Mick Jagger at Arlington's AT&T Stadium, June 2015
Mick Jagger at Arlington's AT&T Stadium, June 2015
Photo by Mike Brooks/Dallas Observer

10 Acts Long Overdue a Show In Houston

It’s such a familiar complaint by now it’s become an unusually cruel cliche — this band or that artist, the toast of the music world, has just announced a new tour…which is, naturally, coming nowhere near Houston. Music fans here are so used to this by now that usually we don’t even bat an eyelash, let alone shed a tear. Fortunately, the crop of new venues that have recently opened has made the city at least somewhat less skippable than in the past. Some acts, though, still haven’t gotten the message. We’re not sure what it might take for some of the following performers to get over whatever aversion they may have to the Bayou City, but we are willing to negotiate. We’d say they know where to find us, but frankly we’re not so sure anymore.

COURTNEY BARNETT
Last year, I saw Liz Phair live for the first time ever. She was incredible, but I wondered many times that night what it might have been like to see her at her peak, sometime around Whitechocolatespaceegg's release. I really hope I am not 20 years from now having those same thoughts at a local Courtney Barnett gig. Like Liz, she's an indie guitar goddess with a catalog of lyric-driven gems and a penchant for skipping Houston on tour. I may be mistaken, but I believe the next time Barnett plays Houston will be the first. She's only been making her highly-acclaimed garage rock about five years now, so in fairness she barely qualifies for consideration in this particular exercise; but she has been to Texas before and has yet to grace our stages. Barnett's current tour schedule doesn't quell my FOMO, either. There are Dallas and Austin dates in November, but once again no sign of Houston. JESSE SENDEJAS JR.

EMINEM
Slim Shady doesn’t really tour anymore, for a couple of reasons. One, he’s admittedly battled substance-abuse issues over the years, and life on the road is typically not kind to those in recovery. Secondly, Eminem is all set with money and admittedly a bit of homebody and studio junkie, meaning there’s really no need for him to get back out on the road. Eminem is only coming to Houston under two scenarios. He either headlines a festival gig here, as he did at ACL a couple years back, or he tours as part of some limited stadium tour alongside fellow hip-hop heavyweights, say, Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg. Whether the latter every comes to fruition is anyone’s guess, but Houston can certainly play a role in making the former a lock. Simply put, this city needs to either create a festival worthy of an Eminem appearance, or one of its existing fests needs to step up its game. Free Press Summer Fest once seemed a worthy candidate for an on-the-rise festival that may one day get to the Eminem/Drake/Foo Fighters level, but alas, that day seems to have come and gone like a summer thunderstorm. CLINT HALE

FOO FIGHTERS
For a band that has toured as relentlessly as the Foos, they sure make a point of avoiding H-Town. The last show, a raucous January 2008 affair at the Toyota Center after the release of their Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace LP, was as notable for the entire floor-length gangway Grohl and bandmates used to strut well out into the audience as it was for their trademark high-energy performance. The intervening years have seen the Foos travel the world in support of both the lean and mean Wasting Light and 2014's ambitious Sonic Highways, recorded in multiple cities while being filmed for an HBO documentary series. Sure, Grohl and company have gone on hiatus and even suggested the band was no more, but nearly ten years is a long time to go without a trip to the fourth largest city in America, no? JEFF BALKE

DAVID GILMOUR
The world is full of people playing the music of Pink Floyd. Forget about your bar bands and all-purpose cover acts: Pink Floyd inspires tribute bands like no other, with different acts from around the world bring Floyd's music to the masses multiple times a year. Hell, Roger Waters just melted our minds a few weeks back. And while all of that is great, often wonderful, it doesn't change the fact that Houston has gone quite a while without hearing Pink Floyd guitar god David Gilmour rip the solo to “Comfortably Numb” in the flesh. Considered by many to be among the Top 10 solos of all time, for my money it's the perfect guitar solo at the intersection of “musically interesting” and “thematically appropriate.” (They wrote concept albums; meaning matters, y'all.) At this juncture, it feels, much like the case with Roger Waters, that the chances of seeing any future David Gilmour shows in Houston is pretty small. At least we have the tribute bands? CORY GARCIA

KRAFTWERK
The first time members of the electronic-rock group Kraftwerk touched down in the Lone Star State — and the U.S. — was in the mid-seventies in Dallas at an unnamed venue during their Autobahn tour. It’s amazing to think the members of the autobahn nation have not played in the oil capital of the world. Almost 4o years later, Kraftwerk rolled out a series of U.S. dates for their visually compelling 3-D Concerts that included two Texas dates: Dallas and, surprisingly, San Antonio. I’ve never considered my hometown a hub for electronic music; however, with the recent expansion of the mission reach and the new Tobin Center for the Performing Arts, perhaps they were trying to connect with a new audience? Houston not only has the funk of the bayous, but is one of the first launch sites for NASA and is home to not one, but three James Turrell pieces. If that doesn’t say 'far out' then I don’t know what does. At any rate, Day For Night has confidently upped their electronic-music game with European headliners such as New Order, Bjork and Aphex Twin. With their otherworldly light shows Berlin-modeling low-key locations (who knew you could revamp a post office into a venue so cool?!) we’re feeling Kraftwerk might be a nice surprise for, say, 2017? VERONICA ANNE SALINAS

PEARL JAM
When PJ front man Eddie Vedder played solo in Houston in 2012 at Jones Hall, he mentioned from the stage that his band had only played in Texas a handful of times. But, what he failed to mention is that you could count the number of Houston performances on one hand and still have a couple fingers left over. Their last show was in 2000 at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion (not even, technically, Houston). Prior to that, they were part of a 1992 Lollapalooza (in Fort Bend, also not technically in Houston) bill that included the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Soundgarden, Stone Temple Pilots and Rage Against the Machine. And before anyone had heard of them (and 10 was just a newfound blip on the radar), they had their one actually-in-Houston gig at the now-long-defunct club The Vatican on Washington Ave. What have we done to you, Pearl Jam? JEFF BALKE

THE ROLLING STONES
With Charlie Watts just turning 76 and Ronnie Wood now missing part of a lung, a casualty of his recent cancer surgery, Houstonians probably shouldn’t expect the full-bore Rolling Stones productions we saw at NRG Stadium in 2002 or Toyota Center three years later — or even the frenzied soccer-stadium throngs of new film ¡Olé, Olé, Olé! A Trip Across Latin America, shot in February and March 2016. The esteemed rockers’ upcoming tour of Europe, 14 shows in roughly six weeks, and fantastic new album Blue & Lonesome might offer Bayou City fans an unlikely glint of hope, though. It's unlikely, but perhaps some enterprising promoter can convince the Stones to scale down to large theaters and stage a series of two- or three-night stands in several U.S. blues and R&B capitals — Chicago, Memphis, Atlanta, New Orleans, Houston. etc. Suddenly that doesn’t seem so implausible. But if they want to come back to NRG or Toyota Center, that would be OK too. CHRIS GRAY

SADE
Seven years ago, Sade returned to making music. The band had remained on hiatus since 2000's Lovers Rock, watching lead singer Sade Adu raise a family. The moment the group's 2010 album Soldier of Love was announced, I immediately awaited the day that tickets would go on sale for a tour. Oddly enough, I went through more than a few hoops getting those tickets that night just to catch the band who gave us "Smooth Operator," "Is It a Crime," and "Sweetest Taboo" for the first time in person. We're approaching another decade of Sade being on hiatus and it's been six years since they last played Toyota Center. New album or not, people have maintained that classic bands can play the hits and still satisfy fans. And what quiet storm lover wouldn't want to see Adu grace the stage again and deliver sultry vocals that ooze sexuality as well as grace? BRANDON CALDWELL

REGINA SPEKTOR
The last time Moscow-born singer-songwriter Regina Spektor played Houston, J.J. Watt was still in college and Chinese Democracy, the newest album from Guns N’ Roses, was tearing up the charts. Spektor’s 2009 performance at what was then the Verizon Wireless Theater succeeded in converting at least one new fan to her unique style, but she hasn’t given many other locals the opportunity in the meantime. Since that show, Spektor has released two albums yet has only returned to Texas once (Austin’s Bass Concert Hall, in 2012). Her recently announced U.S. tour, supporting last year's Remember Us to Life, Once again features dates on those *other* coasts as well as in the Midwest (Des Moines?!), but skips Texas (and Houston) entirely. I don’t know how to say "Please come back" in Russian, I only hope her continued eschewing of H-Town doesn't eventually turn into a multi-decade absence, a la Barbra Streisand. PETE VONDER HAAR

NEIL YOUNG
Oddly, Neil Young has taken this year off the road to prep for the release of Hitchhiker, one of his famous “lost” albums, said to have been originally recorded in 1976 and so legendary even Young’s famously hardcore fans are foaming at the mouth. He’s also cut an album with his preferred backup touring band of the past few years, Willie Nelson’s son Lukas and his crackling garage-Americana group Promise of the Real. The last time Young, now 71, performed in Houston was a June 2010 solo show at Jones Hall — awesome, life-changing stuff, but still nothing compared to what he can do with a hurricane-force band backing him up. Nelson and POTR will be through town for the ZiegenBock Music Festival in October, though. Hopefully they can put in a good word for us. CHRIS GRAY

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