"Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, but to be at Hollertronix' parties in Philly circa 2002 was very heaven." I'm paraphrasing Wordsworth, of course, but I think that's what he might have said had he been on the dance floor of the Ukrainian National Home in northern Philadelphia when DJs Diplo and Low Budget, a.k.a. Hollertronix, were gaining notoriety as their hometown's most trusted party starters. Unleashing a mix as freakish as it was instantly recognizable -- the DJs layered undulating crunk jams over Soft Cell's "Tainted Love," classic funk over Indian bhangra, Rod Stewart over yo mama -- they introduced indie rockers to Ludacris and hip-hoppers to the Cars. Hot off the release of his captivating debut solo record, Florida, Diplo's doing a round of one-man DJ gigs at which he's sure to be up to his old Hollertron-icks. Catch him either during his half-hour set before the RJD2 show or go to the same show's after-party at Thermal, where the turntable Diplo-macy will flow all night long. -- Garrett Kamps
Diplo opens for RJD2, Sunday, December 5, at the Meridian, 1503 Chartres, 713-225-1717. Later that night, he will spin at Thermal, 1601 Commerce, 713-228-2800.
Rebirth Brass Band
Bass drums boomed, snare drums rat-a-tat-tatted, tubas belched, trombones warmly exhaled, and trumpets literally spoke -- they said things like "Don't you know / don't you know / that the Rebirth's back in town." That was what it sounded like the last time these New Orleans brass barons rolled through town. The packed club was treated to one of the best shows of the year -- an unforgettable high-energy set that combined everything from 200-year-old marches to snatches of P-Funk, Suzanne Vega's "Tom's Diner" and 50 Cent's "In Da Club." Centuries of American music of every genre came blasting from the stage, all tricked out in low-down New Orleans ghetto threads. You'd be a fool not to get funked up with these guys this time around. -- John Nova Lomax
Saturday, December 4, at the Engine Room, 1515 Pease, 713-654-7846.
If rock critics were hunters, it'd be Scissor Sisters season right now. Ever since its flamboyant self-titled debut went platinum in the UK earlier this year, the Gotham-based quintet has been the target of just about every brush-off and put-down in the music-journalist arsenal. To set the record straight: Yes, the group is absurdly retro and offers no apologies for being blatantly derivative of the '70s' most extravagant cheese. ABBA and Elton John? More like Atlanta Rhythm Section and Leo Sayer. But Scissor Sisters also summons the smart, quirky pop of the era, like Roxy Music and Sparks, then twirls it all around in a flash of disco and a swish of pink feathers and leather. Factor in the act's now infamous electro-injected cover of Pink Floyd's "Comfortably Numb," and you've got the recipe for pleasure -- the kind that's way too brash, masterful and ass-shaking to feel guilty about. Let the critics scoff and sneer; you'll have the last laugh out on the dance floor. -- Jason Heller
Monday, December 6, at the Meridian, 1503 Chartres, 713-225-1717.
Dolly Parton, with the Grascals
It's all too easy to forget that, in fact, Dolly Parton is a genius, every bit the equal of Willie, Hank or Loretta. Yeah, she's a blond with huge boobs, and yeah, she's from an impoverished region of the South; yeah, she had that late-'70s/early-'80s interlude where she was a mainstream pop-country omnipresence. Yeah, "Islands in the Stream," "I Will Always Love You" and "9 to 5" are pretty lame.
But have you heard what she did before and after that phase? Have you heard "Coat of Many Colors," one of the most touching songs ever written about what it means to grow up poor? Or for that matter, "In the Good Old Days (When Times Were Bad)," her devastating retort to country singers who romanticized poverty? Or "Jolene," one of the keenest observations of female insecurity ever penned? "Down from Dover," "The Last One to Touch Me," "Joshua"...Did you know she wrote all those songs? Have you ever heard anyone sing such sad and smart songs so sweetly? Have you heard the killer bluegrass albums she has been making the last few years?
If you answered "no" to any of those questions, you owe it to both yourself and Dolly to catch this show. -- John Nova Lomax
Sunday, December 5, at the Toyota Center, 1510 Polk, 1-866-4HOU-TIX.
Dover Drive, with Color Tonite Red, O'Doyle Rules, the Last Starfighter and Dynamite Boy
Rock history teaches us that putting two brothers together in a band is great for creativity, if not so hot for tranquillity and longevity. But there's little precedent for having two pairs of testosterone-laden siblings in the same act -- something that the Conroe-based pop-punkers Dover Drive will soon learn. Consisting of hermanos Fossmo (singer-guitarist Leif and bassist Erik) and Raven (singer-guitarist Barrett and drummer Taylor), the three-year-old group is named for the Conroe street where both families live. And though many songs have a Christian/spiritual edge and the band gigs at many all-ages venues, the boys (ages 17 to 20) are hardly preachy holy-roller types. Featuring extremely tight and talented musicianship and the otherworldly voice of Leif -- Billie Joe Armstrong nasal one second, Cannibal Corpse-like howling the next -- Dover Drive boasts an extremely commercial sound for Buzz Nation/Warped Tour followers. They are clearly one of the brightest young Outer Loop acts around. -- Bob Ruggiero
Saturday, December 4, at Java Jazz Coffeehouse, 419 Gentry in Old Town Spring, 281-528-8129. All ages.
Jägermeister Music Tour, with Slayer, Mastodon, Killswitch Engage and Faceplant
Slayer has played "Raining Blood" during unplanned virtual monsoons at outdoor shows, provoking massive mudfights, but not quite achieving lyrical symmetry. The song's words clearly call for lacerated skies to leak red gore, not the crystalline precipitation that makes the heavens seem sorrowful rather than mortally wounded. Slayer tried to set up a splatter storm when touring in support of 1986's seminal speed-metal statement Reign in Blood, but the group lacked the funding needed to simulate this unnatural disaster. Being music's most relentlessly brutal band for 18 years has proved lucrative, however, so for a few select tour dates, including Thursday's gig here, Slayer will unveil its unprecedented "Wall of Blood."
Slayer has summoned some spectacular stage shows in the past, from ghastly surgery-footage videos to gaudy fire displays that singed upper-deck eyebrows. But the band has never tapped this type of special-effects sorcery. Using a complex sprinkler-and-pump system, the "Wall of Blood" will spew a scarlet stream that measures 25 feet wide and at least 32 feet high. The DVD Still Reigning, released in early November, gives viewers a sneak preview of the liquid carnage, which soaks the group in a 45-second flash flood.
Given that the demonic drenching lasts less than a minute, the real draw is that the group plays Reign in Blood in its entirety. The most efficiently compacted disc in thrash history, this 28-minute masterpiece packs its straight-razor riffs and treadmill-set-to-death drumbeats so tightly that its parental-warning sticker should read "contents under pressure." Reign in Blood ends with "Raining Blood," which Slayer butchered live during the past decade by chopping off its chaotic conclusion. By the end of the evening, longtime fans who have ached for those final apocalyptic notes will have their climactic release, aptly marked by a frothy fountain. -- Andrew Miller
Thursday, December 2, at the Verizon Wireless Theater, 520 Texas, 713-230-1600.
Metal Church, with Azrael's Bane and WolfeBlitzer
In its day, Metal Church was overshadowed by heavyweights Metallica and Megadeth and the litany of hairspray rockers like Warrant and Poison, but Metal Church's early albums are classic metal masterpieces. Now that Metallica's gone soft and the glam-metal bands are firmly fixed on the nostalgia circuit, could the time be right for Metal Church to make a play for the throne? After all, some bands improve with age, and Metal Church's current roster is strong, as is the band's latest album, The Weight of the World. Original guitarist-songwriter Kurdt Vanderhoof and drummer Kirk Arrington are still calling the shots and have recruited metal vets vocalist Ronny Munroe, guitarist Jay Reynolds (formerly of Malice) and bassist Steve Unger. With bands like Incubus, Korn and Linkin Park the new millennium's hair-band equivalents, maybe Metal Church can truly be a contender this time around. -- David A. Cobb
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Friday, December 3, at Forgetta 'bout It, 13245 Jones Road, 281-807-4166.
Riddlin' Kids, with Lit
They used to earn tips delivering pizzas in Austin, but now the four members of Riddlin' Kids are knocking on the front door of the music industry. The Texas punks' 2002 major-label debut, Hurry Up and Wait, featured a peppy mall-core mini-hit about heartache ("I Feel Fine") and a light-speed cover (R.E.M.'s "It's the End of the World as We Know It"). The album hadn't even hit the shelves when the lucky Kids landed a spot on the Warped Tour. In the wake of Wait's release, the group has been road-dogging it continuously, proving that an energetic live show might indeed be the cure for attention-deficit disorder. At least the musical kind. -- Geoff Harkness
Wednesday, December 8, at the Meridian, 1503 Chartres, 713-225-1717.