¡Viva Christmas! El Vez and Los Straitjackets @ Bowery Ballroom 12/06/09


Along with the snow on Saturday came another hint of Christmas. Or should I say, “Con la nieve el sábado vino otra insinuación de Navidad?” Teaming up for their holiday tour, ¡Viva Christmas! El Vez and Los Straitjackets brought some wintry cheer to the Bowery.

El Vez, the “Mexican Elvis” and his lovely Elvettes (two comedic, enthusiastic and somewhat scantily clad backup singer/dancers) provided the vocals and hilarity, and Los Straitjackets supplied the sensational surf rock to create a show that was, indeed, muy bueno.

Playing a medley of gussied-up Christmas tunes and spreading a message of peace, El Vez, the “King of Rock y Roll” was a riotous performer. “Feliz Navidad” made its way into the evening on more than one occasion, along with “Mamacita Donde Esta Santa Claus” and a version of “Jingle Bell Rock” that is more about drojas than dancing, but, half the fun of the evening was seeing what crazy outfits El Vez and the Elvettes would walk on the stage in next. From toy tin soldier outfits to dazzling disco threads, the costumes kept getting bolder and funnier.

The instrumental, Mexican mask-wearing quartet, known as Los Straitjackets, featuring Eddie Angel and Daddy-O Grande on guitars, was awe-inspiring. Having several chances during El Vez’s costume changes to showcase their talent with guitar solos and duets, every note they plucked, strummed and slapped was as satisfying as the last. With funky precision and remarkable speed, Los Straitjackets shined on carols such as “Jingle Bells” and “Deck the Halls.”

The New York trio Stumblebum Brass Band opened the show. The group pieced together a tuba, trumpet, drums and Louis Armstrong-like vocals into a jazzy ska-punk puzzle. The group’s name seemed appropriate, especially for lead singer Smidge Malone, who did seem a bit stumbly.

Amy Hamblen

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