The 10 Best Concerts in Houston This Weekend: Robyn Hitchcock, Sam Hunt, Reel Big Fish, etc.
Photo courtesy of Big Hassle Media
Robyn Hitchcock McGonigel's Mucky Duck, February 6
Robyn Hitchcock's music mixes in enough British eccentricity and psychedelic pixie dust to rank him as one of alternative pop's most esteemed elders. Beginning as a folksinger on the UK college circuit, the London native broke through as leader of the Soft Boys, who notched an early ale-radio standard with 1980's "I Wanna Destroy You."
The further success of his 1984 solo album I Often Dream of Trains and work as front man of the Egyptians ("Balloon Man") secured Hitchcock a cult audience, as did a longtime relationship with filmmaker Jonathan Demme, who directed the 1998 concert film Storefront Hitchcock and has placed him in several other films. Recently he has migrated to venerable roots-rock label Yep Roc, which released 2014's The Man Upstairs. CHRIS GRAY
Sam Hunt House of Blues, February 6
Sam Hunt has already written some of recent country's most progressive-sounding hits, including Kenny Chesney's "Come Over" and Keith Urban's "Cop Car," putting aside all those tailgates and dirt roads for a second to seriously steam up the windows. Georgia native, 30, was one thisclose to an NFL quarterbacking career after being recruited by the Kansas City Chiefs, but went to Nashville instead; now his 2014 debut Montevallo and its single "Leave the Night On" have both gone to No. 1. He has a bit of the bro about him, yes, but many of the production details and inflections in his singing are straight-up R&B, plus a little latter-day Kings of Leon. He's better off for it. CHRIS GRAY
Alejandro Escovedo McGonigel's Mucky Duck, February 7
A roots-rock poet with a passionate punk heart, Austin's Alejandro Escovedo is doing some of his finest work as he enters his sixties. Each one of them excellent, thoughtful and crackling with electric-guitar energy, his albums Big Station, Street Songs of Love and Real Animal have all been released after Escovedo received the Americana Music Association's Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006. Here he returns to the Duck with regular bassist Bobby Daniel and acclaimed Austin sax veteran Elias Haslanger in tow, replacing his band's usual electric-guitar musculature for a mellower state of mind. CHRIS GRAY
Whitey Morgan & the 78's Scout Bar, February 7
It may not readily spring to mind, but Michigan has been fertile country-music territory for a long time; go listen to Bobby Bare Sr.'s "Detroit City" if you think Motown, Eminem and techno are all that's in that partcular book. One of America's finest honky-tonk bands for a number of years now, Flint's Whitey Morgan & the 78's balance all the proper musical cues from Hank Sr. and Johnny Cash with the kind of outlaw attitude that puts them more in the Hank Jr./Waylon ballpark. (Good stuff, in other words.) Their latest, last year's Born, Raised & Live In Flint, walks the line the way it should. CHRIS GRAY
Reel Big Fish, Less Than Jake House of Blues, February 8
The sudden and brief popularity of third wave ska in the mid-'90s is one of those things that we all know happened but pretend didn't. Somehow bands with horns ended up on MTV and movie soundtracks, and running in place was suddenly a dance that people did. Had Less Than Jake and Reel Big Fish toured together at that moment in time, fresh off Good Burger and BASEketball soundtrack showings, it would have been something of a dream tour. These days, the pairing is a pretty much a guaranteed good night out.
Less Than Jake have always been great live, be it at a 30-minute Warped Tour stop, a headlining club date or on a boat (a thing that happened in 2013). Reel Big Fish still have their classics like "Sell Out" and the underappreciated masterpiece that is "Beer" to throw out there, along with whatever cover songs strike their fancy. And with all that skanking you'll be doing, you'll get your steps in for the day. It may not be trendy anymore, but it will be fun. With Authority Zero. CORY GARCIA
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FIVE OTHER SHOWS YOU SHOULD CONSIDER By Chris Gray
Really Red Reissue Party: Featuring Talk Sick Brats and Texas Biscuit Bombs; here's why you should go. (Vinal Edge, 6 p.m. February 6)
The Booze Bombs: Nobody loves rockabilly like Europeans do; this female-fronted combo from Germany's Black Forest region really loves it. With ex-Houstonians the Octanes and Denver's Living Deads. (D&W Lounge, February 6)
St. Paul & the Broken Bones: Alabama-based classic-soul revivalists are extremely sold out. (Fitzgerald's, February 6)
Rick Springfield: '80s rocker/General Hospital heartthrob has Stripped Down fan favorites and new material alike on recent album. (Hobby Center, February 6)
The Temptations, The Four Tops: All Motown gold, all night long. (Arena Theatre, February 7)
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