Nabokov pop, goth gifts, trucker hats

I feel sorry for my New York City pals. While they suffer through Hurricane Sandy cleanup, I’m basking in the Vegas sun and taking in great live music. I’m no meteorologist, so I’ll stick to shows. Once again, the week’s forecast is beautiful.

Vancouver prog-popsters Bend Sinister have an unusual ability to be bracingly loud and utterly tuneful, which is why I recommend this band’s Beauty Bar show at 10 p.m. Nov. 16. Sure, with my oh-so-useful Ph.D. in English, I’m biased toward any group that borrows its name from an obscure Vladimir Nabokov sci-fi novel. But once you hear these guys’ single, “Don’t You Know,” which comes on like Ben Folds fronting Black Sabbath, you’ll want to get Bent—er, I mean Bend, too. They also generate long stretches of classic-rock flashbacks, as on the song that pays tribute to Supertramp, “She Won’t Give It Up.” The Canuck band is touring in support of their released-in-July full-length, Small Fame, their first album in four years. If there’s any justice, Fame will enhance Sinister’s renown.

More Canada? You might consider resurrecting your Halloween costume the following night, when Toronto synthrock band The Birthday Massacre slays eardrums at 8:30 p.m. Nov. 17 at Vinyl in Hard Rock Hotel. This female-fronted act stars darkly glamorous singer Chibi and has been kicking around in goth circles for more than a decade. The overall vibe here is Shirley Manson (Garbage) impaled by Nine Inch Nails. In other words, edgy melodies blended with unsettling industrial riffs. The band’s latest disc, Hide and Seek, contains the dynamite-strapped “Down.” The song’s moshpit-stoking breakdowns contrast nicely with the uplifting Evanescence-style chorus. I don’t normally go for this kind of bad-mood music (unless we’re talking Sisters of Mercy), but the Massacre is pretty much a master of the genre. Also, I love arriving at shows like this one wearing bright-white tennis shoes instead of black lace-up Dr. Martens. Seattle darkwavers William Control and L.A. aggrotech-rockers Aesthetic Perfection share the bill.

Virginia country-rocker Corndawg changed his stage moniker a few months back to his given name of Jonny Fritz. He’s bringing a beer-drenched bucketful of his Jonathan Richman-meets-Johnny Paycheck honky-tonk tunes to the Bunkhouse at 8 p.m. Nov. 18, and I’ll be there, trucker hat donned and Bic lighter flicked, primed to hear quirky narratives such as “Fever Dreams.” It’s about getting sick and congested, feeling like you’re going to die and dreaming the craziest stuff. As Fritz sings, Hocking up green gobs/Living on cough drops/And sweating myself to sleep. I’ve been there. Which means this whole column is really a thinly veiled health reminder: Get your flu shots now before you end up being the subject of a Fritz original. Then again, there are worse fates, right?

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Barbra Streisand


Barbra Streisand

By Jarret Keene

A true music fan’s bucket list only needs two items: See Babs perform in the flesh and get your tits autographed by Lemmy from Motörhead. I checked off the former over the weekend, surrounded by aging, Broadway-loving, mostly liberal Las Vegans. They came out strong for (a noticeably teleprompter-assisted) Funny Girl and were rewarded with an outstanding show. Bringing her Back to Brooklyn tour to a venue she christened in 1993, Streisand, 70, dazzled.