of catching the Platinum Pied Pipers are fading. Everyone, including me, seems pretty happy to live out a low-key New Year's Eve amongst the laser lights, dancers and party boys at Berbati's. I order a Heineken. I don't care who sees me drinking it. CJ

11:06 pm, Holocene
Swear to god, Reporter is hiding. We'll see them in a CSI episode, maybe, but they're not gonna play. MK

11:15 pm, N. Mississippi Ave
A torrential downpour has rendered N. Mississippi a ghost town. The streets are virtually empty, which makes it all the more appropriate when the music of Federale comes wafting out of Mississippi Studios. A stark and penetrating ode to the spaghetti western scores of Ennio Morricone—piercing trumpet, steam-engine beats and all—it's the perfect soundtrack for the soaking wet smokers outside, who appear increasingly like outcasts in a Western saloon. Bearded men take deep drags off their American Spirits, while stilettoed women in slinky dresses saunter into the venue. All that's really missing is a seedy poker table and a drunk piano player. APK

11:23 pm, Mississippi Studios
With trumpet blaring and the audience's fists pumping, Federale is effectively tying the old man that is 2009—indeed, all 10 years of the Aughts—to the back of a wagon and dragging it out the door. APK

11:27 pm, Mississippi Studios
“I feel like I'm in Kill Bill, when she's about to be bit by that snake… you gonna write that down?”
—Drunken friend in response to Federale.

11:35 pm, Doug Fir
I walk into the Doug Fir right as Quasi starts ripping into a vicious version of "I Can See For Miles." Janet Weiss is killing the backing vocals, and her drums are so loud and thunderous that Alex mentions that the mix is a bit muddier than usual. Sam Coomes is wearing an orange jumpsuit and Joanna Bolme is dressed in a full-body skeleton costume. So glad I decided to come here. MM

11:37, Berbati's Pan
Some drunk girl is onstage, attempting to stage dive. First off, it's techno music. Second, she has to rally a group to catch her before making her descent, which kind of kills the point. It winds up looking more like a lady being helped out of a tall truck than a Nirvana show. CJ

11:38 pm, Mississippi Studios
The dapper and nervous-looking security dude at Mississippi Studios says this is the biggest show the venue has ever had. APK

11:46 pm, Holocene
Is Reporter playing? MK

The room is steamy from the fog machine and lasery from all the lasers. Matt said earlier that "they had something special planned," but Dmoefunk (the fro-headed DJ and an old co-worker of mine at the record store) just plays a guy's voice counting down from 10 over his beat. It's cool, but it's not really "something special." I had expected a party-monkey or fireworks or something. A disappointing end to a disappointing year. CJ

11:59 pm, Doug FIr
It's almost midnight and what Who song is the band playing? Actually, it's a jam, with Weiss pounding the drums as the crowd counts down and Coomes wailing on his geetar. Jake Morris from the Shaky Hands is lovin' it. MM

11:59 pm, Mississippi Studios
The Builders and the Butchers take the stage a few seconds before midnight. The members awkwardly look at their watches and release a collective “oh fuck” before counting down to the New Year. APK

12:00 midnight, Holocene
Everyone's kissing, but I won't say who's who unless somebody starts paying tabloid rates. Also, Happy New Year. MK

12:03 am, Doug Fir
Oh shit, it's the first guest star of the night, and a certifiable Portland legend. Sean Croghan (ex-Crackerbash and Jr. High) springs onto the stage to take lead vocals on "My Generation," and he's a kinetic ball of energy, bouncing around and almost knocking Coomes to the ground. He's not Roger Daltrey, but tonight, that's a good thing. MM

12:04 am, Berbati's
I call the girlfriend to wish her a happy new year. She's at home polishing off a bottle of champagne. She tells me she has another call, and I act offended. "Do you have to answer it?" "No, of course not!" "Well, I don't really have anything to say anyway. Happy new year." "Okay, bye!" Such is the romantic nature of our couplehood. CJ

12:04 am, Mississippi Studios
A bunch of massive balloons drops from the ceiling of Mississippi Studios. The at-capacity audience starts punching the balloons, sending them high into the air. Lead Butcher Ryan Solle, his acoustic guitar tucked firmly under his neck like a fiddler whose instrument suffers from gigantism, spots one coming at him and, without missing a beat, dodges it in a manner that would make Keanu Reeves reconsider his status as The One. APK

12:10 am, Doug Fir
I'm getting good and drunk. And Corin motherfuckin' Tucker is out to sing a song my drunk self can't recognize. Weiss' drums are so loud that the ceiling is shaking and Alex is wondering if we're experiencing an earthquake. Yeah, we're a little wasted. MM

12:12 am, Doug Fir
Sam Coomes is one funny dude. After rattling off a few zingers, he tells the joke of the night: "Why didn't the skeleton cross the road? Because it didn't have any guts!" MM

12:14 am, Berbati's
All of a sudden, with everyone dancing and making out (seriously, a bit too much making out), I understand why people like MGMT. "Time to Pretend" is a very nice New Year's anthem, killing rock star extravagance with sarcasm and giving up on believing. That's sorta what growing up is all about, right? CJ

12:20 am, Doug Fir
I've seen thousands of bands in my life, and still no drummer has ever come close to matching what Weiss brings to the stage. She's the best on the planet. The band ends its set with "Baba O'Riley," which pleases everyone, including the two older dudes who've been shouting for "Who Are You" all night. MM

12:28 am, Mississippi Studios
The Builders announce that they're doing their “standard New Year cover.” Preparing for an eerie version of “In the Air Tonight,” we're instead treated to a gallows version of “Hungry Like the Wolf,” and the year suddenly seems more promising. APK

12:30 am, Berbati's
"My mom never candy-coated it for me, I always knew life was going to be like this. So at least I was prepared!" —Anonymous friend

Aaaand the stage-diver is at it again. Someone's gonna grab at her boobs, I just know it. Ugh, New Year's sucks! CJ

12:33 am, Mississippi Studios
Colin Sheridan of Federale joins the Butchers on stage for a rousing and epic “Barcelona” and the crowd surges, beers sloshing to the ground as the small venue transforms into an incidental mosh pit due to the lack of coordination in the drunken crowd. This is the kind of venue the Butchers own every time. When they're playing larger venues like the Crystal Ballroom, something is lost. The music still sounds great, but the intimacy of the band's funeral procession sound is best consumed in a small setting. APK

12:36 am, Jupiter Hotel
It's easy to feel smug when you're 12 feet over the artificial hotel fire and no one knows who rented the room. We're canceling after-parties left, right, forward, but somehow everybody knows where to go, and we go there. MK

12:40 am, Berbati's
Tony Prato must be making bank at this coat-check. I vow to spend next New Year's Eve doing something that makes me money instead of something that makes me feel miserable. CJ

12:48 am, Mississippi Studios
The Builders and the Butchers rocket into “The Bottom of the Lake,” the group's best-known (and arguably best) song, and the crowd is immediately revitalized, though still extremely uncoordinated. APK

12:50 am, The Slammer
The best way to end New Years? With a couple of pints at the Slammer on the walk home. Nick and Fife text from a house party, but I'm too wet and soggy to do anything but stumble home. 2010, you better not rain like this all the time. MM

1:10 am, SW 2nd and Burnside
Car with headlights off pulls up. A homeless guy walks up and bangs on its windshield. They have a conversation. I think he's trying to get paid for telling them their headlights are off. CJ

12:58 am, Mississippi Studios
“Bottom of the Lake” is reprised. More beer is spilled. A drunken, sweaty man hugs me. The band plays a new song, again accompanied by the trumpeter from Federale. APK

1:15 am, SW 2nd and Burnside
A woman walks up to Kate, Shauna and me. She's clearly fucked up, but on what? "I'm such a retard," she tells us before muttering something about her kids. I'm worried this lady will sleep in a gutter somewhere tonight--she's really far gone. She manages to mutter something about the MAX, and I try to direct her to it, but she walks about thirty feet away, stops, and starts crying again. In my nightmares, this is what I go through: Trying to get somewhere and not being able to figure it out. I want to help, but I don't know what she's trying to do. CJ

1:24 am, Jupiter Hotel
Everyone I've already met keeps introducing themselves. I do, too. MK

1:30 am, SW 2nd and Burnside
Now the woman is getting hit on by some dude outside of Barracuda. Gross! She took off her jacket, inexplicably, and now she's trying really hard to get it back on upside down. These women are everywhere now, falling off curbs and screaming at their boyfriends. They all seem to be lost and walking in circles. The dudes are just as bad, hollering about how drunk they are and demanding high-fives. One yells "show me your tits and I'll give you a ride!" out of a cab window to a bus stop full of angry, stranded commuters. We flip him off, he loses interest and rolls up the window. Fuck that cabbie for not kicking him out right there on the street. CJ

2:00 am, location undisclosed
If we're all in the basement, and no one hears our footsteps, does this mean we can go wherever we want? For hours, we are willing to test this. MK

2:03 am, SW 2nd and Burnside
After waiting well over a half hour, Kate and Shauna's bus shows up. They pack in like sardines, but not everyone gets on the bus. Luckily, they do. Portland's holiday transit plan needs some serious upgrades. I know the budget is tight (and, to Trimet's credit, the buses are free tonight), but on a night like tonight I'd rather have twice as many buses than twice as many cops. And waiting for this one was an absolute nightmare. CJ

2:31 am, N. Vancouver and N. Russell
Huh? Wha? Why am I walking the wrong direction in NoPo? I need to get back to Skidmore, but am headed south. Oh well. A couple asks me how to get to Tillamook. I ask them for cheese and Quaaludes before inadvertently sending them in the wrong direction. APK

2:35 am, Home
The walk through Chinatown was a veritable minefield of vomit and stranded revelers who plopped down on the wet sidewalk to collect themselves for awhile. The Pearl was deserted, save for "Love Child" blaring out a fourth story window. And Northwest Portland, where I live, is just a few drunk couples stumbling around in dress-up clothes. When I get inside and shake the wet off, the girlfriend, amazingly, is still awake. I complain about Trimet and she says she can't take me seriously with that mustache, so I cover up the lower half of my face and keep talking. We watch a couple episodes of 30 Rock together on the couch and laugh like idiots at Tracy Morgan. This is so much better than being out in the real world. I love you, Dmoefunk, but sometimes I really hate downtown. CJ

3:00 am, location undisclosed
We're filling the sidewalks. We're filling the car rides home. We're filling our patience and our patience is overflowing with impatience. MK

3:15 am, Home
Turn on the light, read a few pages of Cerebus, fall asleep and have weird dreams about walking around in tight circles, trying to go someplace but never really getting anywhere. CJ

3:24 am, location TBA
We're looking for cars, someone is playing Modest Mouse, cabs go to the least deserving, nobody's smoking their own cigarettes, and the people I leave with seem like pieces forced into the wrong puzzle. MK

3:24 am, location forgotten
Happy New Year: we're lost and we never read the signs. MK

A brief (and unprofessional) slideshow of Berbati's and Doug Fir, with photos by Shauna Westphal and Michael Mannheimer.

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