Bruno Mars makes leopard look good.
Bruno Mars makes leopard look good.
Photo by Kai Z. Feng/Courtesy of Atlantic Records

Shows of the Week: Pop's 24K Magic Man Is Back to Blow Your Mind

BRUNO MARS
Toyota Center, October 24
With hits for days, the heart of a performer and seemingly endless amounts of charm, Bruno Mars is one of the most reliable touring acts around. A ticket to a Bruno Mars show is a ticket to a guaranteed good night, full of songs that'll make you dance and scream and laugh. This will mark his second trip to Space City this year after his performance during the lead-up to the Super Bowl at the temporary Club Nomadic. It was a stellar performance from an artist seemingly comfortable on all stages, from a pop-up nightclub to the rodeo to the Super Bowl halftime show (where he's played twice). Yes, his shows are big and bright with a charismatic front man, but even when he's making you laugh you can tell Mars takes his music very seriously. The greats always do. CORY GARCIA

HALSEY
Toyota Center, October 25
Halsey was a talented songwriter and great performer before her appearance on The Chainsmokers’ smash single “Closer” took her career from venues like Revention to arenas across the nation. The New Jersey native’s debut, Badlands, was a fine record, but its lack of upbeat bangers meant that it didn't quite get the attention it deserved commercially when it came out back in 2015. Still, she had her fans and stans and the record went platinum, and when “Closer” came along and became inescapable all that was left was for her to drop a new album and shoot her shot at taking her place among pop's biggest names. Isn't it wild to think that in 2014 she was doing signings at Cactus Music? It's amazing where the right song at the right moment can take you. With PartyNextDoor and Charli XCX in the opening slots, the Hopeless Fountain Kingdom tour seems like one not to miss. With Partynextdoor and Charli XCX. CORY GARCIA

POST MALONE
House of Blues, October 26
Opening for Justin Bieber could jump-start just about anyone's career these days, and Post Malone capitalized on that opportunity just last year. The Dallas native's relationship with the Biebs was further emboldened on his debut album, Stoney, which featured a sensual verse and suggestive hook from Canada's hottest export alongside Malone's more explicit narrative about falling in love. Combining country and hip-hop with a lazy flow, Malone has benefited from a sound popularized by the likes of Drake, Lil Yachty and Houston's own Travis Scott. Malone's career is in its infancy, and he already has a certified platinum album to his name. His star will continue to rise as long as he's able to land features with big stars like Quavo, Future, 2 Chainz and, of course, Bieber. With smokepurpp. MATTHEW KEEVER

SELWYN BIRCHWOOD BAND
Last Concert Cafe, October 26
As the blues has declined in popular appeal over the past half-century or so, its most devoted fans have developed an infrastructure of festivals, patrons, venues and competitions fully capable of supporting younger blues artists; the rise of Texas guitar-slinger Gary Clark Jr. is just one example. Over in Central Florida, a similar story has been playing out in the career of Selwyn Birchwood, a 32-year-old guitarist and singer from Orlando. Birchwood’s band won the Blues Foundation’s 2013 International Blues Challenge and graduated to a deal with Alligator Records, perhaps the leading co-signer of all things quality in modern blues. Birchwood’s second album with the label, this year’s Pick Your Poison, contrasts scorching slide-guitar runs with sultry jazz flute and back-roads country blues with post-Zeppelin stomp, the sort of well-rounded toolkit that also includes some pretty pointed social commentary on songs like “Police State” and “Corporate Drone.” CHRIS GRAY

KELLER WILLIAMS' GRATEFUL GRASS
Warehouse Live, October 27
Bluegrass was the bedrock of the Grateful Dead’s sound, and however far afield their psychedelic improvisations may have led the classic-rock legends, the concept of “jamming” is so central to both camps that Keller Williams has kept up a successful sideline of bluegrass-style Dead tunes for nearly a decade now. Williams, the barefoot, idiosyncratic singer-songwriter who has collaborated with nearly everyone in the jam-band community (including all still-living Dead members) and released more than 20 one-word albums since 1994’s Freek, periodically convenes with the musical associates he calls Grateful Grass, keeping it all in the extended family by often donating the proceeds from their live recordings to the Dead’s REX Foundation. His Warehouse Live appearance, with companions Jeff Austin, Jay Starling and Danton Boller, is a boon to Houston Deadheads and bluegrass buffs, though it’s likely both will have their expectations tweaked quite a bit. With Wood & Wire. CHRIS GRAY

SOMETHING WICKED
Sam Houston Race Park, October 28 and 29
Something Wicked isn't out here trying to reinvent the wheel. This year's headliners are Above & Beyond, Marshmello, Tiësto and Zed's Dead, all artists who have played the Houston festival scene a time or two already. And that's fine, because they're among the most interesting performers in EDM; give in to the moment and Above & Beyond may just make you cry, y'all. Add to that an undercard full of promise and the thousands of costumes that are typically involved when the festival isn't being rained out, and you've got one of Houston's most reliable festival tickets. CORY GARCIA

CHICANO BATMAN
Warehouse Live, October 29
Adopting the D.C. Comics Dark Knight as an avatar for their suave, seductive brand of lava-lamp music, L.A.’s Chicano Batman are not the rabble-rousing crusaders their name might suggest. Rather, this crew of crate-digging collector types in matching tuxes mostly wants to create the chillest after-hours party imaginable, a safe space for Caetano Veloso lovers in a most inhospitable world. This being 2017, however, their latest single is a woozy and joyful version of “This Land Is Your Land” which works on two levels: a partially en español revision of the beloved Woody Guthrie anthem and a stirring rebuke of an administration that has made its views on all things Chicano horribly apparent. This year the decade-old quartet released their third full-length LP and first for ATO Records, Freedom Is Free, which adds another layer to the group’s soft-focus tropicalia — a ‘70s soul and funk vibe heavily influenced by acts like Funkadelic and Curtis Mayfield. With Khruangbin and The Shacks. CHRIS GRAY

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