“As street lamps pour orange colored shapes through your windows/ A broken soul stares from a pair of watering eyes/ Uncertain emotions force an uncertain smile/ I've got you under my skin where the rain can't get in/ But if the sweat pours out/ just shout/ I'll try to swim and haul you out”—“The Uncertain Smile,” by The The.
Dear oldest, holidays-in-Burque amigos that I might run into at this or that red and green saturated shopping center: After 10 or 20 years of absence and fond memories—because Albuquerque is just another small island in the midst of a maelstrom—I’d love to commiserate with you about the intrusion of inter-dimensional right-wing politics and the consequent creeping of sadness into the lives of our generation.
It would be grand to catch up, to learn about our wounds and our battle axes and your favorite bands. But I really want to leave you with something meaningful this year—because who knows if I’ll ever see you again—so I think my holiday gift should have to do with music.
Do me a DIY solid carnales; sing to yourself in the shower or blast your favorite tune through your pink pair of Skullcandy crushers at brain-damaging levels; take your next opportunity to jam out seriously and keep a tuner in your pocket just in case. Or just go see an awesome live show where you can dance joyfully in public at last—that way I won’t have to jump in after you. Heaven knows I hate cold water more than just about any else in this wintry world.
The The: “Uncertain Smile”
The Brian Setzer Orchestra
Courtesy of the artist
Jump start that holiday sparkle by plunging into the show going on over at the Isleta Resort and Casino Showroom (11000 Broadway SE) on Thursday Dec. 14. The Brian Setzer Orchestra—featuring the main dude guitarist from ’80s grease-punk rockabilly maniacs the Stray Cats will be stopping by this high desert party outpost as part of his ensembles’ 14th annual Christmas Rocks! tour. And with Setzer handling the guitar as well as the conductor’s baton, it damn well better rock. Setzer’s combination of rockabilly heroics presented in a big band format that features masterful players like drummer Noah Levy, horn wizard James Blackwell (trumpet) and Eric Morones (woodwinds) adds jazzy exuberance to any celebration. Christmas is a great excuse for this band to pull out all the stops as it tears through the Xmas catalogue with verve and happiness at the front of their seasonal sleigh. $35 to $45 • 8pm • All-ages (12+)
The Chicano experience has translated through musical experiences ranging from Tropicália to hip-hop, and it’s notable that la cultura Chicana has grown to be a defining aspect of the greater American journey toward allatonceness that is predicted by postmodern theorists. More simply put, that shit rocks and with bands like Chicano Batman, South Park Mexican and Aztlan Underground serving as cultural arbiters, it’s no wonder musica is so important to la gente. The evolution toward oneness continues with PRAYERS, an ascendant duo outta San Diego that use the term chicano goth to characterize their industrial-strength, thrashed out electronic entrada into the scene. PRAYERS present their wickedly informed, ghost-driven darkness to Santa Fe audiences on Friday, Dec. 15 at Meow Wolf (1352 Rufina Circle, Santa Fe). These guys crush it and are generally considered one of the more important developments in modern music, something interested listeners can get a hint of by checking out singles like “Black Leather” and “Perros.” Serio, we usually don’t want you to go up to Santa to see shows, but in this case the proposition is inescapably rocking. $17 advance/$20 day of show • 7pm • All-ages (13+)
By the time Saturday comes around, this town will be nine days short of the day called Christmas, a time supposedly surrounded by a season that encourages kindness and goodwill—in addition to providing opportunities for self-growth and existential satisfaction in the face of darkness and a long march toward spring. With all that in mind, perhaps a trip Downtown is in order. While you are there, float on over to Las Puertas (1512 First Street NW) for the sixth annual Howlin’ Holiday Jam Concert presented by New Day Youth and Family Services on Saturday, Dec. 16.. I know, that sounds square, but it’s not. Our town is in desperate need of revisioning and revamping its public health services and New Day is at the forefront of that civic process. You can help out by attending, fellow citizen! That plus the bands and artists gigging at this benefit show on that night are totally cool. They include DJ Wae Fonkey, Burque bluesmaster and guitar god Chris Dracup, award-winning bassist and badass Artha Meadors and get this, The Red Light Cameras, perhaps the grooviest most dance-y rocanrol outfit in Duke City, N.M. $25 advance/$30 door • 8pm • All-ages (13+)
From my own listening perspective over the years, I’ve noticed that gangsta rap has seemingly been supplanted or subsumed by horrorcore and trap in recent years. This idea is borne out by the work of 21 Savage—a rapper formerly known as Shayaa Bin Abraham-Joseph—who deftly twists the two sub-genres into an enticing and frightening amalgam of big, brittle beats and devastatingly dark narratives floated out on a river made from the mud of life. He’ll make an appearance on Tuesday, Dec. 19 at the Historic El Rey Theater (622 Central Ave. SW). The former gang member and now active practitioner of traditional African religious beliefs got noticed with nasty but knowing mixtapes like Slaughter King, but has recently moved on to the more polished, profane and brutal minimalism heard on his debut Issa Album. Some critics complained it was just more music about getting high and getting laid, but isn’t that why the devil made music to begin with? $35 to $132 • 8pm • All-ages (13+)