Angie Stone, with Anthony Hamilton
By now, you'd think Angie Stone and Jill Scott would be embroiled in the same kind of she-said, she-said drama Hilary Duff and Lindsay Lohan can't stop getting themselves into. You'd think that the music media would declare that there's a rabid rivalry between the neo-soul divas, a blood feud with the ears of black America as the stakes.
Hell, there probably is. But fortunately, Stone and Scott aren't quite that high-profile yet. Vibe and black music scribes like Touré of Rolling Stone or Kelefa Sanneh of The New York Times aren't spinning compare-and-contrast Biggie vs. Tupac-style articles on the ladies. Yet. Sure, Scott's latest, Beautifully Human: Words and Sounds, Vol. 2, had been highly anticipated, and Stone's latest, Stone Love, was released a month before Scott's. But who wants to talk about them when Usher could drop another tune about how he did Chilli wrong any moment now! That's the shit that's top priority, folks! Anyway, Stone is on tour now with Anthony Hamilton, one of the half-dozen-or-so guest stars (including Snoop Dogg, Floetry and Miss "Clean Up Woman" herself, Betty Wright) who appear on Stone's album -- a joyful, retro trip down to Funkytown if there ever was one. -- Craig D. Lindsey
Friday, October 8, at H-Town Arena Theatre, 7326 Southwest Freeway, 713-988-1020.
DJ Adam Freeland
Although Adam Freeland has been widely described as a breakbeat pioneer, the ideal point of entry might as well be track one on his newest studio release, Now and Them. This is because, unlike some dance music, "We Want Your Soul" engages your brain as much as your feet.
An androidlike female pulls you down her rabbit hole and robotically ticks off her laundry list: "Tell us / Your habits / Your facts / Your fears / Give us / Your address / Your shoe size / Your years." With this, Freeland offers ready-made anti-Bush indictments while maintaining a shadow of ambiguity. The song, like the album, is full of Irvine Welsh fury and nightmarishly good pop, and the messages he has encoded make it all the more danceable. Booty-shaking is the way out of this Orwellian nightmare world; it is the bright light in his tunnel of sociopolitical darkness.
Elsewhere, Freeland pulls in diverse contributors. Some are more effective than others. The hip-hop excursions are not entirely welcome, and even when he falls back on his bread and butter, breaks, it's at its best when served up with a dollop of Dalí. With any luck, Freeland will keep it surreal when he spins through Houston this Saturday. And since 2401 has the "Rock the Vote" thing going on, escapism is no excuse. -- Michael Serazio
Saturday, October 9, at 2401 San Jacinto, 2401 San Jacinto, 713-759-9606.
Gibby Haynes and His Problem, with Heroine Sheiks and the Fakers
Back when simple-minded slogans like "Just Say No" inspired more laughter than allegiance, the Butthole Surfers charged head-first into the dilated eye of the storm, conjuring nightmares of Nancy Reagan breast-feeding the pope with her hair on fire. Ah, the early days, when a live Surfers set guaranteed strobe lights, performance art and probably some medical film about goiters or penile reconstruction. Later, after rehab, Surfers front man Gibby Haynes lost a few steps as he embraced bubblegum psychedelia, put out back-to-back duds like Weird Revolution and Electriclarryland and simply cashed his checks. Things have gotten a little better since. On his solo debut, Gibby Haynes and His Problem, the six-foot-five former college hoops star gets under your skin for different reasons, opting for tales of diaper-clad Kaisers or Superman and Dan Rather flying at the speed of light. Yeah, the Gibster still relies on heavily sedated "Gibbytronix" and even breaks out the bullhorn more than he probably needs to, but cut him some slack: He grew up in the Lone Star State, where swaggering is just called walkin'.
The Heroine Sheiks dwell somewhere in the miasma between post-punk, no wave and alt-metal. Thankfully, the band isn't relegated to the shadows of front man Shannon Selberg's flashy madman persona. When he was singer for the Cows, Selberg could always be counted on to do things like take the stage wearing nothing but strategically placed mounds of shaving cream, and 14 years of the Cows' manic energy has now been dumped into the Sheiks, which also includes former Swans/Foetus guitarist Norman Westberg. -- John La Briola and Saby Reyes-Kulkarni
Friday, October 8, at Rudyard's, 2010 Waugh Drive, 713-521-0521.
The Allman Brothers Band with Lynyrd Skynyrd
If J.R.R. Tolkien were a music journalist, these acts would be the Two Towers on the plains of Southern Rocklandia. Touring together for the first time ever, they've both got plenty of gold-standard songs, tragic history and grizzled survivor status. But the 2004 editions of these bands couldn't be farther apart in a contemporary musical sense. Skynyrd -- down to two classic members (guitarist Gary Rossington and keyboardist Billy Powell) almost plays like a tribute band as they mechanically churn out the hits. And though their last studio record, Vicious Cycle, spawned a minor hit with "Red, White, and Blue," their new material simply pales, both musically and lyrically, in comparison to the older stuff.
On the other hand, the Allman Brothers Band (with original members Gregg Allman on keyboards and Jaimoe and Butch Trucks on percussion) seems to be having a creative renaissance. The jam band forefathers' recent Hittin' the Note is one of its finest releases ever. The guitar duo of Warren Haynes (the hardest-working man in rock today) and boy wonder Derek Trucks is the best team since Duane 'n' Dickey. While Skynyrd is coasting, the Allmans are creating.
Expect some political talk too, as the tour is billed "Rock 'n Vote." While the Skynyrd boys are vociferously Red state (they played the Republican convention), the leanings of ABB are a bit murkier. But really, could a band whose symbol is a psychedelic mushroom be against any cellular (or brain) research? One thing's for sure: This is one show where you can yell "Freebird!" at the top of your lungs -- and actually hear the goddamn thing. -- Bob Ruggiero
Saturday, October 9, at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, 2005 Lake Robbins Drive, The Woodlands, 281-364-3010.
The Meat Purveyors, with Sean Reefer & the Resin Valley Boys and Molly & the Ringwalds
Like fellow Austinites the Gourds, the Meat Purveyors have answered to all manner of genre-labeling in their six-year career (alt-country, roots-rock, Americana), but what this four-piece delivers is a more or less straight -- though banjo-challenged -- bluegrass, held together with a honky-tonk spirit slathered on thick, like a third coat of barn paint. And while their essence may spring from the shared punk-country aesthetic of three chords and the truth (and it does: Ponder the title of their previous album, All Relationships Are Doomed to Fail, and all of a sudden a safety-pin-pierced cheek doesn't seem all that fatalistic), the musicianship displayed is much too accomplished to stay in the garage.
The Purveyors have been known to kidnap an unsuspecting song or two -- they've taken on the works of Madonna, Elvis Presley, the Velvet Underground, Ratt and Merle Haggard in four prior releases -- and on the new album, Pain By Numbers, they wrap around Fleetwood Mac's "Monday Morning," Rank & File's "Amanda Ruth" and Ronnie Milsap's "Daydreams About Night Things." But it's an inspired cover of Johnny Paycheck's "It Won't Be Long (And I'll Be Hating You)" that best demonstrates the band's willingness to leapfrog past the standard-issue harmonies of separation and loss to a land where hearts are not only broken but stomped on by steel-toed boots and finished off with a satisfied grin. Welcome to their world. -- Rob Trucks
Friday, October 8, at the Continental Club, 3700 Main, 713-529-9899.
Friends Forever, with Bully Pulpit, Necrosis and Organ Failure
It would an understatement to say that the members of Friends Forever see their music as a distant second to their performance of it. For the past several years, this Denver band has become the horror of coffee shops and warehouse art spaces across the nation. The band pulls up alongside such establishments in an ancient Volkswagen Transporter, flips on a couple of stand-alone generators and commences with impromptu rock shows from inside their van. While they do end up with actual bookings in many towns, they prefer to play outside of the club. Better still -- the van is equipped with a sunroof, which serves as a sort of miniature Cape Canaveral for the band's frighteningly amateur fireworks displays.
Musically, it can't be put much simpler: Friends Forever is awful. It is the essence of a strip-center dive bar band, the kind of band that barters multiple performances of "Louie, Louie" for free Lone Star pitchers all night and still ends up owing the club money. It would probably be called stoner rock were it not for the fact that, by their own admission, they can't afford the drugs.
But the labels or the music don't really matter in the end -- Friends Forever has truly inspired with its numerous treks across the country. In nearly every city, the band members have had to fight off angry residents of the streets where they perform and have narrowly escaped police intervention. Their van is their venue -- the stage arrives with the band, the only light is that of the sparks, bubbles and flames spewing up through the sunroof. Also, don't miss the band documentary Friends Forever the Movie, and be glad they cut out the "Vomit Party" scene. -- Lance Scott Walker
Saturday, October 9, at the Southmore House, 3107 Leeland.
Michael McDonald and Hall & Oates
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When silver-haired singers on arena stages announce, "This next song is from my new album," the resulting reactions usually range from profoundly disappointed, leftovers-for-dinner-again-Ma? groans to concessions-stand stampedes. However, Michael McDonald encountered no such resistance to this disclaimer at a recent tour stop. "You play whatever you want, babydoll," screamed one sassy supporter.
The fact that McDonald's new album, Motown, actually overflows with old songs certainly helps his cause. Backed by a soul-slinging band and some versatile vocalists, McDonald's weathered rasp can tackle Stevie Wonder's "All in Love Is Fair" and even "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" without stretching beyond its grasp. McDonald still croons some of his own classics, such as "Keep Forgetting" (later the laconic backdrop for Warren G's "Regulate") and "Sweet Freedom," a track from the Running Scared soundtrack that he prefaces with a brief Gregory Hines eulogy. His soggy "ain't"-anchored medley ("Ain't No Mountain High Enough"/"Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing") makes the title of its second song unpleasantly apt, but McDonald redeems himself by sparking up the Doobies' "Takin' It to the Streets."
Hall & Oates have their own cover album on the way: Our Kind of Soul, which appears in stores later this month. The group unveils a few nuggets from this collection in its set list, but not at the expense of any major hits. "Maneater" made the cut, as did "Sara Smile" (now with an extended flute solo!), "I Can't Go for That" (featuring some non-G.E. Smith guitarist executing the world's most superfluous behind-the-head maneuver) and "Kiss on My List" (a vocal ménage à trois with McDonald that, sadly, features no Mighty Wind-style smooch at the end.) Daryl Hall can still croon convincingly, and his punch-drunk-boxer choreography remains morbidly fascinating. And John Oates might be the only man ever to look creepier without a moustache, but he still holds up his end of the surprisingly smooth harmonies. -- Andrew Miller
Friday, October 9, at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, 2005 Lake Robbins Drive, The Woodlands, 281-364-3010.