Two notable punk shows offer an escape route from holiday doldrums 

The winter of our discontent

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By this Friday afternoon, you'll most likely be cranky and groggy from too many tryptophan-induced angry naps and the next-level rhetorical gymnastics needed to steer away from discussion of a myriad of issues of the day, both personal and political, with family. And you most likely hate the mall. That leaves only one last logical course of action: Go to a punk show and get lost amongst the glorious din of loud music and being in close confines with the rest of us losers and outcasts.

There are two pretty mandatory occasions for you to dash out of the family dwelling – mumbling something noncommittal about going to get a newspaper – and immerse yourself in trashy rock & roll. On Black Friday, we strongly recommend you make a beeline to Uncle Lou's to check out Gag. (More on that after the jump.) And on Sunday, right before you have to face all the mundane humiliations of day-to-day life, it would be in your best interests to go to Will's Pub to see a grown man traipse around in public wearing the tattered remnants of (maybe) a rabbit mask, a leather jacket and his underwear, while caterwauling over a Ramones-y two-chord din.

We're speaking, of course, about the singular Nobunny, part rock & roll true believer and part accidental performance artist. (Who can really tell the difference nowadays?) Nobunny has been going strong since around 2008, releasing a steady stream of albums, tapes and singles on labels like Goner and Hozac, playing countless genius-level sloppy shows, and keeping his mystique surprisingly intact in the social media age. This year has seen been relatively quiet on the Nobunny front, but this autumn tour should kick up a healthy amount of dust. But clearly the man's not on anyone's timetable, proclaiming: "Nobunny will live forever. Maybe not always as a screaming telegram, but this is art without an expiration or any expectations."

So what to expect from this show? Surprisingly tuneful chaos and over-the-top antics from both performer and audience. In a conversation we had with Nobunny awhile back, he summed the live experience up in a manner equally cryptic and candid: "Never underestimate the power of the mask and the smell of teen spirit. I was born to perform." (Matthew Moyer)

One year ago, on an otherwise sleepy Thanksgiving night in the City Beautiful, the Olympia, Washington, hardcore all-stars Gag packed out Uncle Lou's and went down a storm. Guitarist Jose Mora remembers it fondly: "Last year was sick as hell, we met mad homies at that gig, and we also just loved chilling in Florida in December when the rest of America was iced."

Gag, who are embarking on an East Coast tour with sibling band Lower Species, are ready to do it one more time. Same time, same channel. Touring behind their most recent release, the archly titled America's Greatest Hits, Gag specializes in flurries of unrelenting riffs, manic vocals, warlike drum beats and groovy bass lines that will send the otherwise unassuming concertgoer straight for the pit.

A hardcore punk institution for about five years now, Gag has made their mark with a slew of consistently high-quality releases, from their debut Skimask '95 EP to the aspirationally named high-water mark This Punk Shit Is Cool but I Hope I Am Rob Zombie When I Am 28. Check out the music video if you're at all curious about what to expect from the show. Gag is constantly writing, and when asked if there are any releases planned for the near term, Mora replied, "Yeah, we got a new record being written right now for Triple B Records." One hopes we get an early preview of those tracks.

Gag is one of the best underground bands are today, playing punk for the hardcore kids and playing hardcore for the punk kids. This band is not to be missed live. Mora encourages all to come on and hang out: "For everyone out there who needs a reason to come out, this world sucks and is getting worse. Come chill and hang with us. If it's anything like last year it's gonna be bonkers." See you in the pit? (Alex Thomas)

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