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Xmas at the Grog 

Monday, December 25, at the Grog Shop.

Christmas shows almost always feature three, four bands that sound radically different from one another. That's because promoters scramble to fill holiday bills with whoever is willing to play. Regardless, these gigs, like any pan-Asian buffet worth a damn, promote true diversity -- just check out this year's Xmas at the Grog.

As with most Hydra Head acts, Keelhaul's chops-laden metalcore unfolds kinda like an epileptic slamming your head into a dumpster -- slow, heavy thuds precede manic, rapid-fire outbursts, which suddenly stop. Then the whole punishing process repeats itself, until the band gets paid.

Roué reeks of classic Dischord-bred emo. Of course, these days when the much-maligned e-word gets tossed around, it refers to such overproduced teen idols as My Chemical Romance, but these This Moment in Black History labelmates strip away the slick pop, injecting their dissonant, post-hardcore anthems with a sweaty physicality.

Openers: Tall Pines. Sure, it's guitar rock -- like Keelhaul and Roué. But let's not overlook the ancient Zen koan: Never toss your tabby in with the zoo's lion exhibit just because they're all cats. But don't fret; Tall Pines will fare just fine come Christmas Day. The group's scratchy post-punk comes wired with sing-along melodies and pub-rock panache. It'll be the perfect gift for Keelhaul's aggro fan base.

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