by John Tarpley
THE BIG CATS
7 p.m. and 10 p.m., White Water Tavern. $6
In Venezuela, people roller skate to Christmas Eve services. Austrian children put their shoes outside their doors so Santa can fill them with nuts and cheeses and Norwegian households traditionally hide their brooms on Christmas Eve to keep mischievous Yuletide witches from stealing them and going on a holiday joyride. Naturally. In Little Rock, however, the annual Big Cats Holiday Show — which stretches back longer than front man Burt Taggart can remember — is a tradition rooted in high holiday spirits both wholesome (seeing old friends back for the holidays, aww) and debauched (a certain Egg Nog Beer Pong Incident of 2004 springs to mind, ick). Simply, it's an evening that brings out the Joy-to-the-World-singing, stocking-stuffing best in everyone. The holidays don't get much more spirited. It's such a reliably great time that it's almost easy to overlook that The Big Cats, those long-tenured punks-gone-wise who are as close to local rock royalty as you'll find, are there to play one of only a couple shows they play each year. Expect previews of their upcoming album, a lineup of bona fide Big Cats classics ("Man of Leisure," "Fayetteville Blues") and more merriment than you can shake a Pooping Log at. (That would be a Spanish Christmas tradition worth Googling.) This year, for the first time, the band is opening their holiday show to the whole family with a special, all-ages evening set at 7 p.m., opened by the pedal-stomping, shaggy-banged high school rockers of It. Won't. Die. At the late show, Velvet Kente delivers a consistently jaw-dropping brand of genre-muddling head-nodders.