Shows of the Week: New Okkervil River, Same Brilliant Will Sheff
Photo by A Horse With No Name/Courtesy of Shorefire Media
White Oak Music Hall, September 26
Fragile beauty, fierce intelligence, dry humor and a singularly poignant style have accumulated across nine albums — plus their unforgettable collaboration with ‘60s psych avatar Roky Erickson, 2010’s True Love Cast Out All Evil — to establish Okkervil River as one of Texas’ most accomplished indie acts of the young century, and front man Will Sheff one of the most fertile singer-songwriters in his field. For the brand-new Away, Okkervil’s first album since 2013’s The Silver Gymnasium, Sheff recruited a new group of players (many from New York’s jazz/avant-garde world) to record a batch of songs he had written quickly while on a kind of sabbatical to process events in his personal life like the death of his grandfather. Sheff is also the sort of musician who writes his own media bio (of course he does); of Away he says, “It’s not really an Okkervil River album, and it’s also my favorite Okkervil River album.” With Landlady.
Cottonwood, September 27
Every so often you look up and realize it’s been a while since an album of Jesse Dayton’s tall-walkin’ roadhouse rockabilly has come down the pike, full of dark humor and all-too-Texan truisms. Lately it’s been because the Beaumont native has been hitting the highways and byways hard with L.A. punk lifers X, filling in while guitarist Billy Zoom battles cancer, as well as on X front man John Doe's solo dates. Luckily the wait is now at an end with the arrival of Dayton’s The Revealer (Blue Elan Records), which is loaded like a 30.06 with future classics like “Daddy Was a Badass,” “Eatin’ Crow & Drinkin’ Sand,” “3 Peckered Goat” (don’t ask) and good friend Mike Stinson’s “Take Out the Trash,” just to name a few. Dayton can write a bawdy country couplet as well as anyone save arguably his buddy Stinson, as heard here on “I’m at Home Getting Hammered (While She’s Out Gettin’ Nailed),” but his straight love songs like “Match Made In Heaven” are mighty fine as well. With Hard Luck Revival.
Warehouse Live (Studio), September 29
Last we checked in with Catch Fever, the Houston-based duo were celebrating the completion of a successful campaign to crowdfund their second EP, You Have All You Need. Four months later, the response has been positive enough that Catch Fever is using Thursday’s show to launch a brief warmup tour for their appearance at next month’s Untapped Festival at Discovery Green. Playing a full-size band’s worth of instruments between them, Taylor Huffman and Josh Wilson crank out upbeat alt-pop that would be radio-friendly as all get-out if such a thing were possible in Houston’s near-barren FM climate. No matter; Catch Fever recently logged an appearance on Houston Public Media’s Skyline Sessions online series, allowing the duo to put an extra layer of pro-studio polish on their uber-catchy earworms. Right now, enjoy this exclusive look at Catch Fever’s new video for “I Should Have,” and watch our Twitter account later this week for a chance to win tickets to Thursday’s show. With Another Run, Since Always and Camera Cult.
Warehouse Live (Ballroom), October 1
Figuring out who Tory Lanez is as compared to what Tory Lanez is has been one of hip-hop's most confounding questions over the past few years. The Toronto native has essentially fought his way to be out of Drake’s shadow, only to be lured back in by critics and radio listeners alike. His bulky, hardened mixtape cuts earned him a legion of fans solely by giving Toronto an edge that had all been masked by the current pop sheen the city has embraced. Yet when it came time for his debut album, Lanez found a way to craft radio-friendly records built off of the backs of classic R&B and reggae cuts. His debut album, I Told You So, attempted to marry both worlds together, with uneven results and the odd feeling that a lot of his story, rap-wise, mirrors Drake’s — Warehouse Live reference included. But making memorable music may not even truly be Lanez’s gift; that’s his connection to fans at his live shows. The last time Lanez performed at Warehouse, he climbed up and literally rapped from the ceiling. With Jacquees, Kranium, J.I.D. and Veecee. BRANDON CALDWELL
Toyota Center, October 1
In many respects, Maná is the quintessential Rock En Español band. With more than 20 years of success and hits to lean on, every show is a powerful spectacle of loud and brilliant inspiration. The band from Guadalajara, Mexico is equal parts jam band, sexual stimulant and protest act. They are also considered immigrants, as they have called Los Angeles their home base for the last two decades. Now the words of a certain presidential candidate have led to The Latin Power Tour, which hits Toyota Center on Saturday. If you call a Mexican a derogatory name, he or she might just laugh and lob their own insults right back at you. But if you generalize all Mexicans as lazy, good-for-nothing criminals, that's where the trouble begins. Lead singer Fher Olvera holds more power in his voice than all of The Donald's hairpieces combined, and will assert his opinions in front of the thousands of fans who pack into and sell out every one of Maná’s arena shows across the country, just in time for the November presidential election. MARCO TORRES
"SETS, FRETS & CIGARETTES"
Majestic Metro Theater, October 2
Dayna Steele probably needs no introduction to many Houstonians, but even those who don’t remember her legendary midday shifts entertaining legions of “Steele Workers” on KLOL-FM may know best-selling books like her Rock to the Top memoir or the 101 Ways to Rock Your World success-tips series, which has lifehacked its way through college, golf and visiting Cuba, among others. Slick’s name might be a little harder to place, apart from the superfans who enjoy scrutinizing the liner notes on some of the biggest albums in rock history: John Lennon’s Double Fantasy and David Bowie’s Young Americans and Station to Station, to name a few. After replacing Mick Ronson in time for the Diamond Dogs tour, Slick rejoined Bowie’s band at the beginning of this century and stayed through 2013’s The Next Day; he's also jammed with the likes of The Cure and Carl Perkins on top of all that. (Apparently Slick is also a great lover of the blues, particularly Buddy Guy.) He and Steele are old friends, so Slick agreed to be the heavily tattooed test subject for “Sets, Frets & Cigarettes,” an in-depth, insider-info conversation similar to a rock-and-roll TED Talk. Sunday’s event is the prototype of Steele’s new series for Ovation Speakers and Talent that she appropriately calls “Rock Talks,” promising lots of stories, a few songs, and motivational tips even non-rockers can use in order to get ahead. A rare public event at downtown's last remaining, somewhat intact Golden Age movie palace; tickets are available through Eventbrite. Proceeds benefit TexasMusicHistory.org, with an eye toward establishing a Texas Music Museum in the Houston area.
ONO, BUCK GOOTER, KA, ROUGH SLEEPERS
Notsuoh, October 2
The gorgeously designed, gotta-have book on Ono isn’t out yet, but it must be in the works somewhere, if not in galleys already. Ono is a storied band – an inventive, informed and original fusion of avant-garde performance art and theater with supple noise and post-rock, though the band predates the term. Travis Travis, an artist, historian, dancer and bewitching front man who is also a gay, black Vietnam veteran; and P. Michael, a forward-thinking musical polymath, formed the band in 1980 Chicago, which was then as now a fascinating, incongruous place — at once brutal, comic and occasionally tender. For context, some of their crew and collaborators include Peter Laughner and David Thomas of Pere Ubu, Al Jourgensen of Ministry, and recently, Lamont Thomas of Obnox. They’ll be touring with Harrisonburg, Virginia’s Buck Gooter, who match a ragged Godflesh/Rollins-era Black Flag sound to a midnight-in-a-basement-in-America no-rules vibe. They’ll be supported by some of Houston’s most promising newer bands. KA has a trashy “after midnight we’re gonna let it all hang out” no wave and free-jazz sensibility. Rough Sleepers, some of whom you might remember from their time in Balaclavas or Subsonic Voices, ride out from somewhere between the Killing Joke mountains and the Hawkwind airfields, wrangling Illuminati and cracking wise. TEX KERSCHEN
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