Time to Party! 

Our annual guide to top the New Year's Eve events in the East Bay, along with a few in San Francisco.

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click to enlarge Con Funk Sun will play the Historic BAL Theatre on December 31.
  • Con Funk Sun will play the Historic BAL Theatre on December 31.

Con Funk Shun
With the bass thumping and horns blaring, Con Funk Shun will bring a bit of the 1970s funk and soul era to the Historic BAL Theatre (14808 East 14th St., San Leandro) for a return New Year's Eve performance. The seven-member band is known equally for its velvety smooth ballads and brassy party anthems. Originally formed in Vallejo under the moniker "Project Soul," Con Funk Shun earned its stage chops as the backup band for Stax Records artists, The Soul Children. Three years after releasing its first album in 1973, the group was signed to Mercury Records and proceeded to release another ten albums over the next decade, at least four of which went gold. But disputes between members led to the band's dissolution in 1986. Songwriter and vocalist Felton Pilate went on to be the in-house record producer and songwriter for M.C. Hammer. Rhythm guitarist and lead vocalist Michael Cooper also had a successful run as a solo artist, with several hit songs. The group got back together in 1993 and continue to tour and produce new music. Their high-energy, choreographed show — with high kicks and quick spins between back beats — makes it hard to stay off the dance floor. — E.B.

Dec. 31, 8 p.m. & 10:30 p.m., $40–$150. BalTheatre.com

La Cena de Los Danzantes de la Luna at Calavera

If you'd like your New Year's Eve celebration to have an upscale Aztec slant, Calavera (2237 Broadway, Oakland) will serve a special New Year's Eve feast dedicated to "the Aztec blood moon." A local DJ (to be announced) who will get a rollicking dance party started at 10:30 p.m., but the focus here is on craft cocktails and good food. In fact, Calavera's a la carte menu might just be the swankiest food-centric New Year's Eve option in town, with $13–$21 specialty cocktails (including one mezcal-based concoction, the New Moon, whose ingredients include foie gras and a mysterious "golden ice moon"), a $68 steak for two, and $24 tacos that feature sturgeon caviar and marrow-poached lobster. — L.T.

Dec. 31, 5:30–2 a.m. (last seating for dinner at 11 p.m.), a la carte. CalaveraOakland.com

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Light On! Kwanzaa

For many people, New Year's Eve is a time of retrospection, an opportunity to look back over the past year and reflect on personal progress and setbacks. In that vein, but with a more community-oriented focus, the Oakland Public Library is inviting residents to its West Oakland branch (1801 Adeline St.) to celebrate the fifth day of Kwanzaa, which is dedicated to the principle Nia, or purpose. According to Kwanzaa principles, this day is dedicated to making the collective vocation that of building and developing community. The Oakland Public Library will host a candle-lighting ceremony, including the naming of African ancestors, and presenters will discuss the symbols and principles of Kwanzaa. Attendees will also receive a short historical story and share in rhythms and songs. — E.B.

Dec. 30, 3–5 p.m., Free. OaklandLibrary.org

New Bohemia NYE

New Year's Eve elicits expectations of grandeur that can be stressful — as if every day lived that year didn't count if the last one doesn't trump them all. If you're seeking such a mind-bendingly extravagant night, New Bohemia NYE will calm your anxieties. Held annually inside San Francisco's historic Armory building (1800 Mission St.), past years looked like a mix between Burning Man, Las Vegas' Electric Daisy Carnival, and a sexy vaudeville circus show. The sprawling party will feature four stages, headlined by British DJ duo Stanton Warriors, Dutch-American producer The Scumfrog, London-based tech-funk producer Meat Katie, and also London-based DJ Ben Coda. The Vau de Vire Society will be providing acrobatic theatrics while ten other DJs fill every corner of the festival with pounding bass. Past years have boasted massive luminescent sculptures, industrial playscapes, a forest of lasers, and combinations of the three that can only be described as fantastical large-scale art. But of course, tickets don't come cheap. They range from $70 for general admission to $175 for VIP access to an entire private floor of festivities. — S.B.

Dec. 31, 8 p.m. NewBohemiaNYE.com

Flying Lotus, Clams Casino, and Thundercat

The virtuosic electronic compositions of Steven Ellison, aka Flying Lotus, deftly blend elements of hip-hop, jazz, and noise, so it should be no surprise that he is the grand-nephew of famed jazz pianist Alice Coltrane. Though his instruments of choice are a laptop and drum machine, Ellison's production utilizes nuanced melodies and challenging rhythm structures that evoke his family's boundary-pushing contributions to music in the 20th century. Flying Lotus' experimental edge makes him appeal to hip-hop heads and niche, electronic music fans alike. While his 2012 album, Cosomogramma, was glitchy and frantic with a digitized sonic palette, his latest release, You're Dead!, has a more nostalgic, analog feel with an emphasis on jazz percussion and psychedelic electric guitar instrumentals. Kendrick Lamar and Snoop Dogg lend vocals to the album. (And Flying Lotus has production credits on Lamar's landmark release, To Pimp a Butterfly.) He performs at 1015 Folsom (1015 Folsom St., San Francisco) on New Year's Eve with Thundercat — a bassist, vocalist, and his frequent collaborator — and Clams Casino, another producer of ambient instrumentals with hip-hop roots. — N.V.

Dec. 31., 9 p.m., $75+. 1015.com

click to enlarge Patti Smith will play the Fillmore on December 29, 30, and 31.
  • Patti Smith will play the Fillmore on December 29, 30, and 31.

Patti Smith & Her Band, 'Horses' Tour

Forty years ago, 28-year-old Patti Smith released the album, Horses, lending a poet's sensibility to the fury of the New York City punk rock movement. To celebrate the album's anniversary, she's taking the record on tour, playing it in its entirety across Europe and the United States, including over three nights at The Fillmore (1805 Geary Blvd.) in San Francisco. Often called the "godmother of punk rock," Smith's Horses left an indelible mark on the emerging genre while simultaneously carving out a path for women in rock music. Smith described it in a 2004 interview with National Public Radio as "three-chord rock merged with the power of words." Her voice on the album can at times be soft and pleading. But more often, it rises to booming timbres, careens and expands, stretching to the point of breaking. In video recordings of her early performances of the album, Smith trains her steely gaze beyond the audience, infusing the songs with a kinetic, almost frenzied energy. Since the album's debut, the Punk Poet Laureate has released ten more albums, written two memoirs — including Just Kids, which won the National Book Award in 2010 — and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Now 68 years old (she'll celebrate her 69th birthday on Dec. 30), it's hard to know when another opportunity to see the songstress live will again come around. — E.B.

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