The Mercy Brothers McGonigel's Mucky Duck, August 15
Houston may not have seen a band like the Mercy Brothers around these parts since the Sideshow Tramps (mostly) folded up the tent. The five-piece from about 200 miles east in Lafayette, La., are the kind of evangelists who have no fear about playing the Lord's music in the devil's stomping grounds.
To them, "gospel music" includes country, rockabilly, R&B, second-line, swamp pop and other great stuff from the state where the cooking is spicy and the music even spicier. The Brothers' one and only album, Holy Ghost Power!, came out last December and is available at their shows, where you can hear their saucy covers of Prince's "Erotic City" and the Jim Carroll Band's "People Who Died," too.
Under the Influence of Music Tour Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, August 15
Despite Big Pharma's best efforts, music is still the world's leading gateway drug -- as this summer package tour of oddball rappers demonstrates. Leading the parade is founder Wiz Khalifa, the tatted-up, weed-obsessed Pittsburgher who deftly balances street rhymes with pop hooks and will be back in stores Tuesday with fourth album Blacc Hollywood.
For UTI's second go-round, Wiz's fellow party people include trap-rap elder Young Jeezy ("Me OK"), Atlanta baller Rich Homie Quan ("Type of Way"), L.A. crooner Ty Dolla $ign ("Or Nah"), and booty-loving Bay Area MC Sage the Gemini and his "Gas Pedal" pal IamSu!. Come early, because Friday's search lines are bound to be substantial.
Quiet Morning & the Calamity, Grand Old Grizzly, Matt Harlan Warehouse Live, August 15
This local bill looks like a quick and easy way to catch up with three of Houston's newer Americana acts, perhaps even for the first time. Headlining is Quiet Morning & the Calamity, by virtue of the fact that it's the release party for their Son of the Sad Soul EP and launching pad for their six-week tour of the western states.
Sean Ramos' quintet has been bringing the same cigarette breath and bleary-eyed soul of the great '90s bands Whiskeytown and Uncle Tupelo to Houston's finer small venues since late 2012; Friday they've brought along bearded warriors Grand Old Grizzly and rustic singer-songwriter Matt Harlan, now making the rounds behind his well-received new album Raven Hotel. With Ruckus.
Nine Inch Nails, Soundgarden Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, August 16
Easily one of the most anticipated Houston concerts of 2014, Trent Reznor's return to Houston after five long years finds him bringing not only an Oscar for The Social Network score (shared with Atticus Ross) and a newly sober outlook on life, but an actual Nine Inch Nails album in the bargain.
Assembled with a cast of characters including King Crimson's Adrian Belew, The Who's Pino Palladino and even Lindsey Buckingham and Todd Rundgren, Hesitation Marks - Reznor's first album since 2008's The Slip -- welds art-rock ambition and futuristic electronica to his familiar industrial grind, again revealing a forward-looking artist both comfortable with his past and dissatisfied with the present. Joining Reznor's road crew this time are Seattle grungelords Soundgarden, whose 2012 comeback album King Animal showed maturity wears just as well on their brawny shoulders.
More shows on the next page.
SIX MORE SHOWS WORTH CONSIDERING
Keyshia Cole: One of the leading R&B vocalists of the '00s and '10s stays intimate on 2012's Woman to Woman. (House of Blues, August 15)
Lowrider Band: Free show featuring all the War hits you remember -- "Why Can't We Be Friends," "Spill the Wine," "Low Rider" -- just under a different name. Drummer Harold Brown explains why. (Miller Outdoor Theatre, August 15)
Mika Singh & Sunny Leone: Bollywood powerhouses bring the full monty with support acts Miss India Amruta, Romee Khan and Akasa. (NRG Arena, August 15)
You Ain't Punk 2014: Locals play dress-up, with Bury the Crown as Operation Ivy, Blackmarket Syndicate as Rancid, Hell City Kings as Turbonegro, the Guillotines as the Pagans, Texas Mod Crushers as Social D and the Swamps as Black Flag. (Fitzgerald's, August 16)
Chris Isaak: Orbison-esque retro-rocker's croon makes all the ladies swoon, as heard on 2011's Beyond the Sun. (Arena Theatre, August 16)
Ian McLagan, Mikey & the Drags: Former Small Faces/Faces/Rod Stewart keyman, now a longtime beloved Austinite, turns up with HPMA-winning latter-day Mods the Drags. (Continental Club, August 16)
ROCKS OFF'S GREATEST HITS
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