Shows of the Week: A Moment of Truth For Selena Gomez
Selena Gomez at the 2014 Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo
Photo by Jim Bricker
SELENA GOMEZ, DNCE
Toyota Center, June 15
Selena Gomez is all grown up, and that's for the best. The last time she was in town, she was still straddling that weird line between teen and adult pop star, and the result was a show that had the crowd screaming less because of her talent and more because she simply existed; given how bored she looked onstage, it was not a good look. Word is the Revival Tour is more of a showcase for Gomez as an artist and less a pop spectacle, which mainly means less choreography. It's the kind of tour she needs to crush if she's wants to solidify a spot next to the Ariana Grandes of the world. Still, it'll be interesting to see where a song like “Love You Like a Love Song” fits in with a song like “Hands to Myself.” As an added bonus, DNCE are the openers, so you'll get to hear “Cake by the Ocean” too. CORY GARCIA
Under the Volcano, June 15
When Brian Whelan left Dwight Yoakam's band after five years and two albums, Yoakam's parting advice was to "go play someplace and then keep going back." That someplace for Whelan has been Texas, where he's been doing extensive tours every three months and building followings in Austin, Denton, Fort Worth and Houston, which has become a hot spot for him due to KPFT’s radio support a solid fanbase in place. Whelan is still touring behind his recent recording Sugarland, a sly play on words based on his girlfriend's home suburb in Fort Bend County. With his Roy Orbison pipes and Pete Anderson chops, Whelan fits perfectly in that broad space between country and rock and roll. WILLIAM MICHAEL SMITH
ARBOR LABOR UNION
Rudyard’s, June 15
Arbor Labor Union carry a trace of Built to Spill’s hypnotic, thickety guitar churn, and front man Bo Orr has the same heavy-lidded slacker delivery of Dinosaur Jr.’s J. Mascis, but they’re very much their own animal — a rangy, lumbering beast best left alone when hungry, but quite docile if pacified with the proper pharmaceutical supplements. Formerly known as Pinecones, the Georgia Quartet released Sub Pop debut I Hear You last month; it should easily satisfy any craving for slow-building beard-rock that pushes both the “earthy” and “psychedelic” buttons. It might also help enhance your listening experience to know a little about the band’s gonzo backstory, which Slug magazine dubbed “like reading a Thomas Pynchon novel during his reality-slipping-sideways period.” With Golden Sombrero.
A PLACE TO BURY STRANGERS
Satellite Bar, June 17
In 2006, A Place to Bury Strangers played a legendary show at New York’s Webster Hall where they blew the Brian Jonestown Massacre, a band as unstable as a small child with a pocket full of uranium, off of the stage. Now Oliver Ackermann’s noise-rock trio brings their blend of dystopian sci-fi and Phil Spector-cum-Ramones wall of sound to Houston’s Satellite Bar, trailing a well-deserved reputation as one of the loudest live bands on the planet. Record-wise, Ackermann and company last harnessed their sound (as best they could) on 2015’s Transfixiation. With the Ex-Optimists, Something Fierce, Omotai and Holder. STEPHAN WYATT
The Big Easy, June 17
Those who have kept an eye on Evelyn Rubio’s career playing in Houston blues lions Calvin Owens and James “Boogaloo” Bolden’s orchestras can be forgiven for wondering why this beautiful, blonde Latina who wields a mean tenor sax and vocals to match isn’t an even bigger star than she is. Those days may be coming to an end, however: thanks to some belated radio attention, back in March Rubio’s self-released 2014 album Hombres reached the Top 10 on Billboard’s Blues Albums, Latin Albums and Latin Pop Albums, hitting No. 1 on the latter chart. Fashioned from demos she recorded with the Calvin Owens Orchestra before Owens passed in 2008, and released in both English and Spanish versions, Hombres delivers plenty of high-stepping big-band blues before moving on to more cosmopolitan jazz-pop numbers like “Freedom” and “I’m Gonna Love You Tonight.” Along with Friday night’s show, Rubio will also perform at 1 p.m. Saturday afternoon at Cactus Music (2110 Portsmouth).
Fitzgerald’s, June 17
About to release his fourth album as Shinyribs, Kevin Russell’s expanded project has now attached Austin’s Tijuana Trainwreck Horns and backup singers Alice Spencer and Sally Allen, whose hoochie-mama choreography puts their visual stage show over the top. The ex-Gourds co-pilot and crew just recorded a brassy swamp pop album at SugarHill with Jimbo Mathus before hitting the road for Merlefest in North Carolina, where they stunned the crowd with their high-energy Gulf Coast funk. In spite of their original repertoire, the band has also vaulted into the top rungs of that somewhat stale genre we call Texas music and is now packing the largest clubs and theaters in the state. Maybe there is salvation from the Texas-music herd after all. With Mike Stinson and Sally Allen. WILLIAM MICHAEL SMITH
Last Concert Cafe, June 18
FreshDark may be a little festival on the make, well-sited in one of the comfiest yards in Houston, but you can still call it a star-studded event. Firstly, because both L.A. New Age R&B crooners J*Davey and our own homegrown psychedelic rockers Space Villains* have seen fit to decorate their own names with an asterisk; and secondly, because this party is so heavy with groovy local talent including Philippe Edison, Android Genius, The Aspiring Me, and electro-cumbia champ Gio Chamba. Doors open at 4 p.m. TEX KERSCHEN
1509 Stuart (house show), June 18
Houston is still getting acquainted with The Secret Group, the new promoters on the block who have tasked themselves with bringing only the chillest alternative music and comedy to the Bayou City. Besides sponsoring various open-mikes and air-guitar contests around town, TSG has been laying the groundwork for the grand opening of TSG’s headquarters near Warehouse Live (featuring a surely epic free solo show by Andrew WK) in another week or so. This weekend, however, they’re setting the table by welcoming legendary Texas outsider artist-musician Daniel Johnston for two sets…at a house show. Johnston, whose battles with mental illness have never managed to dampen his surrealistic, open-hearted songwriting, is as likely to appear at an art opening as in concert these days, will perform at the home of TSG co-founder Jacob Calle, an environment tailor-made for both the performer and his hosts. Get those tickets early; shows at 6 and 8 p.m. See thesecretgrouphtx.com for more details.
FATHERS & SONS
McGonigel’s Mucky Duck, June 18
The Mucky Duck presents the perfect gift for Houston’s Americana-loving dads: an evening in the company of not only Butch Hancock and Jimmie Dale Gilmore, but their talented offspring as well. As two-thirds of Lubbock cosmic-country greats The Flatlanders, Butch and Jimmie Dale hardly need much more introducing than that, but both men’s sons have long since demonstrated their bloodline bona fides. Colin already has a handful of well-received releases under his belt, the latest being 2013’s power-pop-inflected The Wild and Hollow. The even younger Rory, meanwhile, just graduated high school a year ago but is already an old hand at playing lead guitar for his old man — his sixteenth birthday coincided with San Francisco’s Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, where Rory, Butch told the New Orleans Advocate last year, “just nailed it.” Shows at 7 and 9:30 p.m.