The question leapt from people's lips for days, weeks, months: What're you doin' for New Year's? You've gotta have something going on because it's the millennium, and as early as last year the media started building this thing up as if it were a seminal event in the history of mankind. But when was the last time anybody mentioned that awesome blowout from New Year's 1899, or 999 for that matter? Sheesh.
New Year's Eve Everywhere, Friday, December 31
Then there's Music. It goes with New Year's like red wine with warm brie. (Mmmmm, warm brie.) If you're in a club or at a party and some band's hammering out a half-wasted version of "Auld Lang Syne"—no, not the Dan Fogelberg song of the same name—and you've got a bottle of champagne, then you're set. That's a great night. If you've tried to invite friends over for a "movie night" and you've rented apocalyptic films (or worse, Wim Wenders' Until the End of the World, though it does have a great theme song by Nick Cave) and bought a bag full of party favors and a few bottles of Cook's, then you're a jerk. And your friends aren't coming, no matter what they told you.
Initially, Seattle's New Year's prospects for going out seemed slim—weird, since with our Space Needle and high-tech industry and all we should probably be unveiling self-aggrandizing slogans like "Seattle: City of the 21st Century" (though my vote goes to Ballard). Rumors circulated about $10,000 dinners for two at Canlis (oops, maybe that's not a rumor), while news of any decent shows came out slower than a Canadian on cold medicine. Of the gigs that were announced, prices floated above $100 for entry. You know what? Everybody's gonna try and make a buck off this New Year's—heck, Linda's is even charging 10 clams—and unless you're poor, don't try to fight it. You'll enjoy the cheap plastic flute of bubbly, and the swell of people counting down what in some minds will be the last seconds of their lives should send a rush through your body. If it doesn't, you've had too much to drink. You'll have to wait another thousand years.
Chris Isaak's decided to spend New Year's with us. He could probably make out with some beautiful babe on a deserted South American island as the rest of the world freaks out, but he's one of the big names on hand to help—and I paraphrase Bill Clinton here—build that bridge to the next century. Ooh, yeah!
Where's Chris at? The Last Call Millennium Ball has Mr. Isaak, old-timey North Carolina kids the Squirrel Nut Zippers, Oregon-reared modern bluesman Robert Cray, Cuban lute picker Barbarito Torres, and more. Not too shabby, if eclectic as all get-out. It's a benefit, and it's in a fancy-schmancy new building in everybody's favorite district, SoDo (Stadium Exhibition Center, 574-2000; $175-$250; 7pm-2am).
Several DJs of renown will spin amongst us on this special, spatial night. As expected, ARO.space enlisted a gaggle of local and national turntable maestros and electronic music artistes, including Wesley Holmes, Donald Glaude, Nasir, Masa, Plastiq Phantom, Eva, and many more (ARO.space, 320-0424; $80 until Wed 12/29, $100 on Thu 12/30 and day of show; 8pm). Detroit techno practitioner Stacey Pullen's shows are always a hoot, and he headlines a Groovetech-sponsored party on Capitol Hill that'll also have visual effects and dinner (Entros, 823 Yale N, 832-5080; $200-$210; 9pm-5am).
Jazzbos have a worthy option, as Jazz Alley somehow landed the great pianist McCoy Tyner, who's bringing a backing group that includes vibes player Bobby Hutcherson. If you're not ringing in the new millennium with the dulcet sounds of the vibraphone, god help you (Dimitrou's Jazz Alley, 441-9729; $75.50-$250.50; 7pm).
The Seattle Center's the site of a big five-day bash, Winterfest, that culminates with a New Year's Eve performance by ex-Blasters and X guitarist Dave Alvin and the Guilty Men, along with Seattle's great lost Young Fresh Fellows. Best part: It's free!
There's a whole lot more going on, so if none of these shows floats your millennial boat, turn to the Weekly's music calendar and check out the other options. See ya there.