Best in Show

A taste of the 2013 Houston Press Music Award nominees.

That confusion turned into elation quick when Axl and crew roared into "Welcome to the Jungle" next. This was the shit people had paid to hear. It was immediately followed by "It's So Easy" and "Mr. Brownstone," two more indelible cuts from Appetite for Destruction. The audience rattled and shook ecstatically, pumping their fists in the air and hoisting their phones to capture snapshots and video.

What did they see through those digital viewfinders? Well, a band that looked a lot different from its original incarnation — including the lead singer. At 51 years old, Rose isn't exactly cute anymore, and his lung capacity ain't quite what it used to be.

But he's hardly unrecognizable, either. Even mostly hidden behind a pair of shades and a collection of wide-brimmed hats, Axl Rose has still got the rock and roll mystique that made him famous. The stage moves are still there, too, even if they're a little slower and more subtle these days. He didn't say much to the audience, but he didn't need to, either.

Wilie D
Peter Beste
Wilie D

The singer looked and sounded entirely in his comfort zone on "Estranged," a personal favorite of mine from Use Your Illusion II. In the song's quieter moments, Rose dropped the gravel from his voice entirely, crooning softly and sweetly. Whether that was by necessity or design, it worked. In total command, he sounded vulnerable without being weak.

It was obvious that a great deal of his confidence flowed from the musicians surrounding him. They didn't much resemble the guys who fascinated me on MTV decades ago, but they sure as shit sounded like them. Led by the triple-guitar attack of Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal, DJ Ashba and Richard Fortus, the Guns N' Roses of 2013 is a well-oiled machine, drilled to precision and unfettered by the drugs and drama that helped end the original group's run.

What's more, they looked as if they were having a hell of a lot of fun up there. Belying his public reputation as a bit of an egomaniacal control freak, Rose never hesitated to share the spotlight with his bandmates. Everybody got a turn to take a featured solo, and while Ashba and Fortus didn't quite make us forget Slash and Izzy, they didn't make us miss them, either.

Together, they pumped out hit after hit. "Sweet Child." "Patience." "November Rain." The audience ate each of them up. In spite of a few hiccups here and there, Axl's voice held up well throughout a solid two-hours-plus set. By the time the group closed the evening with "Paradise City," he sounded a little tired, but the crowd was singing along so loudly that it didn't matter.

I was singing along, too. Was I pissed that Guns N' Roses tried to stop me from covering a rock show in my own fuckin' city? Yeah. But I decided not to take it personally. Life, I find, is a lot more fun that way.

Everybody's Talkin'

Urban Dictionary's best musician-related slang terms.

Angelica Leicht

Urban Dictionary ( is always available to help a blogger out with a never-ending supply of user-submitted definitions that are filled to the brim with snarky, backhanded awesomeness. It is on these "pages" that one can find a descriptor for every situation under the sun.

Run out of weed? Well, sir, you're dankrupt. Built a redneck robot and aren't sure what to call it? Well, it's a Bobot. Problem solved for both you and that feisty, twangy little machine you've got there. Stole something from last night's random hookup and are unsure what to call it? It's a screwvenir, dude.

But not to worry; not only are there terms like these, there are also plenty of terms born from pure, unadulterated musician antics. They're funny as shit, and luckily for you, we've labored through page after page to find a few of the best ones for you.


Thomas Jefferson's affectionate nickname for Thomas Paine, Revolutionary-era intellectual, musician and author or co-author of "Common Sense," "The Rights of Man (feat. Yung Napoleon)" and "Declaration of Skindependence."

T-Paine: "I'm in luv wit the Republic, G."

George Washington: "Yes, but you haven't answered my question: Should we launch the revolution?"

T-Paine: "Talk to Franklin...This war is all about the Benjamin, man."

Seriously, what could be funnier than nerdy rap/history jokes? Not much, I dare say...not much. I like to read that one in Auto-Tune while on a boat.

Ke$ha $peak

A language popularized by the pop singer Ke$ha. It consists of speaking Huttese ( the language spoken by Jabba the Hutt and the rest of his race) with a Valley Girl accent.

Girl: "Oh em gee, Wah kah nah tu nah ki?"

Guy 1: "What the hell did she just say?"

Guy 2: "I don't know. I don't understand Ke$ha $peak."

Ke$ha and her whiskey-glitter stink lines were just made for Urban Dictionary definitions. See also "Ke$ha Bomb," but don't be a dick and actually Ke$ha-Bomb someone. Glitter in the eye can be hazardous to your corneal health.


A unit of measurement used to gauge the level of discomfort caused by hemorrhoids. Each unit is roughly equivalent to the pain and discomfort of watching a Justin Bieber video.

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