Marcus Rubio, Todd Lerew, Justin Boyd
Fans of all things free (free jazz, free folk, free improv), the entity known as heavy Denim specializes in types of music that “don’t fit in either a noisy club or a large concert hall.” By presenting “exploratory” genres in intimate, unexpected spaces—which have previously included Fl!ght Gallery and the Hays Street Bridge—?these happenings often blur the lines between underground concerts and art openings. The organization’s latest offering unites multifaceted SA export Marcus Rubio (a musical alchemist/multi-instrumentalist earning his MFA from CalArts), his LA-based touring partner Todd Lerew (an instrument inventor exploring sound as a “plastic medium”) and accomplished local sound artist Justin Boyd for an experimental, ambient performance in a former tortilla factory. $5, 8pm Thursday, Tortilleria La Popular, 1415 S Presa, heavydenim.org. —Bryan Rindfuss
The Last Dragon
How can you not love a martial arts musical movie starring a black hero named Bruce Leroy with music produced by Motown’s Berry Gordy? The 1985 film The Last Dragon earned mixed reviews at best, but went on to become a cult classic that will be highlighted in a new monthly series called Third Chamber Thursday. This is how it works: Every third Thursday, 45 minutes of old-school hip-hop videos are followed by a kung-fu movie. But, for this installment, there will be live music as well, with local up-and-coming rapper Robsta. The kid’s not even 20 but can already spit some clever rhymes (my favorite line is the one where he bitches about having to write about the Spurs in order to be heard on the radio). Then comes The Last Dragon and before, during and after, prizes and sake bombs. Worth checking out. $10, 7:30pm Thursday, Alamo Drafthouse Park North, 618 NW Loop 410, (210) 677-8500, drafthouse.com. —Enrique Lopetegui
Red River Songwriters Showcase
If you’re looking for an overall encapsulation of the tradition and trajectory of Texas music and its many moods and motifs, Thursday’s show at Sam’s is a damn good place to start. Featuring the gently warped folk-rock stylings of Texas-via-Canada songwriter Brandy Zdan (formerly of Twilight Hotel), the soul-searching Hill Country psychedelic earnestness of Walt Wilkins, the easy-going bluesy and bluegrassy music of Kelley Mickwee and the award-winning Americana of Susan Gibson, among others, this stellar lineup will help get you in touch with your inner redneck hippie. Come for the music and the atmosphere and remember that this show belongs firmly in the tradition of those famous Armadillo World Headquarters shows that helped expose so many brilliant Texas songwriters of yesteryear. $15-$18, 9pm Thursday, Sam’s Burger Joint, 330 E Grayson, (210) 223-2830, samsburgerjoint.com. —James Courtney
As is the case with Kanye West, Jay-Z is either lauded as a hip-hop god by fans or dismissed as an overrated, over-produced figure whose success has gone to his head. Unlike Kanye, Jay-Z seems to have secured the backing of mainstream hip-hop consumers for good. After selling a million copies of his ambitious Magna Carta Holy Grail before the album even hit the stores this summer—he sold his first million to Samsung customers, and an additional two million in stores and via regular digital downloads—he overshadowed his 2014 Grammy competition, leading the nominations with nine. True, most of those noms are in the rap categories, but he couldn’t care less—Magna Carta solidified Jay-Z’s status as the solo act with the most No. 1 albums in history. Numbers and flashy production aside, the reason for Jay-Z’s staying power is the simplest one: No one can touch his flow—he can machine gun you to death or spit slow rhymes with equal power. Plus, his concerts match the grandiose vision of his albums, and then some. With superproducer/rapper Timbaland. $44.41-$144.92, 8pm Friday, AT&T Center, One AT&T Center, (800) 745-3000, attcenter.com. —EL
Ghostpizza's XXXMas Party
Look, there’s no porn involved, but don’t worry, this show will still be plenty stanky and sticky. Headlined by rapper Key Nyata, perhaps best known for his song “Get Fucked Up,” with fellow Goodfellas Tour mates Xavier Wulf (sample lyric: “smokin’, blowin’ every type of goddamned reefer”) and Chris Travis (latest mixtape: Hidden in the Mist), the national bill also includes some excellent regional hip-hop acts, namely Houston’s Levii Ru$$ell and Mobbin’ No Sobbin’, the collaboration between Stereogum-approved SA-based producer Beautiful Lou and Austin emcee Western Tink. With the help of the other notables on the lineup, plus a drunk Santa danceoff, a Christmas raps battle and open invitation to “bring cookies,” you should just expect lumps of coal in your stocking: This party sounds pretty damned naughty. $7-$12, 9pm Friday, Limelight, 2718 N St. Mary’s, eventbrite.com. —Callie Enlow
The Reverend Horton Heat
Did you know Motörhead’s Lemmy is recording a solo album? Among the many A-list guests (including Dave Grohl and Joan Jett) is none other than psychobilly king the Reverend Horton Heat, whose freakout church has been giving us awesome punk, rockabilly, surf, blues and country parties since 1985. The Reverend himself is about to release his 11th studio album, Rev, on January 21. The first single, “Let Me Teach You How to Eat,” is already out and the Rev stops in SA supported by Two Tons of Steel and Dale Watson. We know there are a lot of shows on this date, but if you choose to go elsewhere, your life may be in danger. “[The Reverend Horton Heat is] great and plays the music he believes in and nothing else,” said Lemmy, a self-proclaimed superfan. “Go see him or I’ll kill you!” $20-$25, 8pm Friday, The Korova, 107 E Martin, twinproductions.frontgatetickets.com. —EL
Saakred CD Release Party
Lets hope Rodríguez is only taking a break from their Saakred persona, that one-person orchestra that nearly stole 2012 with a hypnotic blend of performance art, native Pan-American grooves and electronica. Their recent collaboration with Los Teardrops (which includes members of Heather Go Psycho, Sugar Skulls and PBLC) is an intriguing, still-in-development experiment, but let’s cross our fingers it doesn’t eclipse Saakred. Their last Los Teardrops show helped raise funds for Saakred’s FLI HY, (following 2012’s low-fi Thunderbird Speaks demo), and now the EP is here and it is one of the best sounding electronica projects I’ve ever heard out of SA. As further proof that they're in their own galaxy, they chose Collective as the venue to release this trippy gem. $10 (includes CD, sticker and admission; $3 for admission only), 10pm Friday, Collective, 1432 S St. Mary’s, saakred.com. —EL
"Walking in a Glitter Wonderland"
From its big win in our 2013 Best of San Antonio readers’ poll to selling out every show (so far), Stars and Garters Burlesque has had one hell of a year. Closing out its fifth season on a bittersweet note, the troupe bids adieu to its longtime home at Jump-Start with a holiday dazzler “sure to roast your chestnuts and trim your tree just right!” Hosted by gender-bending fire eater Foxxy Blue Orchid, “Walking in a Glitter Wonderland” showcases pole-dancing “Transoceanic Tropical Tease” Black Orchid, “tattooed, tassel-twirling,” rockabilly redhead Pystol Whips, sassy vixen Miss Lucky Strike and sultry stage manager Squirrely Temple along with special guests Nikki DaVaughn (of Austin’s Fat Bottom Cabaret) and SA’s own Teddy Bare. $13-$25, 8pm Saturday, The Sterling Houston Theater at Jump-Start, 108 Blue Star, (432) 235-0414, starsandgartersburlesque.com. —BR
How’s this to break the winter chill: Youngblood Hawke, a band of Cali and Texas musicians who work exclusively in the sort of acid-washed beach jams that launched MGMT’s first record and fellow West Coasters Cayucus. Formed in 2011 out of the fragments of electo-pop outfit Igla and Hartly, the quintet quickly inked a deal with Universal and put out a self-titled EP. Youngblood Hawke’s show this Friday at the imposing (and rarely used) Scottish Rite Theatre comes in support of full-length debut Wake Up, which drew its share of favorable comparisons to fellow sunny pop purveyors Passion Pit and Cut Copy. Rounding out the bill will be a solo acoustic performance by Vaden Todd Lewis, taking a rare break from his duties as frontman for the Toadies and Burden Brothers, along with a set from the one-man funk machine Henry + the Invisibles. $12-$17, doors at 6pm Saturday, Scottish Rite Theatre, 308 Avenue E, prekindle.com. —J.D. Swerzenski
The Offbeats, White Elefant, Fishermen
The three bands on the bill for this Saturday’s show at 502 Bar make their pleas for your attention with their music, pure and simple. The Offbeats, stalwarts of the Saytown scene for more than 10 years, make a snarly brand of garage rock infused with elements of pop and punk. White Elefant, which released one of my favorite SA recordings ever in 2011 (the El Infante EP), thrives on singer-songwriter-guitarist Josh Mathis’ lyrical gifts and an indie-rock sound that is as grungy as it is sharp. Relative newcomers Fishermen, fronted by Edwin J. Stephens formerly of Blowing Trees, put on an intense blast of a live show–fuzzy, spiritually potent and built around Stephens’ imaginative guitar work. Great bands that you don’t get to hear enough of plus the impeccable sound at 502? Can’t go wrong. $5, 9pm Saturday, 502 Bar, 502 Embassy Oaks, (210) 257-8125, 502bar.com. —JC
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