If you're looking for a relaxing weeknight show, you should steer clear of the Replay on Thursday. Lawrence rock quintet Muscle Worship is about the furthest thing from chilled out, and these guys wouldn't have it any other way. The group makes wild, reckless-sounding music and puts on live shows known for their formidable volume. But it's not meathead stuff; Muscle Worship's self-titled LP, released this past March, is a complex, varied offering that balances punk influences with an affinity for noise.
Thursday, December 19, at the Replay (946 Massachusetts, Lawrence, 785-749-7676)
Paper Bird, Akkilles, Olassa
Featuring a trumpet, an upright bass, a banjo, guitars and drums, Denver's Paper Bird is a seven-piece force of nature. The chamber-pop band, fronted by harmonizing sisters Genny and Esme Patterson, blends driving rhythms with a host of different influences. The band's recent Rooms LP showcases that knack for variety: One minute, the sound is soulful and sweet, the next a folk-inspired hoedown. Imagine what the Lumineers would sound like if they weren't annoying. Balancing the bill for the evening is local singer-songwriter David Bennett, who plays as Akkilles. His August-released full-length, Something You'd Say, hopscotches among hyphenated indie genres, with plenty of moody guitar chords under his delicate, echoing vocals. Lawrence's Olassa kicks off the night.
Friday, December 20, at RecordBar (1020 Westport Road, 816-753-5207)
Imagine a world where you didn't immediately associate the sounds of techno with pulsing neon lights and dance raves. Picture instead techno translated into a vehicle for intricate storytelling. That's what Kansas City native Huerco S. — the stage name of Brian Leeds — aims to do with his debut full-length, Colonial Patterns. The album, released in September, is a high-concept, low-budget collection inspired by pre-Columbian American history, with Leeds weaving a historical narrative through layers of synths and cassette and vinyl recordings. It's the kind of album that you feel merits Cliffs Notes. The 22-year-old Leeds is getting a fair amount of national attention for Colonial Patterns, and this is a rare performance for him. California's YYU and local electronic duo Maxine and Cleo join the bill.
Saturday, December 21, at FOKL (556 Central Avenue, Kansas City, Kansas, foklcenter.com)
Canadian-born, California-raised singer-songwriter Steve Poltz tells some interesting stories. The man's career has been a fantastic walkabout: He got his start fronting punk-rock band the Rugburns in the early 1990s, co-wrote Jewel's phenomenally popular 1995 hit "You Were Meant for Me," and has had more than his fair share of strange run-ins with famous people. (Ask him about David Cassidy.) In the 15 years since he released his first solo album, he has amassed something of a cult following, and his live shows are legendary among the devoted. He is part stand-up comedian, part folk artist and part guitar maniac, and you should expect all of the above Saturday night.
Saturday, December 21, at Davey's Uptown Ramblers Club (3402 Main, 816-753-1909)
Jesse Harris and the Gypsy Sparrows
Christmas falls in the middle of the week this year, and that feels a little anticlimactic for those of us who need to trudge our post-celebration selves to work on Thursday. It's fortunate, then, that local roots-rocker Jesse Harris and his Gypsy Sparrows are extending the holiday past sundown today. The quartet matches back-porch blues with the energy of a high-octane rock show, with Harris' rough, barrel-chested voice leading the charge. Bring the family or use this show as an excuse to get out of the house — either way, you're guaranteed a good time.
Wednesday, December 25, at RecordBar (1020 Westport Road, 816-753-5207)