December is the slowest month of the year for shows, with clubs closing their doors for private events and holidays and many bands not looking to traverse the country in the winter. That said, there are still plenty of good shows, like the following:
I mentioned Oakland band Man/Miracle's CD release party in passing last month, but didn't give the guys the acknowledgment they deserve. The frenzied indie rock on The Shape of Things -- and singer Dylan Travis's voice in particular -- brings to mind Talking Heads in the album's funkier songs, and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah in the darker and more experimental ones. Neither reference, however, overwhelms the music itself, which crackles with the energy of a young band already realizing its potential on its first full length. The band's free show at Oakland's The Uptown on Friday, December 18th also features fellow East Bayers Grand Lake and Pancho-san (led by ex-Rogue Wave member Patrick Abernathy), along with SLO's Sparrows Gate.
With Two Gallants on hiatus, Adam Stephens and Tyson Vogel have been exploring individual projects, with Adam Stephens and the Finite Plain and Devotionals respectively. Stephens and his band have been playing around for a little while now, and finally headed down to Los Angeles in September to record an album with producer Joe Chiccarelli (The Shins, The White Stripes). Stephens is an expert at heartfelt melodic songwriting; the songs take on an even greater emotional gravity with Jen Grady's swooning cello. Catch the band on Wednesday, December 16th at the Rickshaw Stop with the equally terrific SF/Sacramento band Two Sheds and Honey, a local psych-influenced folk-rock band whose MySpace songs suggest it'd be well worth a timely arrival.
In October, Chicago band Califone released All My Friends Are Funeral Singers to the same strong critical reaction that has accompanied each of their last several releases. The band is supporting the album with an ambitious West Coast tour with two performances at each show. At the Great American Music Hall on December 7th, they'll play a live accompaniment to All My Friends Are Funeral Singers the movie -- written and directed by frontman Tim Rutili -- followed by a traditional live performance. Well, traditional for Califone -- the group uses ambient textures and experimental touches to make very forward-thinking folk-rock.
In addition to these three shows, there are plenty of great holiday-themed local events coming up. Of particular note: The Rumble's free Holiday Electro Dance Party at Harlot on December 9th (with a bevy of local DJs); The Seaweed Sway's holiday show at the Make-Out Room on December 20th (featuring Kacey Johansing and Garrett Pierce); and the SMiLE! Christmas Extravaganza at The Knockout on December 21st (with Bart Davenport and Persephone's Bees).
Ben Van Houten is the Programming Director at The Bay Bridged.