From Christmas hits to the biggest winter festival in Canada, it's all happening this month
1. Chantal Kreviazuk at Clarke Theatre Foundation, Mission – Wednesday, December 4 & Centennial Theatre, North Vancouver – Thursday, December 5
Chantal KreviazukWell, it’s that time of year again, and I’ll be the first to admit I’m not the biggest fan of the holiday season (please, no heckling, I have my reasons and they’re all valid). However, when you’re offered not one but two opportunities to witness one of our nation’s most naturally gifted chanteuses grace the stage for a performance powered by full-on Christmas tunes, it’s tough not to feel at least a little bit holly jolly. It is with that spirit Chantal Kreviazuk has released a 10-track album chock-a-block with festive cheer, aptly titled Christmas is a Way of Life, My Dear, featuring timeless classics, new original songs, and duets with her husband (Our Lady Peace frontman, Raine Maida) and 11-year-old son, Sal. No word yet as to whether or not she’ll be bringing any family members in tow, but suffice to say I’m fairly certain even the tiniest of Grinch hearts will grow several sizes after spending 90 minutes with this talented lady.
Mission tickets, $59; North Vancouver tickets, $53.50
2. Pointed Sticks and Modernettes at Rickshaw Theatre – Friday, December 6
Facebook/ Pointed SticksIt’s being billed as “A Cavalcade of Stars,” and if you’re nostalgic for VanCity’s late ’70s/early ’80s punk scene, then have I got the show for you!
As power pop legends Pointed Sticks put it: when you grow up with a transistor radio under your pillow at night, your band ends up sounding like a melange of The Beatles meet Buzzcocks, the Stones meet Ramones, or ABBA meets Iggy and the Stooges. Obvs, that sounds like a good enough time as it is, but wait, there’s more! They’ll be joined by arguably the greatest of Vancouver’s first wave of punk bands, Modernettes, along with local favourites EddyD and the Sex Bombs and Strange Breed. If all that wasn’t sufficient to inspire you to get off your butt and out of the house, this evening’s master of ceremonies duties will be deftly handled by none other than the multi-faceted local legend, I, Braineater. Come on people, it’s less than $20! No excuses.
3. Kamaal Williams at Fortune Sound Club – Friday, December 6
Facebook/ Kamaal WilliamsIf you’re looking for a gig featuring some cool ’70s funk/house fusion mixed with acid jazz and perhaps just a touch of modern electronica thrown in for good measure, then Kamaal Williams is definitely your jam. This critically acclaimed London-born keyboardist, DJ and record producer originally started out playing drums and percussion in his secondary school band, cultivating a formative grounding in jazz while also taking a strong liking to garage and grime music as well as street art and graffiti culture. When you consider all those ingredients, it should come as no surprise that this dude’s eclectic musical vision is informed by an excellent amalgamation of some pretty sensational forces. All that would be cool enough, but check this out — his new album Catch The Loop 2 is available on cassette. Yes, that’s right, cassette! Are you kidding me? What are you waiting for? I know you’ve been looking for a really good reason to dust off that auto-reverse tape deck that’s been lurking at the back of your storage space… you know… underneath the ab-roller, just behind that dangerously unstable wicker chair. Now you can go to the show, buy a tape, and fulfil your true purpose in life.
4. Hockey Dad at Biltmore Cabaret – Sunday, December 8
Hockey DadI feel the need to offer kudos to Hockey Dad for coming up with one of the most hilarious band names I’ve heard in a very long time, especially considering this outfit is from Australia. Yeah, Australia, not exactly a hotbed for Canada’s official winter sport and its inherent patriarchy. According to Zach and Billy (the two guys that make up this surf rock duo), the name was derived from a joke on an episode of The Simpsons when Bart and Milhouse played a video game titled—you guessed it—Hockey Dad. Sounds at least like these two have a great sense of humour, and their amiable nature comes across quite clearly in their energetic yet laid-back musical style. So, taking into consideration the weather is guaranteed to be quite miserable outside on this particular night, this show seems like the perfect excuse to round up some friends for an evening of rollicking summery tunes.
5. Boney M. at Vogue Theatre – Sunday, December 8
Boney. MIf you’ve ever been to a holiday office party at any point in your life, chances are reasonably good you were forced to listen to some sort of Boney M. Christmas album while you were attempting to order your seventh consecutive vodka/cranberry at the open bar. I say “forced” because I’m absolutely positive I’m the only person on the planet who’s altogether immune to the Euro-disco group’s charm. Incredible as it may seem to me, “Mary’s Boy Child/Oh My Lord” peaked at #1 in four countries, so I’m at a complete and utter loss here. Once again, it makes no difference what I think because everybody else seems thoroughly delirious about this show. I’m not kidding, I know hardcore metalheads who will be attending this gig. With that in mind, there’s a high certainty that by the time you read this paragraph and click on the link below, all the tickets may have been scooped up. It’s okay, you can console yourself with the fact your office Christmas party is probably just around the corner, so it’ll feel like being there. Just ask the bartender to pour heavy on the vodka and you likely won’t notice the difference.
Tickets from $97.41
6. The Pineapple Thief at Rickshaw Theatre – Friday, December 13
The Pineapple ThiefOne of the brightest lights of the modern progressive rock era, The Pineapple Thief are finally making a long-awaited stop in our neck of the woods, and I couldn’t be more excited. After releasing one of last year’s most brilliant albums in Dissolution, a perfectly relevant masterpiece that holds a mirror to our social media-fixated society, the band decided to collect nine of their best tracks from their 2018 European tour and compile them into their newly released live album, Hold Our Fire (which I expect should be available for purchase at the show, which would be awesome since it’s super tough to find cool stuff like this at record stores in this city… just sayin’). Lead by the deft vocals of composer/guitarist/frontman Bruce Soord, and backed by a manifold lineup including drummer extraordinaire Gavin Harrison (I’ve got your back, my fellow Porcupine Tree nerds), this is a band not to be dismissed by prog fans in the Greater Vancouver area. Trust me, I know you, and I know where you live. Don’t you be coming around with your excuses, telling me you missed this show because you had to wash your iguana that evening. Honestly, just buy a ticket. You’ll thank me later.
Tickets from $42.39
7. Static-X and Wednesday 13 at Rickshaw Theatre – Sunday, December 15
Facebook/ Static-XWhen three-quarters of the original Static-X line-up reformed back in 2018, they figured they’d get together to record a new album to honour their fallen frontman, Wayne Static (who passed away in 2014). Their initial idea was to create a record featuring guest vocalists, but then they ran across some of Static’s last known recordings, and there was absolutely no way they were going to ignore those! As such, the coordination of an album of the magnitude of Project Regeneration is obviously going to take a little more time, so it won’t be released until May 2020. In the meantime, these guys have been keeping extra busy circling the globe to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their seminal album, Wisconsin Death Trip, and luckily, they’re including Vancouver on their itinerary. Plan to arrive early as the L.A. alt-metal lords have invited the Duke of Spook himself, Wednesday 13 and his shockingly raucous band to open this shindig. To add to the coolness factor, W13 are hot on the heels of their very own new release, Necrophaze. So if you love yourself some intense horror-metal, you won’t want to miss this.
8. Five Alarm Funk at Commodore Ballroom – Thursday, December 26
Facebook/ Five Alarm FunkBack in 2003 when this town was still going through its dreadfully dragged-out alt-indie phase, three would-be musicians who met at a house party felt the conspicuous absence of funk in VanCity and decided to do something about it. Such was the genesis of Five Alarm Funk, melding the heavy funk approaches of James Brown and Tower of Power to the Latin jazz feel of Tito Puente and experimental byways of Frank Zappa. Since then, this steaming hot outfit has grown to eight strong with each member offering their own stylistic take on the band’s epic arrangements and smouldering, groove-filled performances. Incidentally, their latest offering is aptly titled Sweat, so if you’re looking for a scorching night out with some intense, hard-hitting rhythms and punching horns, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better outlet to satisfy that requirement.
Tickets from $45.25
9. Contact Festival at BC Place – Friday, December 27 & Saturday, December 28
Contact FestivalIt's that time of year again. The time when I question my own sanity as I rub my eyes to make sure I’m not hallucinating at the vision of thousands of eleventeen-year-olds traversing around my neighbourhood totally barefoot. Seriously though, what is it about the Contact Festival that makes teenagers want to tread the sidewalks of Downtown Vancouver with no shoes? Is that a required element of the dress code? Have you actually looked down at the sidewalks lately? Okay, well, you kids do whatever you have to do to get geared up (or down!) for this year’s premiere EDM party headlined by Major Lazer, Kaskade, and San Holo on Friday night, and Tiësto, REZZ, and Fisher on Saturday. Wear your shoes, don’t wear your shoes… whatevs. It’s December. You do you.
Two-Day Passes from $216.65