BLUES BOUND: How many times have I said that Social Distortion needs to get a Vegas residency? Not “should get,” not “would be nice if it got”—the venerable SoCal punk band needs one, because they embody what a Strip show should be. They have terrific energy; their live show just flies by. They’ve got sing-along hits (“Story of My Life,” “Prison Bound,” “Bad Luck,” “I Was Wrong,” “Ball and Chain” and many others)—and they give audiences the faithfully executed versions of those hits, the versions everybody knows by heart. And singer Mike Ness talks to the audience (some say too much), telling stories, acknowledging current events and actually indulging in “where you folks from”-style banter. To my mind, that’s what a Vegas residency should be—it should emphasize intimacy over spectacle, with a ticket price you can actually fucking afford. And even if you don’t like the band, you should be able to walk out the doors at the end and say to your spouse without irony, “Honey, that was a heckuva show.” Social D could do that. And while their three-night stand at the House of Blues (Dec. 20-22, tickets $38) isn’t really a residency, at least it’s a step forward.
THE DISPARATES: Begin the year with the Psychedelic Furs (pictured) and The Fixx at the Hard Rock Café on the Strip on Jan. 1 ($33)—a double billing that could alternately be called “every song played on KROQ Los Angeles from 1984 to 1987.” The Fixx will open the show with their arsenal of dry synth-pop hits—“Saved by Zero,” “Red Skies,” “One Thing Leads to Another”—and then the Furs come on strong with their arty postpunk (“The Ghost in You,” “Pretty in Pink,” “Love My Way”). It’s actually kind of a weird pairing, actually; back in the day I might never have guessed that these bands would like each other well enough to tour together. Maybe they don’t, really. Maybe the show will end in a fistfight.
NOW ON SALE: It almost sounds like a Smiths lyric: “Trudging slowly over wet sand, back to the Cosmopolitan where my November gig was canceled.” Almost. Morrissey makes good on his postponed date at the Chelsea on Feb. 9 ($84).