Our smug neighbor to the northwest may call itself "The Live Music Capital of the World," but Houston Press music blog Rocks Off may be the live-music-reviewing capital of the Internet. This past year, Rocks Off averaged around one review every three days in a slow month, and almost one a day when things were really hopping.
We combed through Rocks Off's archives — which you can do yourself at http://blogs.houstonpress.com/rocks/live_shots/ or http://blogs.houstonpress.com/rocks/2009_rewind/ — and put together a chronological montage of 2009's most memorable shows. In a year when people continued to bitch about tours bypassing Houston, we kind of wish a few more had. Okay, not really.
Happy New Year, y'all. It is for us...It's one of the few days we have off. Chris Gray
best Houston concerts in 2009
Wild Moccasins, Walter's on Washington, January 23: "Wild Moccasins are, along with the audiences at their la-da-dee-da shows, bringing life to what can often be called a, to put it mildly, stagnant local indie scene." Brandon K. Hernsberger
The Killers, Verizon Wireless Theater, February 2: "Like U2, the Killers dream big, a philosophy that accounts for the grandiose Brahms-like chords of 'Mr. Brightside' and vaulted-ceiling ambition of 'All These Things That I've Done' — the singalong to the refrain was deafening." CG
Son Volt, Continental Club, February 24: "If there's a catch-all term for Jay Farrar's musical domain, it might as well be working-class white-boy blues. His songs seethe with the quiet anger of people abandoned by the society they helped to create." CG
Jandek, Rudyard's, April 5: "Jandek's astringent blues guitar filled in the accents and Tyson Sheth's cucumber-cool drumming kept things moving forward. It was off the cuff and in the pocket, and just kept going...and going...and going..." CG
Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band, Toyota Center, April 8: "Hard times may be just outside the door, but as long as Springsteen and the E Street Band are onstage, Gary 'U.S.' Bonds is in the house and the clock is always frozen at a 'Quarter to Three.' CG
David Byrne, Jones Hall, June 15: "'Once in a Lifetime,' played as Philip Glass gone pop, with its beautiful houses, unrecognizable spouses and mysterious highways, says where you are at any given moment is both completely beyond your control and entirely up to you, so enjoy where you're at. Same as it ever was." CG
Santigold, House of Blues, June 17: "She's a piece of dynamite on a railroad track, primed to explode definition from your consciousness." BKH
Double Dagger, Black Congress, Muhammadali, Super Happy Fun Land, June 23: "Muhammadali is arguably the best band to come out of the Houston indie scene this year, currently traveling troupes of indie-swooners notwithstanding. The erratically spelled and emphatically loved MA has never failed to bring a smile to our face since we first saw them in February." Craig Hlavaty
Roky Erickson, Continental Club, June 24: "Every so often this grizzled Orpheus would step to the left, turn to face lead guitarist Kyle Ellison and descend into a private netherworld of razor-blade chords and Faustian fills." CG
Asher Roth, Kid Cudi, House of Blues, July 31: "Smartly, Cudi has tapped the Crookers remix of 'Day 'N Nite,' which is way more house-y, thus way more intense. It bangs, lasting near nine minutes. The crowd is swarmy." Shea Serrano
Bob Dylan, Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, August 2: "At the end of his career, it seems fitting that he is still roughing up the egos of people who came to him for some sort of personal gratification but instead got something they weren't expecting." CH
George Strait, Reliant Stadium, August 8: "Starting with 'Write This Down,' Aftermath and the sold-out crowd would not and could not stop singing along. These songs are ingrained in our brains, almost like Texas's heartbroken hymns." CH
Free Press Houston Summerfest, August 8-9, Eleanor Tinsley Park: "However many people showed up, Summer Fest wasn't a success because of the numbers. It worked because it presented local acts as more than adequate table-setters for the headliners, and those acts delivered." CG
Jonas Brothers, Toyota Center, August 15: "Three brothers, all squeaky clean, outfitted with promise rings to God, who star in a Disney Channel sitcom playing characters who are rock stars encumbered with the growing problem of their own celebrity." BKH
Davila 666, Mango's, August 17: "During Davila 666's nearly hour-long garage punk assault, not only were we dancing, we could also be seen hip-shaking and hand-clapping." CH
T-Pain, Venue, August 27: "T-Pain is an absolute monster onstage. It's like a great big musical circus up there. No wonder he's always wearing that goofy top hat." SS
Motörhead, Warehouse Live, September 18: "Trying to exactly quantify why Motörhead rules is fruitless. It's just something that you feel in your heart. Like how Jiminy Cricket just shows his ass up to tell you what's right and wrong." CH
Monotonix, Super Happy Fun Land, September 26: "What happened next was an orgy of clothed bodies, frayed nerves and sweat ingestion." CH
Common, The Roots, Big Daddy Kane, The Corinthian, October 3: "Common's back too. Right now he, The Roots and BDK are all onstage together. Super sick." SS
U2, Reliant Stadium, October 14: "'The Unforgettable Fire' exploded inward as a cone-shaped LED mesh descended from the Claw's video screen, its pinks and purples raw as a fresh bruise; "Vertigo" exploded outward as Bono acknowledged our neighbors south of the border ("Viva Mexico!"), sing-skiing in Edge, Mullen and bassist Adam Clayton's ferocious wake." CG
Pogues, House of Blues, October 28: "Singer Shane MacGowan was as incomprehensible as we had hoped, and the rest of the band hummed along like a finely tuned Celtic-bluegrass Rolls-Royce." CG
Drive-By Truckers, House of Blues, October 29: "It weren't no fairy tale. All night, all six Truckers onstage kept giving piece after piece — they may have had nothing left afterward except an empty bottle of Jack Daniel's on bassist Shonna Tucker's amplifier, but we all took plenty away." CG
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
Peaches, House of Blues, November 2: "She shed the hairy burka for a puffy-sleeved bolero jacket and launched right into 'Talk to Me,' battling it out onstage with two underwear-clad Troll dolls." Brittanie Shey
Regina Spektor, Verizon Wireless Theater, November 10: "Spektor sits down and begins a sprightly little tune that's the history of New York City music in reverse — the Bowery grit of Patti Smith's CBGB punk, kicked uptown toward the Brill Building and Broadway until it ends up on Carole King's doorstep." CG
Dwight Yoakam, Arena Theatre, November 21: "Dwight Yoakam may not have sung that particular Ray Price song Saturday night at the Arena Theatre — maybe he forgot; we've never seen a set list in a three-ring binder before — but he's sure got heartaches by the number. Troubles by the score." CG
Noise returns next week.