Mo City Don: The Best of The Week
Okay Houston, it’s July 4th weekend, and like most red blooded Americans, you want to get out and get your sparkler waving, tall boy drinking hands on some serious weekend fun. Aren’t you lucky that I’ve perused most of our city’s goings on for you? Here’s how to make the most of your independence.
On Wednesday over at Rudyard’s, comedian Brian Zeolla will host one of his biggest Level Up shows to date; with some serious heavy hitters. The Level Up with Johnny Pemberton and Josh Fadem should be one heck of a killer show. Though both Pemberton and Fadem are accomplished comics, you may actually know them from other places. Pemberton has been in movies like “21 Jump Street,” “22 Jump Street,” as well as stints on “Kroll Show,” and “Bob’s Burgers.” Fadem has been everywhere from “30 Rock,” to “Key and Peele,” and “Comedy Bang! Bang!” to name a few. Both of these hilarious comics will be co-headlining at Rudz. If that wasn’t enough, Beta Bracket’s inaugural winner Bob Morrissey will also be cracking you up, while Zeolla hosts. The doors are at 7:00, it’s 21 & up, and the tickets are a measly $5.00, so you have no excuse not to go.
If for some strange reason comedy isn’t your deal, then you could make it over to Fitzgerald’s to catch the indie pop folk of Brooklyn’s Streets of Laredo. I actually lucked out and caught these guys when they played at Warehouse Live recently, and I was impressed with how melodic and catchy they were without sacrificing any folk cred. They’re touring in support of their most recent release, this year’s amazing sounding “Lonsdale Lane.” They’ll be bringing one of the catchiest and best sounding newer acts going, Virginia’s The Hunts. This seven piece seems to hit all of the best points of folk with occasional mandolin, violin, keys, and group vocals; so you should definitely check them out. The doors are at 8:00 and the tickets are between $10.00 and $14.00.
But, if these aren’t your idea of a good time, then the guys over at Murderland Collective will be dropping the 2nd year anniversary of their “White Girl Wasted Wednesday.” Over at XL, the bass will be thumping while the records spin as Hooligan pairs with Athena GOW, Cue T, Mad Mike & RVWWVR will drop some drum and bass, and Rob Bass & Panchitron blow you away with their insane skills. Sew Dough and Trill Nye will close things up, while the entire evening will be hosted by the likes of Buda Love who will also MC alongside Panchitron. It’s FREE for 21 & up, $5.00 for 18-20, and things get thumping around 9:00. This is about as dope as these kinds of shows go, so I’d suggest making it out for this one.
On Thursday the 3rd, the guys over at the IMPROV have the likes of comedian Sean Patton, actually for the whole weekend. This guy has been on Comedy Central, Jimmy Fallon, and Conan, and this New York comic has even been in the New York Times. A pretty upfront and easy going guy, Patton has a fairly quick pace at which his punchlines come out and when I saw him a couple of years back, he killed. Like most shows at the IMPROV, two local comedians will be on the show, so it’s definitely a good idea to get there early. The Thursday show has an 8:00 door and the tickets are $15.00 and $25.00.
You could also make it over to the House of Blues to catch Steve Earle & The Dukes. I don’t really know what can be said about Earle that hasn’t been said before. He falls somewhere between the working man’s song slinger and some sort of folklore hero. As someone who’s seen him with a full band, I can say that if you like him solo, you’ll love the full show. Most of these shows with The Dukes have had favorable reviews, and the fact that the gorgeous duo of The Mastersons are opening things up; makes it an even better show. The two are already members of Earle’s backing band, and their southern charm mixed with NYC folksiness is pretty amazing. The doors are at 7:00 and the tickets fall between $20.00 and $29.50.
And then, in case you just wanna’ smash stuff, then maybe Austin’s Krum Bums can help with that over at Mango’s. These guys have kept the tradition of GBH era punk rock going, complete with Brit sounding vocals. They’ll be joined Baltimore’s Ravagers, who kind of have that Ramones meets Zodiac Killers kind of sound; which translates to full throttle punk rock. Houston’s punkers Some Nerve will be on the bill, while Houston’s The Velostacks will throw back the evening to when punks where confined to garages. The doors are at 8:00, the show is all ages, and the cover is $10.00.
So, it goes without saying that many places will be closed on Friday the 4th. However, if you just haven’t gotten enough of the Houston heat, you can always venture down to Eleanor Tinsley Park, or where FPSF is always at; for the Freedom Over Texas Festival. The show has a multitude of performers that will be capped off by a solo performance by country artist Jennifer Nettles. Kids under 5 are free, tickets are $8.00 prior, and $10.00 the day of, and things run from 4:00 to 10:00.
Of course, if you are a huge fan of Poison Idea, then you’ll more than likely be at Walter’s for the P.R.O.B.L.E.M.S. show. These guys will definitely bring the punk rock hammer with them all the way from Portland. I’m a pretty big Poison Idea fan, so this should be worth making it out for, as these guys seem to almost sound better with a bit more melody. They will be joined by San Antonio’s Ill Informed as well as Houston’s Thug Boots. The doors are at 8:00 and the show is $7.00.
Then, there’s possibly the cooler of the July 4th happenings going on over at 2215 Commerce, with the First Friday Potluck & Jamz show. Though you’re encouraged to bring your own chair, cup, and eating utensils; there is free food & a bunch of bands playing. The show is headlined by Houston’s Children Of Pop, who I don’t think I can say enough good things about. These guys live up to their name with a sort of Happy Mondays meet The Ting Tings sound. They will be preceded by Houston’s Make, who seriously make beats, make remixes, and make some seriously amazing work. Noah should have his mind put in the Smithsonian for other artists to examine one day, as he’s that intense and definitely worth seeing. The hip hop of NIKKHOO is on board, as well as the orchestrated chaos of Whit and the jazzy sounds of eleven piece group, Howl and the Rougarou. The soulful sounds of King Cashmere will start things off with doors at 7:00 and a suggested $5.00 donation.
On Saturday, basically every place that was closed on the fourth, will be open on the fifth. This starts off with comedian Red Grant over at Warehouse Live. The seated show over in the ballroom is close to selling out from what I hear, and there’s no reason it shouldn’t because Grant is hilarious. In your face, on point, and quick to the punchlines; Red Grant should tear it up on Saturday night. Of course, you’ll also get the likes of some of Houston’s funniest comics with the never ending hustle of Rich Williams. If you’ve never seen Rich work a crowd, this is the night to see it in front of a packed house, where you can see it come off better than most. He’ll have Blue DaComic going up in front of him, with the hilarious Ben Jackson slaying the crowd as well. One of Houston’s best new comics, Ashton Womack will be following opener Orlando Villarreal, and the evening is hosted by Marcus Bowers. The doors are at 7:00, it’s an all ages show, and the tickets range between $20.00 and $35.00. Keep in mind, as a seated show, the capacity is 450, not the usual 1350; so grab tickets quickly if you want to attend.
There’s also the Z-Ro show going on over at Fitzgerald’s upstairs. It’s pretty cool that those who were associated with DJ Screw are still going strong, and Z-Ro might be the best of those still going. Z-Ro has taken on HPD, women in his life, and everyone else in his rhymes; and it seems like there isn’t much that can slow him down. He’ll have a pretty epic opener with Houston’s iLL Liad. ILL might be one of Houston’s best up and comers who seems to have his name down as opener on tons of hip hop shows coming up. If you haven’t seen him live, this is your chance as he never disappoints; and on this show, you’ll get a lot of bang for your buck. The doors are at 9:00, the tickets range between $20.00 and $32.00, and it’s an all ages show.
If you just aren’t a fan of hip hop, then Beta Theater has a show that might still have hip going on, when Nick Meriwether hosts The Guest Room show. The show features out of town comics, and this lineup is a doozy, featuring the best comics in Austin going. Cody Hustak was voted as Austin’s Funniest comic, while Ryan Cownie was voted as the Second Funniest. They will be joined by the hilarity of Duncan Carson, alongside the funny Chris Tellez. Zac Brooks will be making you laugh with Meriwether, and the show follows Beta’s “pay what you can” idea. The doors are at 8:00 and it should sell out quick, so get there early.
Starting at 6:00 over in the Continental Club area, they have a benefit show for Montrose Grace Place, called Grace Note. The show will take place at Continental as well as at Big Top. The Continental starts things off at 7:00, and it features the likes of most of Houston’s up and coming bands. At Continental, things kick off with the old world sounds of Pasadena’s The Genuine Snake Oil Band. The 1930’s swing of vocalist Katie Coats that mixes with the jazzy rhythms within, make them worth getting there early for.
They’ll be followed by the guitar infused folky sounds of Nathan Quick. Quick reminds me of a mix of John Prine meets Tom Petty, and I’d suggest checking him out live. He’ll be followed by The Brunson Theater, which features Chase Hamblin. These guys shy away from Chase’s usual offering, and they kind of have a sound that’s closer to The Doors at the quiet times, while having that Replacements sound at others. They still sound as epic and grand as anything Chase is attached to, and they should be a treat to catch live.
They will have everyone in Houston’s current favorite band, BLSHS following, and they’ll more than likely blow everyone away. In the world of electronic music, so many acts can be….well boring. However, anyone who’s seen BLSHS will tell you that they’re far from it, and you almost feel like Michelle is singing just to you on every song. If you have missed them at any of the festivals they’ve recently played, this is your chance to see them blow you away.
Possibly the only act who can follow BLSHS is that of Houston’s The Wheel Workers. If you haven’t seen these guys live, you’re definitely missing out as their most recent release, 2023’s “Past To Present” is as infectious as it is inventive. Their power pop meets indie rock sound might be one of the better sounds to come from Houston in recent memory. Chase Hamblin and The Roustabouts will come after, and if you have been paying attention, I’ve been talking this guy’s stuff up lately. But, it’s for good reason as he’s seriously underwritten in this town, and his Beatles-esque pop sound that’s mixed with southern twang is one of the most original sounds you’re gonna’ hear in a while. All the good from the past is peppered throughout Chase’s work, and he’s figured out a way to make it his own, so check him out.
The doom metal of Houston’s Project Armageddon will close up things at Continental, but isn’t that as it should be. I mean, there aren’t too many metal bands that I could say are worth catching live nowadays, at least on our local level; or that I’ve seen. And there certainly aren’t too many led by women, but Project Armageddon is both. I don’t know if you can even listen to other metal acts without comparing them to the inventive and rhythmic changes of this Houston three piece. Whenever I hear The Sword, who I love, I always feel like they’re just covering Project.
However, there are also bands playing at Big Top, which starts at 7:30, starting with the female three piece, Giant Kitty. I have to be honest when I say that these ladies remind me like a mix of L-7 and Bikini Kill; but with less squealing. I caught them earlier in the year, so I can attest that you should check them out as they pack a pretty energetic punch. They’ll be followed by the powerful vocals of singer/songwriter Charity Ann. I’ve never caught her live, but I can say that from what I’ve heard, she’s worth checking out; if not for any other reason than hearing her powerful pipes.
She will be followed by Tan Dragon Clan, who will bring their garage rock sounds to life. These guys are a duo that doesn’t sound like one, so they should be impressive. The bluesy sounds of Robin Kirby will remind you of a mix of Janis Joplin and Melissa Etheridge, and she’s after Tan Dragon. Of course, one of the more impressive three pieces in Houston, Only Beast will bring their Sleater Kinney meets Yeah Yeah Yeahs sound to the show after Kirby. If you haven’t seen Only Beast, I’d seriously suggest catching them, as they have such a magnetic energy, that you’re mesmerized by their stage presence. Their singer Danielle Renee might be one of the strongest vocalists in Houston that you’ll hear in a long time.
The spacey guitar rock of Houston’s Devil Killing Moth will close things up over at Big Top. as you can tell, this is a lot of bang for the $10.00 cover price, and 100% of the door will go to benefit Grace Place. You can also bring other donations as well as cash.
On Sunday, you can head over to Avant Garden for the Dr Sketchy Burlesque Figure Drawing class. This class will be taught by Avant’s resident artist/teacher/bartender Hannah Bull, and will feature the models Hippy Vixen & Fox Trot. You’ll get the fun of learning figure drawing, of two sexy subjects, while having a drink away from the Houston heat. They ask that you bring your own drawing supplies, the cover is $10.00, and it gets started at 2:00.
If you don’t want to learn how to draw, then you can also learn how to stay afloat at the July Sixth Boat Bash. The show that takes place on Lake Conroe, will feature Austin’s rock in rollers American Sharks and Houston’s high octane sounds of We Were Wolves. If there are any tickets left, they can be obtained here, and you have to meet at Boondocks at 4:00 or you won’t get to go. There will be a ride to and from the boat, food, music, and more beverages than you can drink included in the price. This will be a blast for all in attendance, and you’ll more than likely hear the phrase, “I’m on a Boat” more than you’ll hear all year.
Just think, our Summer in Houston is just a quarter of the way over. We all appreciate our independence, so please be mindful of your limits, be kind to other Houstonians, and start gearing up for another great holiday weekend in our wonderful city.