HFS for the holidays

Christmas time is upon us, and you know what that means: Santa Claus, sugar plum fairies and rock bands sacrificing themselves at radio festivals to get some air play. No worries though, because artistic integrity’s loss is your gain, oh noble concertgoer, as WHFS has put together an HFSmas Nutcracker with something for everyone.

If you like pop punk, then you’ll be excited about Good Charlotte. if you want to enjoy songs from their latest album, The Chronicles of Life and Death, be prepared to fight your way through a sea of 12-year-olds on a killer sugar rush up way past their bedtimes.

Franz Ferdinand makes a return for those of us not lucky enough to have seen their show at the 9:30 Club last Father’s Day weekend. These dapper Scots wield guitars and infectious songs about all sorts of harmless debauchery. “Take Me Out” might be the biggest single of the year, and it’s not even the best song on the band’s eponymous debut, (that would be “Dark of the Matinee”), a pulsating collection of tracks to which one can easily become deliriously giddy.

Las Vegas’s the Killers make up the other half of the ’80s revivalist contingent, in the best possible way. Brandon Flowers and the boys’ Hot Fuss is the best album Duran Duran should have made. The Killers’ gender-bending first single “Somebody Told Me” is a good primer for what’s in store: crunchy guitars, suggestive lyrics, lots of synth and keyboards. Even those kids you see with their arms artfully crossed at every show will be dancing.

Keane continues the British tradition of watering down U2. No guitars in this Britpop, thank you very much. And the benefit of this, of course, is that they sound at the very worst like, well, a watered-down U2, which is still pretty good.

Jimmy Eat World is a decent band with the bad fortune of having one of their singles (“The Middle”) played to death a few years ago, engendering some real loathing among certain demographics. No matter, they still make pretty good tunes, even if they did a Guided By Voices cover on The Future Soundtrack for America.

Velvet Revolver is interesting if for no other reason than the fact that singer Scott Weiland and guitarist Slash should both be dead by now. This hard rock fusion of Guns and Roses (minus newly weaved Axel) and Stone Temple Pilots’ singer Weiland released Contraband last year. Try to see them before somebody overdoses again.

Chevelle, Breaking Benjamin and My Chemical Romance round out a lineup so diverse it’s guaranteed to alienate part of the audience at any given point. The advantage, of course, is the flipside – at least part of the audience will simultaneously be happy, assuming it doesn’t veer too far outside the mainstream radio rock universe.

HFSmas Nutcracker 2004 will be held Saturday at the Patriot Center in Fairfax, Va. Doors open at 3:30 p.m. Show begins at 5:30 p.m.

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