The early snowfall added a festive air to the Christmas concert at the State Theatre on Thursday night, but even six inches of the white stuff couldn't bring the Los Straitjackets Christmas Pageant into the realm of traditional holiday celebrations. No, the spectacle of the four wrestling-mask-wearing members of Nashville's Straitjackets tearing through the likes of "Here Comes Santa Claus" with their trademark instrumental tornado -- a mix of Dick Dale, '60s garage rock and mystery Tex-Mex kitsch -- definitely didn't conjure visions of a Bing Crosby yuletide.
Adding to the spectacle were the World Famous Pontani Sisters, a trio of New York siblings whose shimmy-shake, white-go-go-booted, burlesque dance routines roughly synced with the band's surf-rider wall of sound.
Led by exemplary guitarists Eddie Angel and Danny Amis, Los Straitjackets (decked out in red and green turtlenecks and, natch, matching red high-top sneakers) began with a couple of their staple instrumentals. But they quickly moved on to the show's main course, Christmas music, played via the arrangements on the band's latest disc, " 'Tis the Season for Los Straitjackets." Beyond the Pontanis' garland bikinis and sexy Santa caps, the show was no mere retro rev-up: The band's arrangements of wrung-out numbers like "The Little Drummer Boy," "Frosty the Snowman" and "Sleigh Ride" were truly refreshing, and originals like "Christmas in Las Vegas" crackled with real verve.
An encore featuring a solemn "Christmas Song" and the Sisters opening presents filled with Straitjackets merchandise (for sale in the lobby) was a perfect capper for this antidote to December's usual parade of sickly sweet Christmas specials.
-- Patrick Foster