The weather is slowly beginning to cool, school is back in session and football season is (finally!) back. Summer is but a memory; it’s time for fall. And while that means more tolerable weather, as well as football aplenty four nights a week, fall also signifies a new season in another regard. Namely, it means the fall concert season is upon us. The next few months don’t lack for rock options in the Bayou City; here are ten shows not to miss on Houston’s fall rock calendar.
DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE
Revention Music Center, September 13
The emo kings are back! Despite not releasing a new album in around 18 months — the underrated Kintsugi was released in March 2015 — the former indie darlings are bringing their rolling roadshow to Houston for the first time in a while. Death Cab detractors point to the band’s emotionless, almost vanilla delivery, but perhaps Rolling Stone put it best when it labeled Death Cab’s music as “emotion through its lack of emotion.” So prepare for one understated rock show.
White Oak Music Hall, September 15
A lot of bands reunite after a long layoff, tour a bit, maybe even crank out an album or two to dwindling returns. Dinosaur Jr. is an exception to this rule. Since reforming a decade ago, the trio — an indie-rock mainstay since the late '80s — has produced some of its best work to date (2007’s Beyond is a particular highlight of the band’s catalog). Dinosaur Jr. is akin to that group of old-timers shooting hoops at the local gym. They may be a bit older than they once were, but their familiarity with one another yields one of the tightest, most cohesive rock shows you will ever witness.
Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, September 24
Alabama Shakes aren’t exactly household names on par with more noteworthy pop and rock acts. The blues-rock foursome has only put out two full-length records and benefits from little to no mainstream radio play. Despite this lack of mainstream appeal, Alabama Shakes has moved more than 1.5 million records in the past four years. Plus, they’re going to headline one of the biggest gigs to date when they headline a gig at Cynthia Mitchell Woods Pavilion in late September with opener Corinne Bailey-Rae. Expect one of the liveliest, funkiest shows the venue has seen in some time.
HOUSTON OPEN AIR FEST
NRG Park, September 24-25
Hey, Houston metalheads. You wanted your own weekend-long festival? You got one. This two-day tribute to hard rock kicks off on Saturday with metal mainstays like Alice in Chains, Slayer, the Cult, Ministry, Anthrax, Buckcherry, and Sevendust. Day two makes way for Avenged Sevenfold, Deftones, Chevelle, Pierce the Veil, Hellyeah, and many more. Plus, it’s taking place outdoors when the Houston weather should be somewhat tolerable. Wear black, take off work that Monday and be prepared to have limited hearing for at least a few days after.
COLD WAR KIDS
House of Blues, October 6
Cold War Kids always felt like a band that was one hit away from stardom. Fortunately, they found that single last year with “First,” which hit No. 1 on the Alternative Rock Radio charts. They’ve pretty much been touring since that single stormed rock radio last year. If the band’s headlining set at last year’s Untapped Fest is any indication, concertgoers are in for a lively set that spans the band’s entire catalog.
PROPHETS OF RAGE
Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, October 8
The last time members of Rage Against the Machine broke off into a supergroup, the world was given Audioslave — a far better group than it’s given credit for. This time around, former Rage members Tom Morello, Tim Commerford and Brad Wilk have eschewed a more rock-themed vibe in favor of a hip-hop sound. In doing so, they recruited Public Enemy’s Chuck D and Cypress Hill’s B Real to serve as co-front men. The supergroup set off a wave of hysteria when it played in protest outside the Republican National Convention in July. Houstonians are in luck; Prophets of Rage plays in the Woodlands one month to the day before we elect a new president. Think they’ll have a little something to say about that?
Toyota Center, November 10
Ozzy Osbourne can’t be human. The man has fallen off the wagon more times than we care to recall and weathered issues aplenty, both with his estranged wife and bandmates. Yet, he still manages to hit the road with Black Sabbath on a semi-regular basis, and by most accounts, still put on a pretty good show. Let’s be straight – this is a pure legacy show, the chance for Sabbath diehards to check out the band one more time, as well as for first-timers who want to say they saw the band before Ozzy and crew finally hung it up. If Ozzy and crew ever actually hang it up.
White Oak Music Hall, November 15
To call Animal Collective experimental is an understatement. Simply put, this show could get weird. Among the artsiest rock acts you’ll ever experience, Animal Collective lives to push the boundaries of rock and push its fans’ expectations. They have delivered in spades with a musical catalog that now spans nearly two decades. If you’re looking for a traditional rock show, look elsewhere. If you’re looking for a unique experience, this show might be the ticket.
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White Oak Music Hall, November 19
Once upon a time, it seemed the former Smiths front man was content in semi-retirement, limiting himself to one-off dates and essentially doing as he pleased (as Morrissey is prone to do). After an apparent change of heart, Morrissey is setting out on a worldwide tour that includes seven U.S. dates — four of them in Texas! You never know when, or if, the time will again come to see one of rock’s most enigmatic figures in person; best do so while you can. Plus, the show is taking place on the lawn at White Oak Music Hall, which is absolutely tailor-made for fall outdoor concertgoing.
BAND OF HORSES
House of Blues, December 15
This Seattle quintet is one of those bands festival organizers love to place on a bill. Simply put, they’re a non-headliner that still brings paying customers to the show. So it makes sense they’d headline their own tour as well. Band of Horses may not have become the breakout stars it appeared they were destined to become around the turn of the decade, but they’ve settled into a nice place of releasing palatable, quality indie rock to legions of fans. Anyone familiar with the band’s catalog likely expects a chill show, and while it certainly is in spots, the band’s more grandiose tunes (think “Funeral,” “Is There a Ghost,” “Compliments”) provide a sort of understated lively experience.