Almost 30 Big Houston Concerts Worth Checking Out This Summer
No other mega-star loves Houston as much as Drake.
Photo by Timothy Norris
Arena Theatre, May 21
If there's one thing you should know about rapper and singer Future, it's that he's just being honest. Or at least that's what a person could gather from his 2014 mega-hit "Honest," a heavily auto-tuned track that helped launch the Atlanta native into mainstream success. It also helped spur a rivalry with fellow musician T-Pain, with both artists now vying for the title of Auto-Tune king. But given Future's furious flow and his penchant for dropping mixtapes like quarters — the MC has released three of 'em since October — we have a feeling this Arena Theatre concert may solidify Future's right to the vocal-enhancement throne.
Kenny Chesney, Jake Owen, Chase Rice
BBVA Compass Stadium, May 22
We hope the Houston Dynamo are planning to reseed that field at BBVA Compass Stadium soon, because it may need some TLC after Kenny Chesney, Jake Owen and Chase Rice take to it in The Big Revival Tour, presented by Corona Light. After all, these country crooners are sure to do some damage to the pitch with their boots, as Chesney takes it way back through decades of laid-back surf-country. He's bringing some country young 'uns in tow, which should only amplify the twangy energy. For these guys, it's no shirt, no shoes, no problems — which is just the way it should be.
Toyota Center, May 24
Try as you may, you'd be hard-pressed to find a bigger star than Drizzy Drake. The former Degrassi actor-turned-rapper is pretty much everywhere — including Houston. In fact, you'd be even more hard-pressed to ever find a star who loves Houston as much as Drake does. We always get a stop on his tours, and Drizzy even coined Houston Appreciation Week, which was one of the raddest things to happen to Houston in a hot minute. Well, that and all the name-drops our fair city gets in his platinum albums. Those — and this upcoming concert at Toyota Center, where he's sure to drop even more Houston nuggets — are pretty rad, too.
Toyota Center, May 26
There's something you should know about Neil Diamond: Music wasn't his first love. Yes, it's true. Diamond was dead set on being a biologist, not a musician. But luckily, the cards — and the Barbra Streisand — all fell into place, and Diamond was whisked away from academia and into the life a singer-songwriter, one who's sold more than 125 million albums during his storied career. Songs like "You Don't Bring Me Flowers" have made Diamond one of the most successful contemporary artists in the past few decades. What that means is there ain't no shame in your love of Neil Diamond game because the man is pretty darn brilliant.
Jimmy Buffett & The Coral Reefer Band
Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, May 28
If you don't already have tickets to Jimmy Buffett & The Coral Reefer Band, you might want to start begging your resident Parrothead friends for a seat, 'cause this show is bound to be packed to the gills (and probably sold out). Those diehard Buffett fans never ever pass up an opportunity to catch "Come Monday" in action, which means you'll either have to pony up some mean green, or owe your friends a lifetime of solids, to get in. Catching Mr. Buffett do his beach-bum thing up onstage will be well worth the cost. Trust us.
Action Bronson, The Alchemist, Mayhem Lauren
House of Blues, May 31
Action Bronson might be one of the most underrated MCs in the business. He was once a well-respected New York chef, but a temporary bum leg, courtesy of a kitchen accident, led him on a hip-hop journey far, far away from those Michelin-rated restaurants of olde. Bronson still throws a few old-school food references into his ubiquitous flow, mind you, but for the most part, this MC is all about the mike rather than the microwave. Taking over the stage like nobody's business, Bronson huffs and spits a flow that could knock down walls — or kitchens.
O.T. Genesis, Doughbeezy
Warehouse Live, June 5
You know that earworm of a song, "Coco," that you can't seem to shake out of your brain? Well, blame O.T. Genesis for that one — and then go see his show at Warehouse Live, because the dude is a pretty brilliant rapper. But what sells this show isn't just that Belize native O.T.; it's also the addition of Houston rapper Doughbeezy, whose name has been blowing up in recent years and will continue to do so as he keeps slaying the rap scene both in H-Town and beyond. Beezy has not only collaborated with the top tier of Houston elite — Paul Wall, Lil Keke and Slim Thug, for starters — but has won the "Best Rapper In Texas" competition three times now. Ain't no stoppin' this one.
The Geto Boys
House of Blues, June 11
Damn, it feels good to be a gangster. Well, at least that's what you'll be saying when you take in Houston's favorite OG rappers at House of Blues. We can't guarantee you'll feel anywhere near as hard the following morning, though, after bobbin' your head to "Mind Is Playing Tricks on Me." But those aches and pains of old age the next morning will be worth it, because although Wille D, Scarface and Bushwick Bill rarely make it onstage together, when they do, they set the whole damn place on fire.
LL Cool J, Public Enemy, Whodini, Doug E Fresh, Scarface, Big Daddy Kane, DJ Jazzy Jeff, Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five, Sugar Hill Gang
Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, June 13
What do you get when you take a bunch of awesome '80s and '90s hip-hop hype masters and throw them into a show at the Woodlands Pavilion? Why, the "Kings of the Mic" tour, of course. Hearing Doug E Fresh pull off "La Di Da Di" should alone be enough to sell you on this show, but there's plenty more if that brilliant beatboxer doesn't do it for you. After all, there's everything from LL's peachy, nice-guy rap to the Apache-loving Sugar Hill Gang. In other words, this old-school hip-hop extravaganza should be enough throwback to fill every Thursday for the entire summer.
D'Angelo and The Vanguard
Warehouse Live, June 17
If you've ever wanted to catch D'Angelo live, you better jump on it. Like, now. The neo-soul singer doesn't tour often — in fact, he has a penchant for taking years-long sabbaticals — but when he does make those rare ventures out, the "Untitled (How Does It Feel)" crooner blows it out of the water every time. D'Angelo's elusiveness, coupled with the universal praise his third studio album, Black Messiah, received after dropping in late 2014, means this show is bound to be the kind that comes around once in a lifetime.
Darius Rucker, Brett Eldredge, Brothers Osborne, A Thousand Horses, Casey James, Chase Bryant, Drake White, Michael Ray
Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, June 20
Darius Rucker is the kind of artist who can really do no wrong. For a guy who once fronted alt-rock band Hootie and the Blowfish, and then moved on to release a solo R&B album in the years after Hootie, he certainly has been successful at carving out a country music niche, too. Rucker has as much country music street cred as he could ask for, and perhaps it's because songs such as "Homegrown Honey" and "It Won't Be Like This for Long" are built from the stuff country dreams are made of.
Vans Warped Tour
NRG Park, June 26
If you want to be one of the cool kids, you should probably head over to NRG Park for some hot pavement dancing, because that's definitely where all the little music know-it-alls will be during Vans Warped Tour. It is, after all, the only time you'll catch about a zillion on-the-rise acts together — guys like Black Boots, Escape The Fate, Hands Like Houses, Le Castle Vania, M4SONIC, As It Is, Beautiful Bodies, Crossfaith, Fit For A King, Splitbreed, Alive Like Me, blessthefall, Hundredth and Lee Corey Oswald will all show their shiny faces — and if you miss it, well, just hand in your rock snob card, 'cause you're bound to be kicked outta the club, son.
Third Eye Blind & Dashboard Confessional
Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, July 2
It's time to start acknowledging that '00s nostalgia, folks, because it's definitely a-comin'. Just take this little mashup, happening in early July, as proof. But don't worry your pretty little selves too much; an oughts revival, at least when it's the kind that involves Third Eye Blind and Dashboard Confessional, is a pretty good thing indeed. After all, they're bound to bust out those old semi-charmed hits like "Never Let You Go" or "Standard Lines," which are the kind of songs that never age.
Toyota Center, July 7
For any other artist, it would be a gamble to cover "Fool in the Rain" by classic rock legends Led Zeppelin, but when the badass rockers in Maná did it, it worked, and well. That's just how things work for those Guadalajara natives, though. Their versatile sound and those expert skills have helped them build not only a longstanding career, but one that's broken many a record in their home country of Mexico. Since the band's inception in 1986, these Latin rockers have been earning wheelbarrows full of awards across the globe for songs like "Oye Mi Amor," which we daresay you should learn the lyrics to, stat.
Danzig, Pennywise, Cancer Bats, Venomous Maximus
Bayou Music Center, July 14
Oh, how we love ourselves some Danzig. Led by the horror punk legend Glenn Danzig, formerly of Misfits and Samhain fame, this band is only the latest vehicle for the storied performer's blend of dark, hard-driving metal, but it's a good one. And while we'd make the trek to Bayou Center just to catch ol' metal machine Glenn in action, it's even cooler that he's dragging the creepy clown devotees in Pennywise, Ontario-bred hardcore punks Cancer Bats, and Houston's own Venomous Maximus, along to get in on the rowdy action.
Imagine Dragons, Metric, Halsey
Toyota Center, July 16
Perhaps the band members in Imagine Dragons must be part Mogwai, because over the past year or so, these versatile nice-guy musicians have been continually ripping apart stages and taking no prisoners in their quest for world domination. They've jumped from relative obscurity to household names in no time flat, so it's hardly a surprise that this band is now poised to take over Toyota Center, too. But this change of venue — the last two Houston visits had Imagine Dragons in House of Blues and Cynthia Woods, respectively — may be the perfect place to house those rowdy, drum-loving rockers, since it may be the only place strong enough to withstand the pounding rhythm that comes with their live show.
The Smashing Pumpkins & Marilyn Manson
NRG Arena, July 16
Listen up, aging goth kids. You have the chance to relive your high-school glory days with the help of Billy Corgan and company. If you've never caught Corgan's wailing vocals live, you should probably dig out your old JNCOs and head to NRG on July 16. Just cross your fingers that he'll stay out of Zwan territory. Oh, and just in case that Mellon Collie allure wasn't enough to sucker you in, Marilyn Mason will be there, too, because this smudged-eyeliner party wouldn't be complete without the beautiful people.
Toadies, Everclear, Fuel, American Hi-Fi
July 17, Bayou Music Center
To quote the Toadies, make up your mind — and just make sure that decision is to head over to Bayou Music Center. After all, that's where the Toadies will be playing with some other fantastic '90s bands, like Everclear and Fuel, both of which helped define the decade's music. The summer really isn't complete without a proper nostalgia show, and when it's nostalgia like "Possum Kingdom" or "Shimmer," you really can't go wrong.
Steely Dan, Elvis Costello & the Imposters
Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, July 18
Once deemed "the perfect musical antiheroes for the Seventies" by Rolling Stone, Steely Dan is known for a brand of jazz rock that comes complete with a dry wit and a searing nod to pop culture. Walter Becker and Donald Fagen, the band's core members, have perfected the art of the smart man's musical snark, and are the masters of mixing things up with an eclectic rotation of sound that makes this band nothing short of a national treasure.
FOB continues its comeback with a stop in Houston.
Photo by Marco Torres
Fall Out Boy & Wiz Khalifa
Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, July 24
The guys in Fallout Boy may have taken a few years off to pursue other projects, but they've been fired up on all cylinders since their return. And oh, what smooth cylinders they are, too. FOB's comeback has been bigger and better than expected, and even if the emo-pop band hasn't quite managed to save rock and roll — yet — they may be well on their way with this Wiz Khalifa collaboration they've got going on. Between their chart-busting and eardrum-rupturing tunes and Khalifa's chill-as-ice stoner vibe, this rock-rap mashup should make for one hell of a party. Perhaps they'll even throw in a rock-heavy version of Khalifa's "Black and Yellow" if you're lucky.
Faith No More
Bayou Music Center, July 28
Rarely does a band have as many famous devotees as Faith No More. Widely hailed as the purveyors of nu-metal, this post-punk rock band has been ripping apart stages since the early, early '80s and has been given influential credit by everyone worth his weight in musical salt. Seriously. Everyone from Guns N' Roses to Metallica has paid media homage to the band, and Krist Novoselic, Nirvana's bassist and cofounder, even credited the rockers with having "paved the way for Nirvana." If that's not a reason to check 'em out, we're not quite sure what is.
Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival
Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, August 1
The Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival is always killer, and this year is no exception. Boasting huge names on the bad-boy scene — Slayer, King Diamond, HELLYEAH, The Devil Wears Prada, Whitechapel and Thy Art Is Murder, to name just a few — this festival always takes hardcore to the next level. We're not sure if that level includes the word "bone-crushing," but we do know that it will definitely include "rowdy." If you're planning to venture into the pit, come ready to nurse your battle wounds, because boy, they're a comin', and the hurt will be so good.
Toyota Center, August 14
Might as well call 2015 the year of Sam Smith because this brilliant crooner is everywhere — including Houston, where he'll be taking the stage at Bayou Music Center to hawk his R&B wares. It should be an easy sell, though, considering Smith's velvety voice is one of the best to emerge in the past few years. Just take "Stay With Me" as proof; not much else is necessary to back that claim up. The boy is simply golden.
"Weird Al" Yankovic
Bayou Music Center, August 18
It's high time we all join the massive Weird Al cult following because the man is pretty much a musical genius. It's something those throngs of devoted fans knew, even if his musical repertoire involves lyrics about having a booger on his finger. The master satirist has been making polka-laden pop parodies for decades, but he reached a big milestone recently when his 2014 album, Mandatory Fun, debuted at the top of the Billboard charts for the first time in Yankovic's career. Not only did the album shatter the cold hearts of music critics everywhere, but it also opened up an opportunity to recruit a new legion of fans with his fun-filled musical mockery.
Incubus, Deftones, Death From Above 1979, The Bots
Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, August 19
Pardon us while we burst into flames over this Incubus concert. Could it get much more bongo-surf-rock brilliant than Brandon Boyd and company? Probably not, considering all the rad music they've dropped in the past decade or two. But it looks like they've tried to up the ante anyway, what with the addition of the Deftness to the lineup and all. Better start stretching now, because we all know you can't contain yourself — or your rusty dance moves — when Boyd gets behind those bongos. We don't need any hamstring injuries in the pit, now do we?
J. Cole, Big Sean, YG, Jeremih
Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, August 21
You may want to adjust the thermostat on August 21, because the entire Houston area, from The Woodlands on down, will be turnt up a notch when J. Cole and company arrive. And who is that company, you ask? Well, Big Sean may not, uh, mess with you, but he sure is messing with J. Cole and a couple of other big-name artists — YG and Jeremih, anybody? — when they team up for one of the biggest hip-hop shows of the summer. And you thought your summer couldn't get any more sweltering.
Def Leppard, Styx, Tesla, August 22
Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, August 22
It's time to pull out any ripped or torn attire — and perhaps contemplate either a mullet or some serious man-permed hair — because not only is the '80s hair-metal band Def Leppard paying Houston a visit, but they're bringing Styx and Tesla along, too. Considering that Def Leppard brought us time-tested hits such as "Love Bites" and "Pour Some Sugar on Me," they could have just made this little concert jaunt solo, but they went and threw on those two musical bonuses, making it almost too much hairspray glory to handle. And for that, we're thankful.
Yes & Toto
Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, August 25
We'd be willing to bet you have, at one point in your life, jammed out in a bar to "Owner of a Lonely Heart." It's just statistics or science or something. Well, now you can jam out to it right in front of the fellows who brought you that pop perfection, because Yes is a-comin' to Houston. Oh, and they're bringing along Toto, just in case you were also missing the rains down in Africa, or perhaps someone named "Rosanna." Your mind is probably blown right now, but just try to keep those dramatic dance moves limited to the bar or the drive over, a'ight?
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.