Phosphorescent, Richard Vission, Radio City Christmas Spectacular and more

Friday • 9

PHOSPHORESCENT How much do we love the new album by Phosphorescent? Well, let's just put it this way: All of our friends – OK, former friends – have begun to question our sanity. Not because we've gone all OCD or anything; sure, we play Aw Come Aw Wry a lot, but it's not like we play it all the time. It's just that the album is so oppressively sad, so thick with introspective atmosphere and so relentlessly downbeat that our loved ones can't figure out why it makes us so happy. We don't really know why, either, other than the simple fact that it's largely organic, completely gorgeous and brimming with the sort of quirky overemotionalism that we relate to a little too well. (with Castanets, The Sugar Oaks; 8 p.m. at Will's Pub; $7; 407-898-5070)

RADIO CITY CHRISTMAS SPECTACULAR The City Beautiful is betting big by allowing the road-show version of New York's famed Radio City Music Hall holiday extravaganza to take over an entire month's worth of show times (47 in all) at the Carr Performing Arts Centre. The resulting forced truncation of Orlando Ballet's Nutcracker schedule is just one sign of what can happen when a local tradition meets a universally recognizable brand. What's the upside? According to presenter SunTrust Broadway in Orlando, a hoped-for $14 million jolt to our area's economy that will exceed even the orgy of ancillary spending that's accompanied past performances of beloved kitsch-fest The Phantom of the Opera. If those are the stakes, then everyone involved had better hope that the world-famous Rockettes' high kicks are every bit as breathtaking here as they are in the Big Apple. Because this is one gamble we can't afford to lose. (8 p.m. at Carr Performing Arts Centre; through Dec. 31; $29.50-$59.50; 407-849-2020)

HOLIDAY TRIPLE TREAT ROCKS In its second year, this cross-disciplinary Christmas collaboration is exhibiting some significant changes. Mad Cow Theatre is no longer a participant, and the Carr Performing Arts Centre has been replaced as host venue by Hard Rock Live. And while the Orlando Chorale is still providing the caroling warm-up for Orlando Ballet, the tenor of the latter's presentation has been modernized considerably; it now features a world-premiere contemporary dance piece choreographed by Salim Gauwloos (who, despite the show's title and its advertisement as a "rock ballet," admitted to the Orlando Sentinel earlier this year that he's "not really crazy about rock music." Hmmmm.) Even the retention of the "Skating at the Ballet" finale, in which dancers simulate the fun of taking to the ice, carries a reminder that nothing in life is forever: It was choreographed by the Ballet's artistic director, Fernando Bujones, who passed away recently at age 50. (7:30 p.m. at Hard Rock Live; also Saturday; $28-$48; 407-351-5483)

Saturday • 10

THE NUTCRACKER The only thing better than holiday entertainment is FREE holiday entertainment. It's a major gripe that the cost of culture is way too high for average working folks, but here's a chance to take in Orlando City's Ballet's performance of Tchaikovsky's revered tale of a young girl's Christmas dream, filled with dancing sugarplum fairies and battle-hungry rat soldiers. Better yet, the performance is outdoors, under the stars, so when kiddies and the like get restless, just turn them loose in the park, which is also still a free activity. (7:30 p.m. at Walt Disney Amphitheater at Lake Eola Park; free; 407-896-0309)

Sunday • 11

CHRISTMAS MAGIC IN THE GARDENS Even though these cash-focused holidays can bring out the curmudgeon in a lot of us, that doesn't mean that there isn't true joy to be experienced. One of those events is this concert by the almighty Michael Andrew & The Atomic Big Band. These cats swing and sway as they slay the audience on a lively musical ride. As is the tradition, the Leu House Museum (the former home of Orlando entrepreneur Harry P. Leu) is decorated in Victorian holiday splendor, and it'll be open for tours. No doubt this will be an early sell-out affair, so get those tickets right now. (6 p.m.-9 p.m. at Harry P. Leu Gardens; $25; 407-246-2620)

A CREDIT CARD CHRISTMAS The Orlando Gay Chorus is going to tell it like it is – or rather sing it like it is – at their annual holiday concert. Hear songs "underscoring the commercialization of the holidays" as well as the usuals. Expect something different this year, as this concert will mark the debut of the group's new artistic director, Dr. James Bass. As arts organizations go, the OGC is far more active on social and political issues than their counterparts. So they are encouraging attendees to bring a new UNWRAPPED toy to donate to the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program. (7:35 p.m. Saturday, and 2:05 p.m. and 7:35 p.m. Sunday at the Annie Russell Theatre, Rollins College, Winter Park; $25-$30; tickets available at The Center, Urban Think bookstore and; 407-841-7464)

RICHARD VISSION Will someone please explain to us why the doors for "Service Industry Nights" at HOB open at 10:27? We know the doors need to be late (hell, the show doesn't start until midnight) to accommodate the working folks who patronize these bacchanalian events, but why not 10:30 or 10:25? When someone tells us why, we'll feel like morons for not knowing, but still, tell us. Oh yeah, Richard Vission. He's dropped the "Humpty," and – like many of the other DJs who spin at HOB's SIN events – is internationally renowned for doing exactly what a good DJ is supposed to do: He plays infectious dance music that keeps a crowd active, happy and drunk. (10:27 p.m. at House of Blues; $10; 407-934-2583)

Wednesday • 14

MASTERS OF HORROR TOUR Nothing says "Merry Christmas" like a bunch of metal bands on the road pimping the soundtrack for a television show. But that's exactly how Real Rock (WJRR-FM, 101.1) is tipping its thick head to the holidays. Because this is Real Rock's annual "Mistletoe Jam," in which the painfully monotonous station attempts to pretend it cares about its listeners by putting on a show featuring a handful of awful, faux-metal acts. For some, it actually is a fantastic Christmas present; after all, some people like Mudvayne. (Right?) The rest of us (who aren't mouth-breathers) are turned off by the major-label/radio-station back-scratching/payola that keeps corporate rock radio from doing anything but completely sucking. Which is its own gift; now we're definitely gonna go get satellite radio installed in our car. (with Mudvayne, 10 Years, Bloodsimple, Bobaflex; 6:30 p.m. at House of Blues; $25-$55; 407-934-2583)

Contributors: Jason Ferguson, Steve Schneider, Lindy T. Shepherd

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