Cover photo: Heartless Bastards by Aaron Conway

*Giggles in holiday cheer*

Oh boy! We love a good holiday party. It’s especially important to have these joyful moments now, more than ever. We could all use a pick-me-up, and the Lawrence music scene is delivering. Toy fundraiser? Check. Ugly sweater concert? Check. Fancy attire big band party? Chyeeeeeeck! Be sure to scroll down to our “Other events to keep on your radar” section, as that’s where a lot of those holiday-themed events are. But if you prefer the humbug style, don’t fret! There are plenty of ways to get down with non-holiday-themed shows. Here are our best bets for live music in December.

Heartless Bastards live music blog

Heartless Bastards

The Bottleneck | December 1

It’s pretty great that we get a Heartless Bastards show coming through at this time of year. Usually, bands tour to promote a new album. HB’s latest release was in 2021, but we’re getting treated to the soulful and bluesy rockers anyway. The frontwoman and heart of the project, Erika Wennerstrom, tends to win fans over with a sort of genuineness in her voice and her playing.

We have to confess that when we first saw the flyer for this show go up around town, our first thought was “Oooh, Heidi Gluck would be great on this lineup.” Lo and behold, that’s who eventually got booked to open. It’s a perfect match and a good way to kick off a month of fun rock shows.

RIYL: Delta Spirit, Deer Tick, Heidi Gluck

Country for the Kids flyer live music blog

Willow Rose’s Country for the Kids Toy Drive

Northside Social | December 2

Listen, if your December concert schedule doesn’t include a toy drive, you’re not doing it right.

This is perhaps our favorite toy drive every year, as it comes from a place of intense love. Local country musician Ryan Manuel holds this toy drive in loving memory of his niece every year (he started it while she was battling cancer).

The event, now in its sixth year, collects gifts for children at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City. You can either donate $10 at the door or donate a new, unwrapped toy (guess which one’s more fun???). The fundraiser will also be raffling a Gretsch Rancher acoustic guitar.

Musicians this year include Ryan Manuel, Jimmy Bloomquist, The Twangles, Rex Pryor, Chad Vaughn, and Weston Flory.

RIYL: Being a Santa and not a Grinch, country music, community causes

KPR Big Band Christmas by Fally Afani

KPR Big Band Christmas

Liberty Hall | December 9

We get it; most of the events are packed into the first two weeks of this month. Everyone’s going to hit the ground running, and you can say goodbye to leisurely weekends. Yes, your Christmas cup will runneth over, but if there’s one glamorous affair you should keep on your calendar, it’s this.

Kansas Public Radio’s Big Band Christmas is just so fabulous. This is an event that transports you to another era. A large jazz band takes up the entire stage, surrounded by festive decorations, while Lawrencians dressed to the nines cut a rug on the floor. It’s a nonstop dance affair, so you better bring your dancing shoes. If you’re not one for dancing, you’ll love people-watching.

RIYL: Living in a bygone era, classic hits, graceful dancers

Laura Jane Grace Flyer live music blog

Laura Jane Grace

The Granada | December 29

It’s a good month for rock fans! In anticipation of her new album, Hole In My Head, the longtime punk rocker and trans icon is headed out on tour. Though the album doesn’t come out until February, Lawrence fans will get to round out the year with her at the Granada ahead of the release. This means the show will be packed with new tracks.

This is an iconic show for the former Against Me! Guitarist. A great deal of the local rock scene is comprised of members of the LGBTQ community. Make no mistake, this show will sell out (if it hasn’t already at the time of this article’s release).

RIYL: Against Me!, The Lawrence Arms, She/Her/her

Check out her new music video below!

Other events to keep on your radar


Red Kate / Jackoffs / Sarkatha

The Replay | December 1


Christmas in Hell: The Return of Satan Claus

The Replay | December 2


Hearts on Fire: A Tribute to Graham Parsons

The Granada | December 3


Vespers 2023

Lied Center of Performing Arts | December 3


Thelma and the Sleaze

The Bottleneck | December 5


LYXE / Flash Floods / Carswell and Hope / Liney Blue

The Bottleneck | December 9


A Driftmist in the Night

The Bottleneck | December 15


Heavy Petty Holiday Show

The Granada | December 16


Ugly Sweater Guitar Party

The Bottleneck | December 16


Various Blond / Terrasoul / Bad Alaskan

The Replay | December 30

Live Music Calendar

Concerts & Live Music

This is the place where Nirvana & Green Day played in a small, standing-room-only shack. This is the place where Janelle Monae packed in her hometown crowd. George Clinton has funked up our streets and we “fought the power” with...