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Monday, December 22
Kottonmouth Kings' Jingle Bowls X-mas Party The Observatory The lovably oafish Kottonmouth Kings speak to your inner 12-year-old. What their songs lack in restrained musicianship or effete wordplay, they make up for with ska-punk-rap mashups so violent they sound like an exposed nerve ending. The group has never really been taken seriously by the music press, but their fans are staunchly loyal; even the tamer mosh pits at Kottonmouth Kings shows are a sight to behold. High Times, the weed-enthusing magazine that normally reserves ink for more respected artists like Peter Tosh, bestowed the Kings with their coveted "Band of the Year" prize a couple of years ago. Perhaps "Positive Vibes" and "Strange Daze" are best enjoyed on 4/20. See them perform on Monday for a mere $5 along with Marlon Asher, C4 & Nicky Gritt, Imperial Sound Clash, Chucky Chuck, and special guests (MT Richards)
Tuesday, December 23
Earl Sweatshirt The Observatory Maybe it's a little too early to officially call it a tradition, but kicking the holidays in the face with the help of Odd Future is becoming some sort of something at the Observatory. Details on what the Earl Sweatshirt Christmas Show will specifically entail are scarce--intriguingly scarce, you might say--but history (like when the cops came at the 2011 Christmas show at the Roxy) and discography (like Earl's recent Doris full-length) and personality (you don't need notes on this one, right?) are all working together here to come up with a gift that keeps on giving. (Chris Ziegler)
Thursday, December 24
The Originalites Hurricane's Bar and Grill Since coming together as teenagers (and later recruiting saxophonist Mike Belk after an impromptu jam session at a local gig), The Originalites have risen high in the ranks of Orange County's local music scene in the span of only six years. The Fountain Valley four-piece may remind you of mid-'90s ska groups like Sublime, however their mellow lyrics are more upbeat and family-friendly. Don't mistake their long hair for the laid-back surfer image--The Originalites also love to have fun through their high energy music, mixing ska with punk, dub and Latin music influences. (Aimee Murillo)
Friday, December 26
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Murs House of Blues Anaheim There are living legends, and then there are Living Legends. Even among all the members of the celebrated Southland hip-hop supergroup, Murs stands out as an especially incisive and provocative rapper. His sharp words are put to good use in his newest project, The White Mandingos, wherein Murs collaborates with Bad Brains bassist Darryl Jenifer and examines the contradictions of a black artist trying to succeed in the still-narrow confines of the rock scene. Whether the former Nick Carter is performing solo or with his various projects (including The Invincibles, 3 Melancholy Gypsies and Felt), he is ever evolving. (Falling James)
Face to Face The Observatory When he first formed Face to Face in 1991, Trever Keith wanted the band to be his full-time project. Outside a break between 2004 and 2008, it has been. The punk veterans are now more than 20 years into their career, and the front man says they have no intention of stopping any time soon. In fact, Keith says, the band have tentative plans to keep the train moving through their 25th anniversary in 2016, with a tour and reissues coming. For now, they've gone to great lengths to make OC audiences happy by performing their albums Don't Turn Away, Big Choice, and Self-Titled back to back on three separate nights starting Friday. (Daniel Kohn)