With many artists winding down their tour schedules for the year, the list of must-see acts coming to the Tampa Bay area in December isn't long, but there's still some great live music to carry us through the holidays. From Aerosmith rocking the Forum to Eddie Vedder stopping at Ruth Eckerd Hall, we've rounded up our picks for this month's best concerts.
Eddie Vedder, Dec. 3 and 4, Ruth Eckerd Hall – The Pearl Jam frontman has been putting out more solo work in recent years, such as his Grammy-nominated 2011 album "Ukulele Songs," a mix of covers and originals played on the ukulele, and his hauntingly beautiful tracks off the "Into the Wild" soundtrack. You can expect a mix of this, plus Pearl Jam hits, during his two-night stand in Clearwater. More than anything, it's a chance to see an arena-worthy rock star in a more intimate venue.
Souls of Mischief and Killer Mike, Dec. 8, Czar – Skate Park of Tampa deserves a hat tip simply for its creative booking of Souls of Mischief for the park's 20th anniversary party, since the rap group's most well-known song, "93 'til Infinity," happens to coincide with the park's opening in 1993. The main draw for this show though is Killer Mike, whose "R.A.P. Music" is quietly flying under the radar as one of the best releases this year.
93.3 FLZ Jingle Ball, Dec. 9, Forum – For fans of Top 40 music, there is no better showcase of radio heavy-hitters than this annual wintertime festival. Justin Bieber, Ke$ha, One Republic and Sean Kingston are among the stars set to perform. Psy, of "Gangnam Style" fame, was scheduled to perform but dropped off the bill after getting an invite to perform at the White House on the same day. We doubt the true Beliebers will care too much.
Aerosmith and Cheap Trick, Dec. 11, Forum – If there was an official title for "greatest American rock band of all time," Aerosmith would be on a short list of bands with legitimate claim to it. The band, now in its fifth decade, lay dormant for a few years after the release of 2004's "Honkin' on Bobo," but picked up momentum after singer Steven Tyler's two-season stint on "American Idol" helped introduce them to a new generation of fans. Their new album "Music From Another Dimension!" came out in November. The Tampa stop is the second to last date on a months-long tour, and with the finish line in sight, it could be an extra-energetic performance.
Stephen Lynch, Dec. 15, Straz Center – Comedian Stephen Lynch has earned a loyal following by combining acoustic melodies with his Seinfeldian take on daily life and pop culture. His comedy songs, which are not for kids or the easily offended, cover topics such as Jesus' less-known brother "Craig," his politely hetero reaction to a male friend's advances ("If I Were Gay") and his reaction upon seeing his "Ugly Baby." You'll probably recognize songs from his "Comedy Central Presents" specials, which have been in the network's rotation for years, but there should be a nice dose of new material off his new album, "Lion," as well.
The Bright Light Social Hour, Dec. 31, Ritz Ybor – The Texas art-rockers cleaned up at last year's SXSW, racking up an unprecedented six Austin Music Awards during the international festival, including Band of the Year and Album of the Year. Their songs, such as the anthemic "Detroit," are dripping with bluesy, 70's-rock soul, and if you can look past their mustaches, deep v-necks and other mild hipsterisms, it's impossible to not have fun at a rollicking rock show like this – especially on New Year's Eve.
Other notable concerts this month: Killswitch Engage, Dec. 4, State Theatre; Michael Bolton, Dec. 6, Mahaffey Theater; Sum 41, Dec. 7, The Ritz Ybor, Bowzer's Holiday Party, Dec. 7, Ruth Eckerd Hall; Black Taxi, Dec. 8, The Ritz Ybor, Geoff Tate, Dec. 8, Capitol Theatre; Iris Dement, Dec. 9, Capitol Theatre; Tyrone Wells, Dec. 10, Straz Center; Ninjasonik, Dec. 11, The Ritz Ybor, Trans Siberian Orchestra, Dec. 15, Forum; Vince Neil, Dec. 14, Janus Live, Rockapella, Dec. 20, Wynonna Judd, Dec. 21, Mahaffey Theater; Molly Hatchet, Dec. 28, Capitol Theatre; Less Than Jake, Dec. 31, State Theater