It's not too late to get your fill of festive cheer.
Love it or hate it, Christmas is almost here. The annual deluge of so-so treats and miscellaneous gift cards is about to drown us all in holiday cheer, and it’s time to face the music. Seriously, go to a concert: music makes Christmas good. But there’s only one week left, so we’ve rounded up a few of the last shows of the season to help you decide which ones to check out.
197 John Street) and environs
Friday, December 19, 7 p.m.
PWYC, suggested donation $20
Santa’s a fake, but magic is still real. Ditch the Christmas hype and embrace the genuine twinkle at the Music Gallery’s Unsilent Night event, a sonic ramble through the streets of Toronto. Come bearing boomboxes (smartphones work too), as the organizers will be randomly distributing variations of an airy soundscape created by experimental composer Phil Kline back in 1992. Once you’ve got your recording, all you need to join this electric orchestra is a Play-pushing finger. The LA Times calls it “a dreamy fruitcake of parts.” We call it one of the most exciting Christmas concerts in Toronto this year.
529 Bloor Street West)
Friday, December 19, 9 p.m.
Hitch up your jeans and put your rock-face on, because White Cowbell Oklahoma is coming to town. Both outrageous and old-fashioned, this demented country band lays it on thick, delivering all the spectacle and showmanship you could want from a rock show and hashing out bar-brawl anthems with unapologetic glee. Sweet licks abound, along with skulls, pasties, chainsaws, and enough cowbell to carry you through to next Christmas. If you think you’re on the naughty list, don’t check twice—just get down to Lee’s Palace on Friday.
231 Queen’s Quay West)
Saturday, December 20, 8 p.m.; Sunday, December 21, 2 p.m.
Christmas is sweet, but it’s not as sweet as the Good Lovelies. These hometown heroes will soothe your folk-loving soul with their irresistible harmonies, distinctive compositions, and pure seasonal charm (displayed to full effect on their Under the Mistletoe album from 2009). After touring last year with the Vinyl Cafe, the winsome trio have gone on their own Christmas tour, which started in Florida earlier this month and finishes up at the Harbourfront Centre Theatre on Saturday and Sunday.
60 Simcoe Street)
Saturday, December 20, 2 p.m.
It’s weird how several hundred children crammed into a room together can suddenly give Christmas the gravity it deserves. Few seasonal concerts promise as much unearthly beauty as those sung entirely by loud-mouthed kids. The Toronto Children’s Chorus masses at Roy Thomson Hall on Saturday afternoon—Canadian acting legend Gordon Pinsent (of the arctic-blue eyes) narrates a story by John Rutter, but the real draw here is blissing out on an ocean of sanctitude courtesy of great choral composers like John Tavener and Matthew Larkin.
178 Victoria Street)
Sunday, December 21, 2 p.m.
Got a saucy vibrato? Don’t keep it to yourself: trill along with Handel’s soaring refrains at Tafelmusik’s Sing-Along Messiah. Even if your voice is more mezzo than soprano, you’re welcome to throw your yodels into the mix. Feel the gusty winds of old-school Christmas piety blow through you, and watch the Baroque composer himself direct all 2,700 members of the audience/choir. Nothing says peace on earth like hollering hallelujah in a crowd of seasonal sweater–wearers.
783 College Street)
Sunday, December 21, 3 p.m.
Ian and Lindsay Goodtimes have been offering up their brand of raucous holiday cheer for a full decade as of this year, and they’re marking the occasion with a special anniversary Christmas show. The theme is Blues Brothers meets the Muppets, which pretty much sums up the Goodtimes’ style in general. These two famous lovers also have a lot of friends (some of whom might even be able to match the irrepressible duo’s over-the-top oddball energy), so along with aerial artists, dancing bears, and Germanic demigods, the Goodtimes are guaranteed to throw one weird and wonderful party.