Take your pick in this strong week of live music. There is a tandem that is unlike any other band and two bands that come back to their best albums. One is old school punk and the other is a mid 90s rock band. If you’re looking for some live Christmas music, there’s plenty on the menu too.
1. Rodrigo and Gabriela
The details: December 2, 7:30 p.m. Durham Performing Arts Center, 123 Vivian St., Durham. Tickets start at $39.50. 919-680-2787 or dpacnc.com
A half-decade gap between a duo’s albums usually means that outside projects have usurped time. However, that wasn’t the case for Rodrigo y Gabriela. The dynamic Mexican acoustic guitar duo haven’t found their songwriting groove, though the pair have been prolific since forming in 2000.
“It was frustrating,” Gabriela Quintero said, calling from her studio in Zihuatanejo, Mexico. “We wrote a lot of music, and it felt so much like the material that was on the last album (‘9 Dead Alive’ from 2014). It felt like the songs we had written.
Quintero and Rodrigo Sanchez struggled to write new material for two years until they slacked off. “We just decided to let ourselves be who we are,” Quintero said. “We stuck to what we did best, and once we relaxed, the ideas and the songs just slipped away from us.”
In a few months, the duo wrote and recorded their latest album, the baroque “Mettavolution”, which is undoubtedly their most beautiful project since the eponymous release in 2006.
The details: December 5, 8 p.m. The Ritz, 2820 Industrial Drive, Raleigh. Exhausted. 919-424-1400,www.ritzraleigh.com
Incubus is wrapping up the 20th anniversary tour of “Make Yourself,” the band’s third studio album, which includes hits like “Pardon Me,” “Stellar,” and “Drive.” ‘Make Yourself’ was a pivotal moment in our band, and we are beyond excited to bring this album to our audience while showing the many musical roads it ultimately let us down,” said the Incubus singer. Brandon Boyd in a statement.
3. The Divo
The details: Nov. 29, 8 p.m. Durham Performing Arts Center, 123 Vivian St., Durham. Tickets start at $29.50. 919-680-2787 or dpacnc.com
Whenever Simon Cowell’s name comes up, the subject turns to pop acts. However, one of Cowell’s greatest achievements is Il Divo. Cowell helped assemble the classic-crossover band, which had considerable success around the world. The group, which records opera standards and pop songs in a classical style, has sold more than 30 million albums. Expect an evening of Christmas classics.
4. Robert Earl Keen
The details: Dec. 4, 8 p.m. Carolina Theatre, 309 W. Morgan St., Durham. Tickets start at $39.50. 919-560-3030 or carolinatheatre.org
Christmas classics will sound quite different when Keen delivers them. He’s been creating smart country for more than three decades. Keen is a solid songwriter, who is one of the best live performers on the circuit with his fun and unpredictable banter.
“There are people who are great, great musicians and they don’t know anything about the scene, and you can’t teach them about the scene,” Keen told Sacramento Press. “They just don’t feel it. Knowing the scene, that, for me, is an art in itself. If you can work the scene and can add art, you have the potential to go from apprentice to master. There are only a handful of people who are like that. I always struggle to be that.
5. Agnostic Front
The details: Dec. 4, 9 p.m. For House, 224 S. Blount St., Raleigh. Tickets start at $18. 919-821-1120 or thepourhousemusichall.com
Agnostic Front is behind their 35-year-old album, “Victim in Pain,” which is one of the greatest New York hardcore albums of all time. The tunes are edgy, visceral and have influenced myriad recording artists.
6. Laura Stevenson
The details: Dec. 4, 8 p.m. Cat’s Cradle, 300 E. Main St., Carboro. The Avengers will open. Tickets start at $13. 919-967-9053 or catscradle.com
Stevenson is an emerging New York singer-songwriter, creating smart and insightful folk-rock.
This story was originally published November 26, 2019 9:35 a.m.