The song “Father Christmas,” a 1977 single by The Kinks, is a Christmas classic for those who hate saccharine holiday songs — a catchy blast of rock and roll about a gang of poor kids who rough up a department store Santa Claus.
The song, performed with just the right amount of punk vigor and attitude, is a staple of holiday shows by the Figgs, a rock band who formed in Saratoga Springs as teenagers 28 years ago. The band’s three members — guitarist Mike Gent, bassist Pete Donnelly and drummer Pete Hayes — all live in different Northeastern cities now, but return to the Capital Region to perform several times a year.
The Figgs’ annual Christmastime show at the Low Beat in Albany is a tradition especially cherished by local fans, and Saturday night’s performance left no one disappointed. During a high-spirited 28-song set that included two encores, the band fed off the energy of long-time fans who crowded the stage, singing along to tunes that spanned nearly three decades.
With a glowing abominable snowman lit up at the back of the stage, and strings of colorful Christmas lights wound around Hayes’ drum kit, the band kicked off the show with three amped-up tracks from their 2006 “Follow Jean Through the Sea” album: “Breaking Through These Gates,” “Regional Hits” and “Let Me Hold You.”
“We’re running a little bit hot tonight,” Gent said after noting that the band had to end their set the night before at New York City’s Bowery Electric a bit early for his liking, so they planned to play extra long for the Albany crowd.
Although they’ve been together for so long, giving band members an uncanny musical simpatico that makes their onstage alchemy so enjoyable, the Figgs have never stopped evolving musically. They retain their scrappy pop-punk roots but have stretched out into more complex territory that encompasses sprawling rock to melodic pop.
They just finished recording a forthcoming new album, and the band debuted several of their brand-new tracks — including Donnelly’s blissful “Your Smile Is a Deadly Thing” and Gent’s quirky “Connecting Brains.”
They offered several numbers from solo efforts (Gent’s “Alice the Goon” and Donnelly’s “Face the Bird”), covers of Bob Dylan’s “If Not for You” and the Gravel Pit’s “(Suckin’ on a) Holiday Treat,” and launched their second encore with the blistering one-two combo of “Miss Velvet” and “Powder King.”
The Figgs revisited the teenage-funk of “New Car, No Rent” and “Someone Took the Coffee” from their earliest days as a band, and finished after midnight with a wailing version of “Casino Hayes” that found Gent and Donnelly playing out among the crowd.
Charlie Watts Riots, an Albany power-trio with top-notch songwriting and a powerful live performance, opened the show with a skillful set of power-pop that sounded crisp and sharp. Their set included vital older songs (“Bottom,” “Luanne,” “Destroyed,” “Metal”), a catchy new tune (“I Don’t Mind”), covers (the best was Fountains of Wayne’s “Bright Future in Sales”), and their own holiday classic-in-the-making: “Christmas Fit.”