If you're alarmed by how mature Karen O sounds these days, Patience Hodgson is your new master. On Gravity Won't Get You High, The Grates pray out of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs' hymnal, adding a respectful touch of banjo and glockenspiel. Songs about tickling and trampolines are as hyper as you'd dare hope.
Sun., Dec. 10, 7:30 p.m., $14, with We Are Scientists and Oxford Collapse, First Unitarian Church, 22nd and Chestnut sts., 866-468-7619, www.r5productions.com.
Jack Wright and John Bennett are an apt team, both having sustained lengthy (anti-)careers in the face of popular incomprehension of what they create or ignorance of their very existence. Calling the former an improvising musician and the latter a poet would only be correct in the most reductionist way, considering how easily either one could fit the description of the other. Rotty What is a trio completed by Bennett's son on drums, though if he's learned anything from his dad, that won't quite cover it.
Sat., Dec. 9, 8 p.m., $5, with Matthew/Radding/Drury and Mother, Photo West Gallery, 3625 Lancaster Ave., www.bowerbird.org.
The orchestra has been performing Handel's Messiah every year forever. Or so it seems. It is a tradition that is not frozen in time, however, with recent performances led by conductors such as this year's Richard Hickox less inclined to the gloriously bloated Ormandy version. But make no mistake; this is still the big band Messiah in town.
Sun., Dec. 10, 2 p.m. and Tue., Dec. 12, 7 p.m., $10-$103, Kimmel Center, 300 S. Broad St., 215-893-1999.
Pop/jazz chanteuse Judith Owen and hubby/actor/comedian Harry Shearer have teamed up with a revolving crew of guest artists including Marshall Crenshaw, who's slated to join them Wednesday in Sellersville to host a lighthearted holiday concert to raise money to support New Orleans-based musicians. Mingling traditional and nontraditional holiday music, this will be partly a straightforward concert by Welsh-born pianist-singer-humorist Owen and crew, as well as a sure-to-be interesting audience sing-along. Expect a few surprises too, as other, last-minute guests join the roster. (Not enough? Shearer will sign his new book Not Enough Indians at the Springfield Borders the day before.)
Judith Owen and Harry Shearer in concert, Wed., Dec. 13, 8 p.m. $49.50, Sellersville Theatre, Main and Temple sts., 215-257-5808, www.st94.com. Harry Shearer reading and signing, Tue., Dec. 12, 7 p.m., Borders Books and Music, 1001 Baltimore Pike, Springfield, 610-543-8588.
You have to be pretty dang mordant to hang with Joe Pernice and Bitter Bitter Weeks. Elvis Perkins, scion of Tony, should fit Thursday's bill just fine. Accompanied by gently plucked double bass and harmonica on his due-soon XL debut Ash Wednesday, Perkins' laments prove their spooky mettle.
Thu., Dec. 7, 9:30 p.m., $10 with The Pernice Brothers and Bitter Bitter Weeks, Johnny Brenda's, 1201 N. Frankford Ave., 215-739-9684, www.johnnybrendas.com.
Bryn Mawr-based marimba player and composer Nathaniel Bartlett is singularly dedicated to his instrument. He plays almost exclusively solo recitals, processing his music through an array of electronics to create sparse, modernist works that build from the marimba's percussive resonance. For this Bowerbird-presented show, he'll present three new pieces by different composers.
Fri., Dec. 8, 8 p.m., $5, with Illusory Correlations, Blacksberg/Hernandez/Seabrook, and Little Ocean, The Rotunda, 4014 Walnut St., www.therotunda.org.