Soundchecks: Christmas at the Commodore, Big Ugly Christmas Sweater Party 2, Langston Hughes III, Cathedral Bells, Sweet & Tender Hooligans

Live music to catch this week

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CHRISTMAS MUSIC (THE GOOD KIND) | Christmas at The Commodore
w/ Whitney Hanna, Aisha Kenyetta, Paul Quattlebaum, Noah Jones, Corey Stephens, Sean Bing
Thurs. Dec. 20
8 p.m.
$10/adv., $12/door
The Commodore

We're all tired of the whole "traditional-Christmas-music"-type stuff, right? We'd all rather hear some incredible musicians tear the house down with versions of Christmas songs than listen to the originals while we're slogging our way through the mall, right? And we could all probably use a damn drink at this point, so the "Christmas at The Commodore" show, featuring Paul Quattlebaum on guitar, keyboardist Noah Jones, Corey Stephens (from Josh Roberts & the Hinges) on bass, and Sean Bing on drums, with supervocalists Aisha Kenyetta and Whitney Hanna up front, is as good an excuse as any to indulge in some adult-beverage-fueled holiday cheer. Plus, you get to see some top-notch musicians funk up the holidays, so it's a win-win. Christmas jokes aside, this is a once-in-a-blue-moon grouping of players, so whether you're a fan of "Jingle Bell Rock" or not, it's a show worth checking out. —Vincent Harris SATURDAY

JONATHAN BONCEK FILE PHOTO
  • Jonathan Boncek file photo

CHRISTMAS TUNES | Big Ugly Christmas Sweater Party 2
w/ DJ Scrib, IllaDell
Fri. Dec. 21
9 p.m.
$5 with ugly Christmas sweater, $10 without ugly Christmas sweater
Purple Buffalo

Tawana Tee and Matt Monday want to see the good, the bad, and the ugly Christmas sweaters this holiday season. In fact, they're giving out gift cards for the worst (or most creative) sweaters. "People go all out, like designing their own sweaters," Monday says about last year's party. In a similar style, the second annual Ugly Christmas Sweater Party will keep the holiday Motown and rap tunes, thanks to DJ Scrib and IllaDell. Proceeds from the event will go to R3 Inc.'s Laundry Matters, an Eastside laundromat that offers free laundry for the homeless, adult computer classes, and other resources for the community. "Laundry Matters is pretty much a community center/laundromat," says R3 Inc. co-founder and volunteer coordinator David White. "[Event proceeds] will provide those free wash days for the community." —Heath Ellison FRIDAY

JONATHAN BONCEK FILE PHOTO
  • Jonathan Boncek file photo

HIP-HOP | Langston Hughes III
Merlot Moments 
Sat. Dec. 22
7 p.m.
$10
Purple Buffalo

Nineties hip-hop heads who know their history should understand why this is a big year for jazz-rap icon A Tribe Called Quest — 2018 marks the 25th anniversary of the classic concept album Midnight Marauders, the LP that took the direction of the band's other classic The Low End Theory and amplified it further with bigger beats and harder rhymes. To celebrate the birthday of the rap group's third, and arguably best, album, Langston Hughes III is combining Tribe's music with a showcase of female visual artists. "Tribe is our favorite group," says Herman Rice. "That was like the soundtrack of our life. When we were recording our album [Phlayva 4 Dem All] back in the day, [Midnight Marauders] is what we were listening to." In addition to putting Tribe's music on the turntable, music inspired by the group will be over the speakers. As is traditional in Merlot Moments, artwork will adorn the walls. Alexandria Searles, Melissa Wyatt, Tilly the Artist, Kiante Habersham, Nanlib, Elva Lovoz, Marian Smith, and Renee Rivers will contribute original visual art. "Women are not celebrated enough," says Rice. "We're always celebrating men, and we just wanted to tip our hats to women." Langston Hughes III will perform new songs at this Merlot Moment, continuing to tease their upcoming album. —Heath Ellison SATURDAY

PROVIDED
  • Provided

LOVELY GUITAR NOISE | Cathedral Bells
w/ Tape Waves
Sat. Dec. 22
9 p.m.
$5
Tin Roof

What we've got here is two bands who are exploring the seemingly endless possibilities of the electric guitar. Charleston's Tape Waves duo (Kim and Jarod Weldin) shift from ambient-style drones to skeletal chord patterns to icy slabs of noise on their album Distant Light. The songs drift by on the strength of Kim's dreamy, blurred vocals and the pulsing rhythms while the guitars fill every available space with beguiling sheets of sound. It's loud as hell but soothing at the same time. Matthew Messore and David Horne's Cathedral Bells project moves in a more jittery direction, bending their guitar tones into unexpected shapes and constantly shifting the beats, but still managing a twisted kind of beauty. Messore refers to the project as a shoegaze band, and you can hear some of the shaped chaos that My Bloody Valentine was so good at, but there's a more insistent beat behind these songs. Call it "shoedance?" —Vincent Harris SATURDAY

COURTESY WARNER MUSIC GROUP
  • Courtesy Warner Music Group

THE SMITHS TRIBUTE | Sweet & Tender Hooligans
w/ Business Suit
Sat. Dec. 22
10 p.m.
Free
The Mill

If you’ve always wanted to catch the Smiths live, sorry, can’t help ya there, but we can point you to the Sweet & Tender Hooligans, a Los Angeles outfit that has groomed themselves — particularly the often shirtless lead singer Jose Maldonado, who’s been dubbed the Mexican Morrissey — to perfectly fill the shoes of the English band’s legendary frontman. Formed 25 years ago, the band has certainly spent time crafting a show that even the most diehard Smiths fanatics can appreciate. Expect to hear a singalong selection of tunes from the Smiths’ and Morrissey’s expansive catalogue, including tracks like “I Know It’s Over,” “There is a Light that Never Goes Out,” and “This Charming Man.” And since this show is billed as a Very Merry Smithmas, we’d imagine you’ll get to hear a cover of the Smiths’ cover of “White Christmas.” —Kelly Rae Smith SATURDAY

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