THE ROYAL VISIT: It’s always a delightful social occasion when the Lady Gaga comes to our province to entertain us peasants using the tools of her office: the extraterrestrial drag, the enormous meat grinder, the simulated childbirth and more. Just knowing that we’re going to get a show with this level of refinement and sophistication should make you want to become a better person. Seriously, though: Who else is working on this level these days? David Bowie is retired. GWAR is fun, but if you’ve seen them once, that’s plenty. And Madonna has become too self-conscious to bring this level of unhinged, batshit crazy entertainment to the stage. Only Gaga is out there, jumping up off the meat sofa to give audiences the spectacle they never knew they wanted or dreamed that they could get. Gaga plays the MGM Grand on January 25-26, and tickets range from $61 to $213—provided, of course, there are any tickets left. When you’ve got a unique product, people tend to buy the hell out of it.
FIVE ALIVE: It’s been 12 years since Ben Folds Five gave us a new batch of what singer/songwriter/Chatroulette troubadour Ben Folds calls “punk rock for sissies.” But here they are, playing the Pearl on January 25 ($45-$90): Folds, Darren Jessee and Robert Sledge reunited for a new record, The Sound of the Life of the Mind—only their fourth studio record since 1995, remarkably—and a tour that draws on new material and old favorites. Seriously, where in the hell have these guys been? And don’t give me all that crap about “working on solo projects” or “spending time with family.” For longer than a decade, we have suffered a drought of slyly delivered, piano-driven introspection, and it’s good to have it back.
NOW ON SALE: There are few bands working today that are worthy of being called “kickass,” and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club is one of them. The kickass garage band is coming to Vinyl on May 31 (ticket price TBA) in support of their album Specter At The Feast—their first new music since the tragic death of Michael Been, father of frontman Robert Levon Been and a profound influence on the band. The album reportedly features a cover of one of the elder Been’s songs, The Call’s “Let The Day Begin.” The very idea of that kicks ass.