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25 Best Concerts in December in Phoenix

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My Body Sings Electric - Thursday, December 11 - The Underground

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.

"We were pretentious," admits bassist Jason Bower. "We were like, 'These people don't want music,'" referring to the scant crowds that would show up at venues like the Marquis and offer tepid responses. "We were writing complex stuff in weird time signatures." But the intricate music wasn't the only mark of the band's brash attitude. When My Body landed a coveted spot playing on one 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 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

Freshtivus - Friday, December 12 - Club Red

You know what usually happens when you mix hip-hop and Seinfeld, you get Chris Rock. But when downtown Phoenix based hip-hop apparel shop Coolin Out does it they wound up with Freshtivus, the best hip-hop show of the holiday season, and possibly the entire year. Legendary alt hip-hop icons Brand Nubian and Kool Keith will be heading up a lineup that features Freestyle Fellowship, Ras Kass, Artifacts, A.G. Zoolay, and way more at the new Club Red. This show marks the third month in a row that Phoenix has been able to offer up a quality hip-hop show featuring national level acts with both commercial and critical appeal, which for Phoenix, a city so often accused of being devoid of culture, is damn near a revelation.

Lord Jamar, Sadat X, and Grand Puba of Brand Nubian were instrumental in the growth of militant hip-hop and were some of the first to use hip-hop to speak on greater social issues and black empowerment. Kool Keith, the self proclaimed creator of horrorcore and pornocore, is an all-around pioneer in the industry, blazing an odd trail for rappers like Tyler The Creator, Earl Sweatshirt, D12, Tech N9ne, and many others. On the local side of the show, Phoenix hip-hop heavyweights The Insects and Realistic among others will be representing the Valley. Besides making it easy for every Phoenix hip-hop head to make holiday plans this, show is also going to pay homage to all four pillars of hip-hop. Some of the best M.C.'s on earth will be getting down with a collection of Phoenix's best DJ's, there will be a three-on-three b-boy battle, and live graffiti art by the incomparable Dumperfoo and other Valley based artists. -- Jeff Moses

Yung Lean and Sad Boys - Friday, December 12 - Crescent Ballroom

Your kid drops out of high school to start an Internet-driven music career, rapping about video games, hard drugs, sadness, and Arizona Iced Tea. As a parent, you may raise an eyebrow. Lucky for Yung Lean, he doesn't have any parents. That's obviously not true, but the 18-year-old Swedish stream-of-conscious MC likes to keep his cards close to his chest. He and his producer friends Yung Sherman and Yung Gud bring their talents together as the Sadboys. They got the Internet going nuts with 2013's Lavender EP and Unknown Death mixtape.

This year's full-length Unknown Memory benefits from more money and better production, but it still has the same dreamy style. Depending who you ask, Sadboys are either the future of music and fashion, or everything that's wrong with the world. Prepping for his Basel Castle 2014 gig, we here at Crossfade chatted with Lean about the Swedish hip-hop scene, speaking three languages, being "a '90s child," predicting the future, and making "music just for myself." -- Kat Bein

Alice Cooper's Christmas Pudding - Saturday, December 13 - Comerica Theatre

Few people can flip through their rock 'n' roll rolodex and put together a show quite as well as Valley legend Alice Cooper. After all, Cooper is the king of shock rock, and he paved the way for a legion of acts trying to get a rise out of mothers around the world.

This year Alice has recruited hard rock acts Thousand Foot Krutch, POD, Night Ranger for his 14th annual Christmas Pudding concert at Comerica Theatre, which benefits his Solid Rock Foundation. Legendary sideman and Valley resident Nils Lofgren, blues wunderkind Jonny Lang, musician-comedian Gary Mule Deer, and Alice's own daughter Calico Cooper are also scheduled to perform. Coop knows that when school's out the kids need something to do to keep them out of trouble, and this year he might be have served his tastiest pudding to date. -- Jim Louvau

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