In the early 90s, San Francisco singer-songwriter Mark Kozelek established his mastery of the territory where resplendent and woebegone overlap: his band Red House Painters, as memorable for wistful make-out epics as for imaginative Kiss covers, led the decade's wave of dreamy, navel-gazing slowcore. Kozelek released a string of solo records before that group split up, and once it had he immediately formed Sun Kil Moon, an indie-folk troupe responsible for his best-selling studio effort to date, Ghosts of the Great Highway. Its success would prompt him to start his own label, Caldo Verde Records, through which he's released at least one solo, live, or collaborative album every year since 2005 (though he’s also put out LPs via Vinyl Films, an imprint run by his buddy Cameron Crowe). Kozelek is a virtuosic storyteller and musician, as influenced by classical guitar as he is by 70s arena rock, and today, at 46, he's as pensive and hilariously self-aware as ever. On "Sunshine in Chicago," from the 2012 Sun Kil Moon "album Among the Leaves, he laments, "My band played here a lot in the 90s when we had / Lots of female fans, and fuck, they all were cute / Now I just sign posters for guys in tennis shoes." Kozelek released three studio LPs in 2013: a collaboration with the band Desertshore (which includes former Red House Painters guitarist Phil Carney), an album of acoustic covers titled Like Rats (named after a song from Godflesh's Streetcleaner), and Perils From the Sea, a collab with Jimmy LaValle of the Album Leaf. New material will form the foundation of his sets on this tour, but one of the great things about a Kozelek show is his willingness to indulge fan favorites—my fingers are crossed for the piano version of the Red House Painters slow burner "Mistress." —Erin Osmon $23, $20 in advance
Japanese doom band Church of Misery don’t vary their subject matter much—and five albums in, they’re in no danger of running out of serial killers to sing about (even if they sometimes have to share with Macabre). Bassist and main songwriter Tatsu Mikami, the only member left from the band’s founding in 1995, offsets this single-mindedness with an uncommonly varied musical aesthetic. The recent Thy Kingdom Scum (Rise Above/Metal Blade), the follow-up to 2009’s Houses of the Unholy, integrates psychedelia, blues, and really filthy death metal into its Saint Vitus-style sludge. New guitarist Ikuma Kawabe nails Tony Iommi’s trippy boogie buzz, and Church of Misery continue to pay homage to early-70s heavy heroes (they covered Sir Lord Baltimore’s “Master Heartache” on their previous album, a Quatermass rarity on this one) with a refreshing sense of delight. It’s as though a corpse were to sprout fungus in bright, pretty colors. —Monica Kendrick Witchbanger and Cokegoat open. $15
Branden James is a classical-crossover singer who was a finalist on the eighth season of America's Got Talent. Tonight he'll be performing holiday classics as the "Voice of Christmas."
The wholesome twosome shows off its signature holiday cheer.
So much poppy mid-90s skate punk—or “melodic hardcore,” according to the dudes making it—came out of southern California that it’s easy to forget about little ol’ 88 Fingers Louie from Chicago, Illinois. But these guys’ hypercatchy, breakneck punk was just as great as anything their labelmates on Fat Wreck Chords did, and it’s aged remarkably well—probably because they never had to rely on dick and fart jokes. Their final release, a split EP with Kid Dynamite that came out weeks before they broke up in 1999, is an overlooked treasure. It was starting to seem like 88 Fingers Louie might be remembered only as the group that gave birth to Rise Against—the commercially accessible and massively bro-y band that guitarist Dan “Mr. Precision” Wleklinski and bassist Joe Principe started next. But successful reunion tours in 2009 and 2010 (Principe didn’t take part) proved otherwise, and tonight’s show is a 20th-anniversary party for Louie—the lineup once again includes Principe, and the set will be divided up between all three of the band’s former drummers, who include founding Alkaline Trio member Glenn Porter and John Carroll, who now plays in Paper Mice and Mucca Pazza. —Luca Cimarusti The Bollweevils and the Bomb open. $17.50
The holiday season can make anyone feel a little bit murderous, which is why Macabre’s annual December party is such a welcome and necessary tradition. This Chicago “murder metal” trio—founded in 1984 and likely the world-record holder for longest-running metal band without a lineup change—specializes in songs about serial killers, and its Holiday of Horror show is always a sing-along spectacular of unfairly, grotesquely hooky killer tunes. This year the evening begins with a screening of John Borowski’s new documentary, Serial Killer Culture, which focuses on artists, writers, musicians, and filmmakers fascinated by humans who hunt other humans; the band features prominently in the film, alongside painter Joe Coleman, Serial Killer Coloring Book creator Rich Hillen Jr., murder-country duo the World Famous Crawlspace Brothers, and many more. Macabre will have copies for sale of the new double-LP reissue of the 2000 album Dahmer, and manager Rodney Pawlak tormented me with the promise of a secret surprise involving onstage actors and a song the band has never played live before. —Monica Kendrick Cardiac Arrest and Elbow Deep open. $15, $12 in advance