“You’re not really a musician unless your band’s playing somewhere on New Year’s,” my dad would say, usually on his way to a New Year’s gig (he’s a famous bar mitzvah drummer), and curiously never on the New Year’s Eves he wasn’t playing. (Those nights we got “DJs are destroying music–they’re not even doing anything” or “I want to make sure I’m up early to watch the Mummers.”)
The sentiment’s not necessarily his or new or remotely close to the truth, and keep in mind my dad legally changed his name from Barry Sylvester to “Barry Michaels” because he thought it sounded more “musician-y.” But somehow now every band ever thinks they should be playing somewhere, anywhere, on New Year’s. Look at all these indie-rock bands with sold-out New Year’s shows! This makes no sense to me, and I liked the Clap Your Hands album. Granted a concert’s cheaper than going to Exit, or the New Year’s party sponsored by my gym, but if you’re going out NYE anyway, just seems like standing up three hours for a show is half-assing it.
Listen, if you want the ultimate live music experience on New Year’s, you gotta get in on one of those country club-type parties. They’re expensive, and the people there are probably assholes, but the clubs rent out the toppest, notchiest of top-notch party bands to swing you into the new year (or jazz you). Party bands may not be as cool as Clap Your Hands or Radio 4 but their songbooks burst, and on New Year’s that’s important. The city’s best party bands, some listed below, can play swing, funk, rock, and literally any Clap Your Hands song you want. Check back later for updates on these band’s NYE whereabouts:
New York’s Most Dangerous Big Band
Definitely visit their page–there’s this really creepy robot woman flash animation that tells you about jazz. Maybe you’ll disagree they’re the city’s “most dangerous,” but there’s no denying that this big band’s rendition of “Zoot Suit Riot” is so criminally awesome, they should be arrested. And every time they play Stevie Wonder’s “I Wish,” the world’s danger rating increases by ten knives.
Gotta hand it to a party band for naming itself after the greatest party anthem of all time–pretty ballsy. That’s like a rapper calling himself “Hey Ya,” or a queer-oriented jazz combo named Miles Gayvis. Good thing Celebration “know what time it is” (riff time):
Three things people often forget about music: 1) Pink’s “Get the Party Started” is a song that still exists; 2) I have seen several band leaders at bar and bat mitzvahs say “And now, let’s Get This Par-Ty Star-ted!” and then play this song; 3) this song’s party-starting success rate is 85%.
Download: “Get the Party Started (Medley)“