Play Date: The Best of The Week
Melanie Martinez, Photo: Ben Stas
Last week was definitely a doozy full of plenty of options and this week isn’t much different. We’re starting to see the splashback of SXSW with acts routing through our city before the festivities begin. Up and coming acts alongside established ones like Melanie Martinez pictured above will be here this week. Houston, here’s where to spend your free time.
Wednesday you can start off over at Raven Tower when the country twang of Charlie Harrison comes by to drop an early set. The singer/songwriter and leader of Charlie & the Regrets released his last album in 2011 with “Overdue,” and he’s got a strong voice. The all ages show has doors at 5:00 and it’s 100% FREE with RSVP.
If that’s not your thing, then you could’ve head to Warehouse Live if you were lucky enough to grab tickets, when the massively popular sounds of Melanie Martinez was to play a sold out set in the ballroom. However, due to a kidney infection, the date has been postponed and a new date will be released soon.
You can get your R&B groove on at Arena Theatre when Brian McKnight and Regina Belle drop by for a duets show. You know McKnight from his hit “Back At One,” and he has a new single, “Better.” Of course you know Belle from her hit “A Whole New World (Aladdin’s Theme)” from the animated film “Aladdin.” The all ages show has doors at 7:00 and tickets between $39.50 and $59.50.
Mike Stinson, Photo: Steve Harris
Under The Volcano will host a barn burner when honky tonker Mike Stinson comes by to perform. Stinson has been a recognized name in the country scene for quite a long time, and his 2010 album, “The Jukebox In Your Heart” is a masterpiece that still holds up. Because it’s also Texas Independence Day, the venue will be offering up $2.00 LoneStars as well for the 21 & up show with doors at 8:00 and as far as I know, it’s 100% FREE.
You can get your laugh on at Improv, when Original Texas Outlaw comic and Houston treasure, Andy Huggins performs. Huggins can make anyone from any age group laugh hysterically during his set, while his jokes hit like a prize fighter’s punches. Last year he released the album “Inspired By True Events,” and he’s a comic everyone needs to see perform. I would guess that two of Houston’s better up and comers will perform the duties of host and feature act as well. The 18 & up show has doors at 8:00 and a $10.00 cover.
Walters will have the post punk oddity of Austin’s Unknown Relatives. This five piece makes a mix of shoegaze and indie rock that’s pretty engaging. Their last full length was 2013’s “2,” and last year they dropped a single called “Problem” that is insane. They’ll have Houston’s Black Lodge on as direct support, as well as the interesting and cuisine rock of Houston’s Cornish Game Hen. The surf rock of Total Nightmare will open the all ages show with doors at 8:00 and a cover between $5.00 and $10.00.
Mikey & The Drags, Photo: Jay Dryden
Thursday you can get things going over at The Nightingale Room with the garage rock authenticity of Mikey & The Drags. Last year these guys gave us one of the best garage rock albums that I’ve heard from this latest wave of the genre with “Make You Mine.” Highly energetic and full of fun, this is one of our city’s best bands going..period. They’ll have the bluesy sounds of Houston’s Muddy Belle on as support and opener. The 21 & up show has doors at 7:00 and it’s 100% FREE.
You could get your electro pop fix at Rudyard’s when New York duo Great Good Fine Ok come to town. These guys make synth pop like nobody’s business, and their recently released “Take It Or Leave It” single is on par with 2014’s release, “2M2H.” The indie pop of Handsome Ghost will open the all ages show with doors at 8:00 and cover between $10.00 and $13.00.
If you’d rather get your hip hop fix, then you could go to the studio at Warehouse Live for the jams of Houston’s Doeman. The rapper offers up mic spitting skills that create their own sound while still mixing a sound that’s both future and relatable. This year he dropped the full length “O.B.E. (Outer Body Experience),” and he puts on a hell of a live show. There’s no word of openers, but I’m sure there will be a few for the all ages show with doors at 8:00 and tickets between $15.00 and $20.00.
If you’re a fan of either New York City Queens or Promenade, then you should head to MKT Bar to catch a solo set from John Allen Stephens. Stephens will be performing classic songs from both bands, unreleased songs from NYCQ, and his new solo EP in its entirety. The all ages show should be fun and it gets going around 8:00. The show has FREE parking in the attached garage and it’s 100% FREE.
Over at Notsuoh you can get your hardcore fix when Brooklyn’s The Brass come to town. These guys are known for high energy sets, and their recently released “Desperation” EP proves it. The punk of Houston’s The Pose will be on as direct support, and the speedy raw punk of Existencia will go on prior. Clasp will open the all ages show with doors at 9:00 and a measly $5.00 cover.
Beta Theater will dabble into more music, for the Gee-Tars & Ha-Ha’s show. You can go early and catch their house improv team, Max at 9:00, then stay for some music from an eclectic bunch. The masterful banjo work of Austin’s Ralph White, the electro oddness of Maine’s Caethua, the folk of Maine’s Tom Kovacevic, while Colby Nathan of Maine will open the 18 & up show. The music starts around 10:00 and it’s a pay what you can cover.
Get your groove on over at Boondocks with another edition of Booty Call with Vic G. Alongside Vic G will be the Santa Barbara’s DJ Sparx and more than likely another set from one of Vic homies. The always lit show are 21 & up, the doors are at 10:00, and they’re 100% FREE.
Friday you can start things over at Mucky Duck for the legendary sounds of country rocker Joe Ely. Ely has been around for a long time and he’s one of those guys I feel like everyone should see at least once. He’s has smaller hit songs like “The Road Goes On Forever,” and “Honky Tonk Masquerade,” and his latest album “Panhandle Rambler” just shows he’s not slowing down. He’s no Spring chicken as they say, so you should see him while you still can. There are shows at 7:00 and at 9:30, they’re 21 & up, and tickets for both shows are between $30.00 and $33.00.
Mydolls, Photo: Scott Doyle
It’s hard to believe, but the legendary Houston punk band MYDOLLS will be playing a set over at Walters. Formed in the late seventies, this four piece has been making revolutionary music and making fans wherever they play. They reunited in 2008, and they’ve been going strong ever since. Last year they dropped a new album with “It’s Too Hot For Revolution,” and it just proves that they can still bring it. The crazed fun of Austin’s Gretchen’s Disco Plague will be on as direct support. So aside from the fact that this is an improvised disco band that’s fun and insane live, the group also contains members of Two Nice Girls, SWANS and Erase Errata. I caught them when they were here last time and they’re a real trip live. The art punk of No Love Less will also be on the bill, while the Jenny Hoyston of Erase Errata lead psych of Vacation Eyes will open the all ages show. The doors are at 8:00, and the tickets are between $7.00 and $10.00.
Dan Electro’s will host the EP release from Houston’s Carpet & the Drapes. I caught these guys live a couple months ago, and they’re pretty damn good. Though I didn’t have time to review their EP, I can say that it’s bluesy in the vein of that Jimmie Vaughan meets latter day Clapton sort of way, with those breathy notes that are missing from modern blues nowadays. They’ll have the swamp fuzz blues rock of Sik Mule on as direct support and the funky jams of Soul Creatures on prior. There’s also a DJ set from JH Nickel, and everyone who attends gets a copy of the Carpet & the Drapes EP. The 21 & up show has doors at 8:00 and tickets between $8.00 and $10.00.
If you had planned to head to Warehouse Live to catch Gary Clark Jr, the show has since sold out. If you have tickets then you’ll get treated to a stellar set in the ballroom, while Clark plays tunes from his latest, “The Story of Sonny Boy Slim,” from last year. The garage rock of Austin’s Eve and the Exiles will open the all ages show with doors at 8:00.
The Waughford will host a night full of laughs and improv for the Let’s Kill Stand Up: The Killening show. Basically a whole bunch of funny as hell people like Billy Trim, Traci Lavois Thiebaud, Hoja Lopez. Jerry Emeka and many more will be on this show. These are improv performers with tons of experience at places like UCB, Beta Theater, as well as acts like Micro Satan & Max. It’s all ages, the doors are at 8:00, and it’s a measly $7.00.
Honky, Photo: Courtesy of Artist
If you ever wondered what a modern day ZZ Top would sound like if they were raised on Melvins, Black Sabbath, and Hank Williams, then you should head over to Continental Club to catch Honky. Formed by Jeff Pinkus formerly of Butthole Surfers, these guys play a mix of rock, blues, and swamp boogie with tons of punk rock attitude. Their last release was 2011’s “421,” which plays like a punch to the face. They’ll have the hard driving sounds of Sean Reefer and the Resin Valley Boys on as openers and direct support. Reefer has been around a long time, but that doesn’t mean he still doesn’t kill when he performs. His latest, 2003’s “Texas Hill Country” still holds up. The 21 & up show has doors at 9:00 and a $12.00 cover.
If you’d rather show off your skills at singing punk classics, then you could go to Fitzgerald’s to sing at the Karaoke Underground. The event has doors at 9:00, it’s all ages, and it has a $5.00 over downstairs.
Tax The Wolf, Photo: KTRU
Saturday you can start off over at Satellite Bar for the Wonky Power Records Spring Social. The all day affair will feature sets from FLCON FCKER, Gio Chamba, Rex Hudson, Pitter Patter, HandsomeBeast, George West and many more including a DJ set from DJ Fredster and a DJ set from Squincy Jones. A reunion performance from Tax The Wolf will also cap off the evening for the all ages event that runs from noon to midnight. Tickets are just $10.00 or $12.00 at the door.
Over at Raven Tower you can catch the blues rock of Austin’s The Vanity. These guys have been on Dat For Night, FPSF, and a slew of other fests that include Float Fest and the like. Their most recent release, last year’s EP “Are You Going Alone?” is a broader sound than their previous works. The bombastic alt country meets indie rock sound of Houston’s Second Lovers will be on as opener and direct support. I feel like if you haven’t seen this band yet then you must live under a rock. A killer performance last year at FPSF and plenty of marquee dates before and after have this band slotted to have a killer 2016. Their latest is a single called “Hold On” from last year, and they’re always entertaining to catch live. The all ages show has doors at 7:00 and tickets between $8.00 and $10.00.
Fitzgerald’s will have the pop punk of Houston’s Kemo For Emo. These guys are insane to see live, and back in the day they’d make you forget that emocore was a thing with their live shows. They’re having a CD release of their long awaited new album, “A Picture Perfect Romance.” In a crazy twist, Houston rapper Kyle Hubbard will be on the bill as direct support. Hubbard is probably the only rapper who could get away with opening for a pop punk band, and his latest “Majestic Hotel” is on point. The pop punk of Houston’s Four Letter Language will also be on the bill, while the punk ska of Bottom of The Food Chain will open things up. The all ages show has doors at 8:00 and tickets for $10.00.
Station Theater will host the annual BooTown Bash party. So, if you’re unfamiliar with BooTown, then you’ve been doing Houston wrong. They’re the group who brings you the massively popular show series Grown Up Storytime, and a slew of other events every month. This show will feature a DJ set from Roy Mata, chicken costumes, awesome food & drinks, a live performance from Birthday Club, and so much more that may or may not include a puppet pageant. There’s more information available here, it’s all ages I believe, and the tickets are between $30.00 to $400.00 with doors at 8:00.
LIMB, Photo: Jason Smith
Of course, you could find yourself over at The Waughford later on to catch dream pop meets psych rock of Austin’s SHMU. Touring in support of last year’s “Shhh!!!!,” this is an act you should see sooner than later. Direct support will be filled by Houston’s electronica wizard, LIMB. This guy is easily one of the most creative artists in Houston, he’s gearing up to drop at least one new album this year, and he’s a force to be reckoned with in a live setting, mixing drums while triggering electronics like you’ve never seen before. His last release was the highly energetic “…But Rage At What,” but he’s also been busy with his popular side project black kite lately. The hip hop styles of Nikkhoo will also be on the bill, while the indie rock of Whit will open things up. The doors are at 8:00, the show is 21 & up, and the cover is $10.00.
You can get your metal fix when Houston’s Funeral Horse shows up to Rudyard’s to drop another energy and riff heavy set. I feel like these guys are one of the more unsung acts coming out of Houston today. A three piece that plays a mix of stoner rock and doom metal, these guys gave us the groove heavy “Sinister Rites of The Master” in 2014 that gave you the feeling of smoking weed in the desert with Fu Manchu as the backdrop. They followed that up last year with the more forward sounding “Divinity for the Wicked,” which was closer to smoking weed in an enchanted forest. They’re seriously a threat to see live, and you should catch them sooner than later. The prog metal of Austin’s Descendants of Erdrick will be on as direct support, and the metalized cover version sounds of Poor Unfortunate Souls will open things up. That seems silly, but I’d be lying if I said they weren’t at least intriguing, and last year’s “Heroes” was just as interesting. The 21 & up show has doors at 9:00 and a cover between $5.00 and $8.00.
Benny Benassi, Photo: Joseph D’Oria
You can get your dance on when Italy’s Benny Benassi drops by Stereo Live to bring his mix of electro house and EDM to town. This guy has been dropping dance heavy jams for a long time now, and his tracks are almost always ahead of the game. His latest, “Even If” from this year is pretty sick, though you should know that this guy has worked with everyone from Skrillex to T Pain. The 18 & up show has doors at 9:00 and tickets between $30.00 and $40.00, the latter being a VIP option.
John Evans will be bringing his country rock with hints of punk rock attitude to Mucky Duck. Evans is a bigger deal than you may realize. He’s produced a ton of acts, he’s been on The Tonight Show, and he’s been dropping his mix of rockabilly, rock n roll, and Texas twang for a good while, and his live sets are as engaging as his towering frame. His latest release, 2009’s “Lollygaggin’,” is pretty impressive, and he’s slotted to drop a new album this year. The doors are at 9:30 for the 21 & up show and the tickets are between $20.00 and $22.00.
Sunday you could learn how to sew from the only guy I’d suggest teach you, when “Friday I’m In Love” (The Numbers documentary) director, Marcus Pontello teaches a beginners sewing class at Beta Theater. To know Marcus is to love him, and since he makes the bulk of his clothes himself, and shows up to events looking like his attire was just sewn to his frame as he walked up; he’s a great person to learn how to sew from. He’s also been a fashion designer as well as a costume designer. The class is open to everyone and runs every Sunday from March 6th to April 10th from 1:00 to 4:00. The total cost for the class runs $200.00 plus an $8.00 service fee, but it’s worth every penny. There’s more information here and you can grab your tickets here.
If you were lucky enough to grab tickets, then you’ll be headed over to Warehouse Live for the now Sold Out performance from the alluring and powerful voice of California’s Andra Day. Day has been turning heads since people started to hear her retro soul sounds. Last year she dropped “Cheers To The Fall” which is a seriously amazing album. There’s no word of an opener, the doors are at 6:30 and it’s in the studio.
Monday you could go to Satellite Bar for the ambient math rock of LA duo Jerkagram. These two have been going strong for a long time, and the fraternal twins originally from New York seem to have a crazy bond when they play. Their latest release, “Outer Limbs” from this year is pretty amazing to say the least. The experimental punk meets synth punk of Houston’s Gato Guapo will be on as direct support, and their album “Foolish Mortal” from last year really reminds me of a nineties band called Brainiac. The stoner doom goodness of The Dirty Seeds will open the all ages show with doors at 7:30 and a TBA cover.
Battalion of Saints, Photo: Courtesy of Artist/Facebook
If that’s not your deal, then you could head to Walters to catch hardcore punk legends, Battalion of Saints. The San Diego four piece that formed in 1980 went strong until 1985. They reformed in 1995 and they’re best known for the album, “Death-R-Us,” though last year they dropped “Battalion Of Saints” which showed they aren’t slowing down anytime soon. Orange County’s Phobia will bring their grindcore sounds, while the outlaw punk of LA’s Nomads will go on prior. The d beat metal of Houston’s God Fearing Fuck will open the all ages show with doors at 8:00 and tickets between $12.00 and $17.00.
Tuesday you can head to Walters for the infectious indie pop of Arizona’s The Maine. Last year these guys made all sorts of lists with their album “American Candy” though they’ve already followed it up with “Covers (Side A)” later last year. There’s no word of an opener for the all ages show with doors at 7:00 and tickets for $15.00.
If that’s not your deal, then you could go to Satellite Bar for the punk of Minnesota’s Braver. These guys play punk in the vein of Bad Religion before they started making the same album over and over, mixed with the intensity of math rock bands like Shellac. Last year the three piece dropped the amazing album “Torpor,” and they have a history of intense live shows. Austin punks Sniper 66 will be on as direct support, while Houston’s No Resistance will bring their punk tunes on prior. Their latest release, “Nova Methodus” from last year is pretty tight with hand clap melodies and group vocals than sound like a mix of punk and first wave emo. Action Frank will also bring their pop punk intensity to the bill, and Shut Out will open the all ages show with doors at 8:00 and a $7.00 cover.
That’s about all in a week that’s a great warmup for what’s to come over the course of the next fifteen days. No matter what you do or where you go, please be mindful of everyone else and get there in the safest way possible.