Critic's Choice for the week of December 27, 2006-January 2, 2007 

Bubbly, beats, booty-shaking, and then the blues.

Phat Beats and Bubbly

Ring in the New Year hip-hop style at the Independent with some old friends worth poppin' bubbly to: Lyrics Born is a certified party rocker whose live showmanship knows no bounds, plus, his band cooks like Emeril on Levitra, and his secret weapon, wife Joyo Velarde, has a sweet set of pipes. Meanwhile, organic Oaktown duo Zion-I has become one of the best hip-hop groups in the country — underground schmunderground — and in concert, it will show you why its last album was called True & Livin'. Lastly the Crown City Rockers bring b-boy style to a soul/funk aesthetic. Keyboardist Kat Ouano is a baaaad mama jama on the ivories. And as Lyrics Born says, stop com/plai/ning about the $80 cover: open bar all night, homeslice. Sunday, December 31. 9 p.m., $80. IndependentSF.com (Eric K. Arnold)

Grope-Free Dancing

This big-billed New Year's Eve event at SF's Mezzanine gets our vote for Place Least Likely to Get Groped by a Drunken Fifty-Year-Old Dude at Midnight. It's also the place to be if you're in the mood for synthy, dance-oriented indie rock. Okay, here's the real reason: Blonde Redhead is headlining. But this über-cool list of supporters should encourage you, too: Shiny Toy Guns, Persephone's Bees, Scissors for Lefty, DJ Mike Relm, the Popscene DJs Omar, Aaron, and Nako, plus New Wave City DJs Shindog and Skip. Sunday, December 31. 8 p.m. $50/$80. Mezzanine.com (Kathleen Richards)

Like Dylan Going Electric

Hey, Ear Bud — the online home of Express music — has daily stories this week, featuring the year in Bay Area rap by Close 2 tha Edge's Eric K. Arnold; vintage photos of Green Day and Rancid from the 924 Gilman archives; reviews of the new Nas and Snoop; free MP3s from Elliott Smith cover-pianist Christopher O'Reilly; more show previews; and lots of comments. Hit it up now at EastBayExpress.com/blogs. No registration, and no funny business, Lebowski. (D2)

Acid Spazz

Psychedelic rock can go so, so wrong in the hands of the wrong people, but Molecules are not those people. Immersed in the same, chic Echo Park/Silver Lake scene that launched the Silversun Pickups, Molecules have the pedigree and chops to warrant attention. So, too, does Greg Ashley, frontman of Oakland's resident perpetrators of old-school psychedelia Gris Gris, who opens the Saturday, December 30 Stork Club show solo. San Francisco dream-pop duo Astral plays the middle slot. 10 p.m., $5. StorkClubOakland.com (Nate Seltenrich)

Sprawling Sacto Blues

The Berkeley-formed, Sacramento-based maniacs Little Charlie and the Nightcats have created their own unique niche in the blues world with a freewheeling style that knows no boundaries. Little Charlie Batty's guitar swerves from surf to swing jazz to Memphis, Chicago, Detroit, or Delta blues without breaking a sweat. Mighty harmonica player and lead singing lothario Rick Estrin writes tunes that could have come from the pens of Willie Dixon or Leiber and Stoller, but he imbues them with a twisted humor that makes them sound anything but retro. Bassman Lorenzo Farrell and drummer J. Hansen are both vets of Steve Lucky's Rhumba Bums, and bring plenty of left-field pizzazz to the propulsive rhythm work that gives the band its relentless drive. Friday, December 29 at Biscuits and Blues in San Francisco. 8 and 10 p.m., $20. BiscuitsandBlues.com (j. poet)

Getting Luka on New Year's Eve

Looking for a hot New Year's Eve party a little cheaper and closer to home? DJs Platurn and Spair of the Oakland Faders promise a good time at Luka's in Oakland. The duo celebrates the two-year anniversary of their Flashback Fridays, spinning classic hip-hop and funk all night. Plus there'll be the obligatory champagne toast (free with admission), party favors, and balloon drop to make sure you feel you've celebrated right. Sunday, December 31. 9 p.m., $10 before 10 p.m.; $15 after. LukasOakland.com (K.R.)

Ring It In

Once again, the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra comes to the rescue with a classical prelude to fireworks tinnitus. On New Year's Eve in Berkeley's First Congregational Church, enjoy free admission to a concert that includes Schubert's Fifth Symphony, Shostakovich's First Piano Concerto with soloist Robert Schwartz, and Handel's festive Trumpet Concerto in G minor, with debut artist Jeff Strong (as one would hope his lungs would be). There's a pre-concert talk thirty minutes before, with time for coffee and Times Square footage afterwards. Sunday, December 31 at 8 p.m. SFChamberOrchestra.org (Jason Victor Serinus)

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