Take all that rockin' around the Christmas tree out of the living room and back into our town's best venues to keep the winter chill far, far away from your bones.
The Weeknd, December 17th-18th, Warfield
The recent rise in mainstream R&B artists (The-Dream, Miguel, Trey Songz, Frank Ocean, etc.) makes it clear that it's once again in vogue to have, you know, emotions. Lots of them. One of the frontrunners of the genre is Abel Tesfaye, also known as The Weeknd, whose sound is more blackened and druggy than most. Since his first free-for-download mixtapes House of Balloons, Thursday, and Echoes of Silence dropped–all of which are lush collections of brilliantly produced, baby-making gems, with more than a dash of sullen, sexual longing–dude has been the object of so much critical adoration and revered performances that those three albums were reissued this year as a single album, Trilogy, and his cultish popularity demands not one but two shows at The Warfield this week. Now you have no excuse for not being clued in.
Sunn O))), December 18th, Mezzanine
If you thought the "Wall of Sound" concept perpetuated by good old Phil Spector in the 60s had no modern practitioners, you clearly haven't had your brain pummeled by the works of Sunn O))) (pronounced Sunn). Theirs is the mutated spawn of Spector's brainchild that's been wrought into a leaden and slightly evil monstrosity of guitar and bass tones moving at glacial speed, punctuated by insanely forboding intonations by Hungarian vocalist Attila Csihar. It all makes for a mesmerizing live experience, in which ceiling-high stacks of amps drone at eardrum-pulverizing volumes, band members stand clad in druid cloaks and move in slow motion, and the entire venue is pumped full of so much smoke, it's not implausible that you'll start to believe you're in a gas chamber. Enter if you dare.
A Very Castle Face Christmas, December 20th, The Chapel
We're all for Christmas giving, of course, but often eating hors d'oeuvres and downing "fancy" cocktails start to feel uncomfortably bourgie after awhile. No, to really feel like we're giving back, we wanna wear ourselves out on a seriously manic dancefloor, at the constant mercy of swinging fists, bony elbows, and sweaty bodies hurtling at dizzying speeds. Our chance this time around is a benefit for the Coalition on Homelessness called A Very Castle Face Christmas, held at The Chapel. Some of the Bay's best musical talent will congregate (Thee Oh Sees, Blasted Canyons, The Mallard, and Warm Soda) to take the spirit of giving to a whole new level.
Kelley Stoltz, December 20th, Makeout Room
One of the most gifted musicians in this town is Kelley Stoltz, who's been around for years hangin' with the likes of Sonny & The Sunsets and Thee aforementioned Oh Sees while putting out his own records on Sub Pop. The guy can get all sorts of chameleon on your ass, wielding studied influences from Bowie to Paul Simon to Nick Drake to create a rock-solid throwback sound that is as cozy as throwing a stackful of your favorite LPs onto your record player one after another on a rainy night.
High On Fire, December 22nd, Slim's
After a brief stint in rehab this past summer, Oakland metal fountainhead Matt Pike is back in mind-melting mode and on the road supporting his band High On Fire's punishing, primordial 2012 album De Vernis Mysteriis (which SPIN.com named the 8th best metal album of the year). Though rehab is obviously nothing to be ashamed of, they'll undoubtedly be looking to make up for lost time and bringing their best to the Slim's stage, so get ready for a night of serious Sabbath-esque sludge riffage and a nagging case of bangover the next morning.