Combing the good times from even the darkest days, Swimming with Bears are an optimistic outfit that's brimming with indie ambition. Inching out of Austin's sprawl, the rock band managed to recruit Blue October's Matt Noveskey two years ago to produce their first album, which they appropriately titled Paws. Shifting moods between the playfulness of Two Door Cinema Club and the twangy tendencies of Mumford and Sons, Swimming with Bears harbors the promise of mainstream success on many fronts. The album's lead single "Shiver and Crawl" prances to an infectious beat that recalls the Heavy's "How You Like Me Now." (Remember the throbbing jingle that scored a Kia Sorrento commercial back in 2009?) Exuberant and sincere, Swimming with Bears is standing on the brink of something great. 8pm, Free, Paper Tiger, 2124 N. Saint Mary's Whatever?
Friday, December 9
Image via Facebook (Unofficial: Whatever?/Wayne E. Holtz)
"No genre! No rules!" seems to be the official motto of Whatever?, a motley gang of rockers that spontaneously materialized in a messy garage somewhere in San Antonio. A punky project dappled with catchy pop hooks, Whatever? doesn't take itself too seriously. The band brandishes nonsensical track listings on their latest album, Bummerland, including ironic romps like "Fool Metal Jackit" and "Suburban Flunk." Wrapped in complete esotericism, Whatever? proves that even if punk is dead, absurdity is still going strong. Fronted by Tony Gnosis, the strange group shares the stage with the autumnal rockers of Summer Moon and the shrewd songwriters of Berlin Dream. 9pm, $5, Ventura SATX, 1011 Ave. B The Rotten Mangos
Friday, December 9
Image via Facebook (The Rotten Mangos)
Not to be mistaken for the Moldy Peaches (the folky freaks who spawned the soundtrack to Juno), the Rotten Mangos emerged from the southern tip of Texas in the Rio Grande Valley. Like most psychedelic acts, the eclectic band flashes a defiant middle finger to the concept of genre, but the essential elements of psychedelic rock all show up to play in their recent releases – there are prominent drums and shambling vocals coupled with hazy wavelengths of electric guitar à la the Black Angels. In fact, their most recent single, "It Must Be in the Air," summons an almost supernatural atmosphere. Saturated with reverberation, the Rotten Mangos embark on a narcotic hike through Kubla Khan's sunny pleasure domes. 9pm, $7, K23, 704 Fredericksburg Rd. Upon a Burning Body
Saturday, December 10
Image via Facebook (Upon A Burning Body)
Remember the thrashing acts that flocked to the White Rabbit years ago? Upon a Burning Body can't seem to forget. In the midst of promoting their newest album, Straight From the Barrio, Upon a Burning Body is coming home to headline Twin Production's Holiday Party, whose demonic lineup also features Memories in Broken Glass and Just a Dream. Filmed against a graffiti backdrop that mirrors the inked up band, the music video for "B.M.F." recalls the hardcore heyday of the Alamo City. Snarling about thrusting a "tattooed middle finger to the sky," vocalist Danny Leal reprises a dismal growl that sounds like a twisted Cookie Monster parody. We know the times are a-changin', but Upon a Burning Body honors the past and sticks to their guns. 5pm, $10, Paper Tiger, 2124 N. Saint Mary's St. 7 Handshake
Saturday, December 10
Image via Facebook (7 HandShake)
Speaking frankly, sexism preys upon the music industry with grim persistence. Society often dismisses creative women as being frivolous about their work, largely brushing aside talented females for the boys. With the odds stacked against them, women in music are revolutionary through the sheer act of existing – which brings us to 7 Handshake. While 7 Handshake makes no fuss over their female vocalist, Marisol Luna's agile vocal performance serves as the band's timbral cornerstone. Tackling gnarled compositions of rhythm and blues with discernment (Hyrda Melody and Levees come to mind), 7 Handshake defies norms without pushing any agenda. And, perhaps the band's refusal to poise their frontwoman as some feminist spectacle is a progressive move these days? 8pm, $5, Imagine Books and Records, 8373 Culebra Rd.