Art critic Dave Hickey once described his home base of Las Vegas as a city that "floats on a sleek frisson of anxiety and promise." He offers the place as a metaphor for democracy -- a place where they "post the odds" and "treat everyone the same."

How fitting that Hickey's beloved Sin City produced a band such as the Killers.

Just another pretty face in a sea of new-wave revivalists, the Las Vegas quartet bet small and won big with its nervy 2004 debut, "Hot Fuss," finding massive popularity on a limited supply of charisma, originality and chops.

From the looks of a sold-out show at Merriweather Post Pavilion on Wednesday, the Killers have become bona fide rock stars -- hard to believe after such a hasty and uncaptivating set. The band spent 50 charmless minutes under the bright lights wandering through '80s-inspired tunes like "On Top" and "Andy, You're a Star" with a blase shrug.

Lead singer Brandon Flowers made for a weak focal point as he stiffly worked the stage, punctuating his wooden strut with an effete pantomime. His vocals, modest to begin with, were often drowned out by a guitar-heavy mix, most regrettably during the smash hit "Somebody Told Me."

The band later recouped with "Mr. Brightside," the melodramatic second single from "Hot Fuss." Dashing through the tune as if it were a power ballad on speed, Flowers and company had the capacity crowd pulsing along with glee. For those four sweet minutes alone, the Killers were rock stars after all.

-- Chris Richards