Out with the Old, In with the New 

The top New Year’s Eve events the East Bay has to offer. Plus a few in San Francisco.


Blackball Universe YouTag Party

Blackball Universe (230 Madison St., Oakland) is a hole-in-the-wall that you want to crawl into. It's understated on the outside, with a nondescript door that leads up a narrow staircase. Inside, though, rooms covered in art flow into each other, leading back to a cozy bar decorated like an old speakeasy, with velvet cushions and all. It's the home of the Blackball Universe music label and artist collective, and also holds the studio of Blackball founder Xavier Dphrepaulezz.  The charismatic, dapper musician performs as Fantastic Negrito, often drawing sidewalk crowds on First Fridays by delivering black roots music with a host of accompaniments. For the second year in a row, Dphrepaulezz will be inviting the public to join the Blackball family for a night of New Year's celebration and music. The party is called YouTag, because the walls will be covered in white paper and guests will be invited to scribble out their 2014 memories and 2015 resolutions. Markers, food, and drinks will all be supplied. All you need to bring is a creative willingness and the inclination to dance. The party is all ages and free, but donations are encouraged. — S.B.

7 p.m. BlackballUniverse.com


Psychefunkapus, anyone? Forgotten, alas, just like most of the band's peers in the late 1980s and early 1990s thrash-metal-funk scene. Yet one export from the mostly forgotten Bay Area cultural moment endures: Primus. Led by a bass-playing exhibitionist straight out of the 'burbs, and with a taste for the sort of outdated headgear that typically ruins celebrity aspirations, Primus' ascent is an unlikely one. Nevertheless, three decades after forming in San Lorenzo, it has a new and suitably baffling album. A reimagining of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory's 1971 movie soundtrack, Primus and the Chocolate Factory with the Fungi Ensemble is the lingering aftertaste of a long-running lyrical fixation on food. Primus adapted it — with visuals — for a New Year's Eve show at the Fox Theater (1807 Telegraph Ave., Oakland) last year, where the band returns to wonk and gurgle and croak in 2015. The way trends go, a thrash-metal-funk revival could happen. In the meantime, it's really fun to say "Psychefunkapus" out loud. — S. L.

9:30 p.m., $50–$65. TheFoxOakland.com

Hog's New Year's Eve Butcher's Banquet and Beer Bonanza

For the meat-lover with a taste for beer, what better place could there be to ring in the new year than at Hog's Apothecary (375 40th St.), Oakland's most gourmet beer hall? The recent spate of rainy weather forced chef John Streit to scrap his initial plans for a pig roast, but the new three-course menu sounds equally compelling from a carnivorous standpoint: lamb sweetbreads, boudin blanc with melted leeks, ale-braised pork coppa, and a yet-to-be-determined dessert. Each course will come with a beer from Craftsman Brewing, Hog's beer guru Sayre Piotrkowski's favorite California brewery. Of particular note: Craftman's Acorn Saison, a limited-batch brown beer for which acorn meat — rich in tannic acids — is added to the boil. Reservations are a must for either of the two available seatings — 5:30 for guests fueling up for other late-night festivities, 9 p.m. for those who'd like nothing better than to raise a glass of cold beer when the clock strikes midnight. — L.T.

$65. HogsApothecary.com

OAK NYE: 2015

This New Year's Eve, Oakland's Top Ten Social party promoters are ready to really outdo themselves. They've planned three elaborate events, each offering a different type of celebratory experience. For those looking for something fancy, they will be holding a prix-fixe dinner party at modern Japanese restaurant Ozumo (2251 Broadway, Oakland) which will offer two additional pop-up bars for the night, and a lineup of DJs including heyLove* and Sake One. Reservations are required for the four-course dinner, which costs $75 at the door. People who just want to dance can also pay $40 for admission. Those who don't want to be tied down to a table but still want great food should choose the OAK NYE Lungomare Ultimate Dinner Party. The event will offer a buffet of the restaurant's signature Italian dishes, as well as hors d'oeuvres. Lungomare's heated waterfront patio has couches to lounge on, while a lineup of DJs will spin in the two dance floors inside. The dinner and party requires reservations and costs $50 a person at the door, while tickets to only the party cost $40. (I think it's obvious what the best deal is.) And finally, those who already have dinner plans can cut out the food aspect altogether and go straight to Old Oakland's Parliament nightclub for the OAK NYE Lounge Party. This event will shake the sleek party spot with hip-hop and R&B brought by DJs Davey D of Hard Knock Radio, Dion Decibels, who has backed up the gamut of Def Poets, and Lady Ryan of The Social Life. Admission is $35, with opportunities for bottle service climbing up from there. Compared to fancy hotel and club parties happening in San Francisco, Top Ten Social's tasteful events are uber-affordable and will likely have a more enjoyable, intimate vibe. — S.B.


Kool A.D.

The viral 2008 track "Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell" set the tone for hip-hop outfit Das Racist's four year existence as culture-savvy provocateurs both derided as asinine gimmickry and hailed as a singular lyrical force with funky and tuneful production. Notably, Das Racist was adept at and willing to push back against the former. Cofounder Victor Vazquez, who plays on New Year's Eve at The New Parish (579 18th St., Oakland), moved back to the Bay Area after Das Racist split in 2012, releasing a spate of mixtapes and solo albums under his stage name Kool A.D. The most recent, Word O.K., from earlier this year, opens with, Aaaye, just sent this email to myself/gonna read it off of my phone now. It's the internet in your face — a theme rolled over from Das Racist, and though Word O.K. frequently strikes a tone of jest, Vazquez's rapping surges with creative invention. In a marathon verse on "Life & Time," Vasquez creates an absurd crime narrative around 3-D-printed guns, drops a palindrome for amusement, takes ill-informed critics to task, and professes inferiority to Nas. Even Kool A.D.'s most perplexingly self-effacing lines connect. — S.L.



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