Twin Shadow Fitzgerald's, March 23
Twin Shadow fans are living on borrowed time. The day will come when he's too big for those small venues he's been playing for the last few years; it's just a matter of when, really. George Lewis Jr. has always been a gifted songwriter, but he's taking things up a level on his major-label debut Eclipse. "To the Top" is a song too big for the venues that he's playing currently; it needs to be blasted on festival main stages and chanted by thousands. So yeah, enjoy the intimacy of these shows while you can. With Lolawolf. CORY GARCIA
Young Thug, Travis Scott House of Blues, March 23
Two rappers on the rise start the week fresh off headlining Yahoo Music's Saturday-night SXSW showcase. According to one recap, Houston native and Kanye collaborator Travis $cott went after the audience, the security and even his hosts for enforcing the fire code, but "when he wasn't ranting, he was rocking the house with his songs 'Quintana,' 'Don't Play' and 'Upper Echelon.'
Atlanta's Young Thug might be on some even more next-level shit. Another one of Lil Wayne's many spiritual godchildren, the 22-year-old was named SPIN's 2014 Rapper of the Year largely on the strength of his mixtape Black Portland, inspiring the magazine to note "few artists working in any genre are so simultaneously accessible and bizarre." CHRIS GRAY
Pentatonix Bayou Music Center, March 25
Pentatonix has already been announced as the opener for Kelly Clarkson's summer tour, which pulls into The Woodlands on September 1, but the Arlington, Tex.-based a cappella group could well be headlining the Pavilion their next time through. Emerging as champions of NBC's The Sing-Off in late 2011, the young quintet combines several key ingredients for contemporary pop success: impeccable singing, cool cover choices (Daft Punk to Beyonce), plenty of seasonal product (two holiday LPs against five overall), a pervasive social-media presence, and a wholesomely multicultural image. They'll win your heart if you don't cringe at all that cuteness. CHRIS GRAY
More shows on the next page.
RiFF RaFF Warehouse Live, March 25
People paint RiFF RaFF as an absurdist or a character who, now 32 years of age, couldn't be any more serious about rap as Humpty Hump or any of Kool Keith's creations. People were turned off by his Houston-stylized idiosyncrasies without doing their homework on the man. Houston rap is full of characters; remember Bushwick Bill outfitted himself as Dr. Wolfgang Von Bushwickin the Barbarian Mother Funky Stay High Dollar Billstir once upon a time. RiFF RaFF is merely the latest one, a fully fleshed-out idea of Internet memes and self-prophecy. He's no longer in Sharpstown -- or Plaza de Americas, if you want to be politically correct -- hustling mixtapes; after 2014's Mad Decent debut Neon Icon dropped, he's a damn star. BRANDON CALDWELL
UH Frontier Fiesta TDECU Stadium (University of Houston), March 26
Known as "The Cage," TDECU Stadium is still just getting started as the home of the fightin' Houston Cougar football team, but UH's annual spring carnival (which turns 75 years old this year) is the field's first real opportunity to test its sea legs as a concert venue. Country, pop and hip-hop are the order of the weekend, the common denominator being the shows are completely free thanks to UH student fees. Thursday, Sugarland's male half Kristian Bush kicks off the Fiesta behind his first-ever solo album Southern Gravity, a grittier showing than Sugarland's gilded pop-country catalog. CHRIS GRAY
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