Houston's 10 Best Concerts in December

Young Girls headlines Satellite Bar's one-year anniversary party this Saturday.
Young Girls headlines Satellite Bar's one-year anniversary party this Saturday.
Photo courtesy of Young Girls

Satellite Bar, December 3
Houston needs places like the Satellite Bar, which has been a real oasis for local indie-minded artists since opening about this time last year.
Just the right size and striking the proper dive-y atmosphere — unpretentious but not gross — Satellite has been one of the friendliest venues for bands still feeling their way around a stage right from the beginning. Consider that the two real “veterans” on Saturday’s one-year anniversary bill, Young Girls and Mikey and the Drags, have been around for only a few years themselves. The rest of the afternoon offers a peek at the talents of several young Houston acts on the rise, from country-ish Dollie Barnes and various shades of atmospheric pop (Vodi, Whit, Cleen Teens, Whale Bones) to the more disco-minded Camera Cult and chugging guitars of Cool Moon. Those in the mood for something heavier might prefer the surf-punk stylings of the Hammer Party, Thrill’s leather-jacketed CBGB cool or the Wealthy Beggars’ ragged Americana vibe. Free show subject to capacity; doors open at noon. Many happy returns! CHRIS GRAY

Fitzgerald’s, December 3
Formed here in Houston way back in 1982, D.R. I. started off life as one of the most intense hardcore punk live bands ever, touring with the Dead Kennedys on the now legendary “Rock Against Reagan” tour in 1983. By 1987, D.R.I. had helped pioneer the “crossover” sound/scene that basically fused hardcore punk and thrash metal together, finding themselves a somewhat larger audience while keeping their initial aggressiveness. It’s always exciting to see D.R.I. perform live, and when the lights go down right before they hit the stage, the anticipation for the energy about to erupt is palpable; getting into the mosh pit at a show of theirs is pretty severe, yet fun. Vocalist Kurt Brecht and guitarist Spike Cassidy are the only two original members of the band left, still relentlessly touring along with Harald Oimoen on bass guitar, who has been with the band since 1999, and drummer Walter "Monsta" Ryan, who joined in 2015. D.R.I. will definitely shake the foundations of old Fitzgerald’s on this upcoming Saturday night. DAVID ROZYCKI

Walters Downtown, December 4
O bands of carolers, in the immortal words of the late Peter Cook, “You fill me with inertia.” It’s not just the holiday music; at times just the sound of an unadorned human voice does the damage. Be merry therefore, those of you in need of sensory deprivation, you’ll hear no unfiltered human voices on this occasion. If only there was a word to describe this kind of head music, like psychedelic, only unmarred by the connotation of blues rockers with envelope filters. Daniel Hipolito’s Smokey Emery relocated to Los Angeles from Austin a little while back, but his beautiful-sounding tape-machine manipulations retain some of the flavor of his early years in Houston around the time of Voice of Eye. Future Blondes defibrillate techno into a chaotic kind of body-to-body talk, like dancing bees if first they were dusted with poison. Rough Sleepers continue the early evil of their Balaclavas days, lately tarrying in the caverns of deathrock. Collin Hedrick is a shape-shifter of nebulous intentions, prone to listening to his instruments rather than dictating through them. And AK’Chamel are naturals for a little early Saturnalia, in the sense that Saturn devoured his own children. If you’ve seen the movie from which this series takes its name, you know what to expect after bathing in total darkness: Primal things, not-quite-human. TEX KERSCHEN

NRG Arena, December 5
Dolly Parton is unquestionably the biggest female force in the history of country music. Sure, folks like Reba McEntire and Shania Twain are to be commended, but no one did it as well or for as long in the country game as did the legendary Dolly Parton. Not only that, she’s among the more philanthropic celebrities you’ll find, and, by all accounts, is a genuinely nice person. Plus, she’s managed to stay married to the same person for 50 years, so her strength and resilience are not to be questioned. The queen of country music is 70 now, so you never know when she decides to put an end to this whole touring business. Best to secure some tickets and check out country royalty personified. CLINT HALE

Warehouse Live, December 8
Countrified offshoot of ’80s college-rock icons Camper Van Beethoven, Cracker is the less quirky, but no less acerbic, vehicle David Lowery rode to much success on the ’90s rock charts through singles like “Teen Angst,” “Low” and “I Hate My Generation.” In more recent times, Lowery has taken to bringing both bands out on tour with him (and why not?), but not in Houston this time, meaning Warehouse’s cozy Studio room is in for an up-close whiff of uncut Cracker soul. Lowery and faithful partner/badass guitarist Johnny Hickman most recently planted their flag with 2014’s Berkeley to Bakersfield, a double album that explores the reaches of California far away from Sunset Boulevard or Silicon Valley. Here Cracker is fully able to explore their beautifully split personality, allowing plenty of room for Lowery’s trademark sarcasm (“March of the Billionaires,” “Reaction”) and Hickman’s honky-tonk genius (“King of Bakersfield,” “Get On Down the Road”). CHRIS GRAY

House of Blues, December 15
It always seemed like Band of Horses was just one hit away from becoming Mumford and Sons, an indie rock band masquerading as some sort of mainstream arena act. Of course, considering Mumford and Sons fell off a cliff from a musical standpoint once the band blew up, maybe it’s not such a bad thing that Band of Horses always remained in the commercial mid-tier. Either way, the band has consistently produced quality content since debuting more than a decade ago — five albums, all of them good, which is almost unheard of in today’s musical climate. A Band of Horses show is an intimate affair, which stems in part from the band’s chill-ass catalog. CLINT HALE

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