Ugly sweaters, tight pants

Is that that guy from American Pie? And singing a duet with Autumn Sky? Why, yes: Thomas Ian Nicholas, a man with three first names, gigged Naked Lounge Downtown last Saturday.

Is that that guy from American Pie? And singing a duet with Autumn Sky? Why, yes: Thomas Ian Nicholas, a man with three first names, gigged Naked Lounge Downtown last Saturday.

Photo By steven chea

Wear your holiday worst:
Truth be told, I’ve never actually been to a bad-holiday-sweater party. But I’m quite intrigued as to which of the five performers at this Friday-night gig will take home the prize of ugliest damned Xmas sweater: Chris Twomey, Dean Haakenson of Be Brave Bold Robot (playing with full band), Ken Burnett or Adam Varona of the Inversions? If I had to put money on it, I’d bet on Haakenson, as he’s a man with a vision who’s sure to deliver some tacky-ass threads. Though I won’t underestimate Twomey, either. Or, hell, maybe I’ll have the best dang sweater? Find out this Friday, December 17, at the Fox & Goose, 1001 R Street; $5. (Nick Miller)

Lord of the ball-squeezing falsettos:
I’m certain my wife and I were the only Sacramentans present at the recent Blind Guardian show in San Francisco at the hallowed Regency Ballroom. It’d be a good guess, as there were (maybe) around 300 metalheads in an area that safely holds three times as much on a good night. Even the balcony was closed. WTF?

Either way, as my luck would have it, her favorite band is Blind Guardian, that plays a brand of music that I, out of sheer hate, have dubbed “Mordor metal.” What is that? If you took the elements of Dungeons & Dragons, Lord of the Rings and all the bombastic, unnecessary singalong choruses you could (or couldn’t stomach), this would be the ungodly result.

As luck would have it, Holy Grail, a Pasadena-based five-piece old-school outfit, replete with ball-squeezing falsettos, was the highlight of the night. Touring in support of their latest release, Crisis in Utopia, these lads came out swinging to the near empty room with a dual guitar assault that would make any mom proud. James Paul Luna ran around the middle of their allotted stage (they’re openers, you know?) screaming at the top of his lungs, only pausing for brief interims to head-bang.

What about the headliner? Blind Guardian took the stage, and its drummer was shirtless before the first song even started. Enough said. (Eddie Jorgensen)

Pizza-parlor mosh pit:
A crowd of guys—and two or three girls—wearing either plaid shirts and polos, emo glasses or uncomfortably tight pants, Vans or Chuck Taylors, and all with disheveled long hair, waited eagerly at the foot of Luigi’s Fun Garden’s stage for A Lot Like Birds.

The openers of the show—local bands So Stressed, the Speed of Sound in Seawater, and Oregon-based Duck. Little Brother, Duck!—managed to get a few shy head bobs at the beginning of the show. And the lineup was a pretty good mix: the Speed of Sound in Seawater boasted upbeat melodies and catchy bass lines; Duck. Little Brother, Duck!’s emo-rock instrumentals and memorable vocals, comparable to Taking Back Sunday’s Adam Lazzara, kept me interested and genuinely head-bobbing along with the crowd.

But when A Lot Like Birds’ Cory Lockwood’s scream vocals filled the room, a mosh pit was already in the making. The ridiculously long changeover almost had me indifferent by the last set, but A Lot Like Birds’ first song converted. Lockwood’s onstage antics, Ben Wiacek’s guitar skills and the stage presence of the entire band created an epic atmosphere.

The witty banter among the band’s members and some random guy’s failed attempt to crowd-surf were entertaining, but A Lot Like Birds’ ending performance was definitely the cherry on top. (Jamie Santiago)