Ring in the new year with MSTRKRFT at the Electric Factory
Ring in the new year with MSTRKRFT at the Electric Factory

Trying to find the best shows going on next month, but are too overwhelmed by how many choices are out there? Just missed getting tickets for that Lady Gaga show, and need another one to compensate? Here’s a Look at some December shows that might just be a little too good to pass up! And note, while this list primarily features Philadelphia, it showcases bands who are currently touring the country. So if you like what you hear, then you might just want to check their websites and see if their coming to a stage near you!

Gil Mantera’s Party Dream December 1st at Johnny Brenda’s

The term “80s retro” gets thrown around a lot these days. It’s easy to marginalize acts such as M83, Ladyhawke, Neon Neon, and many others as part of a trend, nothing more. Even though these acts are consciously hearkening back to bygone days, the “retro” marginalization doesn’t fit. I say that they are part of the rebirth of a musical aesthetic– these artists are not simply copying the sound, they are furthering it. Gil Mantera’s Party Dream’s second album, Dreamscape, is a significant addition to this movement. The formerly happy hardcore duo has become a synth-rock trio with an expanded and matured sound: Party Dream has dyed their moody, danceable pop ballads in the dark and beautiful power of the electronic art rock of old. -Consequence of Sound. With Sweatheat and Pony Pants.
Gil Mantera’s Party Dream
Elmo’s Wish

Ted Leo and the Pharmacists December 2nd at First Unitarian Church

From R5 Productions Website –

Ted Leo & The Pharmacists
Yippeee! Ted Leo And The Pharmacists are back! Ted Leo, former leader of the criminally overlooked D.C. mod-pop outfit Chisel, with his pick-up band the Pharmacists (members of Nation Of Ulysses, The Lapse and Young Pioneers), continues on his unique pop trajectory, somewhere between the jumpy caffeinated pop of his old outfit Chisel, the mod emotion of the Jam, the kick ass rock of Thin Lizzy and the perfect pop of old Elvis Costello. Super smart and sentimental (especially the lyrics: wry and clever, but heartfelt and really unique), but playful and infectious at the same time. First Philly show in a loooonnnggggggg time!

The So So Glos
The So So Glos…play slurry, ’70s-style revolt/party punk that melts into reggae. Brooklyn
Ted Leo and the Pharmacists
Where Have All the Rude Boys Gone?

Ghostland Observatory December 4th at The Trocadero Theatre

Ghostland Observatory is not a band, but an agreement between two friends to create something that not only heals their beat-driven hearts, but pleases their rock ‘n roll souls. Taking the working man’s approach, Ghostland Observatory spend countless hours in their south Austin studio. They have released two albums in less than a year, and have moved audiences from coast to coast with their live performances and unique style

Ghostland Observatory is the duo of front man Aaron Behrens and producer/drummer Thomas Turner. Behrens’ vocal style and stage performances are unique and uncompromising, and he has drawn early comparisons to Freddie Mercury and Prince. Turner is heavily influenced by electronic artists such as Daft Punk, Laurent Garnier and Green Velvet, as well as rockers such as The Animals, David Bowie, and The Clash. With their spectral blend of electronics, drums, guitar and vocals, they have emerged with a sound that is the culmination of past influence and present inspiration, and can only be described as BALLSY.
Ghostland Observatory
Sad Sad City

El Vez and Los Straitjackets December 4th at World Cafe Live

El Vez is the stage name of Robert Lopez, a Mexican-American rock and roll artist, who performs and records original material and covers classic rock songs. Mixing the styles of Elvis Presley and many other American rock artists with his own Latin-American heritage and music, he is known for expressing revolutionary views through his the satire and humor in his songs.

El Vez is known for his high-production value, frenetic stage show, which features two backup singers/dancers (the Elvettes), numerous on- and off-stage costume changes, and between-song monologues mixing humor and political activism.

Lopez’s main persona and style is very similar to Elvis Presley, as his stage name suggests. However, he is not strictly an Elvis impersonator; on his recordings and in his live show, he covers many non-Mexican artists, such as John Lennon, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, T. Rex, Queen and the Beatles.

Los Straitjackets is an American instrumental rock band that formed in Nashville, Tennessee in 1988. Originally comprising guitarists Danny Amis (formerly of Raybeats) and Eddie Angel and drummer L. J. “Jimmy” Lester under the name The Straitjackets, the band split up soon after forming and reunited as Los Straitjackets in 1994 with the addition of bassist E. Scott Esbeck. Esbeck left the band in 1998 and was replaced by Pete Curry; drummer Jason “Teen Beat” Smay replaced co-founding member Lester in 2005. The band has released eleven studio albums, two collaboration albums and three live albums.
El Vez
Los Straitjackets
En El Barrio

Schoolly D and Bahamadia December 7th at Johnny Brenda’s

Jesse Weaver Jr. (aka Schoolly D) changed the course of hip-hop history as a pioneer of Gangsta Rap. He fused hardcore beats with explicit and gritty narratives about urban life in his home-town of Philadelphia. Schoolly D paved the way for the likes of Ice-T and Notorious B.I.G., among others with such songs as “Gucci Time”, “Saturday Night” and “P.S.K. What Does It Mean?” His music has been heavily sampled over the years, by such artists as The Roots, Jennifer Lopez, Lil’ Wayne and by the Chemical Brothers in their 1997 smash “Block Rockin’ Beats”. Younger fans may know Schoolly’s work from the Cartoon Networks’ wildly successful Aqua Teen Hunger Force, for which he crafted the legendary theme song and contributes voice-overs.

Bahamadia is a Philadelphia-born hip hop artist, a DJ who later became an MC. As a member of Gang Starr Foundation, she released her critically-acclaimed debut album entitled Kollage in 1996. The album featured production by Guru and DJ Premier of Gangstarr. Kollage was followed in 2001 by BB Queen, an EP release. Bahamadia is a respected lyricist in hip hop and is known for her silky, subdued monotone delivery. More recently, Bahamadia has made guest appearances on tracks by artists including Talib Kweli, The Roots, Erykah Badu, Jedi Mind Tricks and Planet Asia, and through her association with the Philadelphia hip hop collective Army of the Pharaohs. Her latest album, Good Rap Music, was released in 2006.
Schoolly D
King of New York

Fanfarlo and Freelance Whales December 10th at Johnny Brenda’s

From the R5 Productions Website –

This band is going to be huge (they already sold out Kung Fu Necktie in advance). Hailing from London, they have been winning over audiences for years with a charming brand of indie pop-folk. Led by Swedish songwriter Simon Balthazar, Fanfarlo was formed in 2006, and soon began touring and steadily releasing new music. In 2008, the group headed to the studio to record their first full-length album – Reservoir, was released earlier this year. The band’s style of indie pop feels familiar (Arcade Fire & Beirut) and yet very new. In addition to the normal lineup of drums, bass and guitars, the group employs an array of instruments ranging from keyboards and mandolin to horns. Get on the bandwagon now!

Freelance Whales
Oh shit – Internet hype alert! Freelance Whales found one another in late 2008, amidst a strange amalgam of unfamiliar instruments, and precariously composed pop songs. Using whatever musical gadgets they happened upon (mostly harmonium, banjo, glockenspiel, synthesizers, guitars, bass, drums, waterphone), the five members worked at crafting songs with interlocking rhythmic patterns, lush textural layering, and an engaged group-vocal energy. Freelance Whales can be spotted in the streets and humble venues of New York City, and have just released their first full-length record, Weathervanes, independently. The band’s sentimental and heartwarming pop-folk brings to mind the likes of Sufjan Stevens, Le Loup and Ra Ra Riot.
Freelance Whales

The Slackers December 20th at the Theatre of Living Arts

The Slackers are a New York City band, formed in Brooklyn in 1991. The band’s sound is a mix of ska, rocksteady, reggae, dub, soul, garage rock, and jazz. The Slackers’ notability is credited to their prolific career, tours of North America, Europe, and elsewhere, and signing to notable punk label Hellcat Records.

Self Medication, their latest release (2008), brings this unifying eclecticism to a new level. “Everyday is Sunday” evokes equally Joe Gibbs-era reggae and the Kinks. “Don’t you want a man” has a loping groove somewhere between Bob Marley and the Meters. “Stars” is pure unabashed Beatlemania while “Don’t Have To” evokes Elvis and Rockabilly. As the band matures you can’t tell anymore where the reggae ends and the rock begin. It’s become the Slackers.
The Slackers
Married Girl

Lotus and MSTRKRFT December 31st at the Electric Factory

MSTRKRFT (pronounced “Master-craft”) is an electronic music group from Toronto (The Beaches), Ontario, Canada who are signed to Last Gang Records. The group was started in 2005 by Jesse F. Keeler formerly of Death from Above 1979 and Al-P (Alex Puodziukas) formerly of the Mississauga electropop group Girlsareshort. Al-P was also the producer for Death from Above 1979s album You’re a Woman, I’m a Machine as well as several of (Jesse’s former band) Black Cat #13’s records. The duo has been close friends, as well as work partners, for a long time. MSTRKRFT also produced Die Mannequin’s first EP, How to Kill, and Magneta Lane’s second LP, Dancing With Daggers.

Lotus is known for concerts in which a complex light set up is used and their use of varying set lists that employ frequent group improvisation. The concerts are often recorded by amateur engineers (tapers) and posted online for others to listen to. The band has undertaken a number of tours and have performed at festivals including Jam on the River (Philadelphia, PA 2007 and 2008), Wakarusa (KS 2005, 2006, 2007), and the Rothbury Music Festival in July 2008 and 2009.

The band has performed several themed shows. On October 31, 2008 at the TLA in Philadelphia the show was billed as “Live Fast Die Young: the 27 Conspiracy”. Each of the 5 members dressed as a rock star who died at the age of 27 (Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, Brian Jones, Pigpen, and Jim Morrison) and the show featured covers by each of the respective bands. On Dec. 31, 2008 the band performed a show that included robot themed covers including Styx – “Mr. Roboto”, Alan Parson’s Project – “I Robot”, Flaming Lips – “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots: Part I”, Radiohead – “Paranoid Android”, and Daft Punk – “Robot Rock”. On Oct. 31, 2009 at Sonar in Baltimore the Halloween show was presented as “Protein Pills in the Labyrinth”. The band members dressed as different David Bowie characters (including Ziggy Stardust, Thin White Duke, and Jareth) and played “Under Pressure”, “Fame”, “I’m Afriad of Americans”, “Space Oddity”, “Let’s Dance”, “Rebel, Rebel”, “Suffragette City” along with original Lotus material.

To kick off 2010, Lotus is planning a New Year’s run beginning on December 29 at Mr. Small’s Theatre in Pittsburgh, PA. The band will be ringing in the new year with fans and friends the The Electric Factory in Philadelphia, PA!
Street Justice

Culture Upcoming Philadelphia Concert Watch for December 2009. Featuring Nationally Touring Acts!