This post was co-written by Peter Hahn, Brian Lendino, and Chas Goudie. That’s what the little initials mean.
We realize you might think “happy” is a weird adjective to put in front of a month associated with cold weather, but hey – Christmas is only like three weeks away.
And like we said last month, winter is a good time for Chicago concerts.
Kendrick Lamar, ODESZA, and RAC were all notable highlights from November’s slate of shows; and from the looks of it December will bring more of the same.
The last show of the month (and 2015) is the two-day extravaganza known as Reaction NYE, which features everybody from Skrillex to Run The Jewels.
You can read more about the stacked Reaction lineup on the last slide, but make sure to enter our giveaway for a pair of FREE 2-day passes.
Per usual, our “must-see” Chicago concerts for December is a list of everything we are going to – plus everything we would go to in a perfect world of all music and no work.
Twenty One Pilots + K. Flay, 12/3 @ Aragon Ballroom
The first of WKQX’s four-night ‘The Nights We Stole Christmas’ concert series, the Columbus duo known as Twenty One Pilots will hit Aragon in support of their latest well-received studio album – May’s Blurryface.
The former threesome has been a dual effort between Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun since 2011. With Dun taking care of the drums, Joseph does everything else (vocals, keyboard, piano, bass, synthesizer, etc.) and the result is a catchy mix of electronic pop. Refer to the below video of “Stressed Out” for further details.
One of the openers for Twenty One Pilots, Chicago native K. Flay, is probably half the reason tickets are going for $95 on StubHub.
The multi-talented vocalist is coming off her first full-length album – September’s Life as a Dog – and also has recent cameos with both Kaskade (“Promise”) and Louis The Child (“It’s Strange”) to her name.
Kid Cudi, 12/4 @ The Riviera Theatre
To be honest, if this was 2009 I would be totally stoked to have the opportunity to check out Cudi at a place like Riviera. But it’s 2015, and Cudi’s music is essentially a hip hop graveyard that you only visit when you’re in the mood to remember the good times.
It shouldn’t go unnoticed that Cudi has a well-publicized beef with Chicago’s own Lupe Fiasco, so there’s a good chance you see some on-stage shots get fired from Cudi’s mic. I guess that’s cool.
So, if Kid Cudi is still your thing, head to the Riviera Theatre on December 3rd for an all ages concert that’ll run you $50 a ticket. $50 a ticket, you say? Wasn’t Cudi just in the Entourage Movie? This should be free.
Bastille, 12/4 @ Aragon Ballroom
Show two of the ‘Nights We Stole From Christmas’ brings us that English pop band who sings that one Pompeii song. In all seriousness, Bastille was a treat when we saw them at Summerfest in Milwaukee this summer.
The group probably won’t release their follow-up album to 2013’s debut hit All This Bad Blood until 2016, but they’ve released enough new music (“Hangin” on FIFA16 for example) lately to mix with the favorites from ATTB. The Wombats and Circus Wave will open, and tickets are still available.
AWOLNATION, 12/5 @ Aragon Ballroom
Like Bastille, you may solely know AWOLNATION because of a massive hit off their debut album. In this case, that massive hit is “Sail” from 2011’s Megalithic Symphony.
Almost four years to the day, they released Run in March of 2015 – and though its critical reception has mostly been positive, it remains largely underrated. You can still get tickets to see their unique brand of electronic rock, with both The Struts and Meg Myers opening up.
Silversun Pickups & Foals, 12/6 @ Aragon Ballroom
Oddly enough, the name that stuck out most from the final show of Aragon’s four-night holiday bender is an opener.
Foals, the fivesome hailing from Oxford, took off in earnest following the success of their 2013 album Holy Fire – led by the ultra-popular single “My Number.” Their performance at Lollapalooza was noted as one of the weekend’s best, and they turned it into a Q Award for ‘Best Live Act’ later that year.
The rock group released their new album What Went Down in late August, and it’s already hit higher peak chart positions than Holy Fire.
Los Angeles’ own Silversun Pickups have been around a bit longer (2002), but their native indie rock style didn’t really make noise on the charts until 2009’s Swoon and Neck In The Woods in 2012. Their latest work, Better Nature, was released in late September.
Get tickets for Foals and Silversun Pickups (plus Highly Suspect too) here.
Woo Park, 12/11 @ Reggie’s Rock Club
This makes two consecutive years we’re talking about the Chicago-bred jazz/jam band fusion in the month of December; with the first instance coming after they released their debut EP Smokes one year ago.
Ambitious and psychedelic, Woo Park is easily worth the $10 to check them out. After all, the beauty of Chicago concerts is not only seeing the big boys – but finding up-and-comers as well.
Excision & Snails, 12/12 @ Aragon Ballroom
Of all of the shows you shouldn’t bring your grandmother to, this would take the cake.
Back in 2011, a friend of mine asked me to attend a concert featuring an artist called Excision. I had never heard of Excision before, but my friend assured me that my perception of music would never be the same after seeing his live show.
Well, guess what?
My friend was right. Never before had I been so blown away by the live production value of a concert, not to mention the loudest subs my ears have ever had the pleasure of being blown by.
Excision, master of the underworld, has been dominating the dubstep game since before you were born. And if you haven’t stepped foot into the Executioner, now is the time.
Oh, and did I mention SNAILS is opening for Excision? You could probably with the headliner with the opener and nobody would complain or even notice.
That’s because SNAILS is a headliner name that deserves his own tour. In good time my friend, in good time.
Deerhunter, 12/13 @ Thalia Hall
“A brilliant mix of punk, pop and rock” is how I would best describe Deerhunter in an elevator. Having already released six studio albums and eight different members since 2001, the current foursome has peaked with their seventh release Fading Frontier – a gem released in late October.
“Snakeskin” is my favorite, but “Living My Life” (a tribute to Miles Davis) and “Breaker” are also big time jams. Shit, the whole thing is a jam.
Which is probably why tickets are around $100. We wouldn’t fault you for paying up.
Riff Raff, 12/13 @ Smart Bar
Who wouldn’t want to go see Riff Raff in Wrigleyville on a Sunday Night? That’s the literal definition of Sunday Funday.
If you needed any extra incentive to see the greatest thing to ever grace rap music, just watch this music video.
Vince Staples, 12/15 @ Bottom Lounge
I introduce to you Consequence of Sound’s Rookie of the Year Vince Staples. He’ll be at the very cozy Bottom Lounge on the Near West Side on Tuesday December 15th. The California rapper has really made a name for himself in the past year, or at least since we wrote about him.
If you like Staples or are interested in seeing him, do it soon. He’s been on the record saying he wouldn’t be opposed to retiring from rap at a very young age if the genre doesn’t change.
Nicolas Jaar, 12/17 @ Smartbar
Nicolas Jaar might just be the most spiritually existential artist in modern day music. The Chilean composer and recording artist based out of New York uses daily meditation to find his true calling through his craft. Notable works include ‘Space is only noise’ and ‘Pomegranates’ — but that’s only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Nicolas.
From a Palestinian family, Nicolas Jaar is also a member of the musical group Darkside.
He also scored the 2015 film, Dheepan, by director Jacques Audiard (winner of the Palme d’Or at Cannes 2015). If you know anything about the movie industry, you’ll realize how monumental an achievement this award truly is.
On May 18, 2012 Nicolas Jaar made his BBC Radio 1 Essential Mix which was voted Radio 1’s Essential Mix Of The Year of 2012.
Listen to the full mix from 2012 below, and buy your ticket now to the greatest show on ice.
Empire of the Sun, 12/17 @ Aragon Ballroom
You know it’s a big month for Chicago concerts when we almost forgot Empire of the Sun will be at Aragon on the 17th.
As safe as a live “EDM” show gets, the duo from Sydney is about ’75 percent done’ with their new album according to an interview with Vice last month. Whenever it is out, this will be Empire of the Sun’s third studio release – following in the footsteps of Walking On A Dream (2008) and Ice On The Dune (2013).
The former, of course, produced a bevy of anthems – “Walking On A Dream,” “We Are The People” and “Standing On The Shore” for instance – and I guarantee they still sound as good as they did when I saw Empire close down the Perry’s stage at Lollapalooza in 2010.
The latter wasn’t too shabby itself, with “Alive” and “DNA” easily qualifying for jam status. We can personally attest after their Mamby On The Beach performance in July.
Tickets aren’t cheap, but why the hell would they be?
Reaction NYE, 12/30-12/31 @ Stephens Convention Center
There are only two things you need to know about Reaction NYE.
1) Skrillex and Run The Jewels aren’t even playing on the same night.
2) We’re giving away two-day passes. Two of them to be exact.