The Short List: The Week's Recommended Concerts

1990 Now Dance Party / Wednesday, December 22

The holidays are synonymous with warm, fond nostalgia, so what better time to salute the decade that brought you voguing, the Tootsie Roll, the Macarena, and the mulleted majesty of the Achy Breaky Heart than at DJs Michael Stephens and Andrew Chapman's 1990s-themed dance party? You know you've been longing for an excuse to bust out some nude lipstick and burgundy lip liner and get your Hammer on. Or maybe some super-tight Wranglers for a rousing Cotton-Eyed Joe? Of course, if you spent the '90s in Seattle, you may think the Cha-Cha Slide is the move you make to signal your friends that the guys with the coke finally showed up. Sunset Tavern, 5433 Ballard Ave. N.W., 784-4880. 9:30 p.m. $5. MA'CHELL DUMA LAVASSAR

Blind Boys of Alabama / Wednesday, December 22

The last thing a Seattleite needs is a musical excuse to go to Bremerton. There are more opportunities to experience live music in Seattle in one night than in a month across the water. But there is no more affordable holiday adventure than a sojourn on the boat to Bremerton, which—at least for now—runs rather regularly (see page 44) and offers an hour of breathtaking views of Mt. Rainier on a clear day, the best view of Seattle any day, and plenty of Christmas lights this time of year. Pack a thermos filled with Harvey's Hot Buttered Rum (made in Bremerton, btw). It's all the warmup you'll need for the Blind Boys of Alabama, and a soulful celebration of some of the finer meanings of the season. With Harvey's Hot Buttered Rum. Admiral Theatre, 515 Pacific Ave., Bremerton, 360-373-6743, 7 p.m. $25–$40. All ages. CHRIS KORNELIS

JusMoni / Wednesday, December 22

The title of Beacon Hill songstress JusMoni's debut release, Ready for Life, is multidimensional, to say the least, considering that the 17-year-old didn't just birth a record this year, but also a son. It's easy to be taken by her soul-baring lyrics born of single-parenthood, her decidedly original tone, and the nine-track project's lineup: production comes from Kuddie Fresh, KDCutz, Taysean, and Crispy, with guest vocals from Khingz, Lace Cadence, Parker Joe, and The Good Sin. JusMoni covers her bases with sensual slow jams, but her real brilliance shines in more cerebral songs; on the emotionally intimate "Can We," she croons, "Can we get emotional? /Baby this is personal," reminding us how to find beauty in flaws and trust in fear. With Brothers From Another, Khingz, Rocky Rivera, Big World Breaks. Chop Suey, 1325 E. Madison St., 324-8005. 8 p.m. $8 adv./$10 DOS. All ages. NICK FELDMAN

Unnatural Helpers / Wednesday, December 22

Unnatural Helpers had a bang-up 2010, with all the highs (touring overseas with Mudhoney) and the lows (narrowly escaping a beat-down in Brooklyn: "I cut off these toughs, and they chased us down in our van," says UH drummer and vocalist Dean Whitmore. "I didn't know if we were going to get shot in the face, or what") that come with a memorable year. One of the band's best moments was the release of the rambunctious and much-praised Cracked Love & Other Drugs, but they're already moving on and will start recording a new full-length later this month. As for tonight's show, some holiday cheer will play a part when UH plays a Christmas classic, although they're keeping the specifics a secret. "It's by a classic British band," hints Whitmore, "I'll give you that much." With The Intelligence, Dancer and Prancer. Crocodile, 2200 Second Ave., 441-7416. 8 p.m. Free with RSVP. ERIN K. THOMPSON

Curse of the North / Thursday, December 23

While 3 Inches of Blood's hilarious Cookie Monster vocals render them nearly impossible for me to appreciate, there's nothing wrong with their rhythm section, particularly the authoritative, intricate bass playing of Nick Cates. He's now in Curse of the North (along with ex–Black Houses members Christiaan Morris and Patrick Taylor), and the two tracks they recently completed with local producer Matt Bayles are solid, sky-scraping compositions that will undoubtedly please fans of The Sword or Mastodon. With Human Trafficking, Mercy Ties. Comet Tavern, 922 E. Pike St., 323-9853. 9 p.m. $5. HANNAH LEVIN

Pillowfighter / Thursday, December 23

Attempting to make it in a creative realm where your sibling is already a proven commodity is a loaded proposition, the worst-case scenario perfectly epitomized by the Seattle-based film Georgia. There, Jennifer Jason Leigh plays a sexually promiscuous inebriate who insists upon following in her successful folk-singer sister's footsteps, much to the chagrin of her successful folk-singer sister. Pillowfighter's Joe Seely, Seattle native and brother of Tim (as well as yours truly), is no Leigh, but he's taken a lot longer to ripen than his baby bro. Previously prone to over-emotive lyrics and stage presence, Pillowfighter's new album, Grow Slow With Me, shows unprecedented restraint, and shrewdly features Joe's partner in music and life, Margaret White, a vocalist and violinist from North Carolina who's toured with the likes of Cat Power, Belle & Sebastian, and Sparklehorse. The Ballard show represents a holiday homecoming for the Brooklyn-based duo, so expect plenty of chummy warmth in the room. With Jon Waters, Dan Yost. Conor Byrne, 5140 Ballard Ave. N.W., 784-3640. 7:30 p.m. $7. MIKE SEELY

X-Mas Eve Mess / Friday, December 24

If you're going to get your punk-rawk party on for Christmas Eve, you probably ought to do it for a good cause. This benefit's headlined by sassy pop-punk favorites TacocaT and garage-rock duo Pony Time, which features Stacy Peck on drums and Luke Beetham on bass and vocals—kind of like our own less-poppy Matt & Kim. Their stage presence will be augmented by the danceable cheer of KEXP DJs Sharlese, Nick Turner, and Miss Clarita, along with Hattie's Hat's resident DJ Megan Cookies and some laughs from stand-up comedian Victoria Liss. Best of all, proceeds from the raffle—for prizes ranging from a Vera Project gift bag to a tattoo coupon—go to foster kids via local organization Treehouse for Kids. Funhouse, 206 Fifth Ave. N., 374-8400. 8 p.m. $5. NICK FELDMAN

Empire Strikes Back Night / Sunday, December 26

"You must feel the Force around you," Yoda instructs Luke Skywalker in Star Wars: Episode V—The Empire Strikes Back, "here, between you, me, the tree, the rock, everywhere, yes." Everywhere includes the High Dive on the night after Christmas, where tonight Rocket Queen Hannah Levin hosts an official, unashamedly geeky screening of the film with pals and fellow Star Wars obsessives Andrew Chapman (Princess frontman) and Matt Brown (Seattle's most rabid rock fan). The trio reserves, warns Levin, "the right to pause, rewind, offer nerdy commentary, and generally behave like a trio of sci-fi dorks." And because all three also happen to be metalheads, an evening of tag-team metal DJing will follow the screening. Rock hard, nerds of Seattle. High Dive, 513 N. 36th St., 632-0212. 8 p.m. Free. ERIN K. THOMPSON

Garaj Mahal / Tuesday, December 28

This band needs an editor. Someone to say "Look, you guys are just fabulous. Those long, funky jams with Kai popping the bass and Sean all over the kit like he's got six limbs—that's great stuff. But seriously, no more singing, OK? And that orchestral world-music bit—I mean, it's really good to stretch, but it's starting to sound like Derek Smalls' 'Jazz Odyssey.' Can you dial that back a little?" But Garaj Mahal does not have an editor. These four guys have gone their own way for a decade now, touring constantly, with no major-label backing, answerable to no one and with no one to curtail their more indulgent tendencies. You take the good with the bad. Nectar, 412 N. 36th St., 632-2020. 8 p.m. $10. MARK D. FEFER

The Here and Now Quintet / Tuesday, December 28

Is there a Seattle jazz sound? I think there is—a certain kind of empathetic playing that's never too showy and that has some of the music's more desperate edges burnished away. Instead of coke, you hear mountains. And though these five Seattle-bred players—including trumpeter Tatum Greenblatt and saxophonist Ben Roseth—have been on the East Coast for several years and now are making the scene in New York, you can still catch the sensibility of their hometown in their graceful and cool swing. Their band name may be groaningly bad—or so groaningly bad, it's brilliant. Either way, the imperative it contains is well-earned. Triple Door, 216 Union St., 838-4333. 7:30 p.m. $15. All ages. MARK D. FEFER

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