Houston's 10 Best Concerts in December

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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

White Oak Music Hall, December 16
There was a time, long ago, when the world was divided on the subject of Morrissey. There were those who despised him for his Wildean affectations and his louche gloom, and there were, on the other hand, people with good taste. These days, Morrissey-penned Smiths anthems like “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now” have become the global singalong to three decades of pandemic underemployment and related miseries. Likewise, hits from Morrissey’s solo discography such as “The More You Ignore Me, the Closer I Get” have mapped out the course of the Internet and its psychic sprawl within the pompadoured craniums of millions. Some artists make it hard on their fans; they behave badly, throwing fits and otherwise carrying on like divas, or they just can’t deliver, but the only difficult thing facing a Morrissey fan is dealing with the pain and the shock that occur when his only Houston show in years sells out before one has had the chance to secure tickets. (And then gets postponed for a month because of a band member's illness.) That, and deciding which Smiths song to put on next. Because he’s a dreamboat, a charismatic performer, a sharp dresser and a smooth operator, with an enviable quiff, an incomparable talent for wit and tuneage, and a croon that induces population booms. Note: This show is sold out…still. TEX KERSCHEN

Walters Downtown, December 16
Steven Higginbotham is the sort of pound-for-pound champ we want in our corner when the prize fight is music-related. He knows December 16 is going to be an all-out brawl between Morrissey fans at White Oak Music Hall and party-starters celebrating the beginning of Day for Night. But Higginbotham and his band, The Wheel Workers, are scrappy and ready to duke it out for their share of listeners that evening. They’ll be posted at Walters with stoner-rock heavyweights Funeral Horse, a pairing that may seem sonically incongruous but has been a long time coming, according to Higginbotham. They’ll both be supporting San Antonio’s Levees, a gritty rock act formed by brothers Kody and Kyle Anderson, which is touring Texas all month to promote its new EP Another Medicine. One last thing: If you can’t afford to be ringside for Moz or Killer Mike’s Day for Night pre-party, this one’s free. JESSE SENDEJAS JR.

Post HTX (ex-Barbara Jordan Post Office), December 17-18
Day for Night Festival knocked us out with its 2015 debut, and we have high hopes for its collision of light and sound this year. Björk Digital, an immersive virtual-reality experience of Björk films and concerts, promises to be an exciting distillation of music and high-tech visual art. The arrival of Aphex Twin, the experimental electronic solo act who hasn't played stateside for the better part of a decade, has fans buzzing. There's so much more to see beyond the festival's top billing: the experimental R&B of Blood Orange, the influential jazz of Kamasi Washington or the hometown favorites Welcome to Houston. But perhaps the most important reason to attend Day for Night is what it means for festivals in general. Day for Night is a flash of colorful light in an otherwise monochromatic festival landscape. Its ambition and scope are an inspiration that other music festivals should envy and emulate. Don't miss it, especially when it's in our own backyard. KATIE SULLIVAN

Fitzgerald’s, December 25
Let’s face it: For many of us, Christmas is a bummer once we reach adulthood; having to face certain relatives in the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election could make this year even more of a debacle than usual. Fortunately, veteran Houston punk band 30FootFALL will be playing their 22nd Annual Christmas show at Fitzgerald’s — if you’ve never been, you really owe it to yourself to add this show to your bucket list as a good time is always had by all, even those who actually like Christmas. 30FootFALL puts on a fantastic live show and the mosh pit will be spirited; it’s really cool to go out and see live music on Christmas night after hanging around the house — or a relative’s house — all day and it’s a great way to rid yourself of cabin fever and any angst you might be feeling, or just to continue your day of celebration. Not to get too corny, but if the real spirit of the holiday is all about sharing some good times with family, friends and loved ones, 30FootFALL’s annual show truly is Houston’s authentic Punk Rock Christmas event. DAVID ROZYCKI

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