Photo: Mika V.
Last week was a pretty great one that was highlighted by a big two day comedy festival, where I was lucky enough to recommend coffee spots to comedian Todd Barry. This week has plenty of top notch options as well. There’s a healthy mix of laughs, locals, and touring acts to make what you do and don’t do a tough decision. Here are the options for your free time.
Wednesday over at Fitzgerald’s Philadelphia’s Vacationer will bring their mix of electro pop with dreamy escapist pop to town. Vacationer is the side project for the Starting Line’s singer Kenny Vasoli. However, this project has plenty of depth and legs in its own right. Vacationer has consistently dropped some great tuneage since they formed in 2011. Their latest, last year’s “Relief” just keeps the great songs coming. With a small glimmer of old school soul pop, it should make for an interesting album to hear live. The dreamy indie shoegaze sounds of Houston’s Since Always will be there to get things started. This four piece echoes the sounds of acts like Blonde Redhead and Yo La Tengo, and they have a new album at the beginning of February. You can hear their demos released last year or just get to the show early and check them out. The downstairs show is all ages, the doors are at 7:00, and cover is between $12.00 and $16.00.
Continental Club will have the blues guitar swagger of California’s Eric Lindell. Lindell has been truckin’ along and dropping albums periodically that have enough soul to them that you can almost twist the juice from each sultry note of his playing. His latest, a B-Sides collection from 2014 called, “Between Motion and Rest;” makes you wonder what everyone else’s idea of a B-Side should be. In a very special treat sort of way, Texas blues guitarist and all around badass, Anson Funderburgh will be opening the show. This guy has been dropping Texas Blues gems since the early eighties, and should be really great to see live. The doors should be around 9:00, the show is 21 & up, and the tickets are $18.00.
Thursday, you could get things started out at Joke Joint Comedy Showcase, when Whiskey Brother and local comedy great, John Wessling starts a three night stint at the club. So, you might not realize this, because John is not in town much, but Wessling could be one of Houston’s best joke writers, and easily in the top three. I don’t think there are too many comics who would disagree with me in that sentiment. His 2013 album, “Three Dart Rhino” is just a glimmer into a guy who’s been on Last Comic Standing, as well as opening for tons of great comics. Prepping for The Whiskey Brothers comedy special taping coming in February, this is your chance to see one of Houston’s best in an intimate setting. Featuring throughout all five shows is “your favorite African,” Ku Egenti. Ku has a very endearing style of comedy where he mixes jokes about immigrants with jokes about being made fun of while making your sides hurt with laughter. These shows might also have tons of guest spots, and I know that one is on Saturday from Houston funnyman Barry Laminack. All of the shows will be hosted by the hilarious Kazeem Rahman. There’s one show at 8:00 on Thursday, two on Friday and two on Saturday at 8:00 and 10:30; and all carry a $16.00 ticket price. There’s a strong chance that many of these shows will sell out, so grab your tickets early.
If you’d rather catch some guitar rock chaos, then Walters will have former Monotonix guitarist Yonatan Gat. This guy plays guitar with such an intensity, that it’s like he’s channelling Hendrix’ “Killing Floor” through one of Jon Spencer’s blown amps. Last year, he dropped an album of epic notes and bluesy riffs that felt like he was recording them in a gypsy camp called “Iberian Passage.” This is one of those shows where if live performance turns you on, then you shouldn’t miss it. The lo-fi bedroom psych of Houston’s Hearts Of Animals will be on hand to help warm things up. Last year, Mlee dropped a pretty great album called “Another Mutation” that showcases her range from psych pop to heartfelt ditties, and they’re a band that everyone in Houston should see live. John Patrik’s Cool Piss will also be there, as will the dream pop psych of Mantra Love who’ll be opening the show. The all ages affair has doors at 8:00 and tickets between $8.00 and $10.00.
House of Blues will have some heavy metal from New York’s Cannibal Corpse. If you’re a metalhead and you haven’t seen these guys live, then I’d recommend it. Because I lived in San Antonio, I got to see them and they’re great if their sound is your thing. They’ll be here in support of their newest assault on spinal cords, last year’s “A Skeletal Domain.” Poland’s Behemoth will also be there to incite some serious headbanging. Not pulling any punches, these guys dropped “The Satanist” last year, an album that’s full of double kick drums and demonic sounding vocals. Sweden’s Aeon will also be there, with Tribulation, also from Sweden opening things up. The doors for this metal collective are at 6:00 and tickets are $38.33.
If you watched Mad TV, then you probably remember the antics of the Bay area’s Bobby Lee, who’ll be at the Improv. Lee was doing stand-up prior to joining that show, and has been hotting it steadily since the show’s demise. He’s since been in a ton of films and projects, and he’s a pretty funny guy. As per all of these shows, two of Houston’s better up and comers will serve as feature and host performers. There’s one show on Thursday at 8:00, two on Friday at 8:00 and 10:30, and two on Saturday at 7:00 and 9:30. All of them have tickets between $25.00 and $35.00.
Alley Kat will host a couple of improv troupes by way of Beta Theater, so if you’re an improv fan then that’s where you should be. The two shows should both be entertaining starting with Potty Talk and Mockumentalists at 7:00 with a $5.00 cover. The second show will be the hilarious Baby Knuckle and Rosacea Butts at 8:00, also with a $5.00 cover. The shows are both a great way to see something different in an intimate room.
Fitzgerald’s will have a fun night when LA’s TV Girl performs downstairs. The electronic ensemble performs soundscaped music that is complex and entertaining. Their debut album, last year’s “French Exit” has moments of dance pop coupled with various instrumentation making it all very compelling and fun. The always fun and entertaining sounds of Houston’s Children of Pop will be on hand fresh from their mini-East coast tour. The duo is performing so much that they’ll either blow up or burn out, but either way it’ll be a fun ride for anyone who sees them perform. Austin’s electro pop trio, Sphynx will also be there do groove their way into Houston’s hearts. I caught these guys last year and they put on a good live show worth seeing. Making Sphynx night more difficult, Houston’s trap genius, Josiah Gabriel will be performing a DJ set to open things up. The entire evening will have the intense and ever changing glitch visuals by FLCON FCKER. This stacked show is all ages, the doors are at 8:00, and the cover is $10.00.
On Friday, you can start things off over at Discovery Green when they show the 2013 film, “Oz The Great And Powerful.” The power struggle between some witches and the option to get some ice skating in means fun for the entire family. While skating fees apply, the film is family friendly and the screening, at 7:30, is 100% FREE.
Over at MKT Bar, Beta Theater will be doing their comedy night. This week they’re keeping it squeaky clean with a host of great comics. Judd Jones, a guy who just had a killer weekend at Joke Joint will be at the top of that list. Judd has been featured on plenty of shows with out of towners, and he’s one of Houston’s funniest newcomers. He’ll have the funny antics of Carl Hunter on the bill with him. I haven’t had a chance to see Hunter in a long while, but what I saw last time from him was top notch. The funny comedy of Bukky will also be on hand with the comedic talents of Al Bahmani as well. The all ages affair gets going at 9:00 and as always, it’s 100% FREE.
House of Blues will be hosting a pretty strong lineup of locals and out of towners, when Catch Fever headlines the evening. So, if you missed where I told you that this three piece made the 2014 Local Album of the Year; then at least know that they’re kind of doing everything right. That album, “Shiny Eyes” is a mix of pop rock and indie that gets stuck in your head with the first listen. The electro pop of Otenki will be on hand as direct support. This local five piece has seemed to tap into their audience recently, and they really bring people out to hear stuff like their recent remix of “Glory Be.” The alterna rock of California’s Galvanized Souls will also be on the show. These guys kind of sound like a mix of Alice In Chains meets Silverchair, and their 2013 album, “Galvanized Souls,” proves that. Houston’s Lost Element gets things started for the all ages show with doors at 7:00, and tickets for $16.33.
So, in case you didn’t know, those last Friday of the month burlesque shows at Numbers from the talented gals in Dem Damn Dames have carried over into the new year. The first one of 2015 will be a benefit for Planned Parenthood, and is a co-production with the Legislate This Texas tour. This one will be a doozy with the Dames sharing the stage with some of Texas’ better burlesque performers. Dallas’ Honey Bordeaux and Honey Hu-La will be there with Ginger Snaps and Sailor Cherry of Austin; while San Antonio’s Elle Du Jour will also be there. Of course, your favorites like Tifa Tittlywinks, Emma D’Lemma, Lady Lush & the rest of the Dames troupe will be there to titillate and entertain you. The doors are at 7:00, it’s 18 & up, and the tickets are $20.00.
Mango’s will have an epic hip hop lineup when the underground hip hop science of V-Zilla performs. This guy can attack a mic with rhymes like you haven’t heard since hip hop’s early days. His latest drop, this year’s “The Monster & Mr Arnell” is a mix of Tribe Called Quest and Houston’s new school of hip hop. I beg you to catch this guy before he blows up. Not to be outdone, Houston’s Def Perception will also be there to drop this crazy hybrid of old school beats and live instruments like no one else can do in this town. I know for a fact that this ensemble is working on some next level stuff, and if you’ve never seen them live; then you’re really missing out. Houston’s female lead hip hop sounds of Yello Echo will also be there, as will some Austin hip hop from SubKulture Patriots. The insanely talented DJ set from Ya Bro Roo will get things started. I’m not kidding when I say insanely talented as a guy who’s seen this guy do a DJ set, you’re idiotic if you don’t get there early to see him scratch and cut. The show is all ages, the doors are at 9:00, and the cover is a measly $5.00.
Rudyard’s will host the honky tonk tunes of Houston’s Mike Stinson. Stinson has been truckin’ along with his blend of old school country mixed with true Texana twang. This guy is one that if you miss when country music wasn’t pop crap, then you should see him perform. His latest album, “Hell and Half of Georgia” is just as entertaining as his 2010 album, “The Jukebox In Your Heart.” The alt country sounds of Houston five piece, Hard Luck Revival will open things up with doors at 9:00 and a TBA cover for the 21 & up show.
Saturday is one of those days this week where you have some decisions to make on what to do with your time. This starts over at The Menil where they’ll have a hodge podge of art happening at The Museum Experience: Zone 1. So, because there’s a ton of things at this; I’ll just give you an overview. A photo scavenger hunt, a local live art installation, two Writers In The Schools workshops, and arts and crafts are just a small sample of what will be in store. There’s a map to show you the layout, and the all ages event that starts at 11:00 am, is 100% FREE.
If 11:00 is too early for you, then maybe you should make it over to Cactus Music to catch an in-store performance from Houston’s Moji. In case you missed the piece I wrote about this soulful three piece, let’s just say that they could be huge one day. The way that singer Moji Abiola belts notes atop David Garcia’s rhythmic drums and Troy Craegh’s masterful guitar work is pure magic. There will be some form of refreshments available and things should get started at 1:00 for the FREE event.
EPMD Photo: Courtesy of Artist
If hip hop is more your thing, then Arena Theater has a real doozy of a show, when legendary rapper, Rakim comes to town. Rakim, best known for being half of Eric B & Rakim, is one of the best rappers I’ve ever seen take a mic. He is seriously a legend not just in the rap game, but in music in general. When I was 13, my older brother brought home “Paid In Full” and I was immediately hooked on hip hop. Songs like “Eric B. is President,” or “Follow the Leader,” or even “Don’t Sweat The Technique” are just the tip of what this guy will have in store. Rakim would be enough for me, but the Legends also known as EPMD will also be on this show. These guys from Brentwood are almost too much for me to attempt to explain, but I’ll try. They sampled everything, they dropped sick rhymes, and every rapper you love; was inspired by them. Their 1988 album “Strictly Business” is one of those vinyls that I’ve purchased no less than four times. Tracks like “Da Joint,” or “Strictly Business,” or even “I’m Housin” should be enough to get you out to see them live. The doors are at 7:00 and the tickets are between $22.50 and $32.50, and worth every penny.
But if female lead hardcore punk is more what you’re into, then the Common Ignorance tape release show at Houston House of Creeps is where you should be. The speed and intensity of this group coupled by the fact that they’ve only made 50 tapes, makes this a must see show if you’re a fan. The punk of Houston’s The Secret Prostitutes will be on hand, as will the grindcore of San Antonio’s Headache. The throwback punk of Houston’s Paranoid Chant will also perform, and the show is opened by Houston’s The Pose. The doors are at 9:00 and the show is $5.00.
Over at Walters, they have a good lineup with Austin’s Alex Napping headlining the evening. You might not have heard of this four piece, but their mix of indie pop with garage rock light is pretty great. Female vocals that lightly lay above the pop structured guitars are just part of their sound. They dropped a great example of this on their 2014 album, “This Is Not A Bedroom.” The Gulf Coast indie rock of Houston’s Deep Cuts will be on the bill as direct support. Their “Love Grows” ep from last year, is one of those albums that I seem to jam weekly with its Latin vibe mixed with an almost 24 Hour party kind of feel. The indie pop rock of Young Girls will also be there to add their dual guitar sound that’ s hard to dislike. Last year, they gave us a four song drop called “Young Girls” that’s an infectious listen. The show gets opened by the dreamy and lush sounds of Kay Weathers. The all ages show has doors at 9:00 with tickets falling between $8.00 and $10.00.
Down in Clear Lake, Scout Bar will have Houston grindcore legends, Deadhorse. I used to catch these guys back when I was in high school, and though some of the lineup has changed; their sound is about the same. They’ll have the stoner rock meets psych metal of Houston’s Space Rhino on with them, as well as the Southern rock metal sounds of Sons of Blackwater. Sons of Blackwater are intensely riff heavy, and should make some heads bang from their intense live show. The thrash metal of Alvin’s Weapons of War open things up with doors at 8:00, and tickets between $10.00 and $12.00 for the all ages show.
On Monday, you can catch the operatic vocals and dark electronica of Wisconsin’s Zola Jesus over at Fitzgerald’s. Though she’s been making records for over five years, her album “Taiga” from last year really brought her a little more into the mainstream. There’s more emotion in one note of her voice than that of most singers on an entire song; and her trippy backing beats are pretty intense. Brooklyn’s Deradoorian will open things up with her immensely strong vocals mixed with her multi-instrumentalist sound. She’s worked with Dirty Projectors, she’s originally from LA, and her 2010 album, “Mind Raft+Mind Raft Remixed” is a real gem. The all ages show has doors at 7:00 and tickets between $16.00 and $20.00 upstairs.
Tuesday you can head over to Notsuoh to catch the steamroller of rock also known as Giant Kitty. So, 2015 could be the year for this three piece who is currently recording an album with a big name producer. I’m pretty sure that you’ll kick yourself if you miss out on the high energy of an all female band that’s like watching L-7 mixed with The Cars. The high speed garage punk of Houston’s Fat Mannequin will also be there, as will the California punk of Some Kind of Nightmare; who will be opening things up. The show is 18 & up with doors at 8:00, and a $3.00 cover for under 21 while it’s FREE for 21 & up.
If you’re in the mood for comedy, then you can go to the Weekly Edition Comedy show over at Midtown Bar & Grill. The show usually has a nice list of Houston comics, and it’s hosted by Bob Morrissey and Nick Meriwether. So, I got to see both of these guys drop killer sets on the big stage at the Come and Take It Comedy Festival, and they’re both strong enough to make anyone laugh. Nick went so far as to follow Maria Bamford and did so with style. The show starts at 9ish, and it’s 100% FREE.
That’s all that there is this week that I found. No matter what you do, please be mindful of your fellow Houstonians, and do whatever you do like an adult.