8 p.m. Clear Channel Metroplex. $25.
The cover of Phantogram's new album, "Three," is a photo that guitarist/vocalist Josh Carter took of a fire, a blaze of charcoals and molten reds against a cerulean sky that suggests the possibility of a rosier outlook a couple of blocks westward. The duo returns to the image frequently when discussing "Three," particularly when the topic of its inspiration comes up. In the wake of Sarah Barthel's sister's suicide (and Prince's and Bowie's deaths just before that), Carter and Barthel created songs like "Answer" and "Run Run Blood" from a place that seems ... well, definitely more like that burning fire than like the sky behind it. The twisted defiance and molly-laced hubris that defined the pair's 2015 collaboration with Big Boi (under the name Big Grams) couldn't be more distant to the dysphoria of tracks like "Answer" and "Destroyer," and even the made-for-the-stadium pop single "You Don't Get Me High Anymore" stares down the listener with heavy-lidded eyes like it's the soundtrack to a "Matrix"-themed underground S&M scene: "Used to take one/Now it takes four/You don't get me high anymore." In a collaboration they did in October with photographer Ben Zank for Tumblr, Barthel crouched on the floor over an effects pedal with a guitar as Carter wandered toward the front of the stage, averting his eyes from audience as he intoned the opening lines to "Barking Dog": "Memories of peace and love/Killing to reconstruct/And what will the label do?/Hurt people, hurt people too," his voice fading to a warble and staving off tears as the number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline appeared on the screen. They make no bones about their live show being, in their words, "kick-ass," whether they deliver by way of patent leather fringe and fog or by bracing emotional intimacy. SS
THIRD FRIDAY ARGENTA ARTWALK
5-8 p.m. Downtown North Little Rock.
William Dunlap, Mississippi-born and working in Virginia, is a Southern artist in the way that the Hudson River School artists were romantic Yankees: His works include broad panoramas of farm scenes, with a twist here and there — like a dog lifting its leg — to add narrative. Greg Thompson Fine Art, which shows Southern regional artists, hosts a reception for the new exhibition, "William Dunlap, Landscape and Variable: Recent Works" during Argenta's after-hours gallery walk. Impressionist painter Barry Thomas joins ArtWalk with an exhibition of his paintings at his new gallery/studio in recently renovated space at 711A Main St. The 2016 "Women to Watch" exhibit of the Arkansas Committee of the National Museum of Women in the Arts, featuring work by Katherine Rutter, Dawn Holder, Sandra Luckett and Melissa Wilkinson, comes to Laman Library's Argenta Branch for a short show ending Jan. 6. Mugs Cafe continues "Figure It Out," work by Claire Cade, Lilia Hernandez and Catherine Kim. Argenta Gallery, the new home of studioMAIN, will feature works by gallery artists, including new members Sue Henley, Dee Schulten and Suzanne Brugner, and blown glass ornaments by Ed Pennebaker. LNP
9 p.m. White Water Tavern.
Almost exactly a year before the so-called "SEC" Super Tuesday cemented Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump as the leading candidates in the race for the presidency, guitarist Nathan Singleton introduced the opening track to Sideshow Tragedy's fifth album, "Capital" to PopMatters as follows: "I just feel that our culture often tends to value 'winning,' as if we're all in a big competition, and we focus on protecting ourselves from each other instead of helping each other. We buy weapons and huge tank-like automobiles to feel 'safe' and 'tough,' but that seems illusory to me because I don't think anyone is secure when such a large portion of people are broke, disenfranchised and desperate." After a false start and a bare-bones riff, the duo tear into a tirade about "fugitives and feudal lords and software engineers on life support" that's musically ultra-lean and lyrically post-apocalyptic, recalling the "savage parade" depicted in the Rimbaud poem that inspired the band's name. When Sideshow Tragedy's bassist left, the band embraced a pared-down sound, White Stripes-style, relying on Singleton's staccato rock riffs and National Resonator steel guitar solos to provide the melody against Jeremy Harrell's drums. The two share a damned-near-telepathic sense of rhythm, and that's essentially the reason this duo works, and why it doesn't really need anything else. SS
- HEAVY HEARTS, HARD FISTS: Blues shouter Nikki Hill is back in the U.S., and she wails at the White Water Tavern Friday, Dec. 16, 9 p.m., $10.
9 p.m. White Water Tavern. $10.
Just back from a romp around Spain where Nikki Hill was spreading her gritty rock and roll "face to face, amp to ass" to packed houses, Hill and her band return to the White Water Tavern ahead of an appearance at Lucero's Family Christmas Party. The North Carolina siren's been honing her stage prowess — and her stellar T-shirt collection, which she spoke about with us earlier this year. "I was trying to wear my vintage dresses and all onstage at first, because they are so beautiful and unique, but I started moving and sweating, and they started ripping, and I said 'oh no, not happening,' and so I started wearing my T-shirts." Even on a cozy stage like the one at the Tavern, it's easy to see why Hill's set would strain aging threads; her vocal fireballs come from the gut, able to slide suddenly from a sultry intonation to a Bon Scott wail at a moment's notice, projecting that sound with the heft and power of singers twice her size. Like a lot of artists who claim straight-up "rock 'n' roll" as their modus operandi, her influences come from different corners of time, tonality and geography: "I really enjoy those that stood out in their time: Little Richard; Sister Rosetta Tharpe; The Staple Singers using blues as the base of their gospel sound; The Duchess, who played guitar with Bo Diddley ... . I would also, and still do, seek out black rock 'n' roll bands like Fishbone or Bad Brains, trying to find where I fit into all the musical tastes I loved. I saw how these bands weren't afraid to incorporate all their musical influences and still make it their own." The band's album is called "Heavy Hearts, Hard Fists," as apt a mantra for welcoming 2017 as any. SS
8 p.m. Vino's. $10.
Whatever image pioneering "Christian death metal band" conjures in your head, it probably doesn't capture what a force Living Sacrifice has been in Little Rock and beyond for almost 30 years. As former Times entertainment editor Robert Bell noted several years back, "if there's another more widely critically respected Christian metal band, then I've never heard of them." The metalcore band isn't to the point of only playing annual holiday shows, but it doesn't gig in Central Arkansas often, so don't miss your chance, particularly considering the bands who will share the bill: local throw-back metal supergroup Iron Tongue, which recently released an EP, "Witches," with cover art by National Book Award-winner Nate Powell; I Was Afraid; a local shoe-gazey, post-grunge act; and R.I.O.T.S., a local hardcore group featuring longtime scene vets Everett Hagen, Alan Disaster, Will Boyd and Mark Lierly. LM
- VODKASODABURG: Birdcloud's Jasmin Kaset and Makenzie Green channel Sarah Palin's "real America" with raunchy honky-tonk parody and two-part harmonies at 8:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 18, at Stickyz, $8-$10.
8:30 p.m. Stickyz. $8-$10.
If, as the Wall Street Journal's Rebecca Dana wrote in 2009, Garfunkel & Oates are "the female 'Flight of the Conchords'," Birdcloud is most assuredly the Nashville Garfunkel & Oates, albeit a much more odious correlate. Somewhere between Pussy Riot's "Straight Outta Vagina" and Ween's "Japanese Cowboy," Jasmin Kaset and Makenzie Green parody country music with ukuleles, white lace blouses paired with trucker hats reading 'I'm From Here" and as many junior high gross-out words as they can fit into a two-minute ditty. Their 2012 video for "Saving Myself for Jesus" was yanked from YouTube (and later reinstated), and their video for "I Like Black Guys" ended up causing a kerfuffle in Knoxville after local band Psychic Baos — set to join Birdcloud for an August date at a club called The Pilot Light — dropped out from the bill without comment, causing several other local musicians to boycott the show based on the lyrical content. (Nashville Scene reported that Birdcloud ended up playing to a packed house and making around $500 on merchandise.) In a set performed with the pair facing each other center stage, Birdcloud's deadpan drawl occasionally gives way to bouts of snickering; songs often end with the two women bro-bumping each other's instruments, assuring us with lyrics like those on the "Funny or Die" hit "Indianer" that challenges to political correctness can come just as readily from left-leaning honky-tonk as they can from, say, the president-elect. Kaset and Green satirize what they refer to on their website as Sarah Palin's "real America ... a nation of indulgent reprobates and boastful imbeciles, laughing maniacs and horny high school dropouts — the desperate, absurd place we all inhabit in one way or another," where "a Desert Storm veteran dispenses ancient wisdom while driving drunk and toppling birdbaths in the suburbs; a coked up blackout drunk on a spree fellates a rodeo clown and tells her friend's children that Santa doesn't exist." If you can't catch them at this show, they'll also be at Maxine's in Hot Springs Friday, Dec. 16, with Adam Faucett and the Tall Grass and William Blackart, 9 p.m. SS
- TO THE DANGER: Self-described "girl gang" Dazz & Brie (Dazzmin Murry, Brie Boyce) release their new album, "Can't Afford California," at the White Water Tavern Monday. Dec. 19 with Ashley and Abbie, 7:30 p.m., $7.
DAZZ & BRIE RECORD RELEASE SHOW
7:30 p.m. White Water Tavern. $7.
The "girl gang" that is Dazzmin Murry and Brie Boyce release their debut project "Can't Afford California" with this show, and no doubt the house will be full of people who were at the kind of buzzworthy performances Dazz & Brie pulled off at Lucie's Place, House of Art and Next Bistro and Bar, eager to hear what these women do next. On the teaser trailer for the upcoming release, Brie relates, "I feel like my loudest when I'm doing music, and I feel the most like myself." With a self-professed mission of "trying to change the world, one weirdo at a time," Dazz & Brie started as a songwriting/production duo, and when they found themselves disenchanted with the process of shopping songs around, they decided to do it for themselves. Dazz — who grew up playing drums in church — and Brie, who grew up around "big loud singers," point to a particularly bad recording session in Dallas with a hyper-critical sound engineer as the point when the duo decided they'd self-record and distribute their first record. "After that session, we were like, 'OK, we're gonna go and buy our own equipment and nobody else is gonna make us feel bad about our art.' " They've done it, and they've managed to carve out a crunchy rock-based sound in scene the duo told World Arts was filled with "a lot of R&B and neo-soul." If their half-tempo cover of "Crazy in Love" at the Main Street Food Truck Festival and their video for the single "To the Danger" is representative of what's on the new album, expect guitar-forward rock instrumentation with super-polished pop/soul vocal grooves overhead. Catch them at this release show if you haven't already gotten hip, and on the KABF-FM, 88.3, show "Girls!" the preceding Thursday, Dec. 15, 9 p.m. SS
- Rett Peek
- THE ANCIENT ART OF LEAVING: The Big Cats band (Jason White, Colin Brooks, Burt Taggart, Josh Bentley) reunites for its yearly performance at the White Water Tavern at 9 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 20, with fellow Towncraft-era pioneer John Pugh's Vision Control, $8.
THE BIG CATS, VISION CONTROL
9 p.m. White Water Tavern. $8.
You will get one chance to hear Big Cats each year, and this is it. The quartet — patchworked together in 1993 from members of Towncraft-era pioneers like Substance and Chino Horde —reunites most years around Christmastime, when Little Rock expats (drummer Colin Brooks and guitarist Jason White, in this case) tend to make the pilgrimage back home. Remarkably, the band's stayed connected over the years despite their distance from one another, weathering distractions that range from fatherhood to the death of original member Shannon Yarbrough to White's world tours with Green Day, and they put out a massive, fizzy 25-song triple LP in 2011-2012 on frontman Burt Taggart's record label Max Recordings, "The Ancient Art of Leaving." The quartet is joined by another Towncraft trendsetter (and prodigal son home for the holidays) John Pugh with his project Vision Control, a series of experiments in rhythm with modified speakers and objects placed on drum heads, which Pugh — formerly of dance/punk revivalist bands !!! and Free Blood — renders live with a guitar and loop machine to great effect. SS
ARKANSAS TIMES PRESENTS: 'WE ARE THE BEST'
7 p.m. Riverdale 10 Cinema. $8.
Lukas Moodysson's "We Are the Best!" ("Vi är bäst!") is adapted from the semi-autobiographical comic "Never Goodnight" by Coco Moodysson (the director's wife), who wanted to tell a story about "girls who could be ugly and make noise and do what they want." Set in 1982, the film is a coming-of-age story about Klara (Mira Grosin) and Bobo (Mira Barkhammar), adolescent girls in Stockholm who decide to start a punk band mostly out of spite to get back at a group of teenage boys who've slighted them. They then befriend Hedvig (Liv LeMoyne), the only one of them that can actually play an instrument. The operative word in "We Are the Best!" is "fun." The typical coming-of-age tropes of first loves and first kisses are pushed to the background and the film is primarily concerned with friendship and playing first gigs. The film is infused with a spirit of disrespect for authority and decorum, which matches the director's own reputation (he was known for a time as "the most hated man in Sweden"' after giving an audience the finger and going on a tirade about taxes and vegetarianism while accepting an award for best director for his film "Show Me Love.") Join us at the Riverdale Cinema 10 for the last Arkansas Times and Film Quotes Film presentation of the year, and catch the Film Quotes Film podcast that morning on Soundcloud. OJ
BIG PIPH CHARITY BIRTHDAY CONCERT
9 p.m. Stickyz. $10.
Pine Bluff native and Stanford graduate Big Piph (known to some as Chane "Epiphany" Morrow) continues to roll out content by way of his "living album," the result of Piph's collaboration with an app development team to create an interactive experience based on "The Legacy Project," the studio album released earlier this year. The app's filled with timed releases of music videos, stories, links to social media platforms and ways to engage with the charity work that Piph does with kids, primarily through two organizations: jUSt (pronounced "just-us"), which describes itself as an organization "focused on sustainable youth empowerment and healthy community building" through events like "Books & Bagels" and through his role as lead coordinator for Global Kids-Arkansas, a program that identifies exceptional students in underserved communities and sends them abroad to complete social service projects. He told tech.co a couple of weeks ago that his goal with the living album was to "create something that was greater than the sum of its parts," and the same could be said of his birthday parties. "I don't like celebrating my birthday at all," he told us. "I usually get a pizza and chill by myself. However, the jUSt squad convinced me to do so because we could raise some money." So, for the third year, Big Piph has rounded up his band Tomorrow Maybe along with a host of musicians, many of whom are featured on the album. "I was reluctantly convinced, and despite my 'complaining' they tend to be some of the shows at which I have the most fun. Plus, raise money for some good causes, so cool." The concert benefits jUSt and Global Kids-Arkansas initiatives lined up for 2017. Big Piph & Tomorrow Maybe are joined by Tawanna Campbell, Dee Dee Jones, Bijoux, Aaron, Rodney Block, S.A. and SeanFresh. SS