The 10 Best Concerts In Houston This Weekend: Neon Trees, Juneteenth, the Isley Bros., Patricia Vonne, Darius Rucker, etc.
Photo by Mathew Hartman/Courtesy of BB Gun Press
House of Blues, June 19
Usually clad in outfits as garish and laser-coordinated as their songs, Utah’s Neon Trees formed in the mid-2000s, not long after the Killers helped put stylish synth-powered songs back in vogue. Still, he Provo four-piece puts a contemporary gloss on the retro formula, as front man Tyler Glenn and his bandmates aim their snark-filled songs — “Text Me In the Morning,” “I Love You (But I Hate Your Friends)” — as much at modern mall kids as prematurely nostalgic millennials. Five years after their breakout hit “Animal,” the band’s third LP Pop Psychology debuted in the Top 10 of the Billboard 200 last year; the single “Sleeping With a Friend” has now infiltrated any number of radio formats.
Houston's Juneteenth Celebration
Miller Outdoor Theatre, June 19
Juneteenth at Miller Outdoor Theatre is a cherished Houston tradition that dates back to the ‘70s, when the biggest names in blues from around the city and across the country would gather for a two-day extravaganza at the Hermann Park amphitheater. It’s been a while since the likes of John Lee Hooker, Albert Collins and even Stevie Ray Vaughan strode across the Miller stage, yes, but for Juneteenth’s 150th anniversary the grande dames of the local scene will serve notice that blues in Houston is hardly a thing of the past. Headlining is Jewel Brown, the Third Ward-raised former featured vocalist in Louis Armstrong’s orchestra who earlier this year released the swingin’ affair Roller Coaster Boogie; joining her Friday will be Krusaders 2.0, the powerhouse local jazz band composed of the late Joe Sample’s former TSU students. Before that comes Fifth Ward diva Trudy Lynn and her harp-blowing partner Steve Krase, whose Krase-produced joint LP Royal Oaks Blues Cafe topped Billboard’s Blues Albums chart last fall. For openers, promising Austin youngsters the Peterson Brothers and Houston gospel group Connections help get the crowd in the spirit.
McGonigel’s Mucky Duck, June 19
You might have seen Patricia Vonne as Dallas (aka “Zorro Girl”) in last year’s Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, but the sister of the film's co-director Robert Rodriguez is just as seductive and swashbuckling onstage as a castanet-clicking singer-songwriter. After co-writing with the likes of Alejandro Escovedo and Rosie Flores (who joins her onstage at the Duck Friday) on her previous album, Rattle My Cage, Vonne – who was named Best Female Vocalist at the 2014 Austin Music Awards — heads deep into the land of “Guitarras Y Castanuelas” and “Mujeres Desaparecidas” on her double-length, all-Espanol new album Viva Bandolera.
The Isley Brothers
Arena Theatre, June 19
R&B royalty the Isley Brothers have produced a staggering body of work that spans nearly 50 years, from frat-rock staple “Shout,” Beatles fave “Twist & Shout,” signature '70s groove “That Lady” and future Public Enemy fodder “Fight the Power” to 2006’s self-explanatory Baby Makin' Music, their last album to top Billboard's R&B chart. Today piloted by guitar ace Ernie Eisley and older brother Ronald, aka Mr. Biggs himself, the group is back on the road supporting a whopper of a new box set, the upcoming 23-disc The RCA Victor and T-Neck Album Masters (Legacy Recordings). Due in August for around $180, it contains essential LPs like 3+3, The Heat Is On and Between the Sheets as well as In the Beginning: The Isley Brothers & Jimi Hendrix, a relative rarity featuring the Brothers' most famous ex-sideman.
93Q's “A Day In the Country”
Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, June 20
In the wake of last month’s #SaladGate flap over country radio’s gender disparity, 93Q’s annual early-summer fling at the Woodlands Pavilion isn’t doing much to swing the pendulum in the other direction; in other words, no “tomatoes” here. Doing what they can to not seem quite so, well, bro-ish are Darius Rucker, allowing 93Q to piggyback onto his “Southern Style” tour; the CMA’s reigning Best New Artist, Brett Eldredge (“Lose My Mind”); a pair of acts doing their best to update vintage outlaw country and Southern rock, Brothers Osborne (“Rum”) and A Thousand Horses (“Smoke”); plus three more dudes including Texan and recent Tim McGraw opener Chase Bryant (“Take It On Back”). Each show reportedly ends with Rucker welcoming several of his openers onstage for a finale of Hootie & the Blowfish’s “Hold My Hand,” is sadly about as close as this Day In the Country will get to extending an olive branch toward the pro-tomato camp.
The Wheel Workers during their 'Citizens' release party at Fitzgerald's last month
Photo by Francisco Montes
FIVE OTHER SHOWS WORTH CONSIDERING
Springboard South: Much like SXSW, festival/conference aims to match aspiring talent with the music-biz insiders who can open doors for them. (Warehouse Live, June 19-21)
MFAH Mixed Media: Featuring exclusive access to the museum's "Shadow Monsters" exhibit, plus mood-setting tunes by DJ Day, Mishka of Green Card and host DJ Sun. (Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, June 19)
The Wheel Workers: Vinyl-release party for one of 2015's top local albums, Citizens. (Cactus Music, 1 p.m. June 20)
freshDark Fest: Ambitious new all-day event gathers local electronica auteurs, encourages collaboration. (Last Concert Cafe, June 20)
Whitesnake: David Coverdale's '80s rockers return behind The Purple Album, 13 remakes of tunes by his '70s metal elders, Deep Purple. Sounds awesome. (House of Blues, June 20)