The Five Best Concerts in Houston This Week: Rusty Shackle, Black Joe Lewis, Failure, etc.
Photo by Jasmine Lee Richardson
DJ Sun The Flat, June 9
On last year's One Hundred -- amazingly, his first-ever full-length release -- DJ Sun 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. Its intricately laid-back latticework should come as no surprise to anyone lucky enough to have met the man and easily made it one of 2013's standout Houston albums.
Among his multitude of weekly gigs, Sun's long-running "Rocksteady Mondays" residency at the Flat, where he is now managing partner, is probably the most chill environment to glimpse this true turntable craftsman at work.
Rusty Shackle McGonigel's Mucky Duck, June 10
It's impossible not to see the shadow of Mumford & Sons in the music of Rusty Shackle, but only for the short-sighted. The latter is a six-piece formed in remote South Wales only a few months after Mumford's Sigh No More began its steady march to pop domination; it's not like traditional folk music belongs to this decade or the last one anyway. By now Rusty Shackle has released two albums and one EP (2013 LP Bones is the latest) and appeared at a number of UK events like the Cambridge Folk Festival and Folk By the Oak. Their credentials are solid, so if any word in their self-description "dirty bluegrass folk n' roll" appeals to you, so will they.
Black Joe Lewis Fitzgerald's, June 10
Leaving the crust on soul music since his audacious 2009 arrival Tell 'Em What Your Name Is!, Black Joe Lewis came up through Austin's punk and garage-rock clubs playing the kind of music that blew those audiences away with its immediacy and raw gutbucket power. Scandalous followed two years later and then Electric Slave last year, Lewis not so much refining his sound as diversifying into more traditional areas of R&B and funk (though in a relative sense). Although powered by one of the most dynamic horn sections anywhere, the 2014 Lewis is just as profane and sweaty as he ever was, and his concerts are a lock to reach near-dangerous levels of intensity.
More shows on the next page.
Photo courtesy of Speakeasy PR
Failure House of Blues, June 11
Failure is one of the fondest-remembered bands of the mid-'90s, not least because they broke up just when it seemed when things were really starting to happen for them. Based around the musical partnership of L.A. multi-instrumentalists Ken Andrews and Greg Edwards, whom All Music Guide called "a songwriting team practically unrivaled within the claustrophobic confines of post-grunge American rock," Failure were more melodic and adventurous than almost any of their peers.
Despite champions like Steve Albini (who engineered '92 debut Comfort) and Tool's Maynard James Keenan, Failure's moody songs never quite caught on outside their avid fan base, and they were practically out of gas by the time "Stuck On You" did finally start getting radio play in 1996. Andrews, Scott, and drummer Kelli Scott went on to play with the likes of Blinker the Star, Autolux and ON, and then suddenly reunited in February and embarked on this summer tour based around the Tree of Stars live EP.
The Whigs Fitzgerald's, June 12
The Whigs offer nothing fancy, but the Nashville-via-Athens trio has played dependably potent and tuneful rock and roll for more than a decade now, splitting the difference between garage-rock and power-pop while steadily refining their songwriting. Their fifth album, this year's Modern Creation, was recorded live over two weeks with producer Jim Scott (Tom Petty, Wilco), and the trio's rangy energy easily spills into songs like "Hit Me" and "You Should Be Able to Feel It." With Houston's Buxton, who have been lying low as of late.
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