Not Your Normal New Year's Eve
The title is no misnomer. Local comedian and solo performer Jill Bourque has made a point of bringing absurdist comedy to the Palace of Fine Arts every New Year's Eve, and regardless of how well-known her headliners are in the comedy world, they generally hew to the line of convention-defying, borderline-obscene abnormality. This year's star is Brent Weinbach, a postmodern poop humorist who won the Andy Kaufman Award at the HBO Comedy Festival, and starred in a YouTube film that entailed him swimming through his mother's fallopian tube — just to give you an idea of his sensibility. He'll perform alongside such other local favorites as Alex Koll, Kevin Camia, Liz Grant, Natasha Muse, Steve Lee, and Bourque herself. Plus musical relief from the Foxtails Brigade, a band fronted by Weinbach's sister, Laura. — R.S.
Details: At Herbst Theatre (401 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco). 8 p.m., $25-$59. NYNNYE.com
Best part: Might involve the Russian alphabet, if you're lucky.
What "poop" means in this context: Just take it literally. Really.
How to gameplan: Go to YouTube. Search "Andy Kaufman wrestles a 327 pound woman."
Out with the Old, In with the New
Literally. After a way-too-long construction hiatus, the well-loved Lakeshore bar Easy Lounge is finally re-opening January 3, with an all-new interior and full kitchen. But three days earlier, they'll be hosting a special New Year's Eve cocktail event, featuring as sponsor St. George's Spirits, and as guest bartenders the guys from Jupiter Olympus, a pop-up bar company known for its out-there drinks and general party-rock spirit. There'll be music, sure (from DJ Tom LG) but for those of us who know the real meaning of the holiday — that is, drinking, unencumbered by such distractions as live performance — this is what's up. Beware, though, tickets are going fast. — E.C.
Details: At Easy Lounge (3255 Lakeshore Ave., Oakland). 8 p.m., $20. Tickets at JupiterOlympus.EventBrite.com
Don't worry: Dry ice, vaporized tonic, and whatever other mad-scientist flourishes these guys throw at you are totally safe to drink.
Pro tip: Load up on the (free!) appetizers before you start on the cocktails.
The Velvet Teen
The Velvet Teen is a local indie-rock mainstay. Hailing from Santa Rosa and Petaluma, they've built a loyal national fan base through four albums, as many EPs, and ten years of touring. And Bottom of the Hill is like a second home to these guys, one of many San Francisco venues where they became a noteworthy pioneering act of the "Noise Pop" quasi-genre. Persevering through the loss of beloved drummer Logan Whitehurst in 2004 and even adding a fourth member in 2009, the band's sweet indie rock has not gotten softer over the years — rather, it's become more jagged, and propellent, and exciting. — W.B.
Details: At Bottom of the Hill (1233 17th St., San Francisco). 10 p.m., $15-17. BottomOfTheHill.com
What to wear: Your black Velvet Teen t-shirt circa 2003.
Who to bring: Your little cousin who hasn't heard of them yet.
What to eat before: Eh, nothing.
Devin the Dude
"Swag" is fizzling out; "cloud rap" is wafting in. Both owe many of their attributes to precursors like Devin the Dude, whose oeuvre could represent an aesthetic movement unto itself. Known as one of the most prodigiously talented and woefully underrated rappers of all time, the artist born Devin Copeland has released seven solo albums to date, all with the Houston label Rap-a-Lot Records. He has a rambling, stream-of-consciousness, near-liquid flow that can enrich even the plainest of backing tracks. The Dude has a sense of humor to boot, often making fun of his unerring sweet tooth for marijuana (which is probably his favorite muse). Lest you doubt that the words "woefully underrated" really apply, consider these other three words: Shattuck Down Low — i.e., the venue Devin is most likely to headline when he's in the Bay Area, even though he outstrips most arena-level rappers. That's unfortunate for him, and extremely fortuitous for hip-hop heads in Berkeley. Particularly on the biggest party night of the year. —R.S.
Details: At Shattuck Down Low (2284 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley). 8 p.m., $25. ShattuckDownLow.com
What colors to sport: Green, purp.
When the contact high wears off: There's always the doobie ashtray.
Wax Idols/Terry Malts
For classic punk lovers, this is the perfect event. As New Year's Eve goes, this is one of the cheapest options out there, and best of all, both bands hail from Oakland. Wax Idols is mainly the project of Heather Fedewa, who writes songs and manages most of the band's affairs under the name Hether Fortune. Earlier this year Wax Idols put out No Future on Hozac Records — which remains without a doubt one of the most overlooked releases of the year. Terry Malts is the second coming of Magic Bullets, who scrapped the band's original name (and sound) to pursue a more purely punk and garage sensibility. — W.B.
Details: At Hemlock Tavern (1131 Polk St., SF). 9 p.m., $10 (includes champagne toast). HemlockTavern.com
What to drink: Tall cans, in the alley before.
Accessories of choice: Alt eyewear/sleeves.
Who to bring: The dude who works at the stationery store.
Whether or not you've ever met Paul Mooney in real life, it's easy to feel a personal connection to, or distinct apprehension of, the famed comedian. For one thing, most of us grew up with his characters: Homey D. Clown on In Living Color (conceived by Mooney and played by Damon Wayans); Negrodamus and resident "Ask a Black Dude" expert in Chappele's Show; and host of BET's 25 Most @#%! Moments in Black History. We've also witnessed his trenchant, often unsparing critiques of race politics in America. A distinct sense of scholarship and well-honed anger inform Mooney's material, much of it delivered in the cadence of a scold. That said, he cuts a striking figure, and has the self-possession of a Shakespearian actor. Seen live, he's riveting. — R.S.