The Five Best Concerts In Houston This Week: Waxahatchee, Wheel Workers, Wilco, etc.
Photo by Jesse Riggins/Courtesy of Merge Records
Waxahatchee Walters Downtown, April 20
Katie Crutchfield has the kind of voice that people notice right away. Now recording and performing as Waxahatchee -- named after a creek about an hour southeast of her hometown of Birmingham, Ala. -- Crutchfield's songs can be giddy, eerie or confrontational; whatever mood suits her disarmingly frank lyrics, really. A prolific musician since her late teens, the twentysomething singer-songwriter (who now lives in NYC via Philadelphia) first appeared on the indie cognoscenti's radar with Waxahatchee's second album, Cerulean Salt, which earned her a best-of-2013 nod by the mighty Pitchfork.
It also made Crutchfield labelmates with the likes of Arcade Fire via Merge Records, who earlier this month released the equally unpredictable and enjoyable Ivy Tripp. "I have thought of it like this," Crutchfield says in her official Merge bio. "Cerulean Salt is a solid and Ivy Tripp is a gas." (Another bullseye; it is a gas.) If you read this early enough Monday, Cactus Music is selling tickets to this show for a flat $10. With The Goodbye Party and the Lories.
Skunk Fest Union Tavern, April 20
Marijuana may still be illegal in Texas (for now), but we doubt that will stop all that many people from celebrating stoners' highest of holy days. (Legislation aside, pot has never exactly been that tough to come by in these parts.) Monday, leave all the designer weed to all the snobs in Denver and Seattle and sample some homegrown bud-friendly tunes at Union Tavern in Clear Lake, where the air has always smelled kind of funny anyway. Playing your kind hosts, as it were, are the men with the "Positive Minds," Houston reggae-rockers Tydings, as well as homeboys Sullivan's Vessel, Pasadena's the High Mile, Corpus' Jahseed, Austin's Kapsize and Dickinson-based visual artist Christopher Morphis, who will be painting on-site. Puff, puff, give, y'all.
Making Movies House of Blues, April 22
Kansas City may not be the first place that comes to mind when genre-hopping Latin bands come to mind, but Making Movies are doing their best to change that; of Panamanian and Mexican ancestry, they sing in both English and Spanish. With Los Lobos' Steve Berlin aboard as producer, the young quartet's debut album A La Deriva pushes the parameters of rock en espanol beyond the borders established by Carlos Santana et. al with a dusting of Cuban son and jazz. Striking, highly listenable music that makes an impression in any language. With La Santa Cecilia.
More shows on the next page.
Photo courtesy of Fanatic PR
The Wheel Workers Rudyard's, April 23
The Wheel Workers are a band of the people. Steven Higginbotham's five-piece is one of Houston's most eclectic indie-rock groups, often working pointed populist messages into their multi-textured songs. On their third full-length album, Citizens (due next month), the sentiments sync up perfectly with the October Revolution artwork by Matt Brinker and Cory Say, but what's really on display is Higginbotham's best and most fully realized set of songs to date.
The Workers can definitely do niche material, like the raucous barroom shout of "Yodel" -- which was recently premiered by Blurt magazine -- or exquisite New Wave of "Burglar," but songs like "Whole Other World" and "Smokescreen" approach the broad appeal of a group like Death Cab For Cutie, a skill set that could carry Higginbotham and his comrades far indeed. With I Am the Albatross and Inside Voices.
Wilco Bayou Music Center, April 23
Wilco last visited Houston in May 2011, or about six months before their latest studio album, The Whole Love, was released. However, Jeff Tweedy's council of indie/Americana elders did put out a pair of career-spanning anthologies last year in What's Your 20?: Essential Tracks 1994-2014 and Alpha Mike Foxtrot: Rare Tracks 1994-2014, meaning their set list could be further afield than usual, which for this band would be both a real achievement and not that surprising at all.
After devoting most of last year to other projects like Tweedy, Jeff's filial duo with drummer son Spencer, the Chicago-based band has a busy spring and summer ahead, with headlining spots at Jazz Fest in New Orleans and Pitchfork Fest in their hometown among their higher-profile dates. Houston is only the second stop of the tour, though, so whatever Wilco does decide to play ought to sound pretty fresh. With Royal Thunder.
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