The Five Best Concerts In Houston This Week: Bette Midler, Built to Spill, The Bluebonnets, Queensryche, etc.
Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Records
Toyota Center, May 18
It's a little late, but a date to see Bette Midler would make the perfect Mother's Day gift. The two-time Oscar nominee is an entertainer of the highest order, and her first concert tour in quite a while promises plenty of old-fashioned showbiz razzle-dazzle and no shortage of wisecracks from the Divine Miss M. The tour's raison d'etre is 2014's It's the Girls, Midler's “tribute to girl groups throughout the ages” that doesn't skimp on the '60s treasures – “Tell Him,” “One Fine Day” Darlene Love duet “He's Sure the Boy I Love” – but reaches further afield for the Andrews Sisters' '40s nugget “Bei Mir Bist Du Schon” and even TLC's “Waterfalls.” Don't forget your hankie for the more sentimental songs, but if necessary you fellas can always hit the restrooms for “Wind Beneath My Wings.”
Built to Spill
Warehouse Live, May 18
Formed in 1992, Built to Spill have lasted long enough to become one of indie-rock’s most esteemed elder statesmen, with the kind of broad appeal that netted the Idaho band invitations to both Coachella and San Francisco’s Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival this past year, as well as the kind of respect from their peers that found them recently opening for Death Cab For Cutie. Balancing Doug Martsch’s thickety, Neil Youngian guitar jams with nakedly emotional songwriting, Built to Spill consistently displays the kind of stylistic diversity that bodes well for the long term. Last month they kept on keepin’ on with Untethered Moon, their sixth studio album for Warner Bros., and first in six years.
Photo by Alan Rand/Courtesy of the Bluebonnets
Under the Volcano, May 20
If there is one show in town this week where the building may explode, it’s Austin’s hard-rocking all-female ensemble Bluebonnets at Under the Volcano. Anyone who saw them in March at the Continental Club (which was only a few dozen folks) knows the Bluebonnets are capable of tornado-like damage. With former Go-Go Kathy Valentine on one guitar and Austin ace Eve Monsees on the other, the picking is world-class and as mean as a rattlesnake bite. The band combines all the best elements of the great female rockers like Joan Jett with the sultry insouciance of Debbie Harry and Blondie. The Bluebonnets' debut album, Play Loud, has gotten rave reviews, as did their recent string of New York City shows. Bring your rocking shoes and designated drivers to this one. Stuff will burn. (WILLIAM MICHAEL SMITH)
House of Blues, May 21
In late-'80s heavy metal, Queensryche's ambitions were a sight loftier than one more Jack and coke at the strip club. The Seattle quintet had already released a handful of forgettable post-Iron Maiden albums, but came into their own with 1988's Operation: Mindcrime, a sinister concept album detailing a soldier of fortune's struggle against an Orwellian society told through defiant anthems like "Revolution Calling" and "Eyes of a Stranger." Mindcrime has aged so well last year Queensryche did a 25th-anniversary tour playing the album in full; this show should go on to include other hits like “Jet City Woman” and "Silent Lucidity" as well. (Caveat emptor: Geoff Tate has nothing to do with this version of Queensryche these days, or vice versa.)
Future, Kirko Bangz
Arena Theatre, May 21
Third time's the charm for this show, which was postponed from February to April and then again to Thursday. Atlanta's Future is hardly the first rapper of the Auto-tune age to liken himself to Al Pacino's Scarface character, but his 2011 breakout single "Tony Montana" made him one of the most memorable. Born into the highest circles of ATL rap — his cousin is Rico Wade of OutKast social-network the Dungeon Family — and inheriting their hood-meets-extraterrestrial style, the 21-year-old MC had the likes of Drake and T.I. jumping on remixes from his 2012 Epic debut Pluto. Last year's Honest reached No. 2 on the Billboard 200 behind a bevy of singles; the title track's refrain became a minor pop-culture catchphrase. Future should have his work cut out for him, too: stepping onto a big Houston stage for the first time is Houston “Drank In My Cup” MC Kirko Bangz.
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