Lamb of God
House of Blues, Dec. 12 The hard-driving metal music steam-rolled the audience, proving why the band is a leader of the genre. From the first downbeat of the drum intro for the opening song, “Desolation,” the band cranked out their blend of high-energy blast beats and groove that had every kid in the mosh pits practically killing each other. This was a makeup concert, and in an oddly touching apology, vocalist Randy Blythe, 41, mentioned that he had been a “shit and vomit fountain, and was so fucking sorry for canceling last month.” But, as his grandmother always said, “better late than never.” After kicking off the set with a few songs from their latest
release, Resolution, Lamb of God dove right into the classics “Set To Fail” and “Walk With Me In Hell,” which prompted a lot of call-and-response chorus lines with the audience. Blythe dedicated “Now You’ve Got Something To Die For” to our armed forces, praised the U.S.A. and made mention of how he’s had a rather interesting summer overseas. (Blythe spent 37 days in a Czech Republic jail facing manslaughter charges stemming from a 2010 concert where he allegedly pushed a fan from the stage, causing death by a brain hemorrhage two weeks later. He is facing up to 10 years imprisonment if convicted.) For the encore, Lamb of God kept the energy levels up with their most successful hits, “Redneck” and “Black Label,” providing a nonstop musical assault that leveled the audience and had everyone screaming for more. ★★★★✩ – Jack Hallows
Pentatonix Lamb of God photo by Glenn Brogan; Pentatonix photo by Linda Evans
The Hard Rock Café on the Strip, Dec. 15 The self-proclaimed “choir nerds” and Season 3 winners of NBC’s The Sing-Off are an a cappella group of five vocalists who create their own beats, sounds and harmonies. Using nothing more than their voices, Pentatonix remix and re-create current hits and old favorites. The group smoothly, then passionately performed Florence + the Machine’s “Dog Days Are Over” and mashed-up Justin Beiber’s “As Long as You Love Me” with Katy Perry’s “Wide Awake.” The show’s high point happened when Pentatonix invited a young lady named Dorothy to the stage, sat her down in a chair and serenaded her to the Marvin Gaye classic “Let’s Get it On.” They mixed her name into the lyrics while giving her a four-way lap dance, much to
Dorothy’s (and the audience’s) bashful approval. A medley (which included “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen, “We Are Young” by Fun. and “Somebody That I Used to Know” by Making Mirrors) kept the audience singing along before the group brought holiday cheer with a moving performance of “Angels We Have Heard on High.” ★★★★✩ – Brjden Crewe
BLUES BOUND: How many times have I said that Social Distortion needs to get a Vegas residency? Not “should get,” not “would be nice if it got”—the venerable SoCal punk band needs one, because they embody what a Strip show should be. They have terrific energy; their live show just flies by. They’ve got sing-along hits (“Story of My Life,” “Prison Bound,” “Bad Luck,” “I Was Wrong,” “Ball and Chain” and many others)—and they give audiences the faithfully executed versions of those hits, the versions everybody knows by heart. And singer Mike Ness talks to the audience (some say too much), telling stories, acknowledging current events and actually indulging in “where you folks from”-style banter. To my mind, that’s what a Vegas residency should be—it should emphasize intimacy over spectacle, with a ticket price you can actually fucking afford. And even if you don’t like the band, you should be able to walk out the doors at the end and say to your spouse without irony, “Honey, that was a heckuva show.” Social D could do that. And while their threenight stand at the House of Blues (Dec. 20-22, tickets $38) isn’t really a residency, at least it’s a step forward. THE DISPARATES: Begin the year with the Psychedelic Furs (pictured) and The Fixx at the Hard Rock Café on the Strip on Jan. 1 ($33)—a double billing that could alternately be called “every song played on KROQ Los Angeles from 1984 to 1987.” The Fixx will open the show with their arsenal of dry synth-pop hits—“Saved by Zero,” “Red Skies,” “One Thing Leads to Another”—and then the Furs come on strong with their arty postpunk (“The Ghost in You,” “Pretty in Pink,” “Love My Way”). It’s actually kind of a weird pairing, actually; back in the day I might never have guessed that these bands would like each other well enough to tour together. Maybe they don’t, really. Maybe the show will end in a fistfight. NOW ON SALE: It almost sounds like a Smiths lyric: “Trudging slowly over wet sand, back to the Cosmopolitan where my November gig was canceled.” Almost. Morrissey makes good on his postponed date at the Chelsea on Feb. 9 ($84).