The Thanksgiving-to-Christmas stretch is always light on concerts, since many touring acts take that month off and many fans choose to stay home and focus on the busy lead-up to the end of the year. While there's not much going on, the shows you do go to will be populated by hardcore music fans, lending a warm, fuzzy sense of community to the proceedings. December shows are fun for that reason, and we recommend you try it at least once. Here are our picks for this week. Check out our comprehensive concert calendar for more options.
Emmure established a loyal following long ago with its straight-to-the-point, unique angle on life: Accept the hostility of the world and your personal demons, and take that aggression and intensity out in a productive, honest -- and musically brutal -- way. Deathcore act The Acacia Strain is another band that's established a strong following with its triple guitars and apocalyptic samples, even with the numerous lineup changes over the years. The show also has Stray From the Path, Fit For a King, Kublai Khan and Amor on the bill. LAUREN WISE
Tucson's Copper & Congress is a self-described "indie soul" trio of singer/guitarist/keyboardist Katie Haverly, bassist Patrick Morris, and drummer Julius Schlosburg.
"We formed in 2012," Haverly recalls. "We had a different drummer and guitar player. Patrick and I have been together since the beginning. Our guitar player quit and our drummer moved away, so we got Julius a year ago."
Copper & Congress' first album, The Leap Year (2012), was a somewhat transitional effort more indebted to singer-songwriter Americana, but this year's just-released Fault Line is where the trio finds its own voice, in a more rhythm-based style improbably influenced by the likes of mid-'90s trip hop of Portishead, Bjork, and Jamiroquai. JOSHUA LEVINE
After starting Whiskeytown, a band that unapologetically tried to mimic American Music Club sans gay frontman sporting a unibrow, singer-songwriter Ryan Adams has been trying to beat the sun, recording at a furious pace and living life as variously as possible. Since 2007, Adams married the poor man's Britney Spears (which is surely better than marrying Britney Spears), released two books of poetry and short stories, been diagnosed with Meniere's Disease (he'll lose his shit if you go overboard with camera flashes), dropped one band (The Cardinals) and added another (The Shining), released a mountain of recordings via his own Pax Americana Recording Company, produced albums for a diverse array of artists and developed an affinity for pinball (he is currently touring with a Metallica pinball machine). You can expect a career-spanning set of songs both released and unreleased; Adams may even perform an improvised song if you ask nice enough. JEREMY HALLOCK
You know, Fleetwood Mac's Tusk was a really good album. There was also an album called Rumors that did quite well and on the whole, Fleetwood Mac has had a wonderful career. They have had some ups and downs, like any band, and the tensions between the key players, Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, Christine McVie, Lindsay Buckingham and Paradise Valley's Stevie Nicks have, at very least, created some of the most popular American music in the past 40 years. Not too shabby for a band that started across the pond in the 1960's and has had more members than Baskin Robbins has flavors. Truth be told, it is easy to overlook the prodigious output of really good songs when you consider all the public tantrums, rumors (no pun intended), and basically bad behavior. A penchant for shawls really isn't that terrible, is it? Or finger picking an electric guitar? Tall drummers look awkward, sure, but that's okay too when the singers sing so well. In the long run, it will all make for a poorly produced Lifetime movie and we'll all collectively yawn and think, "What a shame those poor millionaires couldn't get along for longer periods of time." TOM REARDON
Sweden's Opeth started out as a fairly straight-ahead death-metal band, but in 1992, after drastic lineup changes, the band, led by singer and guitarist Mikael Åkerfeldt, slowly developed the sound it would bring to its 1995 debut, Orchid. Sonically, Opeth recalls '70s art-rock bands like Jethro Tull mixed with late-'80s progressive metal like that of Fates Warning, with the occasional death-metal growl employed for emphasis between Åkerfeldt's resonantly melodic vocals. There's a disarmingly quiet grace to Opeth's best material; with a blend of acoustic rock and heavier sensibilities, it sounds like what you might get if neo-folk were to come out of Judas Priest and Slayer. TOM MURPHY
The first hints that My Body Sings Electric was pissing people off came long before the brutal reviews. Shortly after getting together in 2007, the band's members went out of their way to be as self-indulgent and strident as possible. They specialized in making "musicians' music" -- songs with experimental structures, extended solos and bizarre instrumentation. Their attitude came through in the title of their first EP in 2008: They Don't Want Music.
But the intricate music wasn't the only mark of the band's brash attitude. When My Body landed a coveted spot playing the Denver stop of the Warped Tour in 2009, lead singer and guitarist Brandon Whalen alienated audience members and fellow artists alike before the group even played a single note. "The first thing I said was, 'We're My Body Sings Electric, from Denver, and we're fucking awesome,'" Whalen recalls between chuckles. "Jon [Shockness] from Air Dubai once told me that when they first met us on that tour, they hated us. He was like, 'Who are these guys?' And that was our whole attitude at the time."
Less than five years later, the quintet has absorbed a sorely needed dose of humility. The shift was spurred by local reviews that blasted They Don't Want Music and its arrogant approach. The poor notices made the guys take stock and make a conscious effort to change. In an attempt to strip their music of its pretension and inaccessibility, they returned to basic lessons about songwriting and looked to a new set of influences in the realm of indie pop and punk. A.H. GOLDSTEIN
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