by Joseph Hess
Twas the weekend before Christmas and... well, we can't say "not a creature was stirring." St. Louis has no shortage of monstrous events for the next three days, which poses a dilemma. How can one really choose between the Super Sexy Slushy XXX Holiday Party at the Bootleg and Funky Butt Brass Band's Holiday Brasstravaganza at Off Broadway? Those looking for more subversive sounds should make a bee-line to the corner of Cherokee and Jefferson for the Acid Kat and Freezerburn Winter Stocking Stuffer at Foam. Those wanting to go the more classic St. Louisian route will have to pony up the big bucks (relatively speaking) for El Monstero at the Pageant — an X-Mas tradition unlike any other.
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 18
The Acid Kat and Freezerburn Winter Stocking Stuffer w/ Dave Stone Ensemble, Slave Cable, Tory Z Starbuck, Biggiestardust, Beauty Pageant
Foam Coffee & Beer
8 p.m. | free
St. Louis has quite the small print scene, but Freezerburn and Acid Kat are the two most tangential to the music community. With album reviews and band interviews, Acid Kat Zine has a tangible connection while Freezerburn is much more deeply seated in the politics within art circles and beyond. Both have served the city with consistent quality and this night serves as a release party for both groups. Other artists will have plenty of prints to peruse in a backdrop of live music from some of St. Louis' most singular musicians. Dave Stone will perform with his noise ensemble only hours before performing his regular Friday night jazz gig over at Mangia Italiano. Come one, come all for the weirdest show of them all.
7 p.m. | $27.50-$50
By Daniel Hill
'Tis the season for St. Louis' Pink Floyd fans to bask in the tribute tradition that is Christmas with El Monstero — thousands and thousands of them, it seems, based on the fact the Pageant has cleared six days of its calendar for this year's affair. As much musicianship as it is sheer spectacle, El Monstero's show combines the songs of Pink Floyd with its indelible iconography for a truly immersive experience that brings the KSHE set out in droves. Bring your whole family and take psychedelic drugs for a fully enjoyable holiday evening.
Funky Butt Brass Band Holiday Brasstravaganza
9 p.m. | $15-$28
We recommend the Friday edition of this two night affair out of necessity. Unless you bought and paid for your ticket to Saturday's now sold-out show, this night is your only shot at catching the band's set of holiday classics with a New Orleans bent. For seven years running, the Funky Butt Brass Band has encouraged its fans to let their shoulders down and don its collective pajamas — traditional holiday wear, that is. But still come dressed to impress, because if this year is like the last six, most attendees don't skimp on the sleepwear. In addition to the live show (which features special guests Erin Wallace and Brian Owens among many returning players), expect raffles, burlesque and a Santa to take selfies with. And in proper holiday spirit, some of the proceeds from the show go to charity.
Matt Wilson’s Christmas Tree-O
Ferring Jazz Bistro
Friday and Saturday, 7:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. | $30
By Christian Schaeffer
Fifty years ago this month, a mustachioed, thick-spectacled jazzbo from the Bay Area named Vince Guaraldi unknowingly entered the Christmas canon with his score and soundtrack to A Charlie Brown Christmas. Like the cartoon special it accompanied, Guaraldi’s trio used some spare and impressionistic techniques to match both the jubilation and melancholy of the season; for many listeners, the jazz trio became the preferred delivery system for Christmas standards. Enter Matt Wilson’s Christmas Tree-O: The drummer, along with woodwind player Jeff Lederer and bassist Paul Sikivie, take many of the old chestnuts out of the open fire and approach them with wit, irreverence and plenty of good cheer. Expect a touch of the avant-garde along with the players’ appreciable technique — these may not be the same versions of the standards you grew up with, but the spirit comes through all the same.
Super Sexy Slushy XXX Holiday Party w/ Crazy XXX Girlfriend, Slushwave
9 p.m. | $5
Really, the name of this event invokes visions of kiddie pools filled with blue Slurpee and some perverted inverse of a Christmas in July party with skimpy Santa-esque bikinis. Even the poster for this show shows 2/3 of Crazy XXX Girlfriend seductively sucking on candy canes. The scantily clad power trio is well worth the price of admission alone, bringing equal parts riot grrrl and party punk in good measure. The shoegazey SlushWave is not a chillwave band like its namesake might suggest, rather, the band brings a propulsive style of alternative rock. So expect real jams, despite the event's tongue-in-cheek title.
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 19
8 p.m. | $25-$30
By Roy Kasten
Time — its judgment and healing, the escape it offers and the inescapable fact of it — is the central theme of Trace, the first album by Son Volt and one of the defining albums of the '90s. Twenty years on, the record still sounds great: Jay Farrar's voice has never been more expressive, and his band backs his songs like it knows how timeless they will become. That iteration of Son Volt is long gone, but Farrar has no desire to leave those songs behind. "Windfall" and "Tear-Stained Eye" have remained on the setlists for good reason. Farrar's decision to honor the whole of Son Volt's first album with a stripped-down anniversary tour offers a rare chance to trace its power back to the source.
Spandrels w/ Eric Hall, OkENDO, Travis Bursik
Foam Coffee & Beer
8 p.m. | $5
I Hate Songs and People, the recent release by Indianapolis duo Spandrels sounds exactly like it should. This is dark punk that blooms with the breadth of an ever-expanding shoegaze band, exercising rare restraint in the use of pedals to fill in sound. Dischord wrecks what would otherwise be pretty little hooks and to great effect. These are the kind of songs that could only come from a game of musical "Guess Who?" — you know, the children's board game where each player takes turns asking questions to eliminate choices. The point of the game is to ask the right kind of questions and figure out your opponent's chosen card based on facial features alone. Spandrels sounds like a band that, one feature at a time, eliminated every downfall of a modern indie rock band and ended up with set full of noisy, nuanced gems.
Star Wars Party w/ Brothers Lazaroff, Mouth, Lonely Mountain String Band, Quasar Camp
7 p.m. | $7 (or free with costume)
Much of the modern world lies in one of two camps at this point: those who have seen the new Star Wars flick and those who hope to see it soon. For those of us who failed to plan ahead with pre-ordered tickets, solace can be found in this Star Wars Party headed off by the Brothers Lazaroff at 2720 Cherokee. Kansas City's Mouth brings a special musical tribute to the titular space opera among other special guests, including the Lonely Mountain String Band and Quasar Camp. Come for the show and stay for the massive Star Wars art installation by Art Di Davide Weaver before it moves to City Museum in 2016.
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 20
Accelerando Album Release Show w/ The Vigilettes, Baby, Baby, Dance With Me
8 p.m. | $5
By Christian Schaeffer
From our review of Accelerando's new album in this week's print edition: For those musicians tutored enough to read sheet music, the term "accelerando" means to play with increasing speed — to accelerate until instructed otherwise. The local rock & roll quartet Accelerando may or may not be sheet music sight-readers, but the loose, grainy feel of its songs suggest that the band has taken its name as a statement of purpose. While the songs on Accelerando's debut album may not always have the kinetic energy associated with a band named around the idea of acceleration, these tracks refuse to sit still or settle into a predictable structure. It's restless rock music that doesn't need to be referential to thrive.
St. Louis Chamber Chorus Concert 3: Christmas, auf Deutsch!
Trinity Lutheran Church
3 p.m. | $10-$40
For many, the typical sight of snow in late-December is often paired with the aroma of freshly baked cookies and the sounds of holiday classics. While St. Louis seems to be sorely lacking in winter weather, nothing helps set the tone more than music. Thankfully, the Trinity Lutheran Church will host one Christmas concert this year featuring three revered German works: Mendelssohn motets, for Advent and Christmas; Schutz’s “Deutsches Magnificat”; and Schoenberg’s “Friede auf Erden.” On this night, the St. Louis Chamber Chorus will also perform a world premiere from Yakov Gubanov, its former composer-in-residence.
Note: Though we wish we could, we can't feature every great show happening in town in just one post. Peruse the St. Louis concert calendar for more ideas, and let everyone know what else you're looking forward to seeing this weekend in the comments below. To be considered for coverage in RFT Music, submit show info online or drop us a line anytime.
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