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THE RADIO CITY CHRISTMAS SPECTACULAR
4 p.m. and 7 p.m., Alltel Arena. $25-$59.
The Rockettes call what they do precision dance for a reason. Every one of the 186 members worldwide, 24 of whom will perform at Alltel, stands between 5-foot-6 and 5-foot-10. All wear 3-inch heels. All dress identically in things like sequined puff squirts, candy-striped corsets and giant bows. All maintain toothy smiles. When they kick —approximately 300 times per show — two-dozen legs snap up precisely waist high. This is the 76th anniversary of the founding of the dance troupe, and in routines that involve chorus lines and sassy hats there's an obvious sense of that history. But those leg kicks, with their whiplash-inducing thrust and straight-line symmetry, will always be modern. Plus, there's “snow” falling on the crowd, an “immense” LED screen that projects all sorts of holiday scenes and, at one point, Santa somehow flies over in his sleigh. Read more on the Rockettes in the Dec. 11 A&E feature on-line at arktimes.com. LM.
ARKANSAS SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA YULETIDE SPECTACULAR
8 p.m., Robinson Center Music Hall. $17-$72.
In his final Yuletide Spectacular — we're up to number five for those keeping score at home — Maestro David Itkin mines old favorites from his past 15 years at the helm of the ASO. Songs like “Santa's Gonna Rock and Roll,” “I Want a Hippopotamus for Chrismas,” “I'm Getting Nuttin' for Christmas,” “Silent Night” and “White Christmas.” As usual, the concert is chock full of guest performers, including dancers from the Shuffles and Ballet II, the Central Arkansas Youth Choir, the Old School Bluegrass Band and vocalists Mary Ann Robinson, Matt Newman, Leslie Harper and Mary Katelin Ward. The ASO reprises the spectacular with two Saturday performances, at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. LM.
SCHOOL BOY HUMOR
8:30 p.m., Vino's. $8.
What do you get when you cross three Brogans and a Morgan? A band with not two, but three brothers and a fourth who has to endure them. I'm just guessing, but the band's name probably isn't the natural extension of PM Dawn. “We started out not in a band and then we got in one,” says PM Today on its web site, which is about as cool and funny a band quote as any I've read lately. Actively preparing for a road stint in early 2009, the fellas have three road shows in January before burning through the final half of March from Minnesota to Fort Smith. They're joined by fellow kings-of-the-local-emo-punk scene School Boy Humor, who not long ago made an album on Vagrant Records and who, at least on their MySpace page, count Vitamin Water and Crunk!!! Energy Drink among their sponsors. Don't Call Me Shirley and Tristan Betrayal also perform. PP.
9 p.m., Downtown Music. $5.
There's a regular, inevitable conversation between past movers and shakers in the local scene who've done got old. Or rather less active. It goes like this. Q: Where are all the kids doing what we did? A: They don't exist. Of course, that's how nostalgia works: the halcyon days are always in the past. Unless, that is, you're in your teens or 20s and like to dance. Because those hundreds are buying digital turntables, they're buying samplers, they're downloading more music in a week than most of us heard all year in the '80s and they're throwing some really live parties. Perhaps none more so than Cool Shoes, the monthly get-down at Downtown Music that's lately been packing in somewhere in the neighborhood of 300 folks. Last month, when the headlining DJ, a skinny kid from Conway who speeds up and glitches out Southern rap, took the stage, the crowd went berserk. On Friday, the lineup includes the experimental, beat-heavy instrumental act Western Meds (9 p.m.), Discovery regular Kecia (10 p.m.), event organizers and DJs Shawn Lee and Risky Biz (11 p.m.), impressive young MC Maxx and event curator and resident old dude (he's young at heart) Deeter (12:15- 2 a.m.). LM.
JOHN PAUL KEITH AND THE ONE, FOUR, FIVES
10 p.m., White Water Tavern. $5.
John Paul Keith rediscovered music on Beale Street. After a decade that saw him quit the heralded alt-country band the Viceroys (over a shift in the band's musical direction), signed to Sire Records (only to have his band's record shelved) and backing Ryan Adams in the studio (only to have his band tour with Adams without him), Keith moved to Memphis in 2005 with all intentions of hanging it up. But when he needed money, he still had the chops and a friend hooked him up with a gig on Beale Street, and that's all it took. He's been part of Memphis' thriving roots-punk scene since, touring and recording with the likes of Harlan T. Bobo and Jack Oblivian and, of course, leading the One, Four, Fives. Keith leads that band to town on Friday to celebrate the release of their debut LP, “Spill and Thrills.” If it's anything like the band's live show, an infectious throwback to the good ole days of rock 'n' roll, it might make a nice from-me, to-me early Christmas present. Local singer/songwriter Jonathan Wilkins opens with a full band. LM.
KEVIN KERBY AND BATTERY / THE REDS
9 p.m., White Water Tavern. $5.
It's the holidays. Or close enough that its time for local power bills. Friends are home from distant cities. Everyone stopped working (or at least, you know, working). So look out for big crowds and mass drunkenness. Supplying the soundtrack: prolific local singer/songwriter Kevin Kerby previews songs from his forthcoming album with his band Battery, which, lately, is Geoff Curran (guitars), Joshua Bentley (bass) and Marcus Lowe (drums). The Reds, who last year released an excellent debut album, “Economy of Motion,” have played out far less frequently this year. They have jobs and babies. So treasure their spare, but hook-heavy new wave. Also on the bill, the little heard trio Drunken Angels, made up of Last Chance Records head honcho Travis Hill, Mikey Hayes and Tracy Sanchez, all of whom play guitar and sing a little. LM.
9:30 p.m., Juanita's. $8 adv., $10 d.o.s.
Rumors of Machina's demise have been greatly exaggerated, despite a lack of presence on the road and a relatively silent 2008. The lineup includes Jacksonville-born, former Evanescence drummer Rocky Gray, who's been a staple on the Arkansas metal scene since the early 1990s and also played lead guitar for Living Sacrifice. Guitarist John LeCompt, also formerly of Evanescence, began collaborating in 2005 with Future Leaders of the World lead singer Phil Taylor and bassist Thad Ables, eventually becoming Machina. Last year, the alt-metal band released an EP and toured extensively. Currently in Nashville crafting its debut album with hit-making guru Toby Wright, Machina's performance with supporters Brookroyal and Altus Project should make for quite a heavy and memorable show. P.S., it's open to ages 18 and up. PP.
ISAAC ALEXANDER / LOCH NESS MONSTER / GRAND SERENADE
9 p.m., Vino's. $6.
And yet another seasonal excuse to spend time away from your family. As it does every year, local label Max Recordings bookends Christmas with at least two seasonal showcases. On Christmas Eve eve, the label puts forth three acts that have relatively recently put out new albums. A member/leader of bands like the Easys, Big Silver and the Boondogs, Isaac Alexander earlier this year released a classic study in contradictions, a lush pop album filled with somber themes. Live, he's likely to recruit familiar players from the local scene. In the fall, Loch Ness Monster released “Eleven Traditional Songs,” a sardonic, wildly experimental record that's likely to sound even more so live. Grand Serenade's latest, “Lean Times,” came out last year, but its soaring melodies and hook-y arrangements are ripe for rediscovery. LM.