Dax Riggs - Photo by Alex Eriksen

Drunk Santas were tromping up and down Second Avenue outside of Mercury Lounge Saturday night. Santacon, the big pub crawl and Santa dress-up fest, kicked off earlier that day and unleashed onto the streets an army of thirsty Saint Nicks. Those waiting in line for the Mercury Lounge late show were treated to a procession of beer-stained red suits stumbling by.
 
Inside, Brooklyn foursome the Dearloves was warming up the crowd and feeling pretty festive itself. Bassist Jess Ledbetter sported a red satin dress to match her flowing red hair. She even donned a Santa hat thrown on stage mid-show. Frontman Michael Pawlowicz put on a bright red leather jacket (eliciting cries of “Thriller!” from the crowd) to play a song called “Red Leather Fucker.” The Brooklyn newcomers first got together in 2010 to play gutter-pop. But the Dearloves can play it both ways, dirty or clean. Pawlowicz likes to bend the tremolo arm on his Fender Mustang early and often, giving the songs a ringing quality.
 
Dax Riggs hit the stage for a performance more seasonally suited for Halloween than Christmas. With a sunburst Epiphone Casino, he rooted himself to one part of the stage like a living statue. He belted out songs from his 2010 album, Say Goodnight To The World, opening with “I Hear Satan.” His wounded voice turned Elvis’ “Heartbreak Hotel” classic rocker into a funeral dirge.
 
Riggs, despite seeming like he had actually crawled from the grave like his lyrics suggest, did show some energy. On the slow-burning, crowd-pleasing “Let Me Be Your Cigarette,” he showed some animation rather than re-animation. Top marks to Mr. Riggs for his wigged-out New Orleans psycho-blues. It’s deeply satisfying in a bad-vibes sort of way, but his live show would benefit much from a little on-stage energy.
 
Photos by Alex Eriksen.