‘Tis the season to be jolly, and all that. But if you’d rather pass the holiday season seeing some awesome bands than sitting inside gorging yourself on turkey and roast vegetables, then we’ve got you covered with this roundup of the shows that we’d love to be attending over the next month or so (if our budget extended to jetting all over the country to see them all, which sadly it doesn’t). Anyway, have a read and let us know what’s on your gig-going itinerary for the next month or so. We can make it through this together.
November 23-December 17; West Coast, Mexico and Chicago
Who better to bring the festive spirit than, um, Morrissey? Fresh from the latest skirmish in his ongoing legal battle with the NME, and having had to cancel the opening gig on this tour because his guitarist couldn’t get into the country, the Mozzer will doubtless be in a fine old mood for these shows. Fans will be happy to know that he’s been changing up the setlist every night so far on this tour — and has even closed several shows with 24-carat Smiths classic “I Know It’s Over.” Rejoice.
Tour dates: 11/23 — Los Angeles, CA 11/25 — Las Vegas, NV 11/26 — Los Angeles, CA 11/28 — Pomona, CA 12/01 — Oakland, CA 12/05 — Monterrey, Mexico 12/07 and 12/08 — Condesa, Mexico 12/10 — Puebla, Mexico 12/13 and 12/14 — Guadalajara, Mexico 12/17 — Chicago, IL
November 23-27; Los Angeles and New York
While we’re on seasonal joy, how’s about Robert Smith and his band of cheerful chaps? This tour has had fans in paroxysms — it finds Smith extending the Don’t Look Back concept to extravagant lengths, playing his band’s first three albums (Three Imaginary Boys, Seventeen Seconds, and Faith) in their entirety, and then following up with a selection of classics that’s almost another gig’s worth of music in and of itself. In LA a couple of nights back, they played 45 songs, including three encores. Now that‘s value for your money.
Tour dates: 11/23 — Los Angeles, CA 11/25, 11/26 and 11/27 — New York, NY
November 23-December 1, Midwest, Canada and Northwest
It’s been rather gratifying to see the amount of attention Tinariwen have been getting over the last few years — they’ve been touted by the likes of TV on the Radio and Thom Yorke, and they’ve toured solidly outside their native Mali. Considering they’ve been together since 1979, though, they’re not exactly overnight successes, and the 30+ years they’ve spent together makes for a pretty incredible live show — immersive, hypnotic and singularly beautiful.
Tour dates: 11/23 — Detroit, MI 11/25 — Chicago, IL 11/26 — Minneapolis, MN 11/29 — Calgary, AB 11/30 — Vancouver, BC 12/01 — Seattle, WA
November 29-December 11, USA and Canada
Birkin has been touring throughout 2011, and has been a part of some pretty fantastic looking shows — she’s just done two nights in Eindhoven and Paris as part of an ensemble performance of Tom Waits’s Rain Dogs, and earlier this year played an all-star benefit show to raise money for survivors of the Japanese earthquake (the show also featured Dominique A, Charles Aznavour, Têtes Raides and various other Gallic luminaries — as well as the song we’ve embedded above, there’s more video on YouTube if you’re interested). This tour sees her playing the songs of soulmate and creative partner Serge Gainsbourg — her voice is just as delicately beautiful as ever, and if you’ve never seen her, we highly recommend rectifying this oversight.
Tour dates: 11/29 — Seattle, WA 11/30 — Vancouver, BC 12/02 — San Francisco, CA 12/03 — Los Angeles, CA 12/05 — Chicago, IL 12/07 — Toronto, ON 12/08 — Montreal, QC 12/09 — Washington, DC 12/11 — New York, NY
December 1-6, California
If you’ve neglected to see the Stooges since their mid-2000s renaissance — maybe you were put off by The Weirdness, or just figured they couldn’t possibly be as good as they were back in their heyday — then take it from us: they’re still way, way better than they have any right to be. Most of that, of course, is due to Iggy, who still throws himself around the stage and contorts himself into shapes that a teenager would find awkward, let alone a man who’s due to turn 65 next April. Truly, we will never see his like again. So if you’re on the West Coast, get onto these shows while you can.
Tour dates: 12/01 — Los Angeles, CA 12/04 and 12/06 — San Francisco, CA
December 3, Los Angeles, CA
Also on the West Coast: we are big fans of LA radio institution KCRW, and we also like a good pun, so this show — an annual benefit show for the station — appeals in a number of ways. Punnery aside, the lineup’s also pretty great (and suitably eclectic) — reggae legend Jimmy Cliff headlines, and also on the bill are Iron & Wine, White Denim, and Anna Calvi. And, y’know, it’s for a good cause.
Yo La Tengo’s Hanukkah Shows
December 20-27, Maxwell’s, Hoboken, NJ
For fans, Yo La Tengo’s annual Hannukah marathon is almost as quintessential a part of December as mulled wine and a post-lunch snooze. They’ve been doing these eight-night stand at Maxwell’s in Hoboken for ten years now (save for a break in 2009), and they’re back again for 2011. Expect lots of special guests, epic setlists, and a very, very happy fanbase. The shows are all sold out now, so we hope you got tickets. Otherwise, start trolling Craigslist (and preparing to empty your wallet) now.
December 29, 30 and 31, Denver, CO
Now this would be fun — if three nights of Ween doesn’t put you in a good frame of mind for 2012, we don’t know what will. If we were in Denver for these shows — and we rather wish that we could be — we’d be expecting long, rambling setlists, lots of jokes, and an extended version of “Buenos Tardes, Amigos.” And “Piss Up a Rope.” Definitely “Piss Up a Rope.”
December 30 and 31, New York, NY
Meanwhile, back in NYC… We spent last year’s New Year’s Eve at Patti Smith’s annual birthday/New Year’s Eve bash at Bowery Ballroom, and even setting aside the fact that we got ripped off on Craigslist for tickets, it was a most excellent way to welcome 2011. Smith’s repeating the dose this year, but we reckon this might be even better — seeing in 2012 with Eugene Hutz and his rag-tag band of gypsy punk hellraisers. Admittedly, it means enduring Terminal 5, but we don’t reckon even that’ll be able to put a damper on festivities. And yes, we’ll be wearing purple.
December 31, Washington, DC
And finally, if you’re in DC, then there’s really nowhere else you’d want to be on New Year’s Eve than the 9:30 Club. Drive-By Truckers are headlining — this is the third show of a three-night stand — and Booker T. Jones is a legend in his own right, a man who’s still going strong 40 years after he released the classic “Green Onions.” But really, we’d be all over this just to see Alabama Shakes, who absolutely blew us away when we saw them in Nashville a few weeks back, and who will — if there’s anything right in this world — be massive stars by the end of 2012. Remember where you read it first.