Who killed Robert Johnson?

I barely survived Thanksgiving weekend, a veritable gauntlet of overcooked turkey, overbearing family members and overloud metal bands. Everything was cranked to 11, except for my sleep and relaxation levels. Feeling better now, or maybe my mood is brightened by another dynamic week of live music in Las Vegas. Check it out.

Like some modern-day, totally insane CCR, San Francisco’s The Stone Foxes are bringing their muddy, swampy, rump-shaking, super-cocky off-brand of blues-rock to House of Blues on Dec. 3. By super-cocky, all I mean is that it’s not every band that possesses the cojones to write a song called “I Killed Robert Johnson” and expect to get away with it. The reason the Foxes haven’t been arrested for crimes against music is not because the song is funny, but because it kills—the main riff is like a pistol whip across the face. Fans of music as varied as Dead Weather, Phish and The Black Crowes will love this. The Stone Foxes are, more than anything, a live band. But if you can’t make it, at least check out their self-titled debut, Bears & Bulls.

Portland, Ore.’s cheekiest, most notorious alt-rock band, The Dandy Warhols, are coming to the Hard Rock Café on Dec. 8 in support of their recently released compilation CD, The Capitol Years 1995-2007. Although the Warhols’ feigned could-care-less attitude has always sucked and kept them a second-tier act, they can write some seriously good tunes, including their breakout single, “Not If You Were the Last Junkie on Earth.” Another great reason to hit the Hard Rock that night is opening act and fellow Portlanders Blue Giant. I positively reviewed this band’s debut self-titled CD in Vegas Seven’s July 8 issue, and my impression hasn’t changed. Their clever lyrics, heartfelt delivery and full-on alt-country arrangements are impossible to dislike. They don’t have much in common with the Warhols, but the Giant’s genuine passion for old-school country in the George Jones/George Strait tradition will no doubt impress even the crowd of post-ironic hipsters.

On Dec. 9, electro-laptop-pop outfit Passion Pit from Cambridge, Mass., stops at House of Blues to inject a dose of its infectious music, mostly from its 2009 tour de force debut album Manners (Frenchkiss Records). It offers a joyous, ’80s-era vibe that’s at once danceable, hypnotic and life-affirming. Despite the cotton-candy drum loops and synth charges, there’s an underlying darkness that runs throughout, which causes Passion Pit to linger in your mind like an eerie nightmare. Lately, the band has been performing a cover of the Cranberries’ “Dreams” that—believe it or not—absolutely crushes the original. Fans of M83, Ratatat, Neon Indian and other electronic-enhanced rock groups better not miss this show.

Ahhh, I can feel the tryptophan fading away already. Time to buy tickets, and since the holidays are coming, maybe I’ll even purchase a few for my friends!

What concerts will you be seeing this weekend? Send your holiday wish-lists to jarret_keene@yahoo.com.

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