Shows of the Week: Dramatic Brits Bring Their Mountain to Houston's Gates
Photo courtesy of BBGun PR
White Oak Music Hall, October 4
Since they’ve been practicing since before even Shakespearean times, Brits’ talent for drama isn’t that surprising, but it always raises a smile when a band like Foals puts a fresh twist on the “Rocker as Mad Genius” archetype. For the band that formed in Oxford circa 2005, now based in London, the resident dreamer is Yannis Phillippakis, whose confessionals and image-laden lyrics pour out of him like Byron and Shelley as reimagined by the Cure’s Robert Smith. On last year’s What Went Down, Foals’ fourth album, his electric creative energy easily spills onto his bandmates, whether on the noctural disco of “Birch Tree,” pulsating “Snake Oil” or relatively restrained and thus single-worthy “Mountain at My Gates.” Especially on windswept epics like “Albatross” and “A Knife In the Ocean,” What Went Down makes the listener eager to see what kind of lighting and video effects Foals can up with live to match such evocative aural soundscapes. With Bear Hands.
House of Blues, October 5
Like the alchemists of old, namely John Waters, Die Antwoord have a knack for collecting stray trash and droppings from the streets of their brave new world and then transforming that trash into different trash. They’ve done for eurotechno and it’s many unfortunate ersatz MCs what Kid Rock could have done for rap-rock if he were in fact a sentient human being and not merely a lingering cocaine hangover from that one crazy summer at the fireworks stand; that is, they’ve amplified it, invented the missing details, put its inauthenticity on a plinth, and opened it up to rut and reek. Before they popped up out of nowhere like some late-discovered adds to the Tex Avery canon, Yolandi Visser and Ninja took some time getting the formula right, as do most comedy gangs. They inhabit a world seemingly of their own making, a live-action cartoon somewhere between Jans Svankmajer and Harmony Korine on the historic register, a hypersexualized, pill-enhanced, cartoonish gutter Badlands in which they stage old-fashioned saccharine-sweet pageants about star-crossed lovers in an unfeeling world. But more importantly, as least for these too-taupe times we live in, they’re fashion-forward, clear-cutting the art world for props, with the most aesthetically generous comedy ethos since the Mighty Boosh. TEX KERSCHEN
House of Blues (Bronze Peacock Room), October 5
It’s a truth that’s almost been lost in country music, or so it seems, but it really is still that simple: writing what you know is the shortest path to a successful album. Witness Margo Price, the singer and songwriter whose salt-of-the-earth stories and saucy soprano caught the ear of Jack White, whose Third Man Records released Price’s stunning debut LP, Midwest Farmer’s Daughter, this past spring. And why wouldn’t he? White famously produced Loretta Lynn’s 2004 comeback album, Van Lear Rose, and it’s easy to hear the same feminist grit and corn-fed pluck in the 33-year-old Illinois native’s tales losing the farm, battling the bottle, music-business chicanery, and handling rivals who step out of line. If we’re lucky, Price will be taking home an armload of Grammys and CMAs in a year or two; if not, here’s hoping she at least makes Houston a regular stop in her future touring plans.
COLD WAR KIDS
House of Blues, October 6
Cold War Kids stand tall as an example of a band that started strong, flagged while sorting out the inevitable artistic and personnel issues, and rebounded with a song that made them bigger than ever. In the process, they’ve established themselves as one of this century’s most distinct (if not always consistent) modern-rock groups, scaling the festival ranks to earn a prime evening spot at this year’s Austin City Limits bash. Born in the fertile rock ground of L.A.’s sun-splashed southern suburbs, twice as soulful as most of their peers, the Kids arrived with 2006’s “Hang Me Out to Dry,” which steadily became one of the last decade’s most enduring rock earworms. Followups including Mine Is Yours struggled for similar traction, but the Kids persevered until they struck the proper balance on 2014’s Hold My Home, whose breakout single “First” took almost a year to reach the top of Billboard’s Alternative Songs tally. Today, it’s become even more inescapable than their first hit.
PROPHETS OF RAGE
Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, October 8
At a moment when “political engagement” means Katy Perry at a ritzy Hillary fundraiser or countless bands flinging cease-and-desist orders at Trump’s campaign songs, Prophets of Rage are hoping to fight the powers that be with an aggressive party vibe. Borrowing the name of a song from Public Enemy’s revolutionary 1987 LP It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, the group fusing members of PE, Cypress Hill and Rage Against the Machine debuted with a bang at this summer’s Republican National Convention, tweaking the Beastie Boys classic to come up with a winner in “No Sleep ’Til Cleveland.” Opening with the blare of sirens (what else?), the group’s recent The Party’s Over EP forms a solid cornerstone for their fall set list, which liberally mines the more inflammatory moments of the members’ back catalog while making room for certain Audioslave and House of Pain tracks you might be able to guess.
PORTER ROBINSON, MADEON
Revention Music Center, October 8
It's not that Porter Robinson and Madeon don't know how to write bangers, because they do; it's just that they both know the beauty of EDM as well. So, while there are sure to more hedonistic EDM shows coming to Houston before the end of the year, any DJ coming to town is going to have to work extra hard if they want to put on a show as good as the one this team-up is going to produce. At ages 24 and 22, respectively, Robinson and Madeon are both veterans of the game at this point, and it's exciting to see two young, extremely talented producers teaming up. While Madeon's last few trips to Houston have been good, Robinson is a master when it comes to picking out songs and putting on a show, and is responsible for some of the biggest and best shows Stereo Live has hosted. Together they should provide a feast for the ears. CORY GARCIA
ANDERSON EAST, BRENT COBB
Warehouse Live, October 8
Only in today’s topsy-turvy world will you find a guy who often sounds like Otis Redding tapped as one of country music’s hottest newcomers. But that’s what we’re dealing with in Anderson East, a 28-year-old singer and songwriter from Alabama who a couple of years back found himself in the orbit of Nashville producer du jour Dave Cobb (Chris Stapleton, Jason Isbell). East eventually signed with Cobb’s label, Low Country Sounds, and last year released Delilah, one of the most convincing collections of latter-day Southern soul this side of Muscle Shoals. Don’t be late for this one — Cobb himself will be opening.
The Redneck Country Club, October 9
Kris Kristofferson is now three years past his most recent album, the cheerily titled Feeling Mortal. He turned 80 in June, not long after he recovered from a bout of Lyme disease; around that time, one of the two still-living Highwaymen told Rolling Stone, “I really have no anxiety about controlling my own life. Somehow I’ve just slipped into it and it’s worked.” His best songs, of which there are many, are eloquent arguments that even the most wayward lost souls deserve some simple human kindness every now and then. Case in point: “Me and Bobby McGee.” Or "Sunday Morning Comin' Down." Or "The Taker." Or…
Ayva Center (9371 Richmond), October 9
Gucci Mane’s magnetism cannot be properly deduced by words. You merely see the Atlanta rapper and are instantly caught up in the wave, the glow if you will. As a dynamic rapper, Gucci has found ways to be not only astute, but clever and at times even cryptic and human. When he went to jail for three years, he maintained his reputation as one of rap’s hardest workers by releasing a glut of material from behind the wall. Now officially off house arrest, his album rate has only slightly decreased yet his public persona has never been higher or more revered; he can tour the world like the tailor-made charismatic rap star that he is. Gucci is legend, squarely because of his large influence on at least 43 percent of Atlanta’s current rap scene, while his A&R skills have brought forth Nicki Minaj, Future and Waka Flocka Flame, among others. It’s a good day to see Gucci Mane not only do what he does best (rap extremely well), but draw you into his world. With DJ XO, J-Dawg and Gorgeous George. BRANDON CALDWELL
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