John Egan The Big Easy, February 3
Solo bluesman John Egan sings in a tone that suggests someone is constantly walking over his grave, and his lyrics are loaded with bad mojo like nature gone haywire and apocalyptic visions. All he needs live is his National Resonator, one of those shiny silver guitars that sting and snarl, and has begun mastering the followup to 2012's spare and sinister Phantoms. Last month Egan advanced to the semifinals of the International Blues Challenge's solo competition for the second year in a row, vying with bluesmen and women all over the planet. CHRIS GRAY
Touche Amore Fitzgerald's, February 18
One of the best post-hardcore bands to come out in years, and one of the most energetic bands out there today, L.A.'s Touche Amore perfectly employs the classic sounds of "emo" (before it turned into pop-punk) and hardcore to make incredible two-minute bursts of lightning in musical form. Their live shows feature groups of hundreds of kids chanting every single word, the band going nuts, and abundant crowd-surfing and stage-diving.
In other words, Touche Amore in 2014 is everything that was great about live punk shows in the '80s. They were one of the highlights of last year's Free Press Summer Fest, and make a most welcome return to Houston Tuesday. With mewithoutYou, Seahaven and Drug Church. COREY DEITERMAN
Demi Lovato Toyota Center, February 19
Demi Lovato is a success story in the world of troubled teen idols, conquering not only a well-publicized struggle with an eating disorder, but substance-abuse issues as well. She's quite healthy these days, and her music has grown past her Disney roots to reflect her maturation from troubled adolescent to endearing young adult.
Sure, it's still bubbly pop music, but humble and honest songs like "How to Fix a Heart" infuse that kid-friendly sound with a little more oomph and a lot more emotion than the average jaded ex-starlet. With Fifth Harmony and Little Mix. ANGELICA LEICHT
More shows on the next page.
Neutral Milk Hotel Warehouse Live, February 19
First of all this show has been sold out for weeks, so if you don't know about it by now...good luck. Until it was announced, most of us thought we had a better chance of seeing a purple elephant born at the Houston Zoo than a local date by Neutral Milk Hotel. Not many albums from 15 years ago are as revered or imitated as their In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, enigmatic auteur Jeff Mangum's Citizen Kane of anxiety and lush '60s pop; it's like an exquisite, lo-fi Faberge egg. Mangum and his cohorts never even made much of an attempt to follow it up, but not many people ever thought they needed to. The Aeroplane lineup nonetheless reunited in early 2013, and now here they are. CHRIS GRAY
Dr. Dog Warehouse Live, February 20
The members of Dr. Dog must have a thing for furry animals. These lo-fi, surf-rock worshipers started as an offshoot by a couple of the dudes in the now-defunct indie band Raccoon, before their buddies in My Morning Jacket catapulted them out of obscurity by hand-picking them as tour mates. Things have only grown from there, through eight albums including the new B-Room and everyone from The New York Times to Rolling Stone now singing the Philly-based crew's D.I.Y. weirdo praises. With Saint Rich. ANGELICA LEICHT
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