Flasher photo by Jen Dessinger

CD102.5’s annual holiday shows – Side A (headlined by The Struts, Dec. 7) and Side B (headlined by Manchester Orchestra, Dec. 9) – are rapidly approaching. Typically, these shows have a strong headliner with some really great smaller/lesser known bands on the undercard. Looking at the artists playing Columbus on Wednesday night, I wish CD102.5 had decided to add a third night so that it wouldn’t be so hard to decide which of these shows to attend.

Let’s pretend like all 4 of these bands are on the same bill and discuss them in order (opener to headliner) that they’d likely appear on the bill that I’ve put together in my head so that I don’t have to pick which show to go to.

Opening Act: Flasher (headlining Ace of Cups)

You won’t read a review about this band that doesn’t use the word “punk” however don’t expect speedy three-chord shredding or mohawks and facial piercings. On first listen, I assumed this trio was from the UK or Scotland and the fact that their debut album was released by the British indie label Domino Records seemed to provide further evidence. Turns out, Flasher calls DC home and not only do the members have strong ties to that scene (all 3 band members worked at Comet Ping Pong, the infamous pizza shop at the heart of child sex ring conspiracy theories; guitarist Taylor Mulitz played in Priests; Flasher’s album was recorded in Fugazi’s Brendan Canty’s studio), the songs on their debut, Constant Image, are socially and politically aware. $10 (advance) / $12 (day of show). Public Practice and Gong Gong Gong open.

Second Act: Bad Bad Hats (headlining The Basement)

Quirky indie pop from Minnesota, Bad Bad Hats released their second album, Lightning Round, in August and have tour dates scheduled through March 2019. There’s a charming, dreamy quality to tracks like “Talk With Your Hands” but I’m guessing a light airiness to the live show.The trio – named after a trouble-making character from the Madeline series – jumps on The Beths tour in late February with a road trip-worthy Cleveland stop at the Beachland Ballroom on March 5. $10 (advance) / $12 (day of show). The Promowest site doesn’t list any openers but expect there to be some support.

Third Act: Gang of Youth (headlining A&R Music Bar)

The Australian band is quickly making fans in the U.S., no big surprise considering they’ve been gathering awards by the armful from their home country including Album of the Year, Best Group and Best Rock Album, all earned for 2017’s Go Farther in Lightness. With a big, sweeping arena rock sound akin to U2, Gang of Youths had a chance to grace huge stages recently when they opened 7 U.S. dates on the Foo Fighters Concrete and Gold tour (Dave Grohl is a big fan). Not saying you’ll never have a chance to see Gang of Youths on a small stage again, but there’s a good chance these guys – still early in their career – will continue to see their stock rise. $15 advance. Gretta Ray opens.

Headliner: Phosphorescent (headlining The Newport Music Hall)

Phosphorescent recently appeared on CBS This Morning where singer Matthew Houck wore his own band’s t-shirt! One of maybe two reasons for doing that – either Houck was considering it a promotional opportunity and wanted people to remember the band’s name or maybe the band was winding down the tour cycle and hadn’t hit a laundromat in a while thus causing Houck to dip into the merch. Either way, the performance was captivating – the seven-piece band bringing an Americana flair to the songwriting style that’s not too far removed from artists ranging from Bruce Springsteen to U2 to War on Drugs. Seven albums (not including 2015’s Live at the Music Hall) into their career, Phosphorescent’s worthy of a festival/radio show headlining spot. $20 (advance) / $22 (day of show). Liz Cooper and the Stampede open.

Tough, tough, tough, tough call to make. The silver lining is that you’ll win no matter which show you end up at. And, CD102.5, if you want to do us all a favor, package these bands together for a Springfest-type show in 2019!