No adverbs, prepositional phrases, or infinitives bog down The Semantics: The quartet plays straight-ahead, denim-and-cotton punk rock that pounds heavy on the snares and twists gnarly on snarled guitars and in-your-space bass. New vocalist Dr. Golova Crosby spits venomous vitriol about his ex-girlfriends, cutting them no slack and lots of nasty slogans. That's what you get for breaking the dude's heart. They play with Johnny Fever & The Frantics, a Columbia band that references Green Day, Youth Brigade and Social D. There's no cover and an 11 p.m. start. --Grayson Currin
CHATHAM COUNTY LINE & FRIENDS
THE POUR HOUSE
By now, you should know what you're going to get with Chatham County Line: bluegrass of the well-dressed, award-winning, gather-around-one-mic kind. So it's the "& Friends" part that offers the promise of holiday surprises, with visions of Stillhouse and the Carbines (two bands whose line-ups overlap with CCL) dancing in patrons' heads. Tickets are $8 in advance and $10 at the door, with the first Ho dropping at 10 p.m. --Rick Cornell
Thursday, Dec. 22
BIG BAD BEAT BATTLE ROUND 2
THE POUR HOUSE
Big things are afoot for local hip-hop crew 21st Records, and the due is long past: Shelly B is finally grabbing national attention, half-legend/full-on rhymesayer Jozeemo returns from a federal penitentiary in West Virginia in February, and the label's series of competitive events has reached the next level with the inaugural Big Bad Beat Battle. Twenty beat-misers entered the first round at The Pour House two weeks ago, and seven have advanced to this second round. Three champions of battles past--The Applejuice Kid, Dox and Gab--compete for the eighth slot, and then the proceedings drop into NCAA-style, high-versus-low war. The first woman to join the ranks of a Triangle beat battle, Lil' Big Mamma, joins the quarterfinal contenders of E.Jones, Marshall Law, Jax Diablo, Invincible, L.O.W. and Picasso. Beats hit at 11 p.m. and the cover is $5. --Grayson Currin
Friday, Dec. 23
TIR NA NOG
The latest in a lengthening line of strong late-night weekend shows at Tir Na Nog brings Charlottesville, Va.-based Sun Domingo to Raleigh. By showcasing the kind of hook- and guitar-happy poppers that made Fastball a household name for a couple of months, and by nailing choice British Invasion covers (cool version of "Roxanne" too), the quartet has earned the reputation as one of the best live pop bands on the Southeastern circuit. The music starts at 10:30 p.m., and the cover is a depleted-funds-friendly $0--as in free. --Rick Cornell
Saturday, Dec. 24
The Santaland Diaries
Raleigh Charter High School
Infamous, famous and insanely funny: David Sedaris, in a nutshell. Perhaps Raleigh's favorite literary stepson, Sedaris is one of the funniest writers alive, combining an all-seeing wit with a limitless gullibility and a sort of Larry David knack for precarious situations. Jesse R. Gephart stars in this theatrical recasting of the yuletide Sedaris collection, The Santaland Diaries, adapted for the stage by Joe Mantello. It plays at 6 p.m. on the eve of the main event. Tickets range from $10 to $15.
12 DJS OF CHRISTMAS
The roster hasn't been finalized for Kings' 12 DJs of Christmas marathon, but the list of prospects--from circuit regulars Alex Vaughn (DJ World's Greatest Grandpa) and Chico Scott (DJ Madcow) to rock musicians Dave Mueller (STRANGE) and Craig Tilley (Birds of Avalon)--is replete with local crate diggers whose tastes couldn't be more ecumenical. Expect drink specials and some scratches across a yuletide variation or two. There's no cover, but do tip your bartenders and music makers. --Grayson Currin
Sunday, Dec. 25
A CHRISTMAS STORY
While Peter Billingsley has been a television man of late, his starring role as Ralphie Parker, the cherubic, slightly mischievous 12-year-old in 1983's A Christmas Story, is enough to commit him to film and family lore. A grade-school goofy kid in the '40s, Parker obsesses over getting a Red Rider BB gun for Christmas, but everyone seems to doubt his competence with a weapon. When he finally gets it, he shoots his glasses out and blames it on an icicle. Gun or no gun, we've all been there. Perhaps the most non-denominational Christmas movie in memory, A Christmas Story gets everything right about the season--especially family--and admits the faults of the Americanized holiday with an empathetic eye. On Christmas Day, it shows at 4 and 6 p.m. for $3 and again on Dec. 26 at noon and 4 p.m., followed each time by Tim Burton's Nightmare Before Christmas. --Grayson Currin
Monday, Dec. 26
Chanukah Music & Traditions at Exploris
It's the year 5766, and Chanukah begins at sundown on Dec. 25. An Exploris celebration features Mishpacha, the Raleigh quartet that mixes traditional Jewish liturgical music with a modern twist of acoustic guitars steeped in contemporary stylings. They headline the festivities at 2 p.m. This free event also affords the goy a chance to learn how to play dreidl and to write in Hebrew. Just don't spend all of your gelt in one go.
Tuesday, Dec. 27
Bradley Simmons & Elements of Percussion
Hayti Heritage Center
More than a performer, New York-born Bradley Simmons is a historian of the music he has made his life. As a child, he roamed the city seeking instructors to guide him through the traditions and techniques of both Afro-Cuban and African music. He absorbed it all, and, thus far in his career, he has directed his own show, taught at several universities and been musical director of Chuck Davis' African-American Dance Ensemble. He currently teaches at Duke and leads Elements of Percussion, a trio featuring Fahali Igbo and Atiba Rorie. They perform for free at 7:30 p.m. on Kujichagulia, Kwanzaa's second day.
DELLA, MIDNITE COWBOY & DJ MARCO
Magicians get slighted for their cheesy outfits and overgrown tricks. Old-style, record-toting DJs apply sleight of hand to the shuffling of cuts from deep crates, brimming with giant vinyl doubloon treasures. Foiling the beats-per-minute game against the myriad styles repped by these spinners, focus for the night is the mop-topped, guitar-crunching '60s. Union Jack suits welcome at 10 p.m. --Chris Toenes
Wednesday, Dec. 28
Jane Goodall films
NC Museum of Natural Science
If you've got some downtime, the holidays are a good time to catch up on the museum exhibits you may have missed. A highlight of the season is Discovering Chimpanzees: The Remarkable World of Jane Goodall, a traveling, four-piece exhibit that recreates Africa's Gombe National Park, in which Goodalll did much of her pioneering research and primate observation. The exhibit runs through Jan. 10, so there's still time to learn more about the fascinating woman whose list of accolades is unparalleled--from the National Geographic Society's Hubbard Medal to the Gandhi/King Award for Nonviolence. Admission ranges from $4 to $6, and the museum is open seven days a week.