Guardian Alien, Pontiak — At this point, the definition of indie rock is as vast as it is adaptable. Some bands, like New York’s Guardian Alien, get lumped in because they don’t fit anywhere else. The group’s prog-powered rampages are both visceral and meditative. Dogged rhythms and ethereal textures allow their energy to blur; like a sleeper’s rapid eye movements, they create hazy visions. Virginia’s Pontiak occupies other corners. The trio’s beefy rock ‘n’ roll draws from every well one could loosely term “psychedelic”: Some songs lumber like Black Sabbath. Others drift like Jefferson Airplane. Some explode into sludgy tantrums only to end in airy harmony. Pontiak headlines; Guardian Alien opens. Jordan Lawrence
New Brookland Tavern: 8 p.m., $8; 791-4413, newbrooklandtavern.com.
Toys for Tots Benefit – Local rock and holiday charitable causes are as natural a December occurrence as spiked eggnog; this benefit for the worthy Toys For Tots toy drive is loaded with talent from right here in Columbia. Most notable are the ultra-heavy yet intricate Burnt Books, the ultra-clever yet tuneful Those Lavender Whales (full disclosure: music editor Patrick Wall plays in Those Lavender Whales), and the ultra-young yet oddly endearing MyBrother MySister. FK MT and Handsome Devil also play. Kevin Oliver
New Brookland Tavern: 7 p.m., $5 ($2 with toy donation); 791-4413, newbrooklandtavern.com.
Bill Gaither Homecoming — Bill and Gloria Gaither are legends in the Christian music community; such songs as “He Lives” are featured in various protestant hymnals and considered standards of the faith. The Gaither Homecoming concert series has been around for decades now, featuring a rotating lineup of mostly Southern gospel stars, from the Signature Sounds quartet to The Hoppers, The Isaacs and The Gaither Vocal Band. This year, the tour rolls through during the holidays, so, naturally, it’s a Christmas-themed show. Kevin Oliver
Colonial Life Arena: 8 p.m., $24.50-$74.50; 1-855-472-8499, lmctix.com.
Release the Dog — Touchstones are a funny thing. Where one older listener might hear in Release the Dog’s debut full-length Out for Justice traces of Sebadoh’s lo-fi slack rock as guided by Jason Loewenstein (the gliding “Can’t Stand the News”) and Polvo’s lazy-comet dissonance (the angular and tricky “Narcolepsy”), listeners who came up in the new slang days of The Strokes (the driving “Sitting on the Shelf”) and The Shins (the bouncy “Back to the Winds”) will likely hear traces of those bands. But Release the Dog is the sum of its influences, named and otherwise, and has developed its own voice by planting its feet in both indie rock’s past and present. And with a debut as bright and tongue-in-cheek witty as Out for Justice, the future’s bright as well. Patrick Wall
Hunter-Gatherer: 11 p.m., $5; 798-0540, huntergathererbrewery.com.
Archer Avenue Showcase — As much as this show is a vehicle for its three performers — Bri Benedict, Lauren Huse and Laurel MacCallum — it’s a showcase for the versatility of Kenny McWilliams’ Archer Avenue Studios. Nominally pop acts, each singer charts her own course: Benedict aims for bright, bouncy pop driven by keys, Huse for post-millennial girl-pop a la Vanessa Carlton; MacCallum leans toward country-pop with her twangy progressions and glittering guitars. As remarkably accomplished as the young songwriters are, they’re manifestly enchanced by McWilliams’ production, which lends a mature air to each of these debuts. Patrick Wall
New Brookland Tavern: 5 p.m., $5 ($8 under 21); 791-4413, newbrooklandtavern.com.
The Restoration — The Restoration loves a good concept. The Lexington folk-rock outfit describes its recent records as chapters in a “grand arcing Faulknerian narrative.” Those albums — 2010’s Constance and last year’s Honor the Father — opt for historical fiction based in the band’s hometown, weaving tales about an interracial couple at odds with a prejudiced citizenry, and a father who uses the Good Book as justification for abuse and murder. Running the gamut from revved-up oldtime to sleek rockabilly, the music is equally incendiary. New South Blues, the group’s newest EP, isn’t grounded by a specific narrative. The five songs within are ruminations on life in modern Dixie, observations and field recordings that embody the area’s contentious DNA. “In all fairness, the South has no monopoly on ignorance and bigotry,” Daniel Machado offers during the rollicking title track, “we just have the most trusted brand.” In the songs that follow, we meet a family man consoling his mistress from a bathroom stall. We confront the diverse crowds and rusty machinations of the South Carolina State Fair — conjured beautifully by backing real conversations with anxious strings and plucks. These Blues are neither celebration nor condemnation, but an honest exploration of a region where polarity rules. The Restoration plays second on this bill, which commemorates the release of the December issue of local zine Stereofly; Megan Jean & the Klay Family Band headline, while Mason Jar Menagerie and Dear Blanca open. Jordan Lawrence
Art Bar: 8 p.m., $5; 929-0198, artbarsc.com.
T.I. & Friends — Hip-hop shows at the Colonial Life Arena, historically, have been hit-and-miss: For every Drake, whose 2012 concert was a near-sellout smash built on boisterous production values and featuring a pair of stars-in-waiting in Kendrick Lamar and A$AP Rocky, there’s been a Summerfest, a sparsely attended 2010 disaster marred by poor sound and now-forgotten heat-of-the-moment rappers. What the audience numbers suggest, though, is a remarkably astute hip-hop audience in Columbia, one that keenly identifies true talent and perhaps not only responds to current trends but predicts them — after all, Lamar and Rocky are now rap superstars on Drake’s level; where are Plies, Travis Porter and Roscoe Dash now? That in mind, T.I.’s set tonight might just be a referendum on the future of his rap career. As the man born Clifford Harris delves deeper into acting and novel-writing, his rap game’s slipped. Trouble Man: Heavy is the Head, which turns a year old next week, topped Billboard’s rap charts — the sixth T.I. joint to do so — but its cinematic scope, as informed by his acting career as it was Marvin Gaye’s Trouble Man, groans under its own morass and mawkish oily slickness. As such, it falls well flat of his career highs of 2003’s Trap Muzik and 2006’s five-star King. Tip’s liquid nitrogen flow, though, is still on point, despite Trouble Man’s malaise; how the crowd responds and reacts — if they show up — to the King of the South this time around might determine just how much longer he wears his crown. With Jeezy, 2 Chainz. Patrick Wall
Colonial Life Arena: 8 p.m., $47-$102; 1-855-472-8499, lmctix.com.
Charlie Wilson — Charlie Wilson’s probably still best known as the leader of late ’70s synth-funk greats The Gap Band, but he’s hit a solo stride since the mid-aughts. The Gap Band’s lasting creative success is probably in its impact on hip-hop and New Jack Swing; perhaps not surprisingly, Wilson’s best work in his late-career resurgence in 2005’s wildly fun Charlie, Last Name Wilson, a collaboration with R. Kelly that featured urban R&B stars like Justin Timberlake and rappers like Twista. It’s made his slide into torch songs, as on this year’s Love, Charlie, a little disappointing, but his love songs are not lacking in energy or spirit, and Wilson’s voice still rings clearly and loudly, with conviction and vigor. Terence Young opens this World AIDS Day concert presented by the South Carolina HIV/AIDS Council. Patrick Wall
Township Auditorium: 7 p.m., $47.50-$77.50; 576-2350, thetownship.org.
$7 Special Summer Menu at Tony’s Downtown
Stop in and try our special $7 summer menu (tax and drink included!) at Tony’s Pizza & Italian Eatery, downtown Columbia. 1120 Washington St., Suite 2.
Trustus Theatre Presents Evil Dead, The Musical
This musical version of Sam Raimi’s cult classic films promises to serve up more humor than horror. You can read more and purchase your tickets here.
The Castle Summer Camps
Clown Camp: Ages 7-12. Week of July 28 • Zombie Camp: Ages 10-15. Week of August 4. $125 per camp, discounts for siblings! 2076 Hwy Church Rd. 803-309-5586. TheEventCastle@yahoo.com
Make your own beer and wine!
Come get started on your “liquid hobby” and help us celebrate our 46th year in the Columbia area. Bet Mar Liquid Hobby Shop, 736 St. Andrews Road. Click to find out how!
Happy Hour and Sushi Specials All Week
Red Bowl in Lexington now has great early bird and late night sushi specials 7 days a week, as well as 99-cent kids meals on Saturdays! Click here for special information and hours.
A Healthy Happy Hour
4-7 p.m at Good Life Cafe on Main St. Try our $4 local draft beers, $4 organic wine, 1/2 off select bottles of house wine and $5 handcrafted house cocktails with juices cold pressed and made daily. Click here for more info.
SEARCH FREE TIMES
Local restaurants serving locally grown food during Palmetto Tasty Tomato Restaurant Feast, July 11-18: