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(Rendezvous) One of the best performances of 2012 was by Seattle experimental rock band MTNS, which played an impromptu street show outside the Capitol Hill Block Party. As people exited the festival, thinking they'd reached their limit on musical input, they were greeted by two stacks of amps and a man in white underpants wearing some kind of animal mask pounding on the drums while his bandmate calmly noodled on a guitar with more precision than a brain surgeon. A crowd of a dozen or so turned into more than 100. At first, it looked like a novelty, but it became clear that this duo was exceptionally talented—"Who is this?" people whispered to each other. Tonight's show won't be nearly as unexpected, of course, but given MTNS' inclination to blow minds with their onslaught of well-rehearsed bedlam, it is likely to be just as memorable. MEGAN SELING See also preview.
(Barboza) See My Philosophy.
(Nectar) Perhaps best known as ancient blues legend T-Model Ford's backing band, GravelRoad released an album earlier this year on upstart Seattle indie Knick Knack Records called Psychedelta. The title encapsulates GravelRoad's aesthetic—a rough mix of denim-clad, moonshiney psychedelia and filthy Mississippi-bred blues. These seasoned road hounds don't get too far out—they are a roots band, deep down—but they spike the rotgut with enough ellis dee to keep proceedings interesting. Ultimately, though, if the music were as freaky as the cover art for Psychedelta, we'd be transported to a much higher state of consciousness. Maybe these guys will pull a Grateful Dead and blow their recorded selves way the hell out into the cosmos. DAVE SEGAL
(Chapel Performance Space) See Stranger Suggests.
(Lo-Fi Performance Gallery) See Data Breaker.
(Chop Suey) Rejoice! For it is the first day of winter (meaning Seattle is finally going to get rainy and dark) and time for the annual Imaginary Holiday Spectacular! Northwest indie-pop nurturers Three Imaginary Girls have curated a gift basket of all-star, stripped-down sets just for you! Don't miss Chris Otepka (of the Heligoats), who sings strange/neat stories with the sincere voice of a flannel-wearing angel. With Cristina Bautista (ex-Visqueen and great power-pop maven), Lesli Wood (the Redwood Plan), Leif Anders (Orca Team), Pablo Trucker, and Zach Gore (Brite Lines). Oh, and John Roderick will be your Santa for the night! EMILY NOKES
(Royal Room) This is a fantastic confluence of local wonderfulness: At the Royal Room (a great space in which to drink and listen to music), Tables & Chairs, the local label that brings you the beloved Racer Sessions at Cafe Racer, joins up with JazzED, an organization that provides year-round jazz education and performance opportunities for young people in Seattle (regardless of their ability to pay) with instructors like Clarence Acox and Wayne Horvitz. Tonight they're inviting alumni of the JazzED program, along with some T&C artists, to celebrate and adventure into improvised music, with performances interspersed with Racer-style curated jam sessions, and "current and former Seattle-area jazz students and educators" are invited to get on up and play with them. No cover. All ages. Seriously. WHAT? This is awesome. ANNA MINARD
(Crocodile) Seattle trio Alex's Hand are yet another group that would benefit from keeping mics away from mouths. Like a lot of artists who brand themselves as "experimental," Alex's Hand exhibit a flawed tendency for irritating vocalizing. Awkward, melodramatic bellows and dorky Sprechstimme mar what are mostly interesting, skewed, prog-pop instrumentals on their debut EP, Madame Psychosis. The band's combination of songwriterly craftsmanship and willful weirdness can't match that of their impressive influences (they list Frank Zappa, the Residents, Mr. Bungle, 5uu's, Henry Cow, Mike Patton, and many more), but there's potential here for something special. That being said, taking career advice from me is almost certain commercial suicide, so tread carefully. DAVE SEGAL
(Comet) Trash Fire made their debut at the Capitol Hill Block Party this summer, and while I usually wouldn't be so confident about such a new band (they have only two songs online and I've seen them exactly once), Trash Fire come from hearty stock, featuring Jonah Bergman of Schoolyard Heroes and Vendetta Red and Curtis Hall from Grand Archives. If kids still made skate videos, Trash Fire would be the soundtrack. They play reckless, holler-filled punk inspired by the Misfits before the Misfits were tainted by the image of Danzig doing totally normal shit like buying kitty litter. Stars, they're just like us! Having been around for about six times longer than Trash Fire, Constant Lovers are surely more familiar to you, but what you might not know is that the band recently took on a new drummer—Mr. Ben Verellen of Helms Alee, who likes things LOUD. MEGAN SELING
(Showbox at the Market) Georgia's 2 Chainz has been rapping since 1997, but he's done so under the questionable moniker Tity Boi until 2011. Since changing his name, he has become one of the most ubiquitous voices on the radio, being featured on tracks from Nicki Minaj, Rick Ross, Drake, Kanye West, Juicy J, and a host of other mainstream heavyweights. His signature name-call ad-lib and goofy lyrical demeanor have made him a fixture on hooks (see A$AP Rocky's new heater "Fuckin' Problem") and one of the only rappers today who can turn words like "She got a big booty/So I call her big booty" into anthemic club chants. That he also wishes in the same song to be buried inside a Gucci and/or Louis Vuitton store when he dies is a bit depressing—but as the last few years of rap have made extremely clear, not everything is meant to be taken at face value. MIKE RAMOS
(Josephine) Picture yourself tunneling through a sonic journey at full volume with no known destination—just you, a few noisy, amplified instruments, and a bag full of magically potent mushrooms to aid you. As if their skulldozingly heady jams weren't trippy enough, Seattle-based stoner-metal band Lesbian went ahead and formed a psychedelic, improvisational-jam-band side project called Fungal Abyss. There's really no better name for such a band, as that's exactly what your mind gets lost in during one of their sets... if, you know, you're doing it right. Go ahead, give it a try. Your brain doesn't stand a chance. KEVIN DIERS See also Data Breaker.
(Barboza) First known as the Royal Seas, then as the Summer Lovers, the Comettes make magical, psychedelic, stained-glass music—colorful and shiny, with ripples of organ, and whooooa boy, do I love an organ. I feel like I just talked about this, but who cares! Organs! Are! So! Good! I'm also really digging the slightly sorrowful vocals and lazy melodies they've got going on, and when you add in the sailing guitar riffs, it feels like floating through space on a shag carpet. This show marks the Comettes' first album release, if you're scrambling for a last-minute winter-solstice gift idea. Just sayin'. EMILY NOKES
(Chop Suey) I have a friend who tells me that by this day, everyone would be wise to have stocked up on water and gold bars, since the world's not actually going to end, it's just going to CHANGE. A LOT. So heed this advice and bring your cases of water and gold bars to Chop Suey, where you can bargain with a shape-shifter for entrance to this sure-to-be-super-fun show! The Pharmacy will be there, saved from certain death by playing their fuzzy punk-party tunes to Mother Reptile—captivating her cold heart with tales of Chinese finger traps and tropical yetis. With Pleasureboaters (back at it after four years!), Wimps (one of the best local bands 2012 gave us), and Branden Daniel & the Chics (frenetic boozecore). EMILY NOKES
(Comet) Do you like Minus the Bear? Do you like the Lonely Forest? The Quiet Ones? Argo? If you answered yes to any of the above, you should know that members of those bands have a side project called Black Hills. Next question: Do you like the Grateful Dead? If you answered yes, then you should definitely attend tonight's show and pick up a copy of Black Hills' debut 7-inch on local label Porchlight Records. If you answered no, what's your problem? Have you ever actually heard American Beauty or Workingman's Dead? Okay, maybe the Dead comparison is a bit of a kiss of death for an indie band, but it shouldn't be. Don't indie fans like Americana, classic rock, psychedelic journeys, fretboard awareness, and solid grooves? Black Hills got that shit in spades. BRIAN COOK
(Tractor) "The Rolling Stones" are the group of young Seattle musicians smart enough to do nothing but cover early Rolling Stones songs. (Genius!) Dancer and Prancer are the beloved seasonal band devoted to surf-rock versions of holiday classics. (Delightful!) Tacocat is the band fronted by Stranger music editor Emily Nokes, who has a way with illuminating "this sounds like this" musical comparisons and whose band sounds like a lusty 21st-century reboot of everything you've ever loved about melodic punk rock. (Fun!) And DJ Mike "Teal Trousers" Nipper is the tight-pantsed man-slut with a better record collection than anyone you know. This show will be so fun. DAVID SCHMADER
(El Corazón) Paul Di'Anno sure has had an interesting past couple years. In February 2011, the "original voice of Iron Maiden" (aka the old guy) was convicted of eight counts of benefit fraud and sentenced to nine months in jail. Shortly after his release, a two-disc anthology of Paul Di'Anno tunes surfaced, showcasing his versions of old Megadeth, Metallica, and, of course, Iron Maiden classics. If you're more of a Bruce Dickinson fan, don't fret; local band Witchburn supply enough Southern-rock riffage to make this well worth the cover price. They're sure to be playing songs from their upcoming album, Baptized in Blood, so show up early. KEVIN DIERS
(Neptune) See Underage.
(Blue Moon) This tried-and-true Blue Moon tradition started as a reaction to Seattle's complete lack of dive bars that also hold church services. The first one, tardily started in 2004, consisted of a band playing off-key Christmas music, followed by a reverend—one Darnell Jenkins—leading a church service in the bar. The event had about three attendees. Since then, the Christmas Eve holiday here has been attended by all sorts of folks, including standup comedians, rapping prostitutes, tap dancers, Jesus, and even Satan. If you're into turning holiday frowns upside down, and/or bastardizing this unholiest of holy nights, you should go to this. KELLY O
(Copper Gate) Fine. FINE. I am writing about the Suffering Fuckheads, a band that, even thought they diligently show up on the calendar every month, I never sought out because when you put the fuck word in your band name, you are (a) already getting "a lot" of publicity because everyone has a secret 12-year-old inside of them whose eyes are magically drawn to swears and (b) probably a death metal band in the same vein as Vaginal Defecation. But fuck it, Fuckheads, I'm in the Christmas spirit, and you know what? Turns out it's not death metal! It's spazz jazz! Something a person could really get wild to on Christmas Day (after so much rumnog). Free, cartwheely jazz skronking through the snow in an unbalanced sleigh of postmodernity. Sorry I made a band-name-based judgment; I think we all learned a valuable Christmas lesson here. About rumnog. EMILY NOKES