EL VEZ and the BROWN HORNETS at the Horseshoe, Thursday (December 7). Attendance: 400. Tickets: $16.50. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
There are certain - no, many - things about the holiday season that both confuse and terrify me. Like, there's an animatronic, almost life-sized Santa thing at a downtown grocery store that makes weirdly exuberant "Ho ho!" noises and suggestively swivels its hips.
What I'm getting at is that there's a lot that's very wrong about this time of year, so when something like an El Vez holiday special - nay, extravaganza - comes through town, we should welcome it more warmly than a certain Bethlehem innkeeper welcomed you-know-who.
El Vez puts as much oomph into his show as Handel's Halleluiah chorus, but with way more Vegas pizzazz.
This wasn't so much a seasonal concert as it was a spectacle to behold, as openers the Brown Hornets made clear with a roaring set of soulful rock reminiscent of Otis Day and the Knights from the movie Animal House, but on uppers.
And, hell, a band willing to cover the Pointer Sisters' Neutron Dance and make it sound not half-bad is good in my books. In fact, it kinda seemed like they were poised to steal the show.
But when the Mexican Elvis hit the Horseshoe stage, he let us know he was so full of the holiday spirit that he wasn't gonna let an opening act upstage him.
With a full band in tow decked out in matching Santa costumes, El Vez and his backup dancers, looking like they'd come straight out of an old-school burlesque show, instantly hit their frantically entertaining stride, blowing through medleys of high-energy Christmas carols mashed right and good with classic rock and a smattering of the King's hits.
El Vez's reworked lyrics were all holiday-themed and laugh-out-loud-worthy - consider his I Have A Little Dreidel/Jingle Bells/All I Want For Christmas (Is A New President) medley. And his between-song banter could rival any decent comedian's.
Obviously, the man's show relies heavily on the comedy, but he couldn't pull it all off without his fiery showmanship and killer pipes. Not to mention his backup singers, the El Vettes, who could tour a show based solely on their charisma.
The choreography was kitsch and fitting, the band was smokin' hot, and people were just loving it.
Too bad this kind of thing is only supposed to happen once a year.