It seems like the hotter it gets, the better the entertainment in Houston is. This week, you have tons of shows to choose from, including a Friday night with more options than the usual fare. Here’s how to spend your hard earned dollars.
On Wednesday the 16th, you can sashay over to the Crossroads room at House of Blues to enjoy the twang of Houston’s Grand Old Grizzly. I’ve told you several times now why you should make it out for these guys’ blend of country and americana that mixes in rock and traditional Texas swing. There are very few times I’ll recommend anyone in the country world who can’t “walk the line,” but these guys not only walk it; they’re leading the way. Their self titled release, makes you proud that these guys get what country is all about, and even prouder that they call Houston home. Things get going around 6:00 and there’s no cover, plus you can grab a bite while they play.
Starting things off on Thursday, is the “return” of the open mic at Improv Houston. I say return, because they’ve tried having open mics in the past, but like many places that book other shows, they can sometimes put the open mic on the back burner. However, even if this is a once a month thing, you can’t really beat the room at Improv. If you’re learning your way as a stand-up or just a fan of comedy; the room is built for maximum effect. As an audience member, you get to see many of Houston’s up and comers alongside some serious heavy hitters in a world class room. As a comic, you get the chance to stand in front of that famous logo, and the rush of how laughs sound there. It’s a good time for all hosted by the hilarious Bryson Brown and the irreverent Matt Han. The riotous humor of Dale Cheesman and brave new fast food reviewer, Owen Dunn are also on the show. There’s no cover for the show & things get going around 7:30.
If comedy isn’t your deal, you could make it over to Walter’s to catch the fuzzy pop of Austin’s Milezo. Last year, these guys a pretty great mix of pop rock and shoegaze garage rock with their album, “Pathways.” They will be joined by the acoustic pop folk of Marmalakes, also from Austin. Marmalakes have always kind of reminded me of a little faster paced version of The Mountain Goats, with more jazz influences. Houston’s lo-fi punk meets pretty much every other genre, The Wiggins will be on the show as well. The Latin infused pop rock of Houston’s Deep Cuts will be opening things up. The show is all ages, the doors are at 8:00, and the cover is $6.00.
If you just want to dance until you pass out, then you could venture over to Stereo Live for The Crystal Method. I’d be lying if I said that I remembered that these guys were still DJ’ing, in fact I haven’t really thought of them since they released their late nineties album, “Vegas.” However, if their recent stream of releases and if they’re as mix heavy as they were when I took my younger brother to see them back then, hopefully you’ll have a great time. The tickets are $5.00, the doors are at 9:00, and it’s an 18 and up event.
Of course, if you’re of age, then Rudyard’s has a pretty great lineup playing for the love of it when they host a benefit for The Literacy Advance of Houston on Thursday. The evening is headlined by one of the most energetic three pieces I’ve seen in a while with Only Beast. I’ve told you for several weeks why you should go see them live because it’s true; they’re pretty great. If Sleater Kinney and Unwound had a baby that infused the bluesy attitude of Janis Joplin, it’d be Only Beast. They’ll be joined by the alternative sounds of Houston’s A Sundae Drive and the blue collar blues of Fire Moth. Fire Moth has a kind of swampy sound that at moments sounds like The Sword lite, but is still very melodic. Houston’s Brand New Hearts will open things up with their pop rock goodness. If you haven’t caught them yet, I’ll just say that you’ll miss one of Houston’s most solid live bands if you get there late. It’s a 21 and up event with doors at 8:00 and a TBA priced cover.
If you do want to see comedy Thursday, but you don’t want to do an open mic show, then you can head to the Joke Joint Comedy Showcase for comedian Bengt Washburn. He’s appeared on Conan, The Late Late Show, and Comedy Central. Washburn has a different pace to his jokes, but he does so with great timing. A native of Utah, Washburn will make you laugh with his irreverent jokes about growing up Mormon, living in Europe, and speaking with a German accent. He’s performing from Thursday through Saturday, and the Thursday show has a $16.00 cover and the show starts at 8:00. Like most Joke Joint shows, your host and feature performers will be several of Houston’s best up and coming comics. This week, your host is the hilarious Houston comic, Ashton Womack.
On Friday night, you have more options than usual, starting off with Second Lovers downstairs at Fitzgerald’s. Two years ago, the first incarnation of Second Lovers dropped a folky pop gem with their debut album “Wishers, Dreamers, & Liars.” The album had the vibe of Elliott Smith meets Kevin Devine, with a hint of John Prine thrown in. They then released a fairly amazing two song effort with last year’s “New Mexico.” That album had the vibe of Uncle Tupelo meets the pop induced Wilco of recent years. Then, the band was stripped down to just two members and it seemed all could be lost. Of course, from tragedy can come triumph, and as someone who’s seen them since; the recent addition of vocalist Chelsea Renee and several new members is a great thing. This is one of those “must see” Houston bands that will blow you away in their simplicity, while charming you with their harmonies and well crafted songs. Adam Bricks will open things up with his mix of Conor Oberst meets Scott Walker sound. The doors are at 8:00, things get going at 9:00, and it’s FREE for 21 & up, $5.00 for under.
There’s a pretty good chance, if you can afford the tickets, that you’ll be at Minute Maid Park on Friday, for the Jay Z & Beyonce show. No matter what happens, whether there’s a fight in an elevator or there’s a concert with pricey tickets; Beyonce will always be a Houstonian. Whether or not you’re a fan of hip hop, I don’t know how you couldn’t be a fan of Jay Z. No matter what, it should be a pretty epic show with doors at 8:00 and tickets ranging from $40.00 to $250.00.
Of course, if you like rolling the dice on whether or not you’ll get beat up by a band or not; then you could go to Mango’s to see The Mentors. These guys and their blend of sleaze rock meets punk have been around since the seventies; so maybe they won’t beat anyone up soon. But still, everyone should consider seeing them once. I mean, who doesn’t want to see some fat white guys in black colored hoods play punk rock? The metal punk of Houston’s Hel-Razor and the beer fueled punk of Garbage Dump will also be on board. Houston’s Licker will open with TSOL like intensity, but with screamy vocals. The doors are at 8:00, it’s all ages, and it’s a $10.00 cover.
If you like the spirit of competition, then Phoenicia MKT Bar and Beta Theater invite you to the Beta Bracket Comedy Competition, starting on Friday night. For twelve Fridays, some of Houston’s best, and some of Houston’s newest comics, will be begging you on Facebook to make it out for their competitive sets. The first prize is two grand and a live recording at Heights Vinyl. So, if you know a comic who’s competing, get ready for their begging. It’s audience vote, so maybe you can help that guy you all laugh at in your office, or maybe you can swing the vote on a funny comic who can’t make friends. Either way, it’s a fun event that since it’s at MKT Bar, you’ll be able to find a comfy seat, grab a bite, and you have a FREE parking garage to park in. Things get going around 9:00 and it’ll be hosted by the hilarious Bob Biggerstaff. It’s a FREE show and you’re supporting several local businesses alongside the local comedy scene by going…so you should just go.
If you find yourself wanting something a little more eclectic, then you can make your way over to Continental Club to check out the quirky sounds of Austin’s The Invincible Czars. These guys have been around over a decade and they’ve made a name for themselves by creating music for their self-made silent film series, as well as their almost miniature symphonies with their songs. They haven’t been in Houston for a while, and I’ll just say that my words aren’t descriptive enough for their interesting and inventive instrumental sound. The inventive and pop based americana rock of Houston’s The Wheel Workers will be on the show as well. What can I say away from the fact that The Wheel Workers just dropped a pretty amazing album with this year’s “Past To Present.” The all lady Ween tribute band Poon will get things started with doors at 9:00 and a TBA cover charge.
Over at Rudyard’s on Friday, the guys from Houston’s Another Run will do their best not to light the stage on fire with their energetic performance. With a guitar heavy sound that mixes the sound of pop melodies and catchy rhythms, alongside strong vocals; Another Run is a band everyone should see live. The band will be playing host to the psych heavy fuzz from Austin’s Otis The Destroyer. These guys are supposed to have a pretty great live show, and the Brit pop elements to their recently released “Dark Arts” EP are pretty hard not to like. The pop infused and melodic rock of McAllen’s Sick/Sea will be on board as well. Houston’s Sunrise and Ammunition will bring their prog heavy sound to life as openers of the show. Their album Tesseract, has been playing constantly at my house for two weeks, and you should really hear it in a live setting. The doors are at 8:00, it’s 21 & up, and the cover is a paltry $5.00.
Over at Avant Garden, those over at Houston Laughs will bring you two shows of comedy with their Huge Dicks of Houston show. There should be lots of dark humor from a pretty large list of Houston comedians. The hilarious likes of Dale Cheesman, Gabe Bravo, and Jaffer Khan will all be on the show, and it will be hosted by Brandon Stevenson. There are two shows, and more comics than those listed. There is one show at 9:00 and another at 11:00 and it’s 100% Free.
On Saturday, you could start off by heading to Discovery Green for Julydoscope, an evening of art, dance, and film. The Houston Cinema Arts Society will be putting on a night that starts with five dance performances curated by Dance Source Houston. Following that, will be a screening of the 2013 documentary, “Twenty Feet From Stardom.” Things get rolling at 6:30 at the Anheuser-Busch stage, it’s an all ages and pets event, and it’s 100% Free.
Of course, the Houston heat might not be your deal, which is why Walter’s has Austin’s Quiet Company playing. If you’ve never heard these guys, they have a Death Cab kind of sound, full of melody and rhythm, with all kinds of pop hooks thrown in. Their most recent album, this year’s “Other People’s Hits” is a pretty good covers album, and it includes a really great cover of The Cure’s “In Between Days.” However, on Saturday, these guys will be performing Weezer’s “Pinkerton” in it’s entirety live; which should be interesting to see. Houston’s Austin Jones Band will open things up with his guitar heavy sound. If you haven’t caught him yet, Jones has a pretty good sound that’s like a mix of Dashboard Confessional meets Jimmy Eat World. It’s an all ages affair, the doors are at 8:00, and the cover is a measly $8.00.
Over at Warehouse Live on Saturday, it’s a dance party that should leave all who attend with shaky legs for the Gritsy Eighth Anniversary party. The night is headlined by British dubstep producer and DJ, Distance. This guy has a pretty killer live set that I’ve heard about non-stop from one of my Brit friends, and he should impress the crowd with his crazy mix of sounds. LA’s Megalodon will also drop some science on the crowd, as well as the trip heavy sounds of Germany’s Bukez Finezt. The more hip hop sound of California’s Matty G should get people on their feet, while the DJ magic of Houston’s Hannya will be sure to impress. Other Houston DJs like John The Third, Suraj K., and Upgreyed will get things started while the host for the night will be Full Effect MC. It’s a pretty hefty night that’s all ages, the doors are at 8:00, and the cover is $25.00.
I have to admit that I like eclectic music from time to time, and if you feel the same way; then you should catch the electro-pop rock of Houston’s The New Mercies at Fitzgerald’s on Saturday. It’s crazy to say, but so many elements are present in Lucas’ music, that it’s worth it just to see him pull it off by himself in a live setting. There’s some funk, some soul, some hip hop, and some pop rock that’s mixed with electronica in an easy to swallow way. Of course, the fact that there will be a Fat Tony DJ set on board, just means that you’re in for just as spectacular a treat. Getting to catch Def Perception on the bill will be pretty cool as well, with their live instrumentation and crazy hip hop rhymes. Pleasure 2 is also on, as well as the dope sounds of Nikkhoo+PLXTX. It should be a crazy show with doors at 8:00, and an $8.00 cover.
On Sunday, the eighties punk of a band formed in the nineties, The Casualties will be skankin’ back to Houston over at Fitzgerald’s. There shouldn’t be a shortage of liberty spikes and plaid pants held together with safety pins, as these guys rip through their usually blistering set list. If you like this kind of punk, I’ll admit; they put on a pretty great live show. They’ll be joined by Austin’s Lower Class Brats. LCB has always kind of mystified me, because they look like punk, they dress like punk, but they’ve always kind of felt like hair metal punks; which is really just a term between me and my friends. A band who definitely has a mix of punk and screamy vocals, Dead To the World will also be playing, as well as the biker rock of The Velostacks. The hardcore sound of Houston’s Some Nerve will be getting things started, and punking up the place. The show is all ages, the doors are at 7:00, and the tickets range between $14.00 and $18.00.
If you’ve ever asked, who’s the best and funniest comic currently going in Houston, there’s a good chance most will answer Ali Siddiq. On Sunday, the Improv will offer Siddiq up to anyone who wants to laugh so hard that they might rupture something. Siddiq has been on Comedy Central, Showtime, HBO, and pretty much every network offering comedy. He’s a Houston native who never disappoints. The show will more than likely offer up several of Houston’s best & upcoming comics warming things up as feature and host. Things get going at 7:30 and the tickets are $20.00 to $30.00, and worth every penny.
Over at Notsuoh, they’re really trying to make comedy work. If you want to help them out, this is the week to make it out as the HTX Comedy Showcase will feature some funny comics. Jaffer Khan will be headlining the show, and he’ll be doing so with his usual brand of funny jokes that tend to blow most away. Of course, he’ll be joined by the heckler destroying talents of Micah Green, the rapid fire humor of Ashton Womack, and the witty references of Victor Tran. Tim Mathis opens, while the entire evening is hosted by the hilarious MyCal Dede. It’s a pay what you can cover, there’s Free Pizza, and things get going around 7:30.
As usual, there’s plenty to do this week, as it is pretty much every week. While we all get geared up for the comedy and music of Houston Whatever Fest, we can all enjoy all our city has to offer.