The Best Concerts In Houston This Week: The Weeknd, Bill Callahan, Alt-J, etc.
The Weeknd Bayou Music Center, September 24
As eccentric as he is explicit, the 23-year-old singer/rapper known as The Weeknd has become one of R&B's hottest names of the 2010s not just because of his association with fellow Toronto native Drake, but for lyrics that are unusually candid even for his chosen genre. So if he sounds awfully cynical for someone so young on recent single "Wicked Game," each satin-smooth, top-of-the-line Weeknd production still amounts to another seduction in progress.
Tuesday's Bayou Music Center show comes on the heels of brand-new LP Kiss Land, coming soon to a bedroom near you via ravishing cuts such as "Love In the Sky." The album lost the No. 1 spot on this week's Billboard 200 by a razor-thin margin to Keith Urban's Fuse, but still sold a more than respectable 95,000 copies. CHRIS GRAY
Little Joe Washington Boondocks, September 24
Since Rocks Off reported on Little Joe Washington's hospitalization a couple of weeks ago, we have some encouraging news to report about the elfin bluesman, perhaps Houston's single most beloved musician. Washington has been transferred to Quentin Mease Community Hospital, which specializes in geriatric care, and responding well to the kidney infection that had sent him to Ben Taub just after Labor Day.
According to Jomonica Phoenix, one of the cluster of local fans who help look after Little Joe, he has gained more than 15 pounds since being admitted to Mease. His frequent bandmate, heart surgeon/trombonist Dr. Billy Cohn, says Washington should be up to resuming his Boondocks residency Tuesday. CHRIS GRAY
Photo by Hanly Banks/Courtesy of Shore Fire Media
Bill Callahan McGonigel's Mucky Duck, September 25
It's difficult to want to liken Bill Callahan to Townes Van Zandt -- after all, Townes' name is all but sacred around these parts -- but it's also difficult to think of another musician who has crafted songs of such depth and gravity since Van Zandt passed away some 15 years ago. Back then Callahan was already well into his career making records under the name Smog, downcast and haunting affairs sometimes facetiously (but sometimes not) reduced to a single word, "sadcore."
Last week Callahan, now a resident of Austin for several years, released his latest Drag City effort, Dream River, which was immediately greeted with growing reviews by the kind of outlets who take serious music seriously indeed - The New York Times, American Songwriter, The Wall Street Journal, and so forth. CHRIS GRAY
More shows on the next page.
Alt-J Bayou Music Center, September 26
Despite their relative newbie status, British alt-rockers Alt-J have already found a considerable following, thanks to some high-profile festival stints -- think Lollapalooza, for starters -- and some major critical applause. Their first album, An Awesome Wave, is a complex, infectious little thing that combines hip-hop beats, heavy synth and the stranger parts of indie-rock into a sound that slips and slides between genres without compromising the quality or complexity of their songs.
Better still is Alt-J live, when the band uses out-of-the-box instruments like cowbells and tambourines to replicate the electronic noises on their records. With Lord Huron. ANGELICA LEICHT
Imagine Dragons Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, September 26
Flip on practically any radio station in the city, and you'll quickly realize just how crazy-huge Imagine Dragons' fan following has become in the short time they've been playing together. "Radioactive" has been blaring across the dial for quite some time, after their previous hit "It's Time" jump-started this whole Dragons craze.
With more polish than the average alt-rock band and just enough pop influence for radio, the Vegas band's acoustic-tinged LP Night Visions became the highest-charting rock debut since 2006 upon its release last September. With The Neighbourhood. ANGELICA LEICHT
ROCKS OFF'S GREATEST HITS
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.