Words By: Greg Thrasher On what has been the most bone chilling night of the current winter, I found myself waiting in line to enter the Knitting Factory for not only the last time of 2008, but the last time ever.  Unfortunately, the closing of culturally important performance venues has become quite an ugly trend here in New York and the "Knit" is the latest victim.  In what seems like an obvious and predictable move, The Knitting Factory will be opening in Williamsburg, Brooklyn in 2009, and as for the preservation of its murky and cavernous aesthetic, well, the jury is still out.  For over the lat 20 years, the intimate 3-floor venue has hosted everything from Hip-Hop moguls, Ska, abrasive Free-Noise festivals and all sounds in between.  It seemed only fitting that they asked folk-punks, Akron/Family, to curate the final night of music.  A collective sound of jaws hitting the floor could be heard all over the Tri-State area when the final line-up was announced:  Akron/Family, Deer Tick, Dirty Projectors, Megafun, and Deerhoof.  Needless to say, this was going to be one hell of a send off. I arrived just in time to catch Megafun, whom I had never heard, just heard of.  Armed with a drumset, banjo, and acoustic guitar, the three bearded fellows from Durham, North Carolina crooned a folk heavy set which didn't seem like the typical New Years Eve party-starter, yet something so bewildering and innocent kept a wide-eyed audience slowly swaying from side to side.  The term Alt-Folk is one that been abused as of late, and this time, I feel perfectly comfortable using just "Folk" or even Folk-Folk for the adjective loving youth of the world.  The timing was right, the song selection was right; it was the perfect soundtrack for the (snuck in) whiskey bottle that was being passed between my friend and I.  At first exposure, Megafun didn't seem like the most groundbreaking of bands, but between the quiet, yet sturdy instrumentation and their serene harmonies, this band seemed like the perfect calm before the storm. Deja Vu is one hell of a feeling. For the second consecutive year in a row, on New Years Eve, I found myself standing in the same spot of the same venue, waiting for the Dirty Projectors to take the stage.  This time they weren't the headliners, but that's just fine because as anyone who has seen this exceptional four-piece perform, we knew we were in for a treat.  Led by the unconventional visionary Dave Longstreth, the Dirty Projectors have spent well over a year touring behind their captivating, Black Flag inspired album "Rise Above".  As of late, blogs and message boards alike have been ablaze with both fans and critics wanting to hear new material and unfortunately for those people, with the exception of one song, tonight was no exception (I'll get to this later). As for someone who has now seen the "Rise Above" material performed a number of times, I can honestly say that the songs have felt fresh and refined every time. While yes, the same songs are being performed, there are subtle changes that only a band comfortable in their own skin can pull off.  Foot stomping favorite "Imagine It", still makes me slap my knee and pogo, the crusty death-metal breakdowns in "Thirsty and Miserable" still make me raise my devil horns sky-high, and the angelic exchanges between Amber Coffman and Angel Deradoorian never cease to make the hairs on my neck stand at full attention.  How can the phrase "Depression, is gonna kill me!" sound so damn uplifting? Thank you Dave Longstreth, thank you for doing whatever the hell you want. The main room of the venue went from being comfortably spacious, to Green-Day-at-Woodstock '94-crowded. While they weren't slated as headliners, it was obvious by the flood of sweaty twentysomethings that people were there to see the mighty Deerhoof.  After 10 albums, and a few lineup changes, It's undeniable that Deerhoof is at the top of their game.  Quirky? Yes.  Hyperactive? Uh-huh.  Extraordinary musicians who communicate in a language all their own? You bet your sweet ass!  Fronted by mousy-meets-Matisse vocals of Satomi Matsuzaki and fueled by the nose-shattering assault of Greg Saunier's drumming, Deerhoof ripped through an abbreviated set (by Deerhoof standards) of material spanning from "The Runner's Four" to their latest album "Offend Maggie."  Like one giant gelatinous organism, the crowd shifted from side to side and back and forth, while the floor of the Knit was bowing like grandma's dusty attic as Ed Rodriguez and John Dieterich swapped pedal drenched guitar riffs during the staple "Spirit Ditties of No one."  In typical live Deerhoof fashion, Saunier shuffled over to Matsuzaki's microphone and treated us to one of his comedic and bizarrely intellectual rants, letting us know that December 31, 2008 marked the end of three things: The final night of 2008, the final night of the Knitting Factory, and the final time that the Dirty Projectors would be performing the material from "Rise Above" (!!!!!!).  One of the highlights of not only their set, but of the night was what had to be the world's longest crowd surf by a carefree young woman...she must have been passed around for a good three and a half minutes.  Her appendages moved like a marionette doll as she floated around the room with a smile only euphoria can bring about. As midnight drew closer, the decision came of either seeing Akron/Family on the main stage or heading downstairs to the more intimate Tap Bar, for Brooklyn by way of Providence hipster-outlaws, Deer Tick.  Already having seen Akron/Family, I chose the latter.  Entering the room a quarter into Deer Tick's set, one could feel warmth.  While yes, the room was physically hot, the warmth alluded to was more on an energy level.  Nobody shoving to get close, no pushing, nothing...just people wanting to ring in the New Year with the friends and loved ones around them, all with the assistance of my new favorite (dare I say) Alt-Country act.  These days there is no shortage of acoustic playing shaggy dudes who wail about past love and dust-filled western skies, yet few really "Go the distance" like John McCauley.  Using two guitars, a drummer, and what looked like Napoleon Dynamite on upright base, the band serenaded us into the new year with such gorgeous tunes as the unreleased "Little White Lies," and "These Old Shoes," a marvelous traveling song about doing whatever it takes to get to that one person you love.  The countdown commenced, we hugged, we toasted, kissed, spilled beer, and without volition, 2009 arrived. Wanting to catch the end Akron/Family's set and the concluding performance on that tiny Knitting Factory stage, I headed upstairs to what had turned into a superjam of sorts.  The Akron/Family was joined by all members of Megafun, Angel from the Dirty Projectors toting a bass, and a tight sounding horn section. The room was filled with chants, whoops, and handclaps courtesy of the Family and company, as the jubilant crowd ushered in both an ending, and new beginning.  For what would be the final song at the downtown Manhattan venue, friends of the "Family" exited the stage, reducing the previously bat-shit crazy crowd to a soft murmur...the end wasn't near, it was here.  With wide eyed gazes fixed upon them, the three members of Akron/Family gripped each other with loving embrace, gathered around a single microphone, and in glorious harmony belted what would not only be the Knitting Factory's swan song, but my own personal motto for 2009: "Last year was a hard year / For such a loooooong time / This year is gonna be ours"