For What It’s Worth: The Best of The Week
Leon casino, Photo: Gary Miller
I feel like last week was an eye opener on what makes its way through Houston this time of year. This week is not much different, especially considering that there are some living legends, some up and coming bands, and the great Dave Chappelle will all be here. While we all gear up for the barrage of bad gifts we might get in a couple of weeks, here’s where you should spend your free time this week.
On Wednesday over at Continental Club, the garage rock meets Southern twang of Austin’s The Bad Lovers will be in town. These guys have gotten plenty of praise since they joined the ranks of the Burger City Records group. They dropped a pretty good album last year called “Wild Times” where the four piece brings a mix of garage and Freddy Fender to life. The garage rock pop of Houston’s Mikey and The Drags will also be on the show. If you were unaware, these guys were signed to a label, they’ve toured, and they have a new album set for release sooner than later. They’re pretty much a force that you better see before they leave Houston for good. Their 2013 release, “On The Loose” echoed sounds of past garage rockers while adding a pop spin to the music; like The Kinks in their early days. Birmingham’s country twang meets blues rockers, Banditos will open things up. These guys are on Bloodshot Records, which should be more than enough reason to get there early for them. The show is 21 and up, the doors are at 9:00, and as far as I can tell, there might not be a cover.
As far as Thursday goes, you have more options than usual, which starts off over at Discovery Green where they’re going to get as much life out of that ice rink as possible. The Hot Nights on Ice is a karaoke jam where I’m pretty sure you’ll get in more laughs than you’d expect. It’s an event that’s all ages and is hosted by a radio station that also features the skills of DJ Craz-e-Chico. It gets going at 8:00 and it’s 100% FREE.
Spring Street Studios will host the Holiday Night In Black & White: Eggnog Competition and Pajama Drive. Not only is it possibly the longest event title I’ve seen all year, but it’s a fun way to raise money for Casa de Esperanza. They’ll have wares from some of those who create within the walls of Spring Street, as well as live music from Moji and DJ Derek Jones. The event is FREE, and gets started at 5:00.
Over at Rudyard’s, they’re doing another showing of Ophelia’s Rope. The two piece collective performs a show that’s all based on where the audience wants them to go, so you have no idea what’s going to occur from show to show. You will get improv, but you might also get dance, singing, and who knows what else. The show is 21 & up, the doors are at 8:00, and the cover shouldn’t be more than $10.00.
You may have never been over to The White Swan Live, but the place is pretty epic as far as dive bars go. They’ll be hosting the garage punk from Houston’s Impugned. These guys sound like what punk bands sounded like before Green Day signed to a Warner Bros imprint. Raw, fuzzy, they have a sound that you should probably check out. They’ll be joined by the California punk of San Diego’s Some Kind of Nightmare. They dropped an eighties sounding album called “Never Had A Chance” where you immediately feel like it was made in an era where Dead Kennedy’s would be taking the stage soon. They’ll both have their work cut out for them, as Houston’s power trio Giant Kitty will be opening things up. So, you might not know, but these ladies will be recording with a big name producer in 2015, they landed a manager, and they play that kind of punk with the intensity that causes most to require ear plugs. Things get rolling at 9:00, I think it’s 18 & up, and the cover is $5.00.
If you’re feeling arty, the the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston will be hosting a pretty cool show. So, Damon Choice, who has a list of accompaniments that are so large you could break your brain; will be doing his musical interpretation of Sun Ra’s “20Hertz” in a project called Tone Science. This show is a jazz lover’s wet dream and Choice is an amazing vibraphonist to boot, before you consider that he was in the Sun Ra Arkestra. The man is a damn legend who calls Houston home. There will also be a lecture about time spent with Sun Ra, it gets going at 7:00, and the all ages event is 100% FREE.
Your Friday should get going over at Improv, where one of the funniest guys to walk the planet will be performing, DL Hughley. You probably know him from his hit syndicated TV show, “The Hughleys” but you don’t know that he’s a killer onstage. This year, he dropped another great comedy album, this time called “Clear.” On it, he covers everything from weed to gay marriage, and he does so with impeccable comedic timing. As per all of these shows, two of Houston’s better up and coming comics will be performing the duties of host and feature performer. The Friday shows are at 8:00 and 10:30, the Saturday shows are at 7:00 and 9:30, and the Sunday show is at 7:30. Some of these shows are sold out, so be warned that if you wanna’ go, you need to grab your tickets fast; they run between $30.00 to $40.00.
Warehouse Live will play host to Stockholm’s over the top death metal rockers, Opeth. I’m not an Opeth guy, but their newest album, “Pale Communion” from this year definitely raises the bar on how proggy bands in their genre can be. They’ll be joined by the heavy chunk of In Flames. In Flames have this kind of Iron Maiden meets Black Sabbath sound, best proven by their recent album, “Siren Charms.” For some strange reason, Red Fang is opening this show. If you were on the fence about this show, these guys should seal it for you. Their newest album, last year’s “Whales and Leeches” brought metal back to heavy metal. They have this The Sword meets Ozzy meets Queens of The Stone Age sound that’s pretty damn amazing to see live. The show is all ages, the doors are at 6:30, and the tickets are $28.00.
If you’d rather have a laugh for FREE, then Phoenicia’s MKT Bar will have another rendition of Beta Theater’s Comedy Night. This time, the show will feature one of Houston’s better up and coming comics, the hilarious Judd Jones. Judd works his butt off and it’s paid off as he’s been featured on shows at Joke Joint, as well as some choice slots at Warehouse Live. Joining Jones, will be ESPN radio host and my fellow Jersey Village High alumni, Barry Laminack. Laminack has been getting some heavy traction lately as he slides into the feature position at many local comedy shows. Rudyard’s open mic host Dusti Rhodes will be there, while the hilarious Warren Wright will open things up. The show will also feature an EXCLUSIVE and super limited cask of 8th Wonder beer, that’s only available during this show. Things get going at 9:00 and it’s a free show.
Celebrating the 20th anniversary of their landmark album, “Hitchhike To Rhome,” Old 97’s will be performing upstairs at Fitzgerald’s. This was a big deal of an album when you look back at it. The phrase alternative country wasn’t a thought in anyone’s head, and the major label system wouldn’t be ready for bands like Wilco, Son Volt, and even psychobilly acts like Tiger Army who were to make it out before the nineties ended. Old 97’s are legends in their own right, and this album was just the beginning of a career that’s still going strong. In a very nice twist, a Dallas based band that embodies that Old 97’s spirit; The Deathray Davies will open things up. So, everyone calls these guys a garage rock band with British influence. However, they really sound a lot like a nineties band called Superdrag to me. Their latest album, was back in 2005 called “The Kick and the Snare;” but I promise this six piece is worthy of you getting there early for. The show is all ages, the doors are at 8:00, and the tickets are between $23.00 and $27.00.
Walter’s will be bringing the power pop of Houston’s Brunson Theater to life as well. These guys have a pretty epic sound that’s so different and yet familiar, that it’s kind of hard to pigeonhole them. The closest I can get is to say that they’re like if the drug fueled sound of Beach Boys in the “Pet Sounds” era started a band with the Apples In Stereo. They just dropped a new album called “We Land Soon” that seems to echo all of what a five piece based around an electric piano should sound like. There are moments on their album that feel like they were penned by Daniel Johnston, but not as wonky as well as moments that sound like “Sgt. Peppers” era Beatles. You should just check them out for yourself and see what you come back with. They’ll have the alterna electro pop of Houston’s Fake Believe on the bill as well. I’ve never seen this group before, but they’re in good company on this show. The spacey Brit rock sounds of Houston’s Purapharm will open things up. I don’t know if there are enough words to describe how amazing this five piece sounds. They’re psych rock mixed with the elements of British new wave, and a hint of blues; yet they sound like no one else. They really seem to understand the art of performance and a tight live sound. They released a single, “Medicine Girl” from their forthcoming e.p. due some time next year, and they’re worth coming out to see. The show is all ages, the doors are at 8:00, and the tickets are a paltry $6.00.
If you’re up for a drive, then out at Concert Pub North, you can catch the alterna rock of Austin’s Alpha Rev. To me, these guys sound like a mix of Staind and Coldplay, but they seem to have a pretty large following. Their latest album, last year’s “Bloom” was one that had plenty of great reviews. Adding a bit of interesting to the show, Houston’s Another Run will be on hand to perform in the direct support slot. If you were unaware, these guys will be putting the final touches on their new album set for release in the first half of next year. You’ll just have to settle for continuously jamming their previous release, 2010’s “I’ll Be There” until the new one drops. The spaced out and trippy alterna folk of Houston’s Isaac & Adele will open things up for the 18 & up show with doors at 8:00 and tickets between $10.00 and $15.00; depending on how old you are.
If you like country artist Mark Chesnutt, then you can venture out to Dosey Doe in the Woodlands to catch the first of his two night run. Chesnutt has been big since his runaway hit song, “Goin’ Through The Big D.” Though these shows include dinner and a soft beverage, the tickets are a little crazy with prices running between $98.00 and $128.00. Dinner is served between 6:00 and 7:30.
On Saturday, you can start off the day at the Houston, Texas Free Art Fest, or HTXFAF Jam over on Canal Street. The show features plenty of great local artists as well as a live art jam on some walls, and a raffle for free art. There’s also music from the lyrical likeness of Nikkhoo. He’ll have to bring his A game, because the quick rhyme flow of Perseph One Guns will also be performing. I’m pretty sure that you weren’t at the Boyfriend show at Fitz, but her insanely quick skills on the mic blew me away while she performed with Josiah Gabriel. There will be hip hop from Grinch Rodriquez as well as the folk punk of Days N’ Daze. Things get started at 3:00 and run until about 11:00, and it’s FREE to attend.
The epic comedy prowess of Dave Chappelle will be performing two SOLD OUT shows over at Bayou Music Center. It will either be truly amazing or he’ll have a meltdown; but the $71.00 tickets sold fast, so unless you have some; mentioning the show is a moot point.
Rudyard’s will be hosting a show presented by Charity Gigs who are supporting a Toy Drive. The show will feature the country punk of Houston’s The Grizzly Band. These guys fall in line with the sounds of Social Distortion and Lucero. They’ll be joined by the underrated melodic rock of Brand New Hearts. I said it last year, and a bunch this year, these guys might be one of Houston’s tightest live bands going. They dropped a four song release last year called “Brand New Hearts” where the band brought back dual guitars, solos, and two part harmonies in a big way. They’ll have the energetic powderkeg also known as Only Beast on prior. I guess it would be one thing if this three piece was just good, like their 2013 album, “Only Beast.” But, since they have the tightness, the immense energy, and crazy live show; I’d hate to follow them live. Opening things up, the best ambassadors of showmanship in Harris County, Knights of The Fire Kingdom will be getting everyone amped. I don’t know why these guys are on the cover of every mag in town with their tight live show, their matching outfits, and their catchy on point tunes. Eventually, their new album will come out and blow you away with its’ intensity like it did me. You can hear excerpts from it here. The show is 21 & up, the doors are at 9:00, and the cover is $8.00.
The best bet for the evening is over at Walter’s, where they’ll have Houston’s own Grammy nominated genius of slow jams, Dpat. Last year he dropped an album of epic proportions called “In Bloom” that dropped the pin on what it means to slow your roll. When FPH interviewed the 23 year old producer, we found that he was as chill as the music he creates, though his live show is pretty intense. Also on the bill, the underappreciated swagger of Fat Tony. Tony is one of the most intense rappers going not just in Houston, but abroad as well. A big name agent, a top managerial team, and thralls of fans haven’t made him the big deal in his hometown he deserves to be called. His latest drop, the single from this year, “No More” just proved that he’s not letting up in the game, no matter what anyone thinks. You may or may not know this, but Lucas Gorham is kind of a musical genius, and that sentiment comes forward on his latest project; The New Mercies. It has a mix of electronica and live instrumentation that feels different from anyone else in music today. Speaking of genius, Josiah Gabriel will also be on hand to drop his soulful trap sounds on all who attend. From what I know, he’s dropping a new album next year that’ll be something you’ve never heard, while still being relatable and easy to jam like all of his work. One of Houston’s better up and coming rappers and true hustlers, Guilla will also be performing. So, this guy has an intense rhyme skill like you haven’t heard in a long time. He’ll have physical copies of his new album at this show ahead of its’ official release; and after you see him, you’ll probably buy two copies. Opening things up will be a DJ set from Houston’s Children Of Pop, which is to say; these guys are pretty much everywhere. I was a little freaked this last weekend when Chase told me he had yet, another band. How well they DJ this show shouldn’t be an issue, as he’s a pretty prolific guy. This incredably stacked show is all ages, the doors are at 8:00, and the tickets are between $10.00 and $15.00.
The Summit will have a pretty great show as well, when Young Mammals drop by the space. I would hope by now, that you would’ve picked up their new album, “Alto Seco.” It’s one of those records that’s stripped down, straight forward, and as melodic as you can make an album without going too poppy. The indie pop rock of Young Girls will also be on the bill. These guys have that garage rock meets pop rock sound that’s pretty infectious. The garage pop rock sound of Austin’s Major Major Major will also be there. This two piece performs with an intensity that comes across on their albums as well as their live show. Their latest release, this year’s “God Doesn’t Want Us” keeps their sound intact as well as add to the cool factor of the band. The dancey synths of SAnD DUNES will also be there, as well as the Seize The Beat DJs. The doors are at 8:00, the show is all ages, and the cover is a measly $5.00.
Fitzgerald’s has a line up that’ll have you skankin’ till’ your legs hurt, when the fast and furious sounds of Voodoo Glow Skulls make their way into town. I caught these guys back in 1993 on their first tour in support of their amazing ska punk album, “Who Is, This Is?” Their latest album, 2012’s “Break The Spell” has more of a rockabilly sound than their previous releases. Michigan’s Mustard Plug will bring their brand of silly ska to the bill as well. These guys put on a crazy energetic live show, and their latest album, “Can’t Contain It” is in line with their earlier stuff. MU330’s Dan Potthast will perform his acoustic ska too. Potthast dropped a new album this year called “My Living Room” that really reminded me of Chris Murray’s work from about five years ago. The punk rock of Houston’s Dead To The World will be on hand to bring the punk element on board. They released an album this year called “Dead To The World” that harkens back to a mix of eighties and nineties punk, but without any of the pop crap that made it big. Like a mix of “Let’s Go” era Rancid mixed with the vocal style of Lee Ving. The ska of Always Guilty will open the all ages show with doors at 8:00 and tickets between $15.00 and $17.00.
Over at Station Theater, they’ll have a one woman show from Leighza F. Walker. The show, “Leighzaland: Observations From The Leighzasphere” is a special engagement and here for one night only. The show will feature Leighza’s talents of producer, performance artist, and actor all rolled into one show. She will offer talkback at the end of the show which gets started at 10:30. The doors are probably 30 minutes prior, unless the improv beforehand is part of it, then the doors are at 8:10 with tickets for $6.00.
Sunday you can start your day off over at Pop Shop Houston for the Mini Pops+Etsy Houston Holiday Bash. The event will feature plenty of local artisans to purchase goods from, many of which are handmade. You can get a Polaroid with Hipster Santa, as well as make your own Star Wars snowflakes. As an added bonus, the R&B soul swagger of Houston’s Moji will be performing around 1:00. Moji has an amazing voice that’s only given more life by her band members mix of jazz and soul to create a sound that’s all their own. This event is FREE and gets going around 11:00.
After that, feel free to make your way over to Eastdown Warehouse for another edition of The Sketchbook Saloon. This edition will feature the statuesque beauty of Dem Damn Dames’ Tifa Tittlywinks. The sketch class, will feature a catwalk for Tifa to model upon, and you’re allowed to bring any medium in which to create. As an added bonus, PBS will be on hand to film a bit for a documentary on the human form. Things get going around 2:00, and the cover is $10.00 for members, $15.00 for non-members, and $20.00 for photographers.
If you’re up for a laugh from a guy who tells some seriously hilarious stories, then Fitzgerald’s will have Bobcat Goldthwait performing stand-up. Goldthwait is probably best known for his roles in the “Police Academy” films, but he’s also an accomplished writer and director. My favorite film of his, was “Shakes The Clown.” After seeing Bob at this year’s Houston Whatever Fest, I can attest to the fact that he’s definitely worth making it out for. the funny and off the cuff humor of Houston’s Sam Demaris will perform the duties of feature performer on the show. Sam is a true road dog who seems to be out more than he’s here, but that doesn’t mean that the Bellaire High alumni doesn’t rep Houston well. As one of the Whiskey Bros, Sam is pretty much a laugh a minute. His last album, 2007’s “Where’s My Damn Cake?” still holds up to this day. The party will get started when drummer turned comic Gabe Bravo opens the show. The Gabe you all know and love is different on stage, yet still hilarious; so get there early. The show is all ages, the doors are at 6:30, and the tickets are between $20.00 and $27.00.
On Monday night, you can catch the legendary sounds of Fleetwood Mac over at Toyota Center. The band is touring in support of the fact that Christine McVie is back performing with the band. There’s no reason to cite the hits this band has to their credit; but they’ve been a big deal for the past forty years. Scientifically speaking, if you wanted to see this group, this might be one of your last chances. The doors are at 8:00 and the tickets, which will be gone sooner than later, are between $49.50 and $179.50.
If you just can’t stand to hear “Go Your Own Way” again, then you can head over to Fitzgerald’s for Michigan’s Frontier Ruckus. The folky electro pop band is here supporting their newest album, “Sitcom Afterlife,” where they bring plenty of melodic tones to their lyrically heavy sound. Justin Kinkel-Schuster of the Mississippi group Water Liars will also be on the bill. The gulf Coast pop rock sounds of Houston’s Deep Cuts will open things up. If you haven’t heard it yet, these guys recently dropped an amazing EP called “Love Grows,” where they grew into their own sound. The all ages show has doors at 7:00 and the tickets are between $10.00 and $14.00.
On Tuesday, Rudyard’s will host the wildly successful Grown Up Storytime from Boo Town. The shows, that feature hilarious stories as read by those in the Boo Town world, has gotten to the point where the shows usually fill up and sell out fast. There are two shows, one at 8:00 and one at 10:00, they’re both 21 & up, and they both come with a $5.00 cover.
Fitzgerald’s will have Montana’s Motopony also on Tuesday. The folky pop group is here supporting the latest ep, “Idle Beauty.” Honestly, these guys are getting all kinds of praise and press, and the music is pretty darn nice sounding. The show is all ages, the doors are at 7:00 and the tickets are between $10.00 and $14.00.
Black Barbie has a pretty cool show when they play host to Pittsburgh’s Edhochuli. In what the band describes as “coma rock” these guys have a pretty intense sound that’s only made cooler by the rumors of an awesome live show. The drone noise of Houston’s Moths will be on hand, while the metal punk of San Antonio’s No Gods will be there as well. The new wave experimental sounds of Houston’s Mother Ghost will open the show with doors at 9:00 and a $5.00 cover.
So, that’s a pretty awesome week if you asked me. Because we’re so close to the holidays, please be mindful of the amount of drunkards on the roadways, and stay safe out there.