If you're hitting a plain old club on New Year's Eve, you're likely practicing an amateur's-night-out strategy, something where the champagne toast is cheap, the restaurant fare is premade, and the open bar is harder for you to get through than Haruki Murakami's novel 1Q84.
Then again, you might be looking at the wrong clubs. More advisable is a night out with Philly's alternative elite - the skinny jeans-wearing rockers, baggy pant electro-programmers, and classy-costumed performing locals who bare their souls for maximum pay on the last day of 2011.
The flashiest of NYE parties occur at MilkBoy's Center City outpost when Johnny Showcase meets El Malito. Showcase (better known to his mom as David Sweeny, a Philadelphia actor and musician) always lets his freak flag fly as an electric, eclectic Englebert Humperdink-like persona whose energetic disco band puts the fun in "Funkadelic." Think his New Year's Eve show will be less kitsch? I think not.
But you better get to MilkBoy early for Les Rivera, the filmmaker and dancer better known as El Malito, this scribe's pick-to-click for 2012. El Malito's brand of dubstep-salsa and Latino electro hop comes with smartly rousing anthemic lyrics where the outsider looks for acceptance (e.g. "Platypus," "Patrick Henry") with heritage and history to guide him. Yet, it's his Spanish language sing-song-y raps, his abrasive but winning production (courtesy of Aaron "Kosherican" Levinson who'll DJ that night) and his cartoony floor show that make him the best malito he can be. World domination next year. Chestnut Street this year.
Other locals rule the roost on NYE:
Philly's Prowler makes hard poppy dance music safe for backpacking beardo bike messengers and the ladies who love them at Kung Fu Necktie.
If you like the sound of clutter, flutter and wow, local openers Busses at Hott Tubb fit the bill and there's a Pabst Blue Ribbon toast at midnight.
West Philadelphia Orchestra's brand of bouncing Baltic jazz and big band Eastern European swing takes over Tritone for one of its last occasions before the seminal South Street live club closes this winter. Plus they're serving perogies. Name another rock club serving perogies on that night.
The performance art-electro of acidic singer/multi-instrumentalist Shawn Kilroy's Weird Hot promises to live up to its name. The banging Brazilian funk and samba roll of Philly Bloco will surely make the stay-dry environment of World Cafe Live wet with sweat.
And the recently opened Union Transfer gets its initial dose of NYE fever, with the Making Time and R5 Production DJ crews in tow, with the live, lewd electro-disco ensemble Pink Skull twiddling knobs and blowing into noisemakers.
Prowler, Busses, Hott Tubb, DJs Jeffrey and Jay Yo perform beginning at 8 p.m. Saturday at Kung Fun Necktie, 1250 N. Front St. Tickets: $5. Information: 215-291-4919, www.kungfunecktie.com.
West Philadelphia Orchestra's Balkan Feast and Dance Party play at 9 p.m. Saturday at Tritone, 1508 South St. Tickets: $20 ($25 with buffet). Information: 215-545-0475, www.tritonebar.com.
Weird Hot perform at 9 and 11 p.m. Saturday at Standard Tap, 901 N. Second St. Admission is free. Information: 215-238-0630, www.standardtap.com.
Philly Bloco play at 8 p.m. Saturday at World Cafe Live, 3025 Walnut St. Tickets: $30-$40. Information: 215-222-1400, www.worldcafelive.com.
Making Time & R5's New Year's Eve 2011/12 play at 9 p.m. Saturday at Union Transfer, 1026 Spring Garden St. Tickets: $45. Information: 215-232-2100, www.r5productions.com.