It’s hard to think of a tougher week for fans of live music than the period between Christmas and New Year’s Day. Between the post-holiday malaise, the preponderance of family entertainments, and the literal and figurative dislocation of traveling, the closeout of the year can be a seven-day blank spot on the local concert calendar. Dicky Barrett of the Mighty Mighty Bosstones admits that signing up bands to be a part of their annual multi-day Hometown Throwdown isn’t always easy.
"Most bands like to be in their own hometown and wherever their loved ones are," says Barrett. "So it's a tough book every year, to get a huge name to come a long distance at that time of year."
On the other hand, if anybody has the clout to secure those acts, it’s the Bosstones. With a history extending back more than three decades and Boston cred so ironclad that even the decampment of Barrett and half the band to Los Angeles and elsewhere can’t dent it, the ska-punk group has a track record of ensuring that Throwdown (running Friday through Sunday at the House Of Blues, and featuring the Walker Roaders, Art Thieves, the Suicide Machines, Rebuilder, and Big D & The Kids Table for its 22nd iteration) is the closest thing to a sure bet during an otherwise slow week for live music.
Barrett has his own theories as to why the week before New Year’s may be a better time of year for concert-going than the options would suggest. “The thing about New Year’s Eve — and here it is, and I’m gonna sound like an old curmudgeon — it’s people’s mad dash at the end of the year to have the night that they didn’t have in the 364 other days of the year. It’s like, if they don’t do it on New Year’s Eve, then the whole year’s a waste,” he says. “So it’s a lot of pressure on you to try to deliver the best night of the year to everybody in the room.”
Just don't expect to bump into Barrett around town once the Throwdown has been thrown; he's not sticking around Boston. "I like to rush home to my wife and my family and try to ring in the new year with them," he says.
The Throwdown not your thing? Busy that day (those days)? Don’t trust that much plaid in one place? Here are some other local shows taking place during the waning days of 2019 — at least one per day — that you just might consider ditching your relatives for.
STEPHEN KELLOGG If Jason Isbell can’t be bothered to swing around these parts, Kellogg makes for a fine backup plan. The folk-rocking singer-songwriter traffics in songs that are simultaneously rough-hewn but finely detailed, with a warm humanity at their core. Dec. 26 at 8 p.m. City Winery, Boston. $30-$40, www.citywinery.com/boston
BAD RABBITS What Maroon 5 thinks it’s doing, as opposed to what it’s actually doing: Multiple Boston Music Award winners Bad Rabbits are snappy, melodic, and ingratiating, swimming around in the synth-based end of the funk-pop pool. Dec. 27 at 8 p.m. The Sinclair, Cambridge. $25-$35, www.sinclaircambridge.com
SUCH The “American Idol” Hollywood Week alum offers sultry quiet-storm neo-soul that’s sure to get you into . . . well, not the holiday spirit, maybe, but some kind of spirit, for sure. Bring a special friend. Dec. 28 at 8 p.m. City Winery, Boston. $22-$35, www.citywinery.com/boston
MOON HOOCH Still trying to fill that Morphine-shaped void in your life? With two saxophones and a drummer, Moon Hooch doesn’t straight-up copy the Boston legends’ lineup but comes close enough to produce the occasional shiver. Propulsive and cool, with all the low honking a person could ever hope for, it’s the perfect way to end a year in which “Untitled Goose Game” became a viral sensation. Dec. 28 at 9 p.m. The Sinclair, Cambridge. $20-$25, www.sinclaircambridge.com
ROSEMERE ROAD The Passim lineup during the week is packed, with two-night stands by Melissa Ferrick (Dec. 26-27) and Ellis Paul (Dec. 30-31) bookending a week that also includes popsmith extraordinaire Marshall Crenshaw (Dec. 28 — what is it with Dec. 28 this year?). So it’d be easy to overlook this Rhode Island sister act nestled snugly in the middle. That’d be a shame, what with their gorgeous, seemingly effortless three-part genetic harmony married to sure-footed, openhearted songs. Dec. 29 at 7 p.m. Club Passim, Cambridge. $18, www.passim.org
THE SWETTES/BANANA/THRUST CLUB ONCE is billing this show as the inaugural Capricornucopia, and while it remains to be seen what that will entail for future installments (should they come), this year’s edition offers a lineup of gloriously cheap, trashy garage rock, just as it should be. Of the three woman-fronted bands, Thrust Club offers the best song titles (“But What if It’s Spiders?,” “Night Coffee, No Parents,” and “Jeff (Who Never Calls)” among them), while the title of Banana’s recent release “Post-Grunge Revival” is simple truth in advertising. Your pick if you want to say goodbye to 2019 and hello to 1978, 1986, or 1992. Dec. 30 at 7 p.m. ONCE Lounge, Somerville. $10, www.oncesomerville.com
WALTER SICKERT & THE ARMY OF BROKEN TOYS/THE DEVIL’S TWINS If you wish there was a little more Halloween in your Christmas season, you’ve got two options: You could either watch “The Nightmare Before Christmas” for the umpteenth time or catch Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys ring in the new year. Carrying the torch of Bostonian goth-adjacent dada rockers like the Dresden Dolls and Reverend Glasseye, Sickert and decadent, intense howlers the Devil’s Twins are sure to close out the year by creeping, discombobulating, and unnerving you out. What could be more 2019 than that? Dec. 31 at 8 p.m. ONCE Ballroom, Somerville. $10, www.oncesomerville.com
HOMETOWN THROWDOWN WITH THE MIGHTY MIGHTY BOSSTONES
At the House of Blues, Boston, Dec. 27-28 at 7 p.m., and Dec. 29 at 4 p.m. Tickets $27 (standing room only), www.houseofblues.com/boston
Marc Hirsh can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @spacecitymarc