"What are you doing for New Years Eve?" might be a stressful, dreaded question for the first 30 days of December, but don't let it paralyze you into watching Netflix on the couch. We've rounded up the best ways to ring in 2015—just consider it a choose your own adventure, and embrace that any choice you make will be the right one. 2014 is almost over; there's no room for FOMO!
Classy Night Out
Ode To Joy: A Holiday Celebration with Esperanza Spalding and the Oregon Symphony
Alrene Schnitzer Concert Hall, 7pm, $35–$150
Portland's own Grammy Award-winning jazz bassist Esperanza Spalding is taking the Schnitzer stage with the Oregon Symphony to celebrate the New Year. Along with Spalding's mentor and fellow Grammy winner, local trumpeter Thara Memory, Carlos Kalmar and company will play through Beethoven's Ninth Symphony.
Porter Plays Porter
The Old Church, 7:30pm, $35–$125
Randy Porter isn't related to Cole Porter, but he's as equipped as any to play the late composer's music. He and his jazz trio will be performing intimate, instrumental renditions of Porter's compositions. Along with the concert, you can sit for home-cooked, pre-show dinners courtesy of William Hetzelson & Robert Trotman, Diana Harris & Gary Piercy, and Walt & Rosemary Ellis.
Tony Starlight’s AM Gold ‘70s Soft Rockin’ New Years Eve
Tony Starlight Showroom, 7:30pm dinner show and 10:30 dessert and dance show, $35–$79
Tony Starlight, every local baby boomer's favorite throwback performer, is here to let you relive your golden years by celebrating New Years with a trip back to the '70s. You'll get covers from Neil Diamond (Starlight's specialty), Barry Manilow, Elton John, Billy Joel, and Carol King to dance and do the bump to.
big-budget, multi-ballroom, dress-up Extravaganzas
The Governor's Ball with Patrick Lamb & Soul Vaccination
The Sentinel Hotel, 7pm, $50–$125
The Sentinel hosts a three-in-one night of celebration featuring dinner, dancing, and live music. Illustrious sax man Patrick Lamb will take the big stage after Northwest's 12-piece Soul Vaccination. Dancer Durante Lambert will be in attendance as well, turning up the dance floor and making you look bad. Proceeds benefit the Children's Cancer Association.
The Champagne Ball
The Hilton Portland, 8pm, $99–$119
Sprawled across multiple ballrooms, the Hilton will feature two of the Northwest's biggest cover bands: Radical Revolution (covering 80s dance and party music) and the Gentleman's Club Band (cornering the nostalgic millennial market with 90s music). But if that wasn't enough to fully reminisce, Journey tribute band Stone In Love will hit the stage as well.
Left Bank Annex, 7:30pm, $50–$150
If cover bands aren't your thing and you'd rather have top 40-hits blare into the sweaty abyss of a dance floor, the Left Bank Annex has you covered. Eve PDX is a dance party of the highest order with three floors filled to the brim with bright neon lights and bottomless liquor. DJ Nathan Scott will headline the evening, while DJ O.G. One, the official DJ of the Portland Blazers, opens up.
Portland Art Museum, 8:30pm, $108
Not into mainstream meat markets? Head to the art museum, where Inspire Truth transforms the Mark Building's historic, pillared ballrooms into an urban Burning Man, full of art installations, revelers costumed in corsets and top hats, live and electronic music, belly dancing, circus performers, and rituals. They ask, are you "ready for an event that is sexy and edgy and can also honor the possibility of celebration with the intention of growth, change and reverence?" If the answer is yes, grab your fanciest distressed suit or steampunk outfit and head on in.
Live Music that will get you dancing
Weinland NYE Supergroup and Hook & Anchor
Doug Fir Lounge, 8pm, $25–$28
Local indie-folk six-piece Weinland has been celebrating New Years Eve on the Doug Fir stage for six years running. They bring out friends—musicians form Sallie Ford's band, Portland Cello Project, the Minus 5, and more—to perform a catalogue of covers. Past sets have included cuts from Prince, the Beastie Boys, Madonna, and everyone inbetween, with one unifying principle: to make you dance. They'll be joined by Portland bluegrass upstart Hook & Anchor as well.
Les Sins (Toro Y Moi), Ben Tactic , DJs Kiffo & Rymes
Holocene, 8pm, $25
South Carolina's Chazwick Bradley Bundick began his career with disco-indebted, pysch R&B-styled tracks—heralding a genre that came to be known as Chillwave. He was Toro Y Moi, a mysterious, synthpop producer and singer with a sound that seemed to consistently sprout legs in funk, soul, pop, and electronica. He's expanded that repertoire to dance with his side project, Les Sins, exploring the depths of his technical reach.
MarchFourth Marching Band
Alberta Rose Theatre, 8pm, $37–$45
Portland is the only city in America that could have birthed an independent marching band like MarchFourth (read our story charting their unique rise). With a 5-piece percussion squad and a 6-man brass unit, M4 has transcended marching music to become a full-fledged funk band. They're in the midst of a nationwide tour and just stopping through town to celebrate the New Year—dance with them for a well-deserved homecoming.
Brownish Black, The Sentiments, The Get Ahead
The Secret Society, 8:30pm, $20
Portland's might not be known for it's retro-soul sound, but local nine-piece Brownish Black offers up smooth vintage vibes steered by lead singer M.D. Sharbatz's Detroit roots. Three horns and two vocalists create a bouncy, tender sound. Like-minded soul bands the Sentiments and the Get Ahead join them for arguably the funkiest New Year's in town
Ural Thomas & The Pain, Houndstooth, DJ Cooky Parker, DJ Bobby D Wed
Mississippi Studios, 8pm, $25-$30
We say arguably, because Portland's soul-godfather Ural Thomas and his 10-piece will give the Secret Society roundup a run for its money, and maybe even school them, particularly with the help of the always danceable DJ Cooky Parker and the hazy rock of Houndstooth.
dirty Dance Parties
HELLO/HELLO: A Queer New Year
Branx, 9pm, $13
If anybody knows how to throw a party in Portland it's the drag scene. The second annual Hello/Hello New Year's celebration features three nationally reknowned queens, all former contestants on RuPaul's Drag Race: Alaska Thunderfuck 5000, Tammie Brown, and Trixie Mattel. The night will be hosted by Portland's leading drag performer Carla Rossi and features music from DJs Airick X, Jens Irish, and Sappho.
Dance Party Extravaganza with DJ Anjali & The Incredible Kid
Bossanova Ballroom, 8pm, $17–$22
The Bollywood stylings of DJ Anjali and the Incredible Kid hit the Bossanova Ballroom to bring in the new year for their fourth time. The duo's Punjabi-powered sounds are supported by the burning thrill of fire twirling, high-flying acrobatics, and the bombastic LoveBomb Go-Go marching band.