Shows of the Week: An Indie Pop Star Perfectly in Tune With the Times
Photo by Christelle de Castro
House of Blues, March 21
Santigold’s contemporary sound tends to mask what a veteran she is. By the time of her 2007 breakout single, “L.E.S. Artistes,” the 39-year-old Philadelphia native (nee Santi White) had already worked in Epic Records’ A&R department, sang lead for the Philly punk band Stiffed, co-written the title song on GZA’s 1999 album Beneath the Surface, and lots more. Last month she released her first album in four years in 99¢, a sly indictment of today’s narcissistic, overcommodified society typified by the single “Can’t Get Enough of Myself,” which lets fans use a webcam to insert themselves into the song’s video. Beyond its spot-on message, though, 99¢ is noteworthy mainly due to the effortless way Santigold and her many collaborators meld hip-hop, electronica, reggae and New Wave into a succession of dance-floor-beckoning jams. All pop music should be this inclusive and exciting.
Revention Music Center, March 22
Bob Ezrin produced The Wall at the height of Pink Floyd's infighting. That he couldn't complete a Deftones record says all you need to know about how tensions can run high when the band enters the studio. The good news is that their latest release, Gore, is done, which means it's time for them to hit the road. We here in Texas are lucky, as we're being rewarded for being one of the band's strongholds by getting to hear some of the new tunes live before the album drops next month. Whatever issues they may have in the studio – and if you believe guitarist Stephen Carpenter, they do exist – never manifest onstage; Deftones have always been killers live, their energy only matched by the devotion of a fan base that's been with them for what seems like forever at this point. We might not know all that Gore has in store, but it's safe to say that the new tunes will find a welcome reception live. CORY GARCIA
Under the Volcano, March 23
After five years as Dwight Yoakam’s keyboard/accordion/steel-guitar man, Brian Whelan has recently moved back onto center stage with the solo release Sugarland. Named after his significant other’s Fort Bend County hometown, Whelan’s collection of uptempo country-rockers and poppy love songs opens with the stinging “Americana,” a pointed satire of the oft-pretentious beard-and-banjo genre once dubbed “Civil War Wave.” “I know I’m definitely over the whole 'whang on a banjo and stomp around' shtick as some kind of important back-to-basics thing,” Whelan recently told the Houston Press. “[The song] is like a summary of some things that have bothered me, like that Web site Saving Country Music — I get what they’re going for, but at the same time, like it says in the song, country music doesn’t need saving, country music is going to outlive us all.”
PATTY GRIFFIN, SARA WATKINS, ANAIS MITCHELL
Dosey Doe, March 24
Any visit from Patty Griffin is a treat, but this one has the makings of something extra special. The Grammy winning singer-songwriter has been scarce around here since an October 2013 date supporting her new album at the time, American Kid. Since then she’s released Servant of Love, another collaboration with producer and fellow Austinite Craig Ross (sometime bandleader for Lenny Kravitz), this one inspired by traditional jazz and blues as well as the writings of 19th-century greats Ralph Waldo Emerson and Walt Whitman. A similarly populist spirit drives the League of Women Voters’ “Use Your Voice 2016,” a 38-city spring tour aimed at raising voter awareness. If you get excited by the idea of an evening in the round with Griffin; former Nickel Creek singer/fiddler Sara Watkins; and Anais Mitchell, the Vermont musician whose folk opera based on her 2010 album Hadestown premieres Off-Broadway in May, Thursday is your lucky day.
Scout Bar, March 25
Since being nominated for a Latin Grammy for Best New Artist for her 2003 debut album, lyric soprano Natalia Lafourcade has been a one-woman wrecking crew in the Latino/Mexican music market, winning fans across three continents. She won her first Grammy in 2006 for the rock album Casa with her band La Forquetina, but went back to solo work shortly thereafter. Currently she’s touring in support of 2015’s Hasta La Raiza, which spawned the hit single “Nunca Es Suficiente” (“It’s Never Enough”). At 32, Lafoucade remains one of the hottest acts in Latin music. With Gio Chamba. WILLIAM MICHAEL SMITH
BFE Rock Club/18th Street Pier Bar & Grill, March 25-26
The folks at Pitbulls and Parolees have struck up quite a friendship with BFE Rock Club and the 18th Street Pier Bar & Grill, otherwise known as two of the hardest-rockin' joints in Houston's far northern and southern suburbs, respectively. The popular Animal Planet show pairs ex-cons trying to get their lives back on track by adopting the often unjustly-maligned canines at New Orleans' Villalobos Rescue Center, the country's largest rehabilitation facility. This weekend two stars of the show, Earl Moffett and Sui Gordon, will be in town to celebrate Moffett's birthday in style with special musical guests Saving Abel, the lusty Mississippi rockers who know a few things about getting a crowd turnt thanks to songs like "Addicted," "18 Days" and "The Sex Is Good." A passel of local openers, among them A Vow Unbroken, Hold On Hollywood, North Til Dawn, Kollective Mindz and Five Eyes Wide, add more fuel to what is sure to be quite a birthday bonfire.
LONE STAR JUKEBOX 25 ANNIVERSARY
Cottonwood Houston, March 26
KPFT’s Lone Star Jukebox fancies itself God’s own playlist, and more often than not it comes pretty close. Starting each and every program with Lefty Frizzell’s “Shine, Shave, Shower (It’s Saturday)” to get listeners in a Lone Star state of mind, host Rick Heysquierdo and producer Rico Suave get the weekend off on the right foot with three solid hours of Texas favorites: Alejandro Escovedo, Joe Ely, Billy Joe Shaver, Robert Earl Keen, Hayes Carll, Leon Bridges and Mike Stinson, to name but a few, plus acceptable non-Texans like Johnny Cash, Tom Waits and Lucinda Williams. Saturday, Heysquierdo toasts a quarter-century of the Jukebox at Cottonwood, recent home of his long-running “Troubadour Tuesdays” concert series, by welcoming two more friends of the show: Shinyribs, the “Cosmic Coonass” whose Okra Candy has been in constant rotation on the show since its release last spring; and Hard Luck Revival, the honky-tonk offshoot of Replacements-like Houston stalwarts Poor Dumb Bastards. Starts at 5 p.m.
SUPER HAPPY FUN LAND 13TH ANNIVERSARY
Super Happy Fun Land, March 26
There’s no other venue in Houston even remotely like Super Happy Fun Land. And no place in the local scene better understands that creating art can get pretty messy sometimes, which is at least half the fun. Witness the acts on display at SHFL’s lucky 13th anniversary celebration, many of whom seldom play publicly anywhere besides this warehouse-like structure deep in the East End: Veteran psych-rockers Darwin’s Finches; the inimitable Poopy Lungstuffing; Demonic Hen, the eco-conscious “vegetable hardcore” outfit whose members are named after various nutrient-rich produce items; Paper Sparrow, a singer-songwriter along the Elliott Smith/Jeff Buckley lines; Clockpole, the eccentric collective that can be charitably described as “experimental”; and SHFL’s house band, “outsider comedy” ensemble Organ Failure. Don’t worry about eating before you head out, either: a food truck or two is usually on hand, plus there’s a special pre-Easter peep-eating contest. Come hungry.
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