Damn These Vampires: The Best of The Week
Photo: Merge Records
This is one of those weeks where all they hype of the prior three weeks, make it seem almost light. Think of it, last week we hosted Drake, the week before we hosted Beer Fest, and the week before that we had Free Press Summer Fest. This week, is more reflective of those weeks we see in the beginning of the year, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have tons of options. Here’s what you should be doing this week.
Starting things off right this week, is a pretty killer comedy show over at Improv, with the hilarity of Chris Fonseca. This guy might be one of the most infectious comics to take the stage, with a great attitude and a pretty hefty lineup of jokes. Fonseca has made television appearances on The Late Show, HBO, and The American Comedy awards, as well as Howard Stern. You might be thrown off by the fact that Fonseca has cerebral palsy, but after you watch him kill a crowd; you’ll realize that he’s better than a lot of comics who can stand. There aren’t details on who the openers are yet, but you can be assured that the show will carry two of Houston’s funniest. The show is at 8:00 and tickets are only $15.00.
For anyone who lives under a rock, Juneteenth is currently going on, and one of the best performers from New Orleans will be putting on a FREE show on Thursday night. Over at Miller Outdoor Theater, the amazingly talented and robust range of Allen Toussaint will be wowing all in attendance. You know those moments in your life when you hear a piano cut through to your soul, and and you still have enough emotion left to enjoy the melody? His latest album, “Tic Toc” is something you could listen to while you and your special other make out or cook dinner; but either way, it’s pretty amazing. Few people know where Gause is in Texas, but I’m sure you’ve heard of R&B singer, Ruthie Foster, who’s actually from there. She will drop some serious emotions when she plays, as well as the sincere vocals of Niko Lorraine, also playing. Houston will also get a real treat when Vivalda Dula opens things up with her immensely passionate rhythmic vocals. There’s always free seating on the hill, but you can also pick up up to four free seated tickets if there are any available. Things get started around 7:00.
Of course, there might be a part of you that wants to either laugh or at least praise god while you listen to metal. Luckily for you, you can do just that if you venture out to the Concert Pub Thursday night; when Stryper comes to town. Come on now, you can admit that there’s at least part of you that wants to see some guys rock out in matching bumble bee leather outfits, right? Since my older brother went through a hair metal phase, I’m pretty sure that this is the original lineup; though the show doesn’t mention openers. The band will be touring in support of their latest album, “No More Hell To Pay,” and I’m pretty sure Jesus wants you to go to this show. You’re gonna have to really want to go though, because the tickets are like $33.00 after surcharges. The show is 18 and up, and the doors are at 7:00.
Over at Mango’s, you can catch NYC fun punk meets prank rockers, Crazy & The Brains. These guys in a strange way, remind me of early Elvis Costello. Not that they’re on that level, just that there’s a bit of infection to their fun and melodic sound. They will have Adam Bricks on the show with his full band as well, which should bring some soulful melodies on board. Bricks’ is one of those guys who seems to channel Leonard Cohen, Robert Pollard, and Bob Dylan; so you should get there to catch him live. The melodic sounds and blissful melody of Houston’s The Caldwell will open things up. The show is all ages, it get’s started around 9:00, and it’s a measly $5.00.
On Friday, there are plenty of reasons why you should consider making it over to Fitzgerald’s for the twentieth anniversary of Houston ska legends Los Skarnales. Here’s the deal, ska is pretty much dead, and there are really only a handful of notable bands still playing it. But, in the timeline of Houston’s music scene, Skarnales has made an imprint that can’t be denied; and their energy when they play live is something everyone should see. The bump and fifties grind of Austin’s The Jungle Rockers will add some spice, while the traditional Latin sounds of Houston’s Reyno Sabanero will mix things up. Austin’s roots and two tone DJ, Heart & Soul Soundsystem will get things started with an 8:00 door time, and a $15.00 cover, that will include the new Los Skarnales CD.
So, sometimes a show can sound awesome, but the lack of details can make you scratch your head. Over at Avant Garden, Owen Dunn and Albert Deleon are putting their “Apartment 8” web series name to good use by hosting a comedy show. The plan it seems is to do the show in the round upstairs at Avant, where the audience surrounds the comics. It sounds like a good idea, and the comics are the hilarious Zach Dickson, the direct and self deprecating Lena Silva, and heckler destroying Micah Green. They recently added Gabe Bravo and Alan Adams, so it should be a barn burner. Deleon and Dunn will also be on the bill. It starts at 9:00 and it’s FREE, so there’s that. But if it’s like their porn theater show, you should get there before 9:00 because that one had people hanging on the stairs it was so packed.
Then there’s the option of making it out to see some people dance in the “normcore” way, seriously. So, normcore is a trend, or a fashion statement, or something where people basically dress normal; which, sounds like Mitt Romney just got relevant again. If donning oneself in bland colors is hip, then Steve Irwin’s widow is probably seriously stoked right now. I’m not sure I follow it, but in the spirit of the trend The Suchu Dance will be performing The Normal Corporation starting Friday. If you’re unaware of Suchu Dance, they’ve been around since the late nineties, and they almost always have some form of entertaining and new artful approach to dance and how they present it. I have a feeling that this has the ability to be insanely entertaining, so get ready for all that the show entails. As an added bonus, all of the “normal” and bland attire that the show is based on, will also be for sale at the shows. The doors are at 8:00 and the tickets are between $17.00 and $20.00. There is a performance on Monday the 23rd, that’s pay what you can; if you can’t make or afford the Friday and Saturday shows.
If dance isn’t your bag, then maybe going to Beta Theater for some comedy meets improv meets whatever else may transpire is up your alley? “Grow Up: An Evening with Ben Mattice” promises to be no less than an evening filled with what ifs, when Ben attempts his first headlining comic gig. Because it’s Beta and it carries the pay what you can model, at worst you’ll see a guy try new things to the tune of cold beer and the art of trying. As with most performances at Beta, this up in the air type of show will more than likely be entertaining and carry the possibility of some true hilarity. The doors are at 9:00 and pay what you can means, no nickels and dimes please.
On Saturday, you have more options than usual, which can start off the 3rd annual Summer Street Arts Festival. This year, the beverages are complimentary with your ticket, so you’re guaranteed to at least get some band with your buck seeing how 8th Wonder Brewery is one of the sponsors. It’s a twelve hour event that will feature indoor and outdoor stages, a fashion show, and if that weren’t enough; some great live music. Without mentioning everyone, just know that three acts everyone in Houston should catch ASAP are on this. The likes of Shotgun Funeral, who has that gypsy vibe with multiple instruments that is impossible to dislike. The sick sounds of Josiah Gabriel, who might be one of Houston’s most creative mixes of sound and sound manipulation. And if that wasn’t enough for you, Superstar DJ Keoki will cap off the evening with some serious DJ magic. This all starts at 2:00 pm, the tickets are $15.00, and there are more art installations than you’ll see anywhere else.
Of course, no one would think you were crazy if you opted to catch a hilarious.comedy troupe from Austin over at Station Theater. STAG Comedy will be bringing their usually funny and offbeat humor to Houston with their new cop based show, “Below The Law.” Like most STAG performances, a mix of video and live performance should pepper throughout, and make this one of those shows you really have to see live. If you like The State or Tim & Eric, then you really need to make it out for this one. Amy Birkhead and Antoine Culbreath will also be making you laugh with their “Feelings” show, while the entire evening will be hosted by the hilarious Brian Zeolla. The doors are at 8:00, the show is BYOB, and the tickets are a miniscule $6.00.
If you’re like me, you remember when hip hop was a cast of characters that had more swag than the cast of a Tyler Perry movie. One of those characters was LA’s Too $hort, in a time when rap wasn’t gangsta; but was far ahead of the likes of The Sugar Hill Gang. Too $hort has been in the game long enough to have a book written about him, and he’ll bring his hip hop swag to Houston on Saturday. Well, he’s technically in Clear Lake because he’s performing at Scout Bar. As long as he performs longer than the twenty five minute set I saw him do about five years ago, this should be the perfect blast from the past show for any hip hop fan. Touring alongside Too, is E-40, who appeared a 2024 release with Short called, “History: Mob Music & Function Music.” E-40 has been around since the early nineties, and his ties to the South can’t be denied. Dem Dayum Twinz, Kiowa, and if I’m not mistaken, for some bizarre reason, punk rockers Conflict. The doors are at 8:00, it’s 18 & up, and the tickets are $26.00 or $100.00 if you really, really, really want to meet Too $hort.
Then, there’s The Mountain Goats duo tour happening over at Fitzgerald’s on Saturday. What can I say about these guys that hasn’t already been said, or that bassist Peter Hughes offered up when I interviewed him; they’re pretty legendary. I don’t think I can express the hundreds of reasons you should catch them live, as they are an amazingly great live band. This show is a duo show, which means they’ll be going deep into their extensive back catalog of songs. Singer John Darnielle might be as close to a living legend as my generation will get, and his prolific nature sets him apart from many songwriters today. The North Carolina duo of Loamlands will get things started off with their southern charm, and their almost Old 97’s meets Patti Griffin type of sound. This looks like a winner from all aspects, it’s all ages, and the doors are at 8:00. The tickets range between $20.00 and $24.50, and they’re worth every penny.
There is sure to be a part of you that thinks there is nothing left in Houston on Saturday, however you’d be dead wrong to think that. Over at The Continental Club, the genius of James McMurtry will be dropping some mad Texas based science on all in attendance. McMurtry might be one of the last Southern poets left in a world of theologians. I’ve always looked at him as the Bob Dylan of Texas, and he’s sure to mesmerize you with his amazing lyrics that are only matched equally by his well crafted songs. To help seal the deal for you, Grand Old Grizzly will bring their americana meets country sounds to the show as they open things up. If for some strange reason you missed these guys at FPSF this year, let me tell you why you should make it out for them on Saturday. Away from the fact that you’ll see them with McMurtry, these guys might be one of our city’s best kept secrets. With a mix of John Fogerty meets Old 97’s, Grand Old Grizzly has that certain sound that stays in your head days after each listen. Things get going around 9:00 and the cover is $20.00.
On Sunday, you’d be doing yourself a disservice if you didn’t make it over to Last Concert Cafe for the Attack of The Comedy Show featuring Slim Bloodworth. Bloodworth will be making her way back to the Houston stage with her irreverent and biting comedic style. She’ll get some help from the likes of Lena Silva, Jami Shofner, Carl Hunter, Michael Dimitrius Paras, and Micah Green. This is a pretty hefty list of comics, and it’s great for those who don’t want the confines of a comedy club. The entire evening is hosted by Al Bahmani, it gets started around 8:00, and as far as I can tell, it’s 100% FREE, so you have no reason not to attend.
For some reason,there’s also a comedy show at Notsuoh on Sunday. The HTX Comedy Showcase, will host some more of Houston’s best comics, if you’d rather make your way to Main Street. The hilarious comedian Bryson Brown will be headlining the evening, in a role that definitely suits his impeccable style. Brown could be one of the next big acts to come out of Texas if all the stars align, and he’s definitely a must see act in the world of comedy. He’ll be joined by John Nguyen, Gabe Bravo, and Warren Wright in an evening hosted by MyCal De’de. The doors are at 7:30 there’s a promise of Free pizza, and it’s a pay what you can show, so don’t be a jerk and pay like $5.00.
On Monday, there’s a little known show going on over at Rudyard’s, when Brief Lives comes to town. The name might not sound so familiar until you realize that Valient Himself from Valient Thorr is in the band. I wouldn’t usually go see one band because another contains someone from a great band; but these guys are pretty good. They kind of have a post hardcore sound that’s mixed with a bit of old school rock overtones. Kind of like Seaweed and old Helmet sounding, if that helps. The show will also feature the likes of Hogleg, who has members of Born Again Virgins, and Poor Dumb Bastards. The heavy sounds of Houston’s Texxxas get things started with doors at 8:00, there’s no mention of what cover is, and it’s 21 & up.
On Tuesday, you can head over to Fitzgerald’s to catch the likes of Florida’s trippy and electronically austere Hundred Waters. There are moments where this group sounds like Bjork and Stereolab had a baby, and this is cut by often driving synths. It should be a fun show to see downstairs when the softer dreamy eyed sound of GEMS blows the crowd away with their singer’s beautiful voice. The amazingly well crafted pop driven space odyssey that is Houston’s Children of Pop will do our city proud as openers with doors at 8:00 and tickets ranging from $10.00 to $14.00.
It’s just another week filled with laughs, great sounds, and another festival. I’m pretty sure you’ll kick yourself if you don’t make it out for most of this stuff, while our city proves time and again, what makes it so great.