It's New Year's Eve - I'm sure you know that already, you didn't come here to find out what day it is (some days I would hardly have a clue about that anyway). But today is New Year's Eve - I know this not just because it's on the calendar. I know this because I have a gig to go tonight that I'm looking forward to - and it's the first time I've been to a New Year's Eve gig in a long time. And I know this because later today I'm appearing on the wonderful/bonkers Matinee Idle show on National Radio where I'll be talking about songs for your New Year's Eve party. I've been billed, threateningly, as "an expert". Apparently. I am no such thing. You of course all know that from reading this blog.
So anyway, I'm on the show after 2pm, gonna have some fun (hopefully) and play a few songs. And talk about how I hate everything. All the time. Always.
For the last couple of New Year's Eve nights we've been new parents. So it's very much been about staying home. The one prior to that we were an aunty and uncle co-looking after a one year old.
Last year was one of my favourite New Year's Eves ever. I was in bed before 11pm. First time I can recall missing the countdown. But it was a lovely night's sleep. And one I clearly needed. I don't get a lot of sleep. So when it comes - I take it. Even if it's New Year's Eve.
But the times before that, recent times, it's been about home-based parties; people coming to us and we put the computer out on the table, plug it into the stereo and just let a rolling playlist happen. I start it off with a few songs and then people just add to it as they feel like it, take a drink over, have a scroll, that sort of thing.
I do hope the Matinee Idle crew is not expecting anything more profound than that - for that will be my NYE party-tip; my, er, "advice"...my "expert" advice...
I'm not one for the New Year's Eve festivals, I got asked this year if I'd review La De Da but I was Ho Hum on that. It's not only that most of the acts at the festivals are beneath me, of no interest, of - mostly - no worth. It's that, by and large, the festival experience is awful for me. It's not about the music. The sound is rubbish. The party-goers are jerks. And if you would prefer me to rephrase that as being old and out of touch then sure, fine. Here's a picture of a dude yelling at a cloud. I (can) identify with this.
But tonight, Matthew, I will be attending the Phoenix Foundation gig at the San Fran Bath House. A very special gig for a few reasons, firstly it's the last gig ever at the San Fran Bath House as we know it. The venue closes tomorrow and will return in a new guise at some stage next year. It is, then, the end of an era. For I have loved that place. I have seen some amazing shows there. I have been treated very well by the staff - as both a reviewer and performer and as I would hope I am most of the time, a general punter. I've enjoyed great nights and great gigs, I've have a blast playing some DJ sets there too this year.
So tonight could be emotional for all of that.
But also it's a chance, finally, for me to see The Phoenix Foundation on the back of their best album to date. Sure, I took a while to warm, fully, to Fandango, but that's because I care a great deal about this band and its music. I stuck with it. And the best of the material on what is, frankly, an overreaching double-album with one ludicrous side-long atrocity to close it out, is the best material this band has offered. They are also the best band in New Zealand currently. One of our very best when it comes to music that means something internationally - or could do; that these guys have chosen the life of relative poverty in New Zealand so as to raise families, stay connected, feel inspired (I hope) and battle on is also, I think, to be commended. It means, family-wise certainly, they have their priorities right.
I've missed their previous shows on the back of the Fandango album - due to being double-booked or out of town. (Or both). So I'm very excited to hear these new songs live. And the old favourites. And then there's the Hang The DJ set after; another mainstay of the San Francisco Bath House days. DJ Bill E is known for his great Atomic and 24 Hour Party People shows, once a year on New Year's Eve he combines the two for Hang The DJ. This year he'll close out the Bath House from 11pm-5am. Before that The Phoenix Foundation will play 9.30pm (on stage at that time, bang on) until 11pm.
I believe there are some door-sales for these shows still available. It's $45 for the Phoenix gig and you can stay on for Hang The DJ after, or you can arrive after 11 and just pay $20 on the door for the DJ set.
So what's your New Year's Eve plan? Are you out and about? Does music figure high in the mix? Or are you at home with the kids? Are you a rolling playlist sort of person, or do you put your feet up on the coffee table and listen to Still Crazy After All These Years, singing along to the lyrics as you read from the booklet, dreaming of the Paul Simon gig you missed?
What's your hot tip for this year's New Year's Eve gig/party/festival/place to be? And any get-the-party-started music tips for those staying at home?
Happy New Year's Eve and thank you for your readership across 2013. It's been better than yelling at a cloud. See you all back here in 2014. All the best for the new year ahead.
You can also check out Off the Tracks for The Vinyl Countdown, reviews and other posts.