The top concerts in Toronto this December feature several reasons to get out of your PJs and venture out for winter's birth. Offbeat artists and crowd-pleasing regulars alike will help us music lovers forget the stress of the holidays and the impending doom of multiple relatives attempting the "Hotline Bling" dance after two rum eggnogs.
Our concert calendar provides a smidge more controversy than usual, led by several really unfortunately named bands. There's Viet Cong - oh, sorry, "The band soon to be formerly known as Viet Cong," now that the promoter has graciously changed the FB event title and meticulously scrubbed all negative comments - plus Girl Band and Slaves. Yikes all around.
If the list below isn't doing it for you, plenty of honourables are worth a look. Can-con of yesteryear gets its due thanks to Matt Good and Headstones visits, The Get Up Kids and Stars celebrate anniversaries and JoJo - remember JoJo?! - is old enough to perform in nightclubs now.
Here are my top picks for concerts this December.
Tanya Tagaq and Owen Pallett (December 1, Massey Hall)
The Live at Massey Hall series is in its third season of Canadian music documentation (side note: have you watched any of them yet? Concert filmmaking at its finest, and it's free!). The last one of the year brings together two scarily talented Polaris Prize winners, Inuit throat singer Tanya Tagaq and violin maestro Owen Pallett.
Doomtree (December 2, Tattoo)
The uncompromising genre-mashups of Minneapolis hip-hop collective Doomtree continue to go mostly unnoticed by the mainstream, which is unfortunate, but probably to their benefit. The small but rabid fanbase should give the niche alterna-rap crew ample life during their show at Tattoo.
Modern Baseball and PUP (December 3, Opera House)
I recently attended an emo show where I made the startling realization for the first time that I was possibly the oldest person in the room. I imagine this Modern Baseball/PUP co-bill will be a similar experience: me nodding along to punk songs of unrequited love, staring curiously at teens screaming every heartfelt lyric back to the band, desperately trying to remember my own prom night.
Wolf Alice (December 4, Phoenix)
The grunge-pop foursome was just here like a second ago, but the life of a Mercury Prize nominee demands relentless, hype-assisted world touring that'll bring them back in record time. This time, instead of teeny Adelaide Hall, they'll set up at the much more spacious Phoenix with Brave Shores for The Edge's Jingle Bell Series.
Perfect Pussy (December 8, Smiling Buddha)
As cool as Meredith Graves' side endeavors have been this year - namely founding a new record label and recording solo tracks - it's welcome news that she'll rejoin her noisy main gig for a winter tour, complete with coy whispers of new song previews.
Born Ruffians (December 10-12, various venues)
The masses sure do love the good ol' boy indie rock vibes of Born Ruffians, especially in this city. So much so that the band is offering up a triple play here at the end of their current tour for fifth LP RUFF; a night at the Silver Dollar, then Lee's Palace, then the Opera House.
Alvvays (December 11-12, Danforth Music Hall)
We crowned Alvvays' jangle-pop debut as one of the best of 2014, which seems like a smart call; it's a full year later, and they're still getting massive traction out of it. They'll cap off the latest tour with a pair of homecoming shows at DMH.
Joanna Newsom (December 14, Phoenix)
The high priestess of freak folk (do we still call it that?) released long-awaited fourth album Divers earlier in the year. Her live return to T.O. happens to be the same day she'll be teaching Larry King to play harp on TV, which is a delightful bit of quirky kismet I wouldn't want of anyone but her.
Nightmare Before Christmas II (December 19, Geary Lane)
Last year, InvocationTO's holiday feast for music weirdos was a big hit, so it's good news to see it back for a second year. This time, catch doomy Southern Lord signees BIG|BRAVE, Jessica Moss of Thee Silver Mt. Zion, Gates and Northumbria.
Mac Miller (December 20, Sound Academy)
It looks like Mac Miller's billionaire foe (who's come at him for some dubious song royalties) is currently preoccupied with making a mess of American politics, so that gives the Pittsburgh MC a good window for his first major-label tour.
The Sadies (December 31, Horseshoe Tavern)
We'll likely do a proper roundup of NYE concerts soon, but The Sadies' annual bash at the 'Shoe has been a regular highlight since back in the days when Eye Weekly existed to tell you about it and wide-scale power outages still seemed new and shocking to us. Robyn Hitchcock and Emma Swift join.
What did I miss? Leave your concert picks in the comments.
Photo of Alvvays by Matt Forsythe
by Shazia Khan via blogTO