Holiday, interrupted

A musical palate cleanser

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Given that we are officially in the thick of the holiday season, it’s no surprise that many of us are engaged in pursuits that relate to the coming of Christmas. Presents are being procured, trees are being trimmed, halls have been decked, lords are a-leaping and maids are a-milking. With a little fa la la la la la and some joy to the world, we will jingle all the way to a holly jolly Christmas.

When we do venture forth in search of entertainment, we’ve got everything from lighted boat parades to holiday craft and art fairs to seasonal movies to tree lightings to tickle our fancy. And I haven’t even addressed the sheer number of Christmas concerts, choruses and other musical sounds of the season that are scheduled to take place during the coming days (for more about that, see the listings on the next page).

No matter how strong your seasonal spirit, a person can easily get alert fatigue from all these holiday happenings.

If it’s beginning to look too much like Christmas everywhere you go, maybe what you need is a musical palate cleanser. It just so happens that I have some suggestions toward that end, and they come in the form of a trio of wildly disparate but monster-sized shows at the Wild Buffalo.

Up first is Talib Kweli, who will play a show Fri., Dec. 13 at the Buff. Of course, unless you’ve got tickets already in hand, talking about this show is a bit of a tease given the fact that it sold out shortly before this issue went to press. For the booking brains at the Buffalo—as well as the 500 or so people who nabbed tickets—Kweli’s draw is hardly a surprise. Word is they’ve been trying to lure the critically acclaimed hip-hop artist to our neck of the woods for some time. Like most other genres of music, hip-hop comes in many forms, and the one that speaks against society’s ills and to issues of social justice isn’t generally the one that earns the biggest paychecks. However, Kweli—who gained his first measure of fame as one-half of Black Star along with Mos Def—has chosen to take that road less travelled and uses his considerable lyrical skill incisively and insightfully to engage and entertain.

If you’re someone who needs your seasonal relief to take the form of a dance party, first of all, I understand. Second, you’re probably going to want to get yourself to the Wild Buffalo on Sat., Dec. 14 for Juno What?!. Bands actively embracing the interrobang are few and far between, but, then again, Juno What?! isn’t exactly your average band. Specializing in keyboard-driven booty jams, this Denver trio might not take themselves too seriously, but do not be fooled by their party-boy exterior—these are serious musicians. One of them is a member of the Motet. Another tours with Stevie Wonder. But in between all that, they manage to find their way to Bellingham on the regular as Juno What?!

Last on this list of mega-shows is Seattle’s Pickwick. In all honesty, I haven’t always been a Pickwick fan. I’d seen them play a time or three, found their blue-eyed-soul shtick to be mildly engaging, but didn’t really understand the hype. When I heard they’d scored a plum headlining slot at this year’s Capitol Hill Block Party, I was a more than a little skeptical—right up until the day of the music festival when I watched them play their set, that is. Maybe they had a need to silence any naysayers (of which I was not the only one). Perhaps they had something to prove. It’s entirely possible they simply wanted to seize that moment and make it their own. Whatever their motivation, Pickwick exploded onstage, smacked my jaw right to the ground and turned me from doubter into believer. So, I stand corrected, Pickwick. You straight owned that shit. And now that I know what the band is capable of, I fully expect they will blow the doors off the Wild Buffalo when they play a Sun., Dec. 15 show at the venue.

There you have it—a trifecta of shows and nary a Christmas carol in the bunch. Feel free to hit one up. You can always hark the herald whenever that partridge comes home to roost in its pear tree.

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