The decade is coming to a close and so, sadly, are the smashing decade parties. The second-to-last installment, "Smashing 1980s," promises old Macs, archaic video games, break dancing productions, an '80s fashion show, and everything from new wave to acid house from DJs Shindog, Alaric, Tonto, Thermal, and Haus. Blasthaus will supply visuals and obsolete media on Friday, Dec. 3, at the DNA Lounge at 9 p.m. Tickets are $10; call 552-1346.
Chosen as touring partners for both Kiss and the Supersuckers, the Hellacopters are proof positive that Sweden has more to offer than dancing queens. Grande Rock rides an electrified rail between Motörhead and the MC5, with odes to the impeccable style of both Paul Stanley and Satan. Pretty tough to beat. The Hellacopters support the Supersuckers on Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 4 and 5, at Slim's with Zen Guerrilla opening at 9 p.m. Tickets are $12; call 255-0333.
I have found the best antidote for holiday despair is wanton foolishness and senseless humiliation. To that end, Dance-Along Nutcracker is a long-standing tradition in which spectators are given colorful tutus and asked to leap and frolic along with real dancers -- this season, 4- to 7-year-olds from the Shan-Yee Poon Ballet School -- accompanied by the San Francisco Lesbian and Gay Freedom Band and Cheer San Francisco. From experience, I can guarantee even the most stalwart scrooge will leave sweaty and smiling. Dance-Along Nutcracker will be held on Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 4 and 5, at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts at 7 p.m. with a Sunday matinee at 2 p.m. Tickets are $17-25; call 978-2787.
Dripping with bracken Louisiana backwaters and weathered by touring and strife, Sixteen Horsepower's 1997 album Low Estate emerged sounding, to me, musically finer but lyrically weaker than the band's startling debut Sackcloth 'N' Ashes. Thankfully, I did not then put pen to paper; as can often happen, time proved my internal critic corrupt. In keeping with the seemingly simple title, taken from the biblical passage, "Set not your mind on high things but condescend to men of low estate, and be not wise in your own conceits," Low Estate is the testament of a humble man whose relationship with his god has shifted from abject fear to dubious gratitude. "My narrow mind/ Wicked, wicked/ From the mouth I spout/ O Lord don' let these thoughts come out," wails the grandson of a Nazarene preacher suckled on brimstone. Accordion, bandoneon, hurdy-gurdy, and banjo lurch alongside David Eugene Edward, keeping him company on a long road of spiritual contemplation strewn with prosaic idioms like "mobile home" and "ass clockin'," as well as biblical mainstays like the lamb and the sword. As darkly appealing as Edward's vision of mortal bankruptcy has been, I can't help but wonder what new face he has come to know over the last few years. Sixteen Horsepower performs on Sunday, Dec. 5, at the Great American Music Hall with Vue opening at 9 p.m. Tickets are $10; call 885-0750.