The Five Best Concerts in Houston This Week: Karmin, Arcade Fire, Kings of Leon, etc.
Photo courtesy of Epic Records
Karmin House of Blues, April 8
Almost the anti-Sleigh Bells, Karmin are still attempting to pull off the Pinocchio-like transition from viral sensation to offline pop success. The Boston-based duo of Amy Heidemann and Nick Noonan let the genie out of the bottle in April 2011, when their cover of Chris Brown's "Look at Me Now" lit up the YouTube switchboard (a staggering 89 million-plus hits to date), followed closely by versions of recent Nicki Minaj and Lil Wayne hits; Heidemann especially has a taste for hip-hop, and the flow to match.
Unable to resist, Sony signed Karmin shortly thereafter and has since been hoping they'll go viral on the pop charts as well, but it's been a rocky start. It took until this February for their debut LP, Pulses, to be released; the reception so far has been lukewarm. Nevertheless, there are a few simple-enough pleasures to be had here in easily digestible, paint-by-numbers tunes like "I Want It All" and the well-titled "Puppet." CHRIS GRAY
Mobb Deep Fitzgerald's, April 9
Mobb Deep's eighth studio album, this month's The Infamous Mobb Deep, takes the NYC duo full circle. Childhood friends Prodigy and Havoc blew up big with 1995 LP The Infamous, a gritty portrayal of life in the projects set to dark and foreboding beats, and helped lead the mid-'90s resurgence of East Coast rap alongside Wu-Tang Clan and onetime Queensbridge neighbor Nas. Through later projects including 1999's Murda Muzik and 2006's Blood Money, Mobb Deep has gone on to sell more than 40 million records and become known worldwide as one of the first names in hardcore hip-hop -- infamous to the last. ANGELICA LEICHT
St. Paul & the Broken Bones Continental Club, April 9
St. Paul & the Broken Bones' soul pedigree almost speaks for itself: their 2012 EP was recorded in Muscle Shoals and produced by Alabama Shakes keyboardist Ben Tanner, who soon enough signed up the Birmingham band to his Single Lock label and produced February's debut full-length LP Half the City as well.
The six-piece is fronted by Paul Janeway, whose striking resemblance to Sam Cooke makes more sense considering the star-crossed "Soothe Me" singer was one of the few secular artists permitted in his strict Pentacostal household. (Not all that secular, obviously.) Songs like "Broken Bones and Pocket Change" and "Call Me" are steeped in the same pain and redemption of the classic Southern soul tradition -- although in this case perhaps "immersed" might be a better word. CHRIS GRAY
More shows on the next page.
Photo by Marc Brubaker
Arcade Fire Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, April 9
Arcade Fire are a polarizing band; either you love them or think they're hipster trash. But they're also the type of band whose live presence and sheer talent can change people's minds. Touring in support of 2013's double-length Reflektor, the Grammy-winning group has requested that concertgoers show up looking sharp unless they dress in costume. Either way, wear your dancing shoes. ALYSSA DUPREE
Kings of Leon Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, April 10
Kings of Leon must be wondering what they have to do to get the rock gods smiling on them again. After the Nashville-based Followill brothers and cousin Matthew reached the proverbial mountaintop with 2008's Because of the Times, they stalled out with follow-up Come Around Sundown and really went into a ditch after lead singer Caleb stalked offstage in Dallas in July 2011.
Last September's Mechanical Bull was supposed to be their return to form (and, FWIW, is a good record), but it failed to spin off a true hit single and has long sunk to the lower recesses of the Billboard 200 despite debuting at No. 2. But pop culture loves few things more than a good comeback, and Kings of Leon's ultimate proving grounds could well be this spring tour. Luckily, provided they're not sulking about something, few contemporary rock bands can match this one's energy and charisma in concert. With Local Natives. CHRIS GRAY
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