Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, August 21
Since debuting with a cameo on Jay Z’s The Blueprint 3 in 2009 — and becoming the first artist to sign with Hova’s Roc Nation imprint — J. Cole has grown into the leading everyman rapper of his generation, or at least the anti-Drake. Last month, The New York Times noted that the 30-year-old North Carolina native had 2014’s top-selling rap album, 2014 Forest Hills Drive, with a style that in years past might have limited his role to underground sensation — but that in today’s upside-down hip-hop climate has made him a superstar. “Mr. Cole is, at best, fretful about what fame has done to him, and his allergy to glitz — one of his biggest hits is about his crooked teeth — makes him something of an easy punching bag for the chattering classes,” wrote Times lead pop critic Jon Caramanica. Saturday, Cole is at the helm of a motley mini-fest that also includes Detroit’s Justin Bieber-baiting Big Sean and latter-day Compton firebrand YG. Gates open at 6:30 p.m.
Fitz Benefit Show: Gender Infinity
Fitzgerald’s, August 22
In March 2014, Pegstar Concerts called on some of its favorite local bands to “dress up” as some of their favorite groups throughout rock and pop history, with the goal of raising a cool $10,000 for donor-registry organization Be the Match. It was a hit, and Saturday night they’ll do it again for Gender Infinity, the Houston-based nonprofit that offers support and educational services for gender-diverse and transgender people and their families. This year’s cast of about a dozen acts is equally all over the map, featuring Another Run as Foo Fighters, King Finn as Daft Punk, Middlechild as the Pixies, Moji as Janet Jackson, the Wheel Workers as R.E.M. and — most intriguingly — thelastplaceyoulook as Taylor Swift. Pegstar will match every $10 ticket with a donation to Gender Infinity, and StubWire is also waiving its ticketing fee.
The Peterson Brothers
McGonigel’s Mucky Duck, August 22
Thanks to their parents’ record collection, Texas might have its next great set of blues brothers in the Petersons, the Bastrop-raised teenage siblings weaned on a steady diet of Ohio Players, Freddie King and Earth, Wind & Fire. Featuring recent Bastrop High grad Glenn Peterson Jr. on vocals and lead guitar, plus younger brother Alex on bass and drummer Chris Mead, the Petersons have been honing their chops at an ongoing Monday happy-hour gig at Austin’s Continental Club, impressing many of the Live Music Capital’s top tastemakers in the process. Meanwhile, their opening slots have drawn praise from the likes of Willie Nelson, Los Lonely Boys and the late B.B. King; they’ve also jammed with Buddy Guy and been adopted as proteges by P-Funk bass maestro Bootsy Collins. The brothers were a hit earlier this summer at Miller Outdoor Theatre’s Juneteenth festival, and this Saturday-night spot at the Duck arrives just as they’ve released their self-titled debut album on Grammy-winning producer/engineer Michael Freeman’s Blue Point Records.
Def Leppard, Styx, Tesla
Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, August 22
It's time to pull out any ripped or torn attire — and perhaps contemplate either a mullet or some serious man-permed hair — because not only is the quintessential '80s hair-metal bands paying Houston a visit, they're bringing Styx and Tesla along. Considering that Def Lep brought us time-tested hits such as "Foolin',” “Love Bites" and "Pour Some Sugar on Me," they could have just made this little concert jaunt solo, but they went and threw on the bands responsible for “Lady,” “Renegade” and “Signs,” making it almost too much hairspray glory to handle. And for that, we're thankful. (ANGELICA LEICHT)
House of Blues, August 23
Arabella Jones could easily be an undergraduate somewhere, spending the summer volunteering or studying abroad. Instead she’s just released another single, “Runaway Rush,” and is dedicated to proving her music can be every bit as fun as the radio’s army of bro-country boys…if not more. This weekend the local country ingenue steps into the role of Saturday-night honky-tonk queen armed with a brace of tunes from her recent free acoustic EP, Lighters. Besides the 2015 HPMA Best Country nominee's own rockin’ “Let’s Roll,” it’s loaded with outside-the-box covers like Montell Jordan’s “This Is How We Do It” and Steppenwolf’s “Born to Be Wild” — both of which actually work thanks to Jones’ sunny demeanor and adventurous spirit — as well as Dolly Parton’s “Jolene,” which also works because Jones has the good sense to play it totally straight
FIVE MORE SHOWS WORTH CONSIDERING
500 Megatons of Boogie, Jealous Creatures, Silver Blueberry: Three underrated local bands that prove “retro” doesn't have to mean “trite.” (Rudyard's, August 21)
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The Suffers: Fresh off their HPMA sweep… (House of Blues, August 22)
Southern Slang: Boozy 'n' bloozy local boogie-rockers make Continental debut. (Continental Club, August 22)
Folk Family Revival: Magnolia alt-country crew hikes recent LP Water Walker to Cactus. (Cactus Music, 2 p.m. August 23)
Shooter Jennings: Son of Waylon keeps it all in the family with Waymore's Outlaws. (Dosey Doe, August 23)