Hello, December! It really is the most wonderful time of the year! The lights are up in Downtown Lawrence, and the tinsel is twinkling on every corner. But it’s also an exciting time for area music fans. December is when the locals step up their game and rock the halls in Lawrence, thanks to an abundance of holiday happenings. There’s something for everyone, whether you’re fiending for a gothy take on the season or opting for something a little more traditional. So come all ye faithful drummer boys and sleigh queens! Here are some of the best local shows that’ll have you rocking around the Christmas tree.
The Bottleneck, December 7
The first weekend in December shows up in fine form. After you’ve recovered from the Old-Fashioned Christmas Parade with a hot chocolate, it’s time to trade in the cow bells for sleigh bells and head down to the Bottleneck for a good old fashioned Country show.
The “Country for the Kids” show features an impressive lineup of performers this year, including:
– Ryan Manuel and the Getaway
– True North
– Unfit Wives
– Addison Lea Thompson with Al Enzian
Revelers will also be treated to a Song Swap with Rex Pryor, Outlaw Jake, Chad Vaughn, Chris Stewart, and ultimate songwriter circle maestro Megan Luttrell.
Proceeds from the show will benefit kids at Children’s Mercy Hospital, but the evening will also be dotted with festivities including raffle drawings and a silent auction. A little birdie told us basketballs autographed by KU players will up for grabs.
The show starts early and is family friendly. You can get in for $10 OR bring a new, unopened toy for donation.
Kaw Valley Public House, December 7
What an absolute joy it is to have longtime songwriter Til Willis in the local scene. After 20 years of making music and wowing audiences with his guitar work, his latest album arrives in December. Dirtflowers is the first full-length album Til Willis and the Erratic Cowboy have released in four years, and the first with a drummer. The album gives a more emotional and rustic feel, but Willis’ shows are always thrilling and impressive. You can cozy up with the band in North Lawrence at Kaw Valley Public House for their release show.
Liberty Hall, December 12
Once you’ve ogled the Festival of Trees at Liberty Hall, it’s time to saddle up for the Holiday Hootenanny. Lawrence’s favorite Irishman Nick Carswell, of Carswell and Hope, gathered an all-star assembly of bands for this event. They’ll be joined by Maria the Mexican, performing a blend of traditional Mariachi music, Mexican folklore, and rock (if you’re lucky, they’ll bust out their popular Selena cover).
Unfit Wives are also on the bill. The band skyrocketed to local fame so quickly in 2019, their shows became packed to the point where you could barely move. Seeing these three groups on a larger stage will prove positive for their large fanbase. Bring your dancing shoes. We expect a barn burner of a show for this night.
Fiendstivus with Serene Fiend
Cider Gallery, December 20
Fiendstivus is back! After its debut last year at Cider Gallery, the holiday event celebrating the music of local gothy heartthrob Serene Fiend is returning for another round of non-secular, tongue-in-cheek celebration.
Serene Fiend will ditch the electronics for one night and opt for acoustic instruments, including piano, strings, and what we’re promised as some “not-so-expected instruments.” Set against the beautiful backdrop of Cider Gallery, the classy affair brings out a little more of a high brow crowd for the night of musical accomplishments. Come for the gorgeous renditions of Serene Fiend songs, stay to see how goths gussy up for fancy events.
The Bottleneck, December 31
The last time Hembree played the Bottleneck, the show sold out nearly immediately. So expect an absolutely PACKED show to round out the year. After touring the country nonstop all year, they’re heading home to help Lawrence ring in 2020. Their recently released House on Fire is heavy on the synths with beautiful, pulsating beats to keep revelers partying all night long. What better way to start the new year than with a feel-good affair with one of the region’s rising indie stars.
Other noteworthy concerts this month:
MC Chris at The Bottleneck
Glass Bandit at The Jazzhaus
The Sluts / The Moose at The Replay
Kansas Public Radio’s Big Band Christmas at Liberty Hall
JD McPherson at The Bottleneck
Empath / Stary / Blanky at White Schoolhouse
Bottleneck Festivus with Sellout!
Christmas Eve with The Soul Visionaries at The Granada
Fally Afani is an award-winning journalist with a career spanning more than 15 years in media. She has worked extensively in radio, television, newspapers, magazines, and more. Currently, she resides in Lawrence, Kansas, where she works as a music journalist and is the Editor of I Heart Local Music.