Shows of the Week: Punks There at the Beginning, Who Have Been Through a Lot
Hardcore kids flipped for the Damned's 1977 debut LP, but later albums were just as influential on the post-punk and goth scenes of the day.
Photo by Kurt Steinmetz/Courtesy of Magnum PR
House of Blues, May 17
The Damned played their first gig on July 6, 1976 opening up for the Sex Pistols at London’s 100 Club, helping to start and lead the UK’s punk movement as the first band from that scene to release a single, “New Rose” (1976), and album, Damned Damned Damned (1977). Despite their legendary status, it seems like they are somewhat underappreciated in the United States compared to England. Though true punk fans in America have always appreciated The Damned, more people in the States have probably heard the cover of “Smash It Up” by The Offspring on 1995’s Batman Forever soundtrack than the (obviously) superior original recording. The Damned helped influence the hardcore scene on both sides of the pond with their fast-paced songs and rebellious attitude; later albums went in a more post-punk/goth direction, influencing many bands as well. General-admission tickets for this show, part of The Damned’s 40th anniversary tour, are only $20, an insanely good deal to see a band of this caliber. With the Bellrays and Elhae. DAVID ROZYCKI
McGonigel’s Mucky Duck, May 18
Inquisitive minds curious as to what married musicians might talk about, maybe even fight about, in the course of making a living could do worse than give the Mastersons’ third album, Transient Lullaby (Red House), a few spins. Such matters may not make for polite dinner conversation, but Chris Masterson and Eleanor Whitmore have a gift for illuminating the unassuming virtues of road life while softening harsher truths such as, in the words of one title, “This Isn’t How It Was Supposed to Go.” As on their previous two albums, Birds Fly South and Good Luck Charm, the couple’s songs emit an aura of low-key, precise Americana that here often glows with late-night intrigue. In the course of the Mastersons’ Texas dates of the Lullaby tour, the currently L.A.-based duo will also appear at a Cactus Music in-store at 3 p.m. Sunday, May 21.
THE BLACK ANGELS
White Oak Music Hall, May 18
Outdoor-festival favorites who traverse the blackest regions of inner space, the Black Angels prove there’s still plenty of dark psychic matter left over from ‘60s forebears like the Velvet Underground or the Doors, even if the Austin quintet’s aesthetic approach is closer to the all-enveloping sonic assault of more recent ancestors The Jesus and Mary Chain or Spiritualized. The Angels don’t so much win a crowd over as lull them into submission just in time to conjure some truly terrifying waking nightmares in musical form. Between the times we live in and a work ethic that would cripple lesser bands — this latest tour is not called “Death March” for nothing — the Angels’ success seems foretold in some long-ago prophecy, now realized in their fifth album in just over a decade, the brand-new Death Song. Pregnant with foreboding and, just over the horizon, a distant glimmer of hope, Death Song sings of life too, curdled and bitter though it may be. With A Place to Bury Strangers.
Walter’s Downtown, May 18
Remand all that ukulele pop and blues-rock boogie to your fan boat’s storage trunk; if you want to know what the rest of the world thinks of Houston, at least that part of the island that doesn’t know how to rap, it’s Insect Warfare. They don’t make ideal music for drinking craft beer in the shade of a floppy felt festival hat; rather, this is music for sipping datura-tea on a wisteria-smothered veranda while the world burns beyond a cinder to a fine, entirely toxic dust. Their 2007 opus World Extermination featured 20 songs in as many minutes, securing the band a place in the Valhalla of international grindcore, whence they retired after touring Europe and Japan. Since then, they’ve proceeded through the rosters of a Who’s Who of Houston bands including the Homopolice, Snooty Garbagemen, Subsonic Voices, War Master, and Oceans of Slumber. They’ve turned down all but a few selected reunion offers, and say this is their last show ever, which in the music business means for a few years at least. With Captain Cleanoff, PLF, Holy Money and Vulva Essers. TEX KERSCHEN
ALL THEM WITCHES
White Oak Music Hall, May 19
Nashville-based coven All Them Witches pass through Houston supporting their fourth studio album, Sleeping through the War, and it shouldn’t take long for neophytes to warm to their well-balanced brew of bluesy sludge and fetching lyrics. Not only do these boys possess spell-binding songwriting, but lead singer Charles Michael Parks Jr.’s has the kind of penetrating, silvery vocals that can be both wheezy and raucous, yet sweetly seductive. These Witches also incorporate a Mellotron into their soundscape; all members save drummer Robby Staebler playing it. Even better, keyboardist Allan Van Cleave graces some tracks with violin, if not various other instruments, loops, hollers, whistles and guitar fuzz. If your musical head space is about creative instrumentation and ghostly occult blues, All Them Witches is your new favorite band. KRISTY LOYE
House of Blues, May 20
Though the B-52’s first started in 1976, many fans first discovered them with 1989’s “Love Shack,” whose video which was huge on MTV at the time, as was followup “Roam.” Both songs reached No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100, propelling the album Cosmic Thing into the U.S. Top 5 and eventual multi-platinum status. A long time before that, the band’s self-titled debut album, released in 1979, featured re-recorded versions of earlier underground hits "Rock Lobster" (a future Family Guy favorite) and "52 Girls.” The B-52’s have a unique style influenced by New Wave with some ‘60s rock, dance and surf music thrown into the mix; the three lead vocals by Fred Schneider, Kate Pierson, and Cindy Wilson often lead to a heck of a live show. With the Sh-Booms. DAVID ROZYCKI
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