Listen Up! 10 Live Music Shows In Memphis This Month (December 2019)
Ed. Note: Wesley is back with another roundup of Memphis live music and fresh commentary for December’s concerts – everything from beloved rockers Lucero to pop superstar Ariana Grande to songstress D’Monet. Got a show to suggest for a future “Listen Up” guide to live music in Memphis? Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Listen Up”.
Here are some shows that you may get excited about, and a few that I’m excited about, happening in December.
We the Kings at Growlers
7:30 p.m., all ages, $25
My partner Erin volunteers to help me write these lists by sending me links to shows by bands that I’d normally ignore. Not out of malice, usually, but ignorance. This is one of them. We the Kings is an emo/pop punk band from Florida who’ve been consistently releasing music since 2007.
They had a Billboard Hot 100 song with Demi Lovato a decade ago.They’ll be at Growlers supported by Florida brethren Northbound and local bands Fear. The Sparrow, and Brother Levee. If you’re excited about the MCR reunion, maybe check this one out.
Tobe Nwigwe at Minglewood Hall
7 p.m., all ages, $25+
“I grew up with gangstas that had more lean on ‘em than Mike Jack in Smooth Criminal,” Tobe Nwigwe raps on his song “BOUNTIFUL.” The flow doesn’t quite hit right, but it’s still a pretty funny line. There are plenty of those on Nwigwe’s tracks, which slap. You can also buy tickets for a “Private Dining Experience” with him and his cohort for anywhere from $500-$800. I love this guy.
Ariana Grande at FedExForum
8 p.m., all ages probably, $42+
Ariana Grande likes to wear makeup to appear racially ambiguous, but you know what’s not made up or ambiguous? The critical and commercial success of her latest album Sweetener and its world tour. FedExForum is one of the tour’s last stops, so this is one of your last chances to hear some perfectly precision-crafted pop hits. (Ed. Note: This show is the same day at the St. Jude Memphis Marathon, so expect downtown to be nuts.)
The Get Up Kids at Growlers
7 p.m., all ages, $20
To be honest, I could copy & paste the blurb about We the Kings and replace some band names for this one, but that’d be unfair. The Get Up Kids is a more-famous emo/pop punk band that I also had never listened to before Erin suggested listing them. Once again, if you’re excited about the MCR reunion, maybe check this one out.
Rob Jungklas at The Green Room
7:30 p.m., all ages, $10
Memphian Rob Jungklas is a hard-working man. Not just because he’s been recording and releasing music since the early 80s (including the 1986 track “Make it Mean Something” which broke into the Billboard Hot 100), but also because he taught school for a decade. I got nothing but love for the educators. He also makes some very solid music!
Just during casual listens of various songs on his Bandcamp I thought “Huh, he kinda reminds me of Michael Stipe”, but then I’d hear a song and think, “Huh, he kinda sounds like Son House.” Then I looked at his portrait and thought, “Huh, he kinda looks like Jeremy Irons.” That’s pretty cool.
Lucero at Minglewood Hall
7 p.m., all ages, $21+
We seen ‘em, we love ‘em, somebody over at AMC really loves ‘em. It’s Lucero. You can’t even call them a local band anymore, they’re just a Band™. Did you know there’s a Mexican singer and actress also named Lucero? And if you search “Lucero” on YouTube, this is the first result? And YouTube lists our Lucero’s tour dates underneath her video? Do I smell a collab? (Ed. Note: The Nashville newspaper once published an article about a Memphis Lucero show accompanied by a photo of the Mexican Lucero and it was incredible.)
Folk All Y’all: Cory Branan’s Birthday Show at The Green Room
7:30 p.m., all ages, $20
Last year, Wide Open Country called Cory Branan an “alt-country troubadour”, which is both true and untrue. His music can definitely be called “alt-country”, but I listened to a bit of his 2017 album ADIOS and was surprised at how much genre mingling there is going on there. I was ready for heartland good ol’ boy dreck but instead I got some punchy, punky tunes about racist cops and death and going to Hell. Good for you, Cory.
Annabelle PLAYE at the Hi-Tone Cafe
7:30 p.m., all ages, $10
Music concrète is an experimental music movement originating in France in the early 20th century which you can read a bit more about here. I’m not an expert on the subject, but from what I do know, I believe Annabelle PLAYE fits the bill. Robert Trexler, who is also performing that night and is the founder of the Memphis Concrète Music Festival, seems to agree. She’s also French, so there you go. Solid walls of electronic bleeps, bloops, buzzes, and gurgles are expected, as are some trippy visuals to heighten the experience.
D’Monet at The Green Room
7:30 p.m., all ages, $10
Ayyyy must be D’Monet! I’m sorry. Anyway, D’Monet is a soul singer with a malleable, refined voice, holds a BA in Vocal Music Performance from our very own LeMoyne Owen College, and has travelled the world training and performing with all kinds of folks. She’s got the skills to back up her resume, and I’m not sure there’s ever been a more perfect artist to perform in The Green Room. Check the video above to see her performing at Crosstown Arts.
Scarface at the 1884 Lounge in Minglewood Hall
8:00 p.m., 18+, $25+
Scarface, one-third of the classic Geto Boys roster (R.I.P. Bushwick Bill) and one of the best rappers of all time is playing with a full band at Minglewood. The show poster shows him tuning a Telecaster and I’m losing my mind. A lil’ twangy-ass Tele! I didn’t even know he played guitar. Some of the best shows I’ve ever been to or watched were rappers with full backing bands. “On My Block” with a band would probably be great.