The Best Concerts in St. Louis This Week, December 14 to 20

El Monstero performs its annual round of holiday shows at the Pageant starting this Friday night. - Photo by Steve Truesdell
Photo by Steve Truesdell
El Monstero performs its annual round of holiday shows at the Pageant starting this Friday night.

The city's current sunny disposition brings up conflicting emotions. As St. Louisians, we are typically jolted into the holiday spirit by the sudden onset of icy weather, but this year just feels stuck in mid-to-late October — not that anyone can really complain. Help ring in the season with a series of holiday events and, in proper St. Louis fashion, tribute concerts. Matt Wilson's Christmas Tree-O takes over the Ferring Jazz Bistro Wednesday through Saturday while El Monstero starts its yearly string of shows at the Pageant on Friday. Those wanting to avoid the sounds of the season altogether can check out legendary Austin-based songwriter Real Live Tigers at Kismet on Thursday.


Soulard Blues Band
Broadway Oyster Bar
Every Monday at 9 p.m. | $5
By Roy Kasten
From the RFT Music archives: One day, dear reader, the Soulard Blues Band will be no more. It's just a fact. And one day you'll wonder why, despite all the opportunities every other day of the week, you never saw this St. Louis institution in its prime — and no, the band's prime ain't over. If somehow you've never danced your ass off when Art Dwyer lays down a bass line as smooth as crushed velvet, or when Marty Abdullah swings his phrasing on "Kansas City Blues" or "Dust My Broom," or when Tom Maloney plays a solo that would make his mentor (the late, great Benny Smith) smile, well you really should. Don't take this band for granted. Pay your respects soon; they've been earned.


Matt Harnish's 45th Birthday Celebration w/ Carondelet Guy, Daren Gratton, Googolplexia, 3 of 5, Cassie Morgan, Matt Harnish's Pink Guitar
San Loo
9 p.m. | free
By Mike Appelstein
From Bunnygrunt's Matt Harnish Celebrates His 45th with a Quirky Compilation EP: The generation gap isn't what it used to be. Just ask surviving members of the indie-rock scene of the 1980s and 1990s. Most of them are either closing in on AARP eligibility or are already there. Yet even as members of that generation have gotten married, started families and settled into middle age, many have remained involved in music. Artists such as Mary Timony, Bob Mould, Dinosaur Jr. and the Mountain Goats have not only stayed active well into their forties and fifties, but are currently making some of their best-ever music. So why not celebrate reaching that milestone while you've still got some of your memory and health? That is exactly what St. Louis mainstay Matt Harnish, best known as Bunnygrunt's guitarist and vocalist, is planning. Except for a couple of years in the mid-aughts, Bunnygrunt has existed continuously for more than twenty years. This summer, the band released a new album, Bunnygrunt Vol. 4, and toured the UK. Harnish is also a DJ, label owner, concert promoter, record-store clerk and occasional journalist. He remains one of the most enthusiastic and active members of the St. Louis music scene.


Matt Wilson’s Christmas Tree-O
Ferring Jazz Bistro
Wednesday through Saturday, 7:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. | $30
By Christian Schaeffer
Fifty years ago this month, a mustachioed, thick-spectacled jazzbo from the Bay Area named Vince Guaraldi unknowingly entered the Christmas canon with his score and soundtrack to A Charlie Brown Christmas. Like the cartoon special it accompanied, Guaraldi’s trio used some spare and impressionistic techniques to match both the jubilation and melancholy of the season; for many listeners, the jazz trio became the preferred delivery system for Christmas standards. Enter Matt Wilson’s Christmas Tree-O: The drummer, along with woodwind player Jeff Lederer and bassist Paul Sikivie, take many of the old chestnuts out of the open fire and approach them with wit, irreverence and plenty of good cheer. Expect a touch of the avant-garde along with the players’ appreciable technique — these may not be the same versions of the standards you grew up with, but the spirit comes through all the same.


Real Live Tigers w/ Zak M, Fragile Farm, Dubb Nubb
Kismet Creative Center
9 p.m. | free
By Joseph Hess
Simplicity can sometimes elicit the most complex of emotions and thankfully Real Live Tigers can trace those feelings with the utmost restraint. Austin native Tony Presley tracks his own soft voice over quiet, disparate licks pulled from an old hollow body. In this, Presley's solo endeavor reins in the expectations of a man with an acoustic guitar and uses the instrument to amplify his words in a way that a wall of amplifiers never could. On this night, Presley is paired with four of St. Louis' more daring songwriters in the twin sirens of Dubb Nubb, the loop-based Fragile Farm and the cold, baritone voice of Zak M. 


El Monstero
The Pageant
7 p.m. | $27.50-$50
By Daniel Hill
'Tis the season for St. Louis' Pink Floyd fans to bask in the tribute tradition that is Christmas with El Monstero — thousands and thousands of them, it seems, based on the fact the Pageant has cleared six days of its calendar for this year's affair. As much musicianship as it is sheer spectacle, El Monstero's show combines the songs of Pink Floyd with its indelible iconography for a truly immersive experience that brings the KSHE set out in droves. Bring your whole family and take psychedelic drugs for a fully enjoyable holiday evening.


Jay Farrar
The Sheldon
8 p.m. | $25-$30
By Roy Kasten
Time — its judgment and healing, the escape it offers and the inescapable fact of it — is the central theme of Trace, the first album by Son Volt and one of the defining albums of the '90s. Twenty years on, the record still sounds great: Jay Farrar's voice has never been more expressive, and his band backs his songs like it knows how timeless they will become. That iteration of Son Volt is long gone, but Farrar has no desire to leave those songs behind. "Windfall" and "Tear-Stained Eye" have remained on the setlists for good reason. Farrar's decision to honor the whole of Son Volt's first album with a stripped-down anniversary tour offers a rare chance to trace its power back to the source.


St. Louis Chamber Chorus Concert 3: Christmas, auf Deutsch!
Trinity Lutheran Church
3 p.m. | $10-$40
By Joseph Hess
For many, the typical sight of snow in late-December is often paired with the aroma of freshly baked cookies and the sounds of holiday classics. While St. Louis seems to be sorely lacking in winter weather, nothing helps set the tone more than music. Thankfully, the Trinity Lutheran Church will host one Christmas concert this year featuring three revered German works: Mendelssohn motets, for Advent and Christmas; Schutz’s “Deutsches Magnificat”; and Schoenberg’s “Friede auf Erden.” On this night, the St. Louis Chamber Chorus will also perform a world premiere from Yakov Gubanov, its former composer-in-residence. 

Note: Though we wish we could, we can't feature every great show happening in town in just one post. Look for plenty more recommendations this Friday in our weekend shows post, peruse the St. Louis concert calendar for more ideas and let everyone know what else you're looking forward to seeing this week in the comments below. To be considered for coverage in RFT Music, submit show info online or drop us a line anytime.


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