Happy new you 

Our guide to an independent-minded New Year's Eve

The New Year is barreling down on us like an unruly bear. No stopping it. No way to avoid it. But before you get too focused on what resolutions you'll make (and break) for 2010, it's time to think about how you're going to usher in the next decade. Here we offer a few of the more offbeat ways to spend New Year's Eve throughout western Montana.

Happy Oblio Joes

Until the band's monumental breakup in June 2007, the Oblio Joes played in Missoula for 15 years, weathering the rise and fall of venues, witnessing the births and deaths of other bands and generally outlasting everyone, it seemed. With alt-pop lyrics like, "I woke up in a ditch today, it's not half as bad as you'd think," the band provided, for some, a soundtrack to their Missoula youth. Chris Knudson of the local band Rooster Sauce, in fact, told the Indy back in 2006 about his love for the Obes.

"With the right amount of alcohol," he said, "they are the only band that has made me cry—not because I was sad, but because I was happy—while singing along to their songs."

New Year's Eve marks the Oblio Joes' reunion for one night only. The band members had to raise money for guitarist Stu Simonson to fly back from Olympia, Wash., and the effort will, no doubt, be worth it. Now, if the crowd could only use this show to convince the band to stay together for another decade.

The Oblio Joes play the Palace Thursday, Dec. 31, with El Zombi Gato, Rooster Sauce and Volumen at 9 PM. $7.

New Year’s Eve entertainment includes, from top, the Oblio Joes reunion at the Palace, Dark Dreams’ New Year’s Evil party featuring DJ ir8prim8, and Brothers of Sasquatch in downtown Kalispell.
  • New Year’s Eve entertainment includes, from top, the Oblio Joes reunion at the Palace, Dark Dreams’ New Year’s Evil party featuring DJ ir8prim8, and Brothers of Sasquatch in downtown Kalispell.

Dark days

Out with the old, in with the evil. Isn't that right? If you have a bit of a dark streak—think Tim Burton or an infatuation with black eyeliner—and you love to dance to electronic music, this is the event for you. New Year's Evil is a party put on by the entertainment group Dark Dreams, and it features hard-to-spell DJ names like HAuLi and ir8prim8. Also, Rev. Chachi from Bozeman's Playground Productions is a big deal producer and he plays his own mesh of funkadelic tribal disco house for the party. Other than the music, New Year's Evil showcases Trash Dolls, a fashion art show featuring costumes made from repurposed materials by the artist collective FayRay.

New Year's Evil kicks off in the basement of the Elks Lodge Thursday, Dec. 31, at 9 PM. $5.

Flathead monsters

First Night Flathead in Kalispell (and one venue in Columbia Falls) promises champion fiddling from the Maw Brothers, original bluegrass from Brenda Hanson & Family, Americana from Frank O'Brien and Celtic from Tra le Gael. But what really catches our eye this year are two music acts: Brothers of Sasquatch and The Graveyard Girl Scouts. Brothers of Sasquatch is self-described as "otherworldly" and "like Star Wars versus 'Star Trek.'" And The Graveyard Girl Scouts serve up a platter of no-B.S. punk rock in the classic three-chord vein with titles like "She's a Clone" and "Zombie Cheerleaders From Hell." Who wants to end 2009 with such purveyors of alien and paranormal rebellion? Better question: Who doesn't?

Brothers of Sasquatch play Shorty's Barbershop in Kalispell at 8 PM followed by The Graveyard Girl Scouts at 9 PM. First Night buttons $15. Go to www.firstnightflathead.org.

Street walker

For this New Year's Eve, we suggest you loiter. You'll have to put on all of your long underwear, of course, but it's worth it. Head down to the Missoula Courthouse and dawdle as chefs from University of Montana Dining Services craft sculptures out of ice. Then make your way down Higgins and tarry about the sidewalk near the Florence Building as various people read all 154 of Shakespeare's sonnets over the course of three hours. Surprise your friends by reading one yourself—it's encouraged. Finally, you should saunter on down to the Higgins bridge and hang around as the First Night folks light up a big old bonfire. Better than a Times Square ball, we say.

Ice carving starts at the Courthouse at noon. Sonnets on the sidewalk begins at 2 PM at the Florence Building. The bonfire gathering heats up at the First International Bank at 5 PM. All free.

Get smart

New Year's resolutions are hard to keep. Unless you're one of those people who makes resolutions like "eating more fried chicken" or "smoking more cigars" you probably have some anxiety about following through on your promises. Here's an idea to jumpstart better habits: Go get educated. Author Jon Jackson of KUFM's "The Food Guys" and "Jazz Sessions" gives a 45-minute talk called "The Crime Novel on Film" about the rise of the detective story and its manifestation on the silver screen. It gives a little more substance than your average entertainment, and that extra knowledge could gain you a midnight kiss from an impressed admirer.

Jon Jackson talks about the crime novel and film at the UM Todd Building, RM 203, at 3 PM. First Night buttons $15.

Put a mask on it

First Night's big thing this year is The Masquerade Ball, and you and your buddies can spend all day in the University Center making the perfect mask for the grand evening. It's not often that Missoula sees classy dress-up extravaganzas—pimps and hos parties don't count—where Carhartts and fleece pullovers seem out of place, so take advantage of it. Once you make your mysterious mask, head to the UC Ballroom to dance up a storm before the clock hits midnight. String Orchestra of the Rockies plays Viennese waltzes followed by the Ed Norton Big Band with jazz and swing.

Mask making starts at the UC 3rd Floor Lobby at 2 PM. The Masquerade Ball begins at the UC Ballroom at 8:30 PM. $15. Go to firstnightmissoula.org for all Missoula First Night info.

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