Houston's 10 Best Concerts In July
Photo by Jazmyn Lopez-AEG/Courtesy of Toyota Center

Houston's 10 Best Concerts In July

ROGER WATERS
Toyota Center, July 6
Few in the world of modern popular music have thought as big as Roger Waters, and fewer still have had the resources to make those thoughts a reality. This is true of his stage shows, obviously, The Wall Tour being so massive it made Kanye's mountain look like a molehill, but it's also true of the subject matter he tackles. It's hard to believe the same group that released “Seamus” also released Animals and The Final Cut, but Roger Waters had a vision, and in the process wrote songs that are scarily relevant to the world today. It seems only fitting in the age of Trump that he's back with his first new album in 25 years, a record that shows he still has a fire inside him, one that's burned solidly since millions heard the words “but the sun is eclipsed by the moon.” The release of Is This the Life We Really Want? means it's time for Waters to hit the road again for another live-music spectacular, visiting some markets for perhaps the final time. And he'll do it the way he's done it for so long now, speaking truth to power, whether the songs are brand-new or decades old. CORY GARCIA

BIG FREEDIA AND FRIENDS
Jones Plaza, July 7
It’s not enough that she’s the supreme diva of bounce. It’s not just her swass and her explosive dancing, though she’s got enough of both to flatten any city less funky than New Orleans. Big Freedia picks up the mantle of poetry somewhere between Gertrude Stein, Mark E. Smith, and Luther Campbell, calling on the powers of repetition and anaphora to bust you out of the jailhouse of your inhibitions. Beyonce gave her a feature on Lemonade, Fuse gave her her own show, and now it’s your turn to give her your undivided attention as she leads what is likely to be Houston’s biggest, filthiest public workout of the year. TEX KERSCHEN

JOURNEY
Smart Financial Centre, July 13
Journey is among the more interesting cases in the history of rock music. They’ve maintained a steady touring presence for the better part of their career, despite the fact that enigmatic front man Steve Perry – one of the more, um, interesting figures you’ll find in the annals of pop music – left the band nearly 20 years ago. In his place, the band now employs Arnel Pineda in his stead. Pineda, who first found fame in his native The Philippines, has fronted Journey for the past decade, touring and releasing a couple of albums during that time. Can he wail like Steve Perry? No, but then again, few can. That said, Pineda and Journey have been a band long enough now that those in attendance should be in for quite an experience. CLINT HALE

ELYSIA CRAMPTON, HOUSE OF KENZO
Walter's Downtown, July 14
Get ready for a show that splinters the boundaries of musical genres, featuring Bolivian-American headliner Elysia Crampton. Crampton just released her second solo release, Spots y Escupitajo, which features short composed movements and more developed sonic tracks. Her sets mingle South American genres with synth noise over yowling quasi-political narratives. A multidisciplinary artist, Crampton's onstage persona is explosive and yet centers on futuristic spirituality. Also get ready to vogue with San Antonio's high-intensity gender-queer crew House of Kenzo, whose live performances have proven to be explosive — think In Living Color's Fly Girls from the fabulous, futuristic Southwest. B L A C K I E, Studded Left and Rough Sleepers open. VERONICA ANNE SALINAS

THIRD EYE BLIND
Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, July 14
Stephan Jenkins and crew are touring in support of the 20th anniversary of Third Eye Blind’s self-titled smash, which gave listeners hits galore including “Semi-Charmed Life” and “Jumper.” Anyone who has ever witnessed a show knows that the band doesn’t run from its past. Whereas many groups from yesteryear aim to pump audiences full of the “new stuff,” Jenkins is more than happy to play hits from the band’s '90s heyday. Hell, they’ve devoting a whole tour to it! Enjoy a night of nostalgia at one of the Houston area’s best live music venues. CLINT HALE

KENDRICK LAMAR
Toyota Center, July 15
It’s hard to find anyone in the hip-hop game that had a better first half of 2017 than Kendrick Lamar (yes, that includes Drake). One of the hottest acts in pop music aims to continue that momentum into the year’s second half when his nationwide tour makes a stop in Houston. Expect plenty of cuts from Lamar’s instant classic, DAMN., along with material from previous classics – yes, pretty much everything Lamar has released to this point at least borders on “classic” territory – such as To Pimp a Butterfly and good kid, m.A.A.d city. This show will sell out, so plan accordingly. CLINT HALE

JASON ISBELL & THE 400 UNIT
Revention Music Center, July 18
Six albums deep into Jason Isbell’s solo career, his peers and critics alike are running out of positive superlatives to describe his music. The raw tools were already there when he was penning songs like “Outfit” and “Goddamn Lonely Love” as a member of the Drive-By Truckers; the maturity and sense of his rightful place in the world (musically and otherwise) perhaps was not. In any case, new album The Nashville Sound (Thirty Tigers/Southeastern) should lay to rest for good any lingering doubts about Isbell’s rep as a once-in-a-generation talent, particularly as a songwriter. Besides tapping his able band the 400 Unit (often including Isbell’s wife, fiddler Amanda Shires) to the full extent of their considerable aesthetic capabilities, together Sound’s ten songs constitute the compelling testimony of a family man of relatively recent vintage reckoning with his responsibilities as a husband, father, citizen, reformed addict and — certainly as far as the realm of roots-rock/Americana is concerned — bellwether. Such a task requires exceptionally broad shoulders, but Isbell emerges unbowed. CHRIS GRAY

LOGIC
Revention Music Center, July 21
Not many rappers cite Frank Sinatra as a primary influence, but Logic isn't a typical rapper. The Maryland-born artist even refers to himself as "Young Sinatra" and boasts his own "RattPack," which is comprised of three of his closest associates. On top of his affinity for classic pop music, Logic — born half-white and half-black — further distinguishes himself by exploring our nation's race issues from both sides. His latest album and first to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, Everybody, discusses the complexities of bearing the burden and sharing the privilege, depending on the crowd, serving as both a catharsis for Logic and a lifeline for his fans. Equal parts spoken-word and hip-hop, it boasts a single named for the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. But despite being occasionally longwinded, Everybody connects with its audience in the exact way Logic intended. MATTHEW KEEVER

94.5 THE BUZZ WEENIE ROAST
Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, July 22
At this point, you should know what to expect when local rock station 94.5 The Buzz puts on one of its many music festivals in The Woodlands. If you’re in for such a thing, you’re all-in. And if it’s not your thing, “outright disgust” might be an apt term. Personally, there’s something to festivals like Buzzfest and this month's Bud Light Weenie Roast. It provides mainstream bands like Chevelle, Blue October and 10 Years, bands that – contrary to many naysayers – have actually put out some pretty quality music over the years. Blue October always has a great live show, and Chevelle has an underrated catalog with tunes like “Shameful Metaphors” and “The Red.” So brave the heat and have a little fun. CLINT HALE

MATTHEW SWEET
The Heights Theater, July 23
Matthew Sweet is probably best-known as the man behind the power-pop force of nature that was the 1992 hit “Girlfriend” and the previous year’s album of the same name, but over the years he’s also distinguished himself by keeping some pretty good company: ace NYC guitarists Robert Quine and Richard Lloyd (the Girlfriend years); Susanna Hoffs of the Bangles (the decade-combing Under the Covers series); and even, after a fashion, noted painter Margaret Keane of Big Eyes fame (Sweet is reportedly one of the country’s foremost authorities on her work, and consulted on Tim Burton’s 2014 film). For his latest album, last month’s reliably eclectic Tomorrow Forever (Honeycomb Hideout/RED Distribution), Sweet holed up in his Omaha home studio — he recently relocated back to his native Nebraska — and patched together his bandmates’ parts largely via email, relying on his fans to foot the bill via Kickstarter and rewarding them with an album that’s as sharp and tuneful as anything he’s ever done. CHRIS GRAY

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