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Critics' Picks: December 12 - 18 

Local shows by Nathan Xander, The Dangerous Summer, Hit the Lights and Eluveitie

[INDIE FOLK] + FRI., DEC. 14

Nathan Xander hangs his hat in Brooklyn now, but hails originally from northwestern Pennsylvania, and spent time in Pittsburgh. The folk-rocker also spent time on the Deep Elm label, but his most recent is self-released and self-titled — not to mention honest, refreshing and catchy. His writing is unconventional and introspective, but comforting. Tonight, he returns to Pittsburgh for a show at Thunderbird CafĂ©; Emily Rodgers and Sleepy V open. Andy Mulkerin 9 p.m. 4033 Butler St., Lawrenceville. $6. 412-682-0177 or www.thunderbirdcafe.net

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[INDIE ROCK] + TUE., DEC. 18

The Dangerous Summer is a busy bunch. Since releasing War Paint last year, the trio (formerly a quartet) has been hard at work filming a documentary and touring the U.S., all while recording a third studio album. The guys recently announced via Facebook that this would be the last chance to see them live until the upcoming album is finished — it's expected sometime in the first half of 2013. Catch them while you can tonight at the Smiling Moose; Young Statues, Lights Camera Distractions and Nevada Color open. Amanda Wishner 6:30 p.m. 1306 E. Carson St., South Side. $12-14. 412-431-4668 or www.smiling-moose.com

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[POP-PUNK] + WED., DEC. 19

Hit the Lights fans both old and new should find something to love about the band's current headlining U.S. tour. The Ohio natives recently announced they'll be temporarily reuniting with Colin Ross on vocals for the first time in five years to play some "oldies but goodies." But don't worry — current vocalist Nick Thompson will still be taking over for the band's new material, including all of your favorites from last winter's Invicta. Hit the Lights comes to Pittsburgh tonight with A Loss For Words, WITH THE PUNCHES and Trophies at the Altar Bar. AW 7 p.m. 1620 Penn Ave., Strip District. $12-14. 412-206-9719 or www.thealtarbar.com

click to enlarge PHOTO COURTESY OF MANUEL VARGAS
  • Photo courtesy of Manuel Vargas

[FOLK METAL] + WED., DEC. 19

If you have slightly different ideas about holiday music, maybe a stop at Mr. Small's is in order tonight. There you can find pagan folk-metal heroes Eluveitie — and so close to the solstice! The Swiss band plays a mix of Celtic-style folk and death metal, some in English and some in the ages-old, dead language of Gaulish; this year saw Eluveitie's 10th anniversary, and an early-material re-issue. Joining the band on its U.S. voyage is Finnish metal band Wintersun (which was spawned from Ensiferum) and German Viking metal band Varg (no relation to Varg from Burzum). AM 7 p.m. 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale. $18. All ages. 412-821-4447 or www.mrsmalls.com

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