The Best Concerts In Houston This Week: Depeche Mode, ZZ Ward, Robert Ellis, etc.
Photo by Jasmine Lee Richardson/courtesy of DJ Sun
DJ Sun The Flat, September 16
Now that some of the well-deserved publicity surrounding DJ Sun's first-ever full-length release, One Hundred, has subsided a little, his true accomplishment on the disc seems even more impressive. In the span of 70 minutes, he pours his 20-plus-year career as one of Houston's most in-demand DJs into a seamless work that never lulls, never lags and maintains an unshakably mellow groove throughout. It effectively allowed him to recapture the Houston Press Music Award for Best DJ, an honor he's taken numerous times before.
But then, One Hundred's intricately laid-back latticework should come as no surprise to anyone lucky enough to have met the man. Among his multitude of weekly gigs, Sun's long-running Monday residency at the Flat is probably the most chill environment to glimpse this true turntable craftsman at work. CHRIS GRAY
Mumford & Sons Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, September 17
Sold out, y'all. Way sold out. Sorry. CHRIS GRAY
Depeche Mode in The Woodlands, 2009
Photo by Groovehouse
Depeche Mode Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, September 18
Martin Gore, David Gahan and Andrew Fletcher's elastic partnership has become one of the most durable bonds in all of post-punk pop music. Originally from Basildon, England (a working-class outer-ring London suburb), the group gradually perfected a blend of synth-pop smarts and rock swagger that made them one of the world's biggest alternative bands by 1990's mainstream breakthrough Violator.
After setbacks like Alan Wilder's 1995 departure and Gahan's near-death the next year, Depeche Mode stabilized and initiated its now-familiar cycle of album/massive world tour with 2001's Exciter. Released earlier this year, 13th studio album Delta Machine is a relatively low-key affair, whose highlights ("Angel," "Broken") will make excellent mortar for concert pillars like "Never Let Me Down Again" and "Personal Jesus." With Crystal Castles. CHRIS GRAY
ZZ Ward House of Blues, September 18
An aspiring pop star a sight rootsier than she has to be, 27-year-old ZZ Ward is an obvious musical descendent of the late Amy Winehouse, with maybe a little Adele or KT Tunstall sprinkled in. As the story goes, growing up the Pennsylvania native freely indulged in both her dad's blues collection and her brother's hip-hop stash, besides joining her dad's band for a few years starting at age 12.
All that led her to a savvy, confident sound that has made Ward a recent VH1 darling hip enough to have Kendrick Lamar guest on her debut LP, last year's Til the Casket Drops. With the Wild Feathers and James Bay. CHRIS GRAY
More shows on the next page.
Robert Ellis at Fitz last New Year's Eve
Photo by Amanda J. Cain
Robert Ellis Discovery Green, September 19
Robert Ellis should receive quite a hometown welcome to kick off Discovery Green's Fall free concert series, considering he hasn't played in town since the "New Year's Eve Cataclysm" at Fitz some nine months ago. In a few short years, Ellis became the toast of Houston's indie scene with his Bon Iver-ish acoustic songs, as well as the extensive mining of the George Jones/Johnny Paycheck oeurve he did at the storied "Whiskey Wednesday" residencies between 2009 and 2011.
That year Ellis released Photographs, a honky-tonk/indie-folk hybrid that marked his debut on New West Records and led to a move to Nashville and months of touring opening for the likes of Richard Thompson and Alabama Shakes. He calls the followup, expected in early 2014, "all over the place." With The Clarkes; show starts at 6:30 p.m. sharp. CHRIS GRAY
Ewert and the Two Dragons Fitzgerald's, September 19
Ewert and the Two Dragons know a thing or two about classic rock, but their education wasn't all by choice. Ewert Sundja and his bandmates spent their formative years in the Soviet Union during a time the government severely limited the public's access to pop music and were forced to seek out bootlegged tapes. Luckily heavyweights like Elton John, Queen and the Beatles were the easiest to score, and were funneled by Ewert and company into organic, melodic indie-rock that has since drawn attention from every end of the globe. ANGELICA LEICHT
Honey Island Swamp Band Continental Club, September 19
Put on a blindfold and try to pick Honey Island Swamp Band's point of origin, and you might well guess 1972. The group certainly falls under the same umbrella as such easygoing, eclectic first-generation classic-rockers as Little Feat and the Grateful Dead, but really sprang from the musical cross-currents of post-Katrina New Orleans -- specifically, when several Crescent City musicians were temporarily stranded in San Francisco after the storm.
With a sound aptly described as "bayou Americana," the quartet has been showered with awards by their hometown's Offbeat magazine and become a steady presence on the jam-band and festival circuit. Honey Island's fourth album, Cane Sugar, was released in July on Louisiana Red Hot Records. CHRIS GRAY
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