Looking for New Year's Eve plans? Here are some great options at (mostly) reasonable prices:
Berkeley's The Morning Benders headline a New Year's Eve show at Bottom of the Hill, which is probably the last chance to see the band in a venue that intimate. The Beatlesque indie pop-rock of Talking Through Tin Cans got the group national attention, but it's the March release of their sophomore album Big Echo on Rough Trade that should launch them to the next level. Bandleader Chris Chu co-produced the new record with Grizzly Bear's Chris Taylor and recent live performances have suggested that the record will find the Benders pushing in more experimental pop directions. Miniature Tigers and SF's A B & The Sea round out the popcentric NYE bill.
The Rickshaw Stop is hosting Disco 2010, with performances by Italians Do It Better bands Glass Candy and Desire. Desire is frequently billed as a Chromatics side project, which is good news for fans of the "disco noir" band, which went dormant (but not dead?) after releasing the sublime album Nite Drive. Desire's debut album II reunites Chromatics Johnny Jewel (also of Glass Candy) and Nat Walker, with a new female vocalist in Megan Louise. The new band feels like it picks up where the former left off, creating lush, emotional dance pop.
The Hemlock Tavern's small stage can look full with a trio, so the six-person lineups of Maus Haus and Battlehooch will need to tread carefully on New Year's Eve. Both bands, though, seem to have figured out how to balance many members and many influences. Maus Haus (who, in full disclosure, is managed by Bay Bridged General Manager Christian Cunningham) use electronic sounds to create proggy art-pop, and the band promises to follow 2008's Lark Marvels with a new 7" in early 2010. Battlehooch's 2009 album Piecechow is catchier than free jazz, but offers its own frenzied squeal.
Other New Year's Eve options include:
LA punk legends X bring SF indie rockers The Heavenly States to Slim's on December 30th and 31st. The group is celebrating "Merry X-Mas" (pun clearly intended) with the NorCal dates; in the holiday spirit, they recently released covers of "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" and "Jingle Bells."
Big venue NYE comedy show sounds like a bad idea in principle, so it wouldn't be worth mentioning if the lineup at Comedy Countdown 2009 at the Palace of Fine Arts wasn't so top notch. The show features a ton of great names, but I'll highlight John Mulaney, who writes for Saturday Night Live and released one of the year's funniest albums in The Top Part.
Ben Van Houten is the Programming Director at The Bay Bridged.