Motown tributes, Persian pop and Wine Rings

In the days before (and after) Santa squeezes his rump down everyone’s chimney, you’d think local bands in Las Vegas might cease stirring. No chance. Give the gift of live music by taking a loved one to the following:

A free holiday-season celebration, a Tribute to Motown & Funk, arrives at Artifice at 10 p.m. Dec. 21. Top local acts are playing under the proverbial mistletoe, including Thee Swank Bastards, Alethia Prudence, Deadhand, Trevor and the Joneses, Chocolate and Candy Warpop. The latter performs with an assemblage of musician-friends dubbed The End Is Nigh Orchestra—a reference, no doubt, to visions of the 2012 Mayan-prophesized apocalypse dancing in people’s heads. The dudes in my favorite rock band, Deadhand, confirm they’ll deliver the Jackson 5’s “Who’s Lovin’ You” and Aaron Neville’s “Tell It Like It Is.” My chestnuts are roasting in anticipation. No cover.

Two intriguing world-pop concerts are slated for the Strip. L.A.-based Armenian pop singer Armenchik checks in at the Pearl in the Palms at 8 p.m. on Dec. 22. Armenchik’s music is at once contemporary and traditional. Meanwhile, Persian pop singer Ebi pops into Planet Hollywood at 8 p.m. Dec. 24. Ebi does it all—authentic Persian music to Western pop—and while he doesn’t sing in English much (if at all), the emotions he communicates are crystal-clear.

Reggae-rockers the Aggrolites agitate Vinyl in the Hard Rock at 9 p.m. Dec. 27. This L.A. band’s most recent studio effort, last year’s Rugged Road, boasts a hardcore Jamaican-rocksteady vibe, of which I can’t get enough. The ’Lites’ single from that album, “Complicated Girl,” is killer.

Finally, heavy alt-rock supergroup A Perfect Circle, which is now essentially comprised of Tool/Puscifer front man Maynard James Keenan and guitarist Billy Howerdel, makes a rare live appearance at Planet Hollywood at 8 p.m. Dec. 29. The lineup will be rounded off by James Iha (ex-Smashing Pumpkins guitarist), Matt McJunkins (bass) and Jeff Freidl (drums). Tickets start at $47, and there’s also a VIP wine tasting and soundcheck package (starting at $250) that looks damn cool. And the wine is likely from Keenan’s own winery. Always-sweating Portland stand-up alt-comedian Neil Hamburger opens.

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Megadeth rocked. Period. They commemorated the release of their 1992 best-selling album, Countdown to Extinction, with a 20th anniversary tour bearing the same name. Megadeth performed Countdown in the exact track order sprinkled with a few of their classic hits such as “Hangar 18” and “Holy Wars … The Punishment Due.”

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