Queen City Music Spotlight: Catch These 10 Cincinnati Concerts Featuring Local Acts in December

Celebrate the sounds of the season at these Greater Cincinnati concerts throughout the month of December.

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click to enlarge Bridget Battle of Tweens - Photo: Laura Lee Buhman
Photo: Laura Lee Buhman
Bridget Battle of Tweens

This holiday season, enjoy the sounds of the season (traditional and otherwise) at these holiday-themed shows and yearly traditions of Cincinnati music. There are performances from emerging bands, a reunion of past favorites, the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra’s yearly holiday celebration, a Christmas-themed underground music festival, an immersive New Year’s Eve party and plenty more. After all, the Cincinnati music scene is truly the gift that keeps on giving all month long.

Wonky Tonk and Thelma and the Sleaze (Nashville) at Southgate House Revival
Two of the hardest working acts active in recent years, Nashville's Thelma and the Sleaze and Cincinnati's Wonky Tonk start the month off at Southgate House Revival upstairs in the Revival Room. The all-female Thelma and the Sleaze make soulful and gritty rock and roll with a southern, reckless heart. Singer LG evokes the feel of Janis Joplin fronting a punk band playing a custom-made guitar named “Fancy.” Wonky Tonk's Jasmine Poole has stayed active over the years recording, touring and releasing videos of her heartfelt ballads and pop songs with country roots and a touch of freak folk, often backed by her local all-star band, the High Life. 8 p.m. Dec. 1. $12 in advance and $15 at the door. Southgate House Revival, 111 E. 6th St., Newport, southgatehouse.com.

Wombo (Louisville) and Tangees at Black Plastic Records
Rescheduled from last month after a member of Wombo contracted COVID-19, this time with eccentric local rock band The Tangees. Wombo makes innovative rock and roll with elements pulled from jazz, art rock, hard rock and psychedelia, often simultaneously creating an interesting and refreshing sound that feels exciting and new. Their music videos are worth watching as well. The show is set to take place at Black Plastic, one of the city's finest record stores and venues. 9 p.m. Dec. 2. Free. Black Plastic Records, 6470 Glenway Ave., Bridgetown, instagram.com/blackplasticrecords.

Benefit for the Cincinnati Homeless Coalition at The Comet
See a handful of bands each night while doing something good for people in need — a perfect pursuit for the holiday season. All proceeds from both shows go to the Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition. Night one features spacey alt-pop band Quotah, the jazzy, blues punk of Toon Town and more. The second night has psych garage Cincinnati favorites, The Harlequins, the experimental genre-hopping assortment of electronic soundscapes, acid rock and early 2000s punk of The You Suck Flying Circus, a comedy showcase and more. 7:30 p.m. Dec. 2 and 3. Donation amount of your choice for admission. The Comet, 4579 Hamilton Ave., Northside, facebook.com/events.

All-Seeing Eyes, The Stools (Detroit), Sugar Tradition (Detroit) and Choncy at MOTR Pub
All-Seeing Eyes are one of Cincinnati’s treasures fronted by local legend Johnny Walker of the Soledad Brothers and Pearlene. In All-Seeing Eyes, Walker continues his preaching blues rock and roll sermons with the use of revved-up American music traditions. Detroit’s The Stools take the spirit of rockabilly and hard driving punk and make it something new. Sugar Tradition is keeping the spirit of Detroit garage rock alive. (They would surely make the MC5 proud). Cincinnati garage punks and one of the top bands to watch, Choncy rounds out the bill. This show is sure to be one of the best nights all month of rock and roll in its purest form. 10 p.m. Dec 3. Free. MOTR Pub, 1345 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, motrpub.com/shows.

Cincinnati Pops Orchestra’s Holiday Pops at Cincinnati Music Hall
Experience one of the warmest events of the holiday season inside the lavish and festively decorated Cincinnati Music Hall. Take a date, the whole family or just yourself to the yearly Cincinnati tradition, the Pops Orchestra’s Holiday Pops. This year’s program offers holiday favorites “Christmas Overture” by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, “Chanukah Lights” by Marvin Hamlisch, alongside standards like “Silent Night” and “Joy to The World” and many more. The show features frequent CSO collaborators, the multi-instrumentalists and vocalists of The Annie Moses Band along with local students from the Winton Woods High School Varsity Ensemble, Sycamore High School Select Ensemble and School for the Creative Arts Chorale. It’s sure to be a night of memory-making holiday charm. 11 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 9, 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 10, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Dec. 11. Prices vary. Cincinnati Music Hall, 1241 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, cincinnatisymphony.org.

Old City, Nevernew and A.M. Nice at Northside Tavern
Longtime Cincinnati post-punk band Old City celebrates 10 years of making music. The band features musicians Sammy McKee (Grave Clothes), drummer Dave Cupp (Siren Suit) and bass player Brian McCabe (Sorry, Eric, M+M). They appear with indie punk band A.M. Nice and Nevernew, a post-punk outfit with a healthy touch of experimentation and a few pleasant surprises. 10 p.m. Dec. 10. $5. Northside Tavern, 4163 Hamilton Ave., Northside, facebook.com/events.

Umin and Grave Clothes at MOTR Pub
A night of two of the most innovative solo acts in the city. Umin creates powerful instrumental pieces that are like meditations moving through different textures and moods while using a collection of assembled instruments and non-instruments like reworked handheld game systems, electronic percussion and noises looped and layered, often accompanied and juxtaposed by acoustic stringed instruments. Grave Clothes is the solo side project of longtime local musician Sammy McKee (Old City) who recently released an EP on prolific local label Lo-Fi City. The EP features scaled down but effective combinations of moody electronic elements and percussion, electric guitar and vocals cut simultaneously live. 9 p.m. Dec. 14. Free. MOTR Pub, 1345 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, facebook.com/events.

Santamania at The Mockbee
This two-night festival and labor of love of local musician and comedian John Hays has become a yearly tradition and now takes place over three stages at one of the city’s most interesting venues, the Mockbee. The former 1800s brewery building features stone tunnels with rounded vaulted ceilings and character to spare, making it the perfect place for one of the most thoroughly curated lineups of mostly Cincinnati underground bands. Night one features beloved local punk band Tweens, rising alt-pop act Spoils, bedroom pop band Extreme Falcon, the goth garage of Isabelle Helle and Hell’s Bells and well over a dozen more acts. Night two has perennial punk favorites Vacation, female-fronted punk band with plenty of pop sensibility Leggy, synth punk band Crime of Passing, hardcore band Piss Flowers, rising proto-punk act Willie & the Cigs, experimental powerhouse band Fruit LoOps, and, again, a ton more local acts. 6 p.m. Dec. 16 and 17. $10. The Mockbee, 2260 Central Parkway, Brighton, facebook.com/events.

The Auburnaires at MOTR Pub
One of Cincinnati’s biggest bands of the past reunite for their yearly tradition: an end of year show during the holiday season. The Auburnaires were a garage punk band with infusions of funk and early rock and roll in the late 80s and early 90s and one of the biggest bands in the music scene at the time before breaking up in 1991. Their legacy lives on and it’s always a celebration when they reunite. Enjoy this Christmas tradition and proof that the city’s music scene has been alive and well for decades. 10 p.m. Dec. 23. Free. MOTR Pub, 1345 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, motrpub.com/shows.

Bunk News Presents: The Weird Year's Eve Show 2k23 at Liberty Exhibition Hall
The arts collective Bunk News’ annual immersive Weird Year's Eve party returns, this time at Northside’s Liberty Exhibition Hall, a space set up for interesting experiences. The party is billed as “a midnight variety show taking you back-in-the-day” with performances by afrobeat, funk party band Ernie Johnson From Detroit and “the triumphant return of BITCHIN’, DJPK, Henry Sugar, and Noahimean. Also featuring The Goblin Lounge with local creepers, Freak Boys and a mystery guest TBA casting their musical spells on the willing! 2 floors of music, lights, projections, stage props, balloons, weirdos, laughs, characters, booze, and other Bunk News shenanigans,” says event organizers. This event is perfect for those searching for a wild and unique New Year’s Eve bash. 8 p.m. Dec. 31. $20. Liberty Exhibition Hall, 3938 Spring Grove Ave., Northside, eventbrite.com.

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