Shows of the Week: Pop's Top Parodist Is Still In Peak Form
Photo by Robert Trachtenberg/Courtesy of RCA Records
WEIRD AL YANKOVIC
Wortham Center (Brown Theater), July 14
Weird Al Yankovic has been lampooning acts, from The Knack to Robin Thicke, now currently residing in the “Where Are They Now?” file for three and a half decades and counting. His better-known targets, meanwhile, know a Weird Al parody is better than a Grammy. Those are the kind of stats that build a lifelong fan base sizable enough to make Yankovic’s most recent album, 2014’s Mandatory Fun, his first-ever No. 1 at age 54. But live, the Weird Al Experience is so much more than the frequent costume changes and the criminally catchy polka medley of today’s top hits — and do not be late, because that’s how Weird Al comes out of the gate. The easiest way to understand his importance is to watch “Al TV,” the interstitial montage of talk-show appearances, cameos and shout-outs that shows just how deeply Weird Al has permeated pop culture since his first Dr. Demento appearance back in 1976. It’s almost as much as pop culture has permeated him.
House of Blues, July 15
Back in the ‘90s, L7 distinguished themselves by not only out-rocking their flannel-clad male counterparts, but doing so with a snarling exclamation point. Although the foursome’s origins date back to the GN’R-dominated mid-‘80s L.A., L7 wound up bouncing between Epitaph Records for their self-titled 1988 debut and Sub Pop for 1991 follow-up Smell the Magic. A jump to Reprise for the next year’s Bricks Are Heavy also put them on MTV thanks to “Pretend We’re Dead,” and made sufficient waves in the alt-rock world to get L7 invited on the 1994 Lollapalooza tour. (They also made a memorable appearance as the band “Camel Lips” in John Waters’ 1994 film Serial Mom, too.) Bands as volatile as L7 aren’t always built for the long haul, but a late-2014 reunion ended a nearly 15-year hiatus, and dates at Riot Fest and Fun Fun Fun last year set the stage for Friday’s once-postponed, long-overdue return to Houston.
DROP OUT VEGAS
Raven Tower, July 16
For a relatively new band, Drop Out Vegas have already proven they can handle a crowd — one of the duo’s first live performances was at last year’s Pride festival, and one of their latest was in Warehouse Live’s big room at the recent Springboard South showcase. Nestling comfortably alongside other burgeoning Houston electro-pop acts like BLSHS, Catch Fever and Children of Pop (who join them Saturday), Skyler James and Jason Bentch have had a memorable ride so far, landing their song “Symphony” on 94.5 The Buzz and showing off a knack for memorable covers like Lana Del Rey’s “Summertime Sadness” and Death Cab For Cutie’s “I Will Follow You Into the Dark.” Saturday, the Drop Out guys will be showing off their brand-new video for “Sleep Alone,” which might be their catchiest tune yet. With Children of Pop and Whale Bones.
REVEREND HORTON HEAT, DALE WATSON
McGonigel’s Mucky Duck, July 16
Neither Reverend Horton Heat nor Dale Watson is exactly the sit-down storyteller type, and it’s true, the prospect of an evening in their company in a subdued environment like the Duck may be enough for some fans to pass until either man’s next time through town. But it probably won’t be together, and if you can look past the Reverend’s screaming psychobilly and Watson’s dance-floor-beckoning honky-tonk, you’ll find two of the most gifted, engaging entertainers in the entire Texas-music ranks. Dubbed “The Real Deal: An Intimate Evening of Short Songs and Tall Tales,” this brief tour of Texas and points beyond offers a rare, intimate glimpse of two of Texas’ most unique songwriters demystifying their craft, with the side benefit of fewer flying longneck bottles and errant mosh-pitters.
Warehouse Live, July 17
Surveying the ranks of Top Dawg Entertainment, people lauded Kendrick Lamar because he felt like the second coming; ran to Ab-Soul because he was the outlier who seemed far headier than anyone else in the crew; and soldiered on with perpetual underdog Jay Rock. Exactly who ranks where will always depend on your mood, but one thing is certain: Kendrick is No. 1, the critical darling du jour; and Q is right behind him, a rough yet breathable and even likable rapper who has had far more radio wins that even K-Dot has. He’s upgraded plenty of his own story since 2014’s OxYmoron, a major-label debut that became TDE’s first No. 1 record. Q has also formulated his raps and sounds to have little to no involvement from anyone else on TDE for his upcoming album, Blank Face. Live, Q may be more of a rager than anyone else on the TDE roster: high-energy, high-powered and tons of weed in the air. It’s his turn to run the TDE flag for 2016. BRANDON CALDWELL
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