The holiday season is in full swing in Chicago, and after a disappointing (but necessary) delay due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, many of the city’s most celebrated performers and venues will host holiday-themed concerts and events. While big-time events like the Do-It-Yourself Messiah still bring in crowds, many emerging and burgeoning local acts have begun to carve out a spot in the city’s eclectic and expansive live music scene. Here are some of our favorite events taking place this holiday season.
Many local radio stations kick off the holiday season with major concerts featuring some of today’s best acts, and Q101′s annual Twisted XMas is no exception. While the Dec. 9 show, which features popular British rock band The 1975, is already sold out, we’re more excited for the earlier lineups. On Dec. 6, check out hometown heroes Beach Bunny as they play with Portugal. The Man and smooth electronic duo Bob Moses. Two days later, listeners can return to the ballroom for a concert featuring the recently Grammy-nominated band Wet Leg and the iconic Jack White. It might not be your traditional idea of a holiday concert, but it’s still a fun way to rock out as the bitter cold settles in.
7 p.m. Dec. 6, 8 and 9, at Byline Bank Aragon Ballroom, 1106 W. Lawrence Ave.; tickets $51.50-$89.50, 17+. More information at q101.com/twistedxmas/
Although Andrew Bird’s Gezelligheid shows could be seen last year as part of a livestream from Los Angeles, the annual holiday concert series makes its rightful return to Chicago’s Fourth Presbyterian Church this December after a pandemic delay. Three of the dates that are part of this year’s five-night residency have already sold out, but there is a limited amount of tickets still available for fans interested in Bird’s warm, eclectic welcome to the winter season. Audiences should expect his signature instrumental violin pieces in addition to a selection of holiday tunes and maybe even brand new music from his recently released album, “Inside Problems.”
8 p.m. Dec. 8-9 and Dec. 12-16 at Fourth Presbyterian Church, 126 E. Chestnut St.; tickets: $56-$61, all ages. More information at metrochicago.com
If you’re looking for a more low-key holiday experience, head to Avondale for Hollyy-Days. After a successful first edition last year, local retro-soul band Hollyy returns to Sleeping Village to headline this chill, accessible concert. This year’s lineup features soulful pop singer Ryan Hadarah (who sounds like the second coming of Nico) and Aunt Kelly.
9 p.m. Dec. 15 at Sleeping Village, 3734 W. Belmont Ave.; tickets $15-$18, 21+. More information at sleeping-village.com
Mariachi Herencia de México: A Very Merry Christmas Concert
Expect an evening of good cheer and joy during this multi-night, multivenue event featuring Mariachi Herencia de México. This Chicago-based group has gained an international following after the release of a series of popular albums, including 2017′s “Nuestra Herencia,” 2018′s “Herencia de la Tierra Mía” and 2022′s “Herederos.” During this special show at the Old Town School of Folk Music and Pilsen’s Thalia Hall, the group will perform a selection of family-friendly Mexican and American holiday classics, including their popular rendition of “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.”
7 p.m. Dec. 16; 2 p.m., 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. Dec. 17 at the Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln Ave.; tickets $33-$35, all ages. More information at oldtownschool.org
7 p.m. Dec. 18 at Thalia Hall, 1807 S. Allport St.; tickets $35, all ages. More information at thaliahallchicago.com/shows
Candlelight: Holiday Jazz and Soul Classics feat. Ella Fitzgerald
Fever’s original Candlelight concert series — which has featured the music of artists like Beyonce and ABBA — has been among the city’s most underrated events for months. And now they bring the intimate series to the holiday season. This year’s lineup features a variety of genre-driven shows, but we are especially excited for the Holiday Jazz and Soul Classics lineup. This hourlong set will include celebrated songs like John Coltrane’s version of “My Favorite Things,” Donny Hathaway’s “This Christmas” and two selections by Ella Fitzgerald performed by PureSoul Chicago.
7 p.m. and 9:15 p.m. Dec. 22 at Salvage One, 1840 W. Hubbard St.; tickets: $35-$75, 8+. More information at feverup.com
Britt Julious is a freelance critic.