The 50 Best Houston Concerts of Fall 2015

Ain't they sweet? CMA-nominated duo Maddie & Tae come to House of Blues on October 24.EXPAND
Ain't they sweet? CMA-nominated duo Maddie & Tae come to House of Blues on October 24.
Photo by Allister Anne/Courtesy of Big Machine

Taylor Swift has come and gone now, which means fall can officially begin. Let's do this thing.

Walters Downtown, September 15
There is a flip side to the emo revival going on these days; not only are there new bands for fans of the genre to enjoy, but the bands that helped them fall in love with the genre are getting back out on the road on the regular. This year The Get Up Kids turn 20, and how better to celebrate almost being drinking age than by hitting the road? These days the band sounds as tight as they ever have and seem to be getting along with each other. Dust off Something to Write Home About and relearn the lyrics; everyone else is going to be singing along. CORY GARCIA

Warehouse Live Ballroom, September 16
Trying to describe Godspeed You! Black Emperor almost seems like an impossible task. Cinematic? Atmospheric? Post-rock? Those words are all accurate but inadequate. It's like describing a perfect sunset as orange and bright. How do you properly describe the sound of crushing doom or the soundtrack to blasted landscapes? GY!BE aren't about words; they're about feelings deep inside and images only you alone can see. If you're reading this, you either understand or you don't; if you do, get ready for something special. CORY GARCIA

House of Blues, September 16
Call it smooth jazz, adult R&B or late-night soul, Tamia deals in grown-folks, baby-makin' music, albeit within the parameters of a strictly monogamous relationship; no jilted-lovers' laments here. Also known as former NBA superstar Grant Hill's wife, the 40-year-old Ontario native first appeared as a featured guest on Quincy Jones' 1995 album Q's Jook Joint and later scored hits like “Stranger In My House” and “Still,” which did especially well on the dance charts. Lately Tamia has jumped to Def Jam and released this year's Love Life, a breezy, candlelit suite of playful but seductive boudoir songs mixed with uplifting jams like “Rise” and an elegant cover of Deniece Williams' 1984 hit “Black Butterfly.” CHRIS GRAY

Under the Volcano, September 16
C.C. Adcock is one of those lifer musicians who is both a conduit to regional tradition and right at home in a more contemporary milieu. Now in his mid-forties, the Lafayette singer-guitarist was barely out of his teens before finding work in Bo Diddley and Buckwheat Zydeco's bands, before eventually releasing all-too-infrequent solo records like 2000's House Rocker and 2004's The Lafayette Marquis among countless other sideman gigs and production credits. Currently, Adcock leads Louisiana supergroup Lil Band O' Gold, who opened for big fan Robert Plant in Houston a couple of years back; he was also heard more than once on True Blood while HBO's long-running bayou-vampires series was on the air. Adcock doesn't get to Houston nearly as often as he should these days, so the prospect of the Lafayette Marquis – also the name of his more rockin' band – wailing in the cozy confines of Houston's Under the Volcano is enough to make any sensible swamp-rock fan salivate. CHRIS GRAY

Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, September 17
Earlier this summer, Lenny Kravitz became a trending topic on Twitter because his pants split open onstage to reveal lil’ Lenny, delighting both his audience in Stockholm and social-media voyeurs worldwide. Naturally it was the most exposure the singer/guitarist/Hunger Games actor had probably had in years (pun sort-of intended), but it was also a handy reminder how easy he has always been to root for. Kravitz came along at a time when grunge could have easily sunk his funky-fresh take on classic rock, but he’s managed to prosper well into the 21st century through sheer style and the occasional stone-cold jam like “Mama Said” or “Are You Gonna Go My Way?”; no trouser-ripping is needed for fans to work up a frenzy at his shows. His latest album, last year’s Strut, glams it up like only Kravitz can, delivering a balanced diet of stomping ‘70s rock and super-sexy soul grooves. CHRIS GRAY

Toyota Center, September 18
For a star the metaphorical size of Ariana Grande, there really isn't much in the way of anything new to report on her since she stopped in town earlier this year to play RodeoHouston. A look a recent setlists shows that she's pretty much playing a slightly expanded version of her rodeo show that we still, months later, aren't sure was good or bad. Not that a largely similar show this time really matters; this is pop music, and if you've got enough radio singles and a good smile, tweens will scream their heads off for you. Even if you're maybe good, maybe bad. Even if you lick donuts and say you hate America. Pop-music fans are forgiving like that. CORY GARCIA

Rudyard's, September 18
Chelsea Wolfe is one of the heaviest artists walking the planet right now, and she does it with only the slightest traces of metal influence. This is goth rock done right. Her latest album, Abyss, continues forging ahead with the path she's been on, namely stripping the souls out of the underworld and conjuring them into songs. Creepy, mystical music is blended with a hypnotic stage presence and light show when Wolfe takes her act on tour. Supporting act Wovenhand is pure dark folk and Americana in the old tradition of evil blues. COREY DIETERMAN

Numbers, September 19
It’s a Numbers dream come true: an opportunity for fans who have been dancing to “Headhunter” or “Welcome to Paradise” at the club for decades to see Front 242 in person. At the vanguard of ‘80s industrial music through 1988 breakthrough Front By Front, the Brussels-formed group also coined the term “Electronic Body Music” and to this day is synonymous with that particularly throbbing strain of techno. Since the zenith of their popularity in the early ‘90s — the video for “Rhythm of Time” was featured in the 1992 stalker thriller Single White Female — Front 242 has worked steadily, both together and with the members’ other projects, and tours Europe often (the States not so much). Recently they released the single “Lovely Day,” inviting fans to send in their remixes via Bandcamp and promising to release the top three on their next single; the response was so overwhelming they’re still still sorting through the winners. CHRIS GRAY

Walters Downtown, September 19
On their first three albums, Titus Andronicus earned a reputation as one of America’s hardest-working and most exciting indie-rock bands of the new millennium, developing a curious Civil War fascination even as their sound followed the arena-chasing example of fellow Jersey natives Bruce Springsteen and Gaslight Anthem. However, they lacked that Big Statement that could grab people’s attention outside their own tight-knit fan base, but now they have it in The Most Lamentable Tragedy (Merge). Presented as a rock opera in five acts, their fourth album takes almost 30 songs and more than 90 minutes to unspool its convoluted plot about a hero and his evil twin. Clearly, both their ambitions and the grandiose music of TMLT place Titus Andronicus among rock’s other great Angry Young Men of past generations — The Who, The Clash, Elvis Costello — who grew up quickly enough but had a much harder time mellowing out. CHRIS GRAY

House of Blues, September 23
A band is doing well in Britain when it is featured on the cover of longstanding music bible NME; it’s doing even better when the cover copy says, “Step aside, Liam!” That’s big talk from even the notoriously excitable UK music press, but thus far the excellently named four-piece Catfish & the Bottlemen have shown all the signs of being a real contender. A clever strategy of setting up shows in the parking lots of gigs by bands like Kasabian quickly got the Bottlemen noticed; from there it was a pretty short hop to Universal Records and 2014’s brash and lofty The Balcony, an album that — while it may not be quite as majestic as vintage Oasis — again confirms how deeply the gritty but stylish sounds of the Strokes have seeped into the water supply of Great Britain’s millennial indie-rockers. CHRIS GRAY

Warehouse Live Ballroom, September 24
They say New York is a state of mind, and no one seems to capture that quite as well as Ratatat. On Magnifique, their first album in five years, this electronica duo has captured the essence of John Travolta's Saturday Night Fever swagger and turned it into something that's once again relevant. If you haven't already heard that they'll be in town, you may want to consider buying a ticket, because it's going to seem like the entire city went without you if you miss it. ALYSSA DUPREE

Walters, September 24
Fans of Burger Records probably know what to expect with Natural Child. For the uninitiated, it's raucous garage rock with hooks for days. Natural Child are the perfect bar band who are too bluesy to be allowed in most bars these days. It's a throwback, but just what the doctor ordered in these days of overwrought rock. COREY DIETERMAN

Warehouse Live Studio, September 24
Once thought to be the sole realm of nerds and dads alone, jazz fusion is being revolutionized right now by the genius who goes by the moniker Thundercat. Real name Stephen Bruner, his solo work and instrumental collaborations with Flying Lotus have finally brought '70s R&B, funk, and jazz fusion closer to hip-hop to form something familiar yet original. Bruner blends technicality and bass virtuosity into total earworm material. Look for him to be inescapable soon enough. Go see him at Warehouse Live this fall before he completely blows up. COREY DIETERMAN

Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, September 25
Did you know that Eddie Van Halen is a musical instrument? Come see the archetype of guitar-solo mastery in the flesh. What at first sounds as if a din of amplifier feedback, will unravel itself into the superlative blues-inspired rock that only Eddie can create. KRISTY LOYE

Warehouse Live Ballroom, October 1
If you're looking for a straight-forward rock show and you've yet to hear of either of these bands, now is the time to start making yourself acquainted. Brighton's Royal Blood has all of the attitude, noise, and skill you'd hear from someone like Queens of the Stone Age or Muse. That is, of course, if you make it past the opener. Because they're similar to acts like FIDLAR and Ty Segall, Bass Drum of Death have amassed quite the enthusiastic crowd, and their shows will make you feel less like an adult and more like an angst-ridden teen just ready to have fun. ALYSSA DUPREE

Fitzgerald's, October 2
Chillwave sure came and went fast, didn't it? Luckily, the best of the best from the movement survived, including Denton's Neon Indian. Headed by Alan Palomo, the principal songwriter and performer, the band has found their niche in electronic rock, with Palomo exploring increasingly diverse landscapes as his career treads on. They were strong out of the gate, but if new single “Slumlord” is any indication, their next album, VEGA INTL. Night School will be their greatest work yet. Don't miss out on the music, or Palomo's superb dancing, when they hit Fitz in October. COREY DIETERMAN

Revention Music Center, October 2
Twenty One Pilots will return to Houston in early October in support of third LP Blurryface. In only three albums, vocalist Tyler Joseph and percussionist Josh Dun have released 40 tracks of varying influence, to inconsistent response from fans and critics alike. Despite their noble efforts, Blurryface is the weakest offering so far in the duo's short career. It isn't a bad album, but it pales in comparison to Vessel and the 21P's self-titled debut. Still, their live performances are phenomenal, well worth the cost of admission even if attendees have to labor through two or three mundane songs. MATTHEW KEEVER

House of Blues, October 10
Formed in Canada in 1983, the Hip are one of the half-dozen most recognizable Canadian ensembles in rock. Since the release of a debut EP in 1987, the band, which has drawn comparisons to R.E.M., has won numerous Juno awards (the Canadian equivalent of the Grammy), and had dozens of singles in the Canadian and American charts, making them a staple of classic-rock radio. WILLIAM MICHAEL SMITH

Cullen Performance Hall (University of Houston), October 11
I’ve seen Joe Jackson twice, back in his heyday, and both times he and his band were as good as any I‘d ever heard live, a not uncommon sentiment expressed by anyone who’s heard them play. It’s been so long, both the venues Jackson played — the Houston Music Hall and Astroword's Southern Star Amphitheater — are long-gone. But all these years later, Joe Jackson endures and, to me, remains a genre-hopping talent who doesn’t get enough credit for the brilliance of his work. Also, Joe was famously curmudgeonly as an (angry) young man; I can’t wait to see if time has mellowed him or added to his legacy as an in-your-face grump. JESSE SENDEJAS JR.

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Revention Music Center, October 12
The beautiful UK songstress Marina Diamondis has had a cult-like following over the past several years. Her last visit to Houston drew a sellout crowd at Warehouse Live with then-relative unknown duo Icona Pop as openers. Since then, both acts have only gained in popularity  — initially the announcement for Marina's "Neon Nature" tour in support of the recent FROOT album was originally scheduled for House of Blues, but the heavy demand forced a relocation to the larger Revention Music Center. Marina is essentially an unpolished pop star who makes it easy for people to connect with her through her lyrics and danceable songs. The energy and gleefulness of the fans make this show one not to miss. JACK GORMAN

Revention Music Center, October 13
Alternative rock was not a very sexy place in 1995. At least the ladies had Eddie Vedder and Chris Cornell, but dudes were pretty much stuck with Kim Gordon until auburn-haired Scottish supervixen Shirley Manson came along and sang “let me dirty up your mind.” Fronting a band of Wisconsin post-punk veterans led by drummer and grunge superproducer Butch Vig, Manson's bitter and seductive vocals coated the industrial-tinged songs like the torch singer in a David Fincher film, leading to a handful of singles — “Vow,” “Queer,” “Stupid Girl” — that were about as cool as the ‘90s ever got. The band will be playing their eponymous debut in full for its twentieth anniversary, dubbed the “20 Years Queer Tour.” CHRIS GRAY

Under the Volcano, October 14
In the eight years since he played the first Shinyribs gig at Under the Volcano, Kevin Russell’s outfit has come from “Shiny What?” to the fastest-growing phenomenon on the Texas scene. In fact, the man Texas Monthly describes as the heir apparent to Willie Nelson has gotten so popular he has outgrown the smallish Rice Village club, but Russell continues to book shows at his proving ground, partly out of a sense of loyalty, partly because he just likes the accepting atmosphere. If you’re going, get there early; this one will be packed. WILLIAM MICHAEL SMITH

Warehouse Live, October 15
I’m going to entrust others to add Run the Jewels [House of Blues, October 13 — ed.] and Leon Bridges to this list and advocate for Hopsin, the L.A.-based, contact-wearing, Ill-Minded rapper whose insane, perverse, clever rhymes deserve the sort of attention these acts are getting. He’s probably best known for crhymes against Drake and Weezy in “Sag My Pants,” but my go-to Hopsin song is “Baby’s Daddy,” also from 2010’s Raw. In that one, a former flame asks Hopsin to raise another man’s child and “watch Spongebob with him and teach him how to make a Crabby Patty.” You could probably guess how that goes over with the guy who once rapped, “One of them niggas got you pregnant and you can’t raise it/ But you caused it, your actions made a fat statement.” JESSE SENDEJAS JR.

Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, October 18
Yeah, I'm just as shocked as you are to see Buzzfest making the list. I'll confess, I'm usually one of the first to give Buzzfest a gentle ribbing when the lineup comes out, but this fall it's like they booked a show just for me. Our Lady Peace? Still love them. Bring Me the Horizon? One of my favorite bands of today. Pvris? Still sad I missed them at Warped. Wolf Alice? One of the best bands that doesn't get enough love. Hell, I'll even admit that I'm looking forward to Papa Roach, because I will always love nu-metal, for better or worse. Some times, not often but some times, the radio festival gods smile on us all. CORY GARCIA

Warehouse Live, October 18
Though he's a total goofball in interviews, photographs and onstage, Mac DeMarco has written an impressive discography full of tracks that ooze sincerity. After he gained a fairly large-sized cult following over the years, his influence grew with the release of his 2014 LP, Salad Days. Now, DeMarco is touring in support of his latest release, Another One, which shimmers in all of its jangle-pop glory. ALYSSA DUPREE

House of Blues, October 24
Bro-country took on some real damage this year, as the number of female country artists granted the airplay they deserve became a real flashpoint within country music. If only the issue were quite that clear-cut, but the lion’s share of whatever convulsions are currently shaking the industry can be traced back to Maddie & Tae’s “Girl In a Country Song,” as innocent a tune as you could hope to find right up until the steely who-are-you-calling-"baby" sentiment at its core. A spoonful of sugar, as Mary Poppins once said, and the duo — who celebrated three CMA nominations Wednesday, two for “Girl” — should look forward to a sweet homecoming for Sugar Land native Maddie Marlow next month, especially after their debut album Start Here opened at No. 2 on the Billboard country chart last week. CHRIS GRAY

Revention Music Center, October 30
For reasons unknown, this leg of the tour does not include Judas Priest as the other dates do. However, Mastodon alone is worth seeing. Kings of American prog, these band incredible live performers just don’t get to Houston enough. KRISTY LOYE

House of Blues, October 31
Because it’s THE CULT. On Halloween, too. KRISTY LOYE

Walters, November 3
I recently got a Facebook invite for this show, and I had to make sure I wasn't imagining things. You see, I used to follow one of the band's members on social media for his music recommendations, never aware he'd be touring in Houston someday. I'm glad I recognized him, however, because I've been listening to Strange Wilds ever since, and they have that signature Pacific Northwest garage punk-infused rock that I tend to keep on repeat when the weather gets cold. ALYSSA DUPREE

Numbers, November 5
It took me a long time to get Conor Oberst, but I'm glad I finally did, because if I never had I may have never picked up Payola, the first album from Desaparecidos in over a decade. Now, however, I understand the band's relevance and place in indie, and I'll be the first to admit how much I've enjoyed Oberst's more "aggressive" side with the fast-paced tracks on this album. Then, of course, it's the first time the band has come through Houston. Mix that in with Oberst's following and you're guaranteed to have quite the evening. ALYSSA DUPREE

Toyota Center, November 6
There’s no point in qualifying why one of the most successful musicians of the modern rock era is considered a can’t-miss show. All I can tell you is I’ve seen Joel six times since 1982. I can remember more about those nights than some details of my own wedding (sorry, honey) or my kids’ births (sorry, kids). The Stranger was the first album I bought with my own pay, and Joel's music has woven a binding thread through every important experience of a lifetime with people I love since then. At the 1984 Innocent Man show, I vowed to shake my idol’s hand and some day meet him. On The Bridge tour two years later, he dropped a mike stand onto my wife’s head, reached down, apologized and shook our hands. I was in such awe I didn’t ask if she was okay until the encore. I’ve still never personally met the Piano Man, but I didn’t have to, I learned. His nearness to me, my family and friends is enduring even without the face-to-face. That’s why I’m going…how ‘bout you? JESSE SENDEJAS JR.

House of Blues, November 13
Earlier this summer, a friend recommended a song called "Coming Home," off Leon Bridges' debut album of the same name. If you've heard it, you probably won't be surprised that Coming Home quickly became one of my favorite albums of the summer. Perhaps it's because Bridges has managed to relay the same soul and smooth execution of his predecessors; it can be argued that he's this generation's Otis Redding. If you haven't listened to this Fort Worth-raised crooner, I highly recommend you do so sooner than later. ALYSSA DUPREE

Hobby Center, November 13
Elvis Costello’s better half has gone from being the toast of the jazz-crossover world to an equally successful career in adult-contemporary pop. That’s the idiom of Krall’s latest album, this year’s Wallflower, where she revisits the songs she loved growing up in the ‘70s — Bob Dylan’s title track, the Eagles’ “Desperado” and “I Can’t Tell You Why,” Elton John’s “Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word,” Jim Croce’s “Operator,” and so forth. What else she sings at the Hobby could be anything from Gershwin and Bacharach to the Tin Pan Alley tunes of her previous record, Glad Rag Doll, but you can count on Krall’s velveteen alto to deliver them with elegance and grace. Bring a date. CHRIS GRAY

Scout Bar, November 28
By Saturday, the in-laws have finally left your home in peace. With more holidays approaching, you'll need a release, trust me. KRISTY LOYE

Numbers, December 12
Ben Nichols' voice is the stuff of legend, seemingly influenced by a steady diet of Garth Brooks and Tom Waits. His trademark blend of Memphis twang and Skid Row rasp creates a listening experience dripping with both alcohol and heartache, a fitting sound for a band that sings of heroes of the losing kind. The band's latest album, All a Man Should Do, comes out September 18, allowing fans plenty of time to familiarize themselves with Lucero's new material before crooning along with Nichols and crew this winter. MATTHEW KEEVER


Indigo Girls: House of Blues, September 17
Beach House: House of Blues, October 1
Tori Kelly: Warehouse Live, October 5
FIDLAR: Warehouse Live, October 8
The Sword: Fitzgerald’s, October 11
The Octopus Project: Numbers, October 15
Insane Clown Posse: Warehouse Live, October 15
Kristin Hersh: McGonigel’s Mucky Duck, October 18
Lyle Lovett & John Hiatt: Hobby Center, October 29
Frank Turner: House of Blues, October 29
Skinny Puppy: Warehouse Live, November 5
Dave & Phil Alvin: Continental Club, November 6
Chance the Rapper: Revention Music Center, November 12
!!!: Fitzgerald’s, December 10
The Weeknd, Halsey, Travi$ Scott: Toyota Center, December 13

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