Full list: December concert guide

November 20, 2011|Andy Downing, For RedEye

As December rolls into Chicago, a range of must-see shows accompany the plummeting temperatures, including an arena turn from one fast-rising indie icon (Bon Iver) and a rare appearance from a true rock legend (Jerry Lee Lewis). And while entertainment options dry up around Christmas, New Year's Eve looks to be packed with difficult decision for fans of dance music (Rusko vs. The Hood Internet), rock (Disappears vs. Cage the Elephant) and soul (JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound vs. Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears vs. Otis Clay).

Brandi Carlile
December 1 at Park West
The vocally gifted singer-songwriter, who hails from the outskirts of Seattle, swings between crunchy acoustic anthems and richer, roots-rock numbers.

Kelly Clarkson
December 2 at Chicago Theatre
Still the best thing to emerge from the American Idol machine—including cheeky British judge Simon Cowell—the Titanic-voiced season one champ arrives in town in support of her fifth album, "Stronger."

Kyuss Lives!
December 2 at the Vic
While not quite a full-on Kyuss reunion—the absence of founder/Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme necessitates the "Lives!"—this tour does boast a majority of the influential stoner rock crew's original lineup.

S. Carey
December 2 at Schubas
The indie rocker, perhaps best known for his work as drummer and supporting vocalist in the Justin Vernon-led Bon Iver, brings a similarly naturalistic quality to his solo work.

Crystal Stilts
December 2 at Empty Bottle
The Brooklyn quintet combines elements of psychedelic '60s garage, East Village art-rock and the Manchester sound pioneered by bands like Joy Division.

Jerry Lee Lewis
December 3 at Congress Theatre
Now 76, the legendary piano man isn't quite the same ball of fire he once was, but there's still a devilish tint to his singing and playing.

Russian Circles
December 3 at Lincoln Hall
The local hard rocker's mostly instrumental fourth LP, "Empros," combines moments of sweeping beauty with an earth-moving power.

The Knux
December 3 at Reggie's Rock Club
The hip-hop duo polished its sound for their sophomore LP, "Eraser," a more radio-friendly affair that marries rap with glam rock, garage and psychedelia.

Eleventh Dream Day
December 3 at Empty Bottle
Helmed as always by guitar whiz Rick Rizzo, this long-running local crew remains one of Chicago's most underrated and consistently excellent bands.

Avey Tare
December 5 at Schubas
In his solo guise, this Animal Collective member explores the further ranges of that band's out-there sound, turning out swampy soundscapes that borrow liberally from acid-rock, dubstep and electronica.

The National
December 6 at Aragon Ballroom
This Brooklyn band's songs frequently find frontman Matt Berninger crooning like a lovelorn bar poet atop a stately musical backdrop laid down by his mates. Few bands make heartache sound as comforting.

War on Drugs
December 7 at Lincoln Hall
On "Slave Ambient," this haze-loving Philadelphia crew turns out an array of spacey, atmospheric tracks that wouldn't sound out of place on a Spiritualized album.

Pete Rock
December 9 at the Shrine
Legendary DJ/producer Pete Rock was a lynchpin of that early-90s era often referred to as the golden age of hip-hop, melding breakbeats with jazzier instrumental flourishes.

Bon Iver

December 9 at UIC Pavilion
Much-loved indie rocker Justin Vernon gets weirder and woolier on Bon Iver's self-titled sophomore album, an intimate-sounding record that the frontman has transformed into an immersive experience for the stage.

December 9 at Double Door
The neo-soul soul man is effortlessly smooth, allowing nary a wrinkle in his freshly pressed sound.

December 10 at Bottom Lounge
The Los Angeles-based ska-punk crew combines sharp social commentary with a rowdy, horn-fueled sound that never lacks for energy.

Tori Amos
December 10 at Chicago Theatre
Though she projects an almost ethereal vibe, the singer-songwriter fills here albums with a host of earthly concerns, writing about everything from childhood violence to withered-on-the-vine romance.

Ryan Adams
December 11 at Cadillac Palace Theatre
The polarizing alt-country troubadour's latest effort, "Ashes & Fire," is his most straightforward work in years, hearkening back to the elegant, heartbroken balladry of his landmark album "Heartbreaker."

December 13 at Empty Bottle
On "Islands," the second album the Alabama hip-hop duo has released this year, dual MCs Stephen "ST 2 Lettaz" Harris and David "Yung Clova" Williams rhyme about escape atop a range of spacy beats that sound seconds from drifting into the atmosphere.

Joy Formidable
December 14 at Metro
"The Big Roar" is an appropriate title for this Welsh trio's latest, which kicks up a stormy ocean of guitar noise.

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