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Cat Stevens, St. Vincent, Royal Blood among December’s concert highlights


It’s a big month for music. Here’s your calendar view for who to see, where to be each night.

December 1 Royal Blood

This British duo is ready to overthrow Queens of the Stone Age as the newest moto rock sensation. They cap off a great year of festival highlights, a Mercury Prize nomination and creating a superfan in Jimmy Page at WKQX’s annual holiday bash. Rise Against headlines.

House of Blues, 5:30 p.m. Sold out. More info.

December 2 St. Vincent & Future Islands

The best double bill this month. While everyone continues to drool over virtuoso Annie Clark, Future Islands aren’t just any old wallflowers. Singer Samuel T. Herring has moves for days, and he helped shimmy the Baltimore band to national attention with their mix of Morrissey and Meatloaf in the dancehall.

Chicago Theatre, 7:30 p.m. $40. Buy tickets.

December 3 Cold Specks

It takes a special kind of artist to usher in a whole new genre of music. Somali-Canadian talent (and Moby collaborator) creates doom soul with gothic gospel sounds, loud horns, noir synth and an incredible voice that even has Joni Mitchell singing praises.

Schubas, 9 p.m. $12. Buy tickets.

December 4 Paolo Nutini

He put his “New Shoes” on and then seemingly stepped away from the spotlight, but absence only made most grow fonder of the popular Scottish singer-songwriter. He’s back and playing the ONXRT: Live from the Archives Volume 16 record release party.

Reggies, 5 p.m. Win passes by entering here.

December 5 Jessica and David Mayfield

She was the teenage alt country star uncovered by Dan Auerbach; he’s the frontman of the Americana group The David Mayfield Parade who has performed with The Avett Brothers and Mumford & Sons. Together they are a force to be desired on the Sibling Rivalry Tour.

Schubas, 7:30 p.m. $15. Buy tickets.

December 6 Slayer

If you missed Slayer in the muddy waters of this year’s Riot Fest or are still abuzz from Suicidal Tendencies appearance at the 2013 edition, get both in one solid trash lineup—the first time the two have toured together since 1990. Opening is Exodus whose guitarist Gary Holt pulls double duty as Jeff Hanneman’s replacement in Slayer.

The Venue at Horseshoe Casino, 7:30 p.m. $39-49. Buy tickets.

December 7 Nick Lowe

Best known for his ‘70s power pop hits like “Cruel To Be Kind” and “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding” (performed by Elvis Costello), Lowe got into the holiday spirit with 2013’s “Quality Street…” He embarks on his first seasonal tour backed by Los Straitjackets. (Also 12/6).

Old Town School of Folk Music, 8 p.m. $40. Buy tickets.

December 8 Justin Timberlake

It’s the déjà vu tour—at least that’s what Timberlake should call his latest trek in Chicago, the third or fourth time we’ve seen him this year alone. Hits like “SexyBack” and “Suit & Tie” never really get old though, and will soon be anthologized in a concert documentary directed by Jonathan Demme.

United Center, 8 p.m. $49.50-175. Buy tickets.

December 9 Yusuf / Cat Stevens

We never thought we’d see the day, but after a three-decade drought Cat Stevens (Yusuf Islam) once again takes the stage in Chicago. His very brief comeback tour was preceded by an induction into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame in April, a well deserved recognition for the folk icon that goes alongside all his humanitarian awards.

Chicago Theatre, 8 p.m. Sold out. More info.

December 10 Goapele

Sultry R&B songstress is a mixed bag of sounds with Sade’s bedroom croons, Morcheeba’s electronic airs and Aaliyah’s soft hip-hop beats. Collaborations with Mos Def, Eric Benet, Snoop Dogg and Estelle bide time to bring her out of the underground.

Concord Music Hall, 6:30 p.m. $21. Buy tickets.

December 11 Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band

Seger “Turns the Page Again” with an extensive tour that will showcase the music of his first new album in eight years, “Ride Out,” along with a platter of classics. See why he’s still one of the most popular songwriters of our time.

United Center, 7:30 p.m. $45-95. Buy tickets.

December 12 The Johnny Winter Band

Five months after his passing, the blues legend is honored in a one-of-a-kind remembrance show. The evening includes a screening of the documentary “Down and Dirty: The Johnny Winter Story” and a performance by Winter’s band featuring his brother Edgar. One of Winter’s guitars will also be gifted to the club’s wall of fame.

Buddy Guy’s Legends, 7:30 p.m. $40. Buy tickets.

December 13 Phox

There’s something about the back roads of Wisconsin that has begun churning out indie stars like Zola Jesus before and now Phox. Call it the Bon Iver effect; this sextet recorded their debut in his studio, and the result is a clandestine mix of folk, soul, blues and psych that makes them the new Midwestern standard. Opening for The Head and The Heart.

Aragon, 7:30 p.m. Sold out. More info.

December 14 Chris Isaak

A Chris Isaak Christmas has become as much a standard as the Sun Records rockabilly ‘n’ roll style he perfectly wraps up. In addition to covers like Elvis’ “Blue Christmas” and original holiday material, look out for notables like “Wicked Game” and “Baby Did a Bad Bad Thing.”

House of Blues, 7:30 p.m. $58.50. Buy tickets.

December 15 Michelle Chamuel

If you’re a fan of “The Voice,” you’ll remember Chamuel as the runner-up on Season Four. But there’s more than a television wrap sheet to her name. She fronted the electro funk group Ella Riot, crafted party dance jams as Reverb Junkie and now has her first official solo release out early next year. Get an early taste of the budding pop star.

Lincoln Hall, 7 p.m. $20. Buy tickets.

December 16 Steel Panther

Mock-metal band is Spinal Tap fronted by Bret Michaels in an Herbal Essences commercial. Potty-mouth lyrics, crazy stage personas and enough animal print to start a zoo, you’ll feel like you’re in a never-ending ‘80s music video—but let’s be real they don’t make ‘em like that anymore. Go early for Aussie rockers Like A Storm.

House of Blues, 7 p.m. $31.50. Buy tickets.

December 17 Bjork: Biophilia Live

The next best thing to seeing Bjork live is seeing her on a giant screen in a concert film directed by Peter Strickland and Nick Fenton. Recorded at her London show at Alexandra Palace in 2013, the setlist includes every song from her dynamic album/multimedia project “Biophilia” as well as other greatest hits. Presented by CIMMFest.

Lincoln Hall, 8 p.m. $10. Buy tickets.

December 18 103.5 FM Jingle Ball

We’re not sure what deals the local radio station had to make to get this who’s who lineup together but ask questions later. Go for one-shots of Fall Out Boy, Charli XCX, Iggy Azalea, Meghan Trainor, Jessie J, Nick Jonas, newcomer Kiesza and many more.

Allstate Arena, 7:30 p.m. $35-100. Buy tickets.

December 19 Estelle

The smooth “American Boy” and “Conqueror” singer prepares a tour of intimate proportions on the eve of new release “True Romance.” Her retro style has often been compared to other British dualities like Amy Winehouse and Adele, but collaborations with David Guetta, Kanye, John Legend and Robin Thicke break her out of the mold.

Thalia Hall, 9 p.m. $25-35. Buy tickets.

December 20 We Carol Lot

A new holiday show from Chicago’s custom music production company Downwrite features a solid lineup of post-, pop, and old school punk bands. See Matt Pryor of The Get Up Kids, William Beckett of The Academy Is…, Bob Nanna of Braid, Tim Kasher of Cursive and more. Sing-a-long, enter raffles and wait up for Santa’s appearance.

Metro, 8 p.m. $14 (in advance). Buy tickets.

December 21 Robin Zander Band

Cheap Trick’s frontman surrenders to forming his own eponymous band, formed last year with Rat Race Choir alums Steve Luongo and Mark Hitt. The night features originals as well as the hits you’d expect. (Also 12/20).

Arcada Theatre, 7 p.m. $19-79. Buy tickets.

December 22 Jamaican Queens

If you trapped Gucci Mane, MGMT and The Antlers in a box you might get close to the tangle of this Detroit “trap pop” duo that are the poster children of Gen Y’s eclectic tastes wrapped up in digital cellophane. Local dream pop act Kinky Love opens.

Hideout, 8 p.m. $8. Buy tickets.

December 23 Michael McDermott

Chicago’s official troubadour brings his third annual Mischief and Mistletoe Show to town. Hear his great “Last Chance Lounge” in full with an encore of traditional holiday songs that, with his voice, sound like a Bruce Springsteen Christmas. (Also 12/22).

City Winery, 8 p.m. $20-30. Buy tickets.

December 24

Venues are off the record tonight. Do some karaoke carols.

December 25

Everyone’s closed for Christmas. Play your worst holiday album instead.

December 26 Waco Brothers

The 11th annual Waco Weekend shocks you right back into a shameless reality after the holiday coma. Eternal cow punk, alt country brawlers led by the Mekons’ Jon Langford are the blood, sweat and tears of live music. If you don’t get into trouble at one of their shows, you’re not trying hard enough. (Also 12/27).

Schubas, 9 p.m. $14. Buy tickets.

December 27 Real Friends

Chicago’s championing pop punk scene of the early 2000s is revisited in this group from Tinley Park that recently signed a label deal and spent 2014 gathering even more friends on the road as part of Warped Tour. Get ready for a new Fall Out.

Metro, 6 p.m. $17 (in advance). Buy tickets.

December 28 Genevieve Schatz

Any residual sadness over Company Of Thieves’ announced hiatus earlier this year should subside with news that the frontwoman of the indie rock act is beginning to tour as a solo project. Expect that same soulful spirit that drew fans to her in the first place.

Space, 7:30 p.m. $12-23. Buy tickets.

December 29 Poi Dog Pondering

Before hybrids were cool there was Poi Dog Pondering, a band that mixed styles as diverse as electronic, orchestra, house, disco and Americana with a rotating change of scenery in Chicago, Austin and Hawaii. Constant frontman Frank Orrall is Wayne Coyne out of that bubble of his. (Also 12/26-28).

City Winery, 8 p.m. Sold out. More info.

December 30 Laura Jane Grace

In the past two years much has been written about Grace focusing on her brave and inspiring transition from the figure known publically as Tom Gabel of Florida punks Against Me! Opening up about her story in a web series and new album “Transgender Dysphoria Blues” has only made us respect her—and her craft—even more. She returns to Chicago with some special guests.

Double Door, 9 p.m. $20. Buy tickets.

December 31 Andrew W.K.

If you’re looking for a party this New Year’s Eve, this one’s a no brainer. The rocker behind “Party Hard,” “It’s Time To Party” and “Party Party Party” (shall we go on?) is making sure you start off 2015 on a really good note.

Thalia Hall, 9:30 p.m. $40 (in advance). Buy tickets.

Selena Fragassi is a local freelance writer.