Chestnuts roasting. Jack Frost nipping. Yuletide carols being sung by the self-described “Mexican Elvis,” and folks dressed up like luchadores — mask-wearing Mexican wrestlers. Isn’t that how that one goes?
Well, that’s how it went at the 9:30 club last night, where Los Straitjackets — an ace surf-rock quartet out of, um, Nashville, despite their custom of performing in those sharp Mexican wrestling headpieces — were the house band for a bizarro 90-minute Christmas party hosted by East L.A. novelty singer/activist El Vez, who made good on his promise to spread “Santarchy,” and James Brown-like front splits, to the masses.
You could even call it a traditional program of holiday fare, assuming the Burlesque is the tradition you mean. Flanked by his two lovely Elvettes, Vez relied as much on his rapidfire banter, barn-broad comedy, and costume changes — more than a Beyonce-hosted ball masque — to carry the show as on the music.
But the tunes were fun, too, dizzying mashups of naughtily reclaimed seasonal standards and pop pastiches: He’s dreaming of a brown Christmas, just like the ones in Mexico, and the Jingle Bell “Rock” he’s crooning about is the kind that comes with Federal sentencing guidelines. Who else would segue from “Silent Night” into Oasis’s “Champagne Supernova,” changing the latter’s lyrics to “Suped-up Chevy Nova” in one of dozens of self-mocking references to Mexican-American stereotypes? Never mind. It was a rhetorical question.
Whenever all this determined hilarity threatened to curdle into tedium, Vez would let Los Straitjackets trick out “Sleigh Ride” or “Deck the Halls” “Marshmallow World” as a vehicle for their blistering Ventures-style instrumental workouts. If all you want for Christmas is a rock and roll electric guitar, this was the gig for you.