Wooden Birds, Other Lives, Walter's on Washington, July 2: "This is Andrew Kenny's latest project away from American Analog Set. That band is currently on hold while Kenny and the rest of the group go off to pollinate elsewhere. The Birds don't fall far from the AmAnSet tree at all, in keeping with the foliage motif." Craig Hlavaty Vans Warped Tour, Sam Houston Race Park, July 3: "It's a communal rite for each new class of punk rockers, to pick off the menu what they like and what they will use to identify themselves." Craig Hlavaty
Beyonce, Toyota Center, July 4: "When she asked audience members if they wanted to dance during "Gettin' Bodied," there was an eruption of screams and cheers. Oh, Lady B, as if you had to ask?" Kim Douglass The McKenzies, The Howlies, Springfield Riots, The Mink, July 6: Springfield Riots opened with a short 35-minute set paced by Phil Spector rhythms and defined by the spacey pop of the Flaming Lips - playful and melodic, but almost tribal." Chris Gray Good Night and Good Morning, Roman Candles, Timber!, Stove Blow, Scuba Steve, Super Happy Fun Land, July 7: "Although Tuesday's acts shared nothing in common with one another, this show summed up everything that Super Happy Fun Land is about - a refuge for artists who are talented but don't necessarily have a place." Kim Douglass Betty Soo, McGonigel's Mucky Duck, July 7: "Who knew going in that we'd be hearing a Korean-American girl channel J.J. Cale as guitarist Jeff Plankenhorn laid on licks thick as a steak on 'Never Knew No Love,' 'Get Clean" and Soo's amazing tune 'Still Small Voice'?" William Michael Smith
Dave Rask Memorial, AvantGarden, July 8: "The night showed that this man was crazy beloved and will not be replaced. We are thankful to have his words and tunes to remind us indefinitely of the figure that Houston lost this summer." Craig Hlavaty Chicago, Earth, Wind & Fire, Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, July 10: "What stuck out throughout the show was that aside from a few lighting tricks and one very interesting drum solo, these bands needed no gimmicks to gain the audience's approval. They simply come out on stage, sing their songs, and go home." Kim Douglass Buxton, Wild Moccasins, Ghost Mountain, Mango's, July 11: "Opening with 'Good Heart,' these two young men took off in the best way, ordering each song perfectly. This was a set meant to be danced to, which unfortunately didn't happen - it's hard to dance when you can barely move - but Ghost Mountain's effort and talent will no doubt earn them an encore in the near future." Kim Douglass Boondocks 2nd Anniversary Party with Roky Moon & BOLT, Whorehound, Nosaprise, Springfield Riots, Boondocks, July 12: "Nosaprise closed out the night with some fluid, far-sighted rhymes over both Black Sabbath and classical music samples (was that Bach's "Goldberg Variations"?) and Kam singing her hearty hooks from a wheelchair. And we're still trying to figure out how we missed the obvious Beach Boys connection in Springfield Riots." Chris Gray
Pete Yorn, Meridian, July 14: "It serves to confirm what [women] want to believe, that not all men are unrepentant bastards who will leave you six miles down the road after you break up with them. Yorn gives you hope that somewhere out there, there is a man pining for you and lamenting what he lost, which is you." Craig Hlavaty Clutch, House of Blues, July 15: "Relentless and visceral. A sweaty party band for a sweaty party crowd. The kind of night someone could get in trouble... if they weren't so 'well-behaved.'" Chris Gray David Allan Coe, House of Blues, July 16: "Although it was a little hard to get past the sheer sight of him - the grizzly offspring of Gregg Allman and one of Dr. Teeth's band from The Muppet Show, maybe - he wasn't getting paid to look pretty at House of Blues Thursday night." Chris Gray Archgoat, Blaspherian, Thorn Spawn, Walter's on Washington, July 16: "Thursday night, we hit up Walter's on Washington for our first-ever black metal show. To outsiders, the genre is corny and ensconced in laughable imagery. Some of the artists may even agree. But what we saw, amidst all the inverted crosses and droplets of blood -fake and otherwise - was actually a thriving local scene." Craig Hlavaty
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Aerosmith, ZZ Top, Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, July 17: "Make all the Guitar Hero jokes you want. Whatever it is that's kept ZZ Top and Aerosmith in the public eye for almost four decades they've never forgotten that eventually it all circles back around to the stage. And never been unable to deliver when it does." Chris Gray Rancid, Rise Against, Verizon Wireless Theater, July 18: "We hear detractors and former fans deriding their sound as corny and derivative, but that has never tainted our attraction to the four burly and tattooed guys from Oakland. To us, they have been older and cooler uncles that show up whenever we need them the most to set us straight." Craig Hlavaty Coldplay, Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, July 22: "Just like its music, the band's audience is lily-white, well-scrubbed and safe as hell. Not to mention that their sweeping anthems seem to be catnip for couples, making them the international makeout 'n' cuddle band." Craig Hlavaty Trae Day, Texas Southern University, July 22: "There are two ambulances parked near the entrance of the parking. Always a good sign. At the time, this seemed like an easy joke to make. Knowing what eventually happened, though, we're fairly certain this is actual proof that we're psychic. Or possibly racist. Whatever. Still called it." Shea Serrano Tremoloco, Under the Volcano, July 22: "After warming up with a brand-new song called 'Old Man,' the band sucked the eager crowd in with a stellar country version of Warren Zevon's 'Carmelita,' and it was all fun and games after that as they worked through last year's release Dulcinea. William Michael Smith
Jessica Lea Mayfield, Walter's on Washington, July 23: "Jessica Lea Mayfield, a woman that seems so quiet and shy she might jump if her shadow catches up to her too quickly. Don't be fooled by this, though - her thought-provoking lyrics will bite you in the ass." Kim Douglass Judas Priest, Whitesnake, Verizon Wireless Theater, July 24: "If Whitesnake, was the soundtrack to Friday's heavy-metal prom - underscored by the aquatic-blue undersea lighting of "Is This Love?" - Judas Priest was the afterparty in the metal shop, where everyone smashes beer cans against their aluminum-plated foreheads until passing out among the welding torches and leather aprons." Chris Gray Rod Stewart, Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, July 23: "Aftermath couldn't believe how many of these songs had been engrained in his head since birth. It's Momma Aftermath's fault after all, and she was sitting right in the seat adjacent screaming at Stewart's every twist and shimmy, which was at times scary but not altogether unsurprising." Craig Hlavaty Jonathan Tyler & the Northern Lights, Warehouse Live, July 26: "Though the Northern Lights' lyrics can be somewhat transparent, there is something fascinating about this group - like hurtful lovers and newly found love have never happened before." Kim Douglass