Usher Toyota Center, December 5
A master showman and entertainer, Usher is so far at the top of pop music's pecking order his only real peers are Justin Timberlake and Bruno Mars. Now 36, the epicenter of Atlanta's urban-music diaspora has been making records for a full 20 years, has been a star since 1997's My Way and a superstar/mogul since demanding the whole world yell "Yeah!" six years later.
Blessed with the ability to craft silky slow jams and sweaty dance-floor workouts with equal skill, Usher has also logged a couple of seasons as a mentor on The Voice and collaborated with a host of top-shelf producers on 2012's sleek Looking 4 Myself. His next album, tentatively titled UR, is said to be nearing completion. With August Alsina and DJ Cassidy.
Jessica Hernandez & the Deltas Warehouse Live, December 5
Jessica Hernandez's Facebook bio claims the Detroit singer plies both "dark soul" and "gothic pop," equally apt terms for an artist whose music juggles effervescence and melancholy without much of a lag. Her brand-new album, Secret Evil (Instant Records), announces itself with splashy uptempo openers "No Place Left to Hide" and "Sorry I Stole Your Man," but really rounds into form with the reggae-laced "Dead Brains" and midtempo ballads "Over" and "Neck Tattoo." The specter of Amy Winehouse looms (how could it not?), but Hernandez is a striking new retro voice in a field all too crowded with has-beens and never-weres. With Jenny and the Reincarnation and Moji.
Atomic Opera Fitzgerald's, December 5
Atomic Opera was an ambitious, technically precise metal band whose mystical sound was closely aligned with King's X and the Galactic Cowboys, both stylistically and because all three had connections to producer Sam Taylor and the long-gone Rampart Studio in Katy. After becoming one of the Bayou City's biggest draws by the early '90s, Atomic Opera landed a deal with a Warner Bros. imprint for 1994's For Madmen Only and went on to record several albums for Metal Blade Records. Now front man Frank Hart is spearheading a crowd-funding campaign to reissue Madmen, culminating in this reunion of that album's lineup for the first time in 20 years. With Kemper Crabb and Dane Sonnier.
Fallcore 2014 Walters, December 5 & 6
Black Coffee, Some Nerve, Chipped Teeth and Die Young hold it down for H-town during two pulverizing days of pure Fallcore brutality. In all, local haus of hardcore Hatetank Productions welcomes nearly 20 bands to Walters for its annual post-Thanksgiving moshers' delight, headlined this year by the only Texas appearances of Death Threat on Friday and Incendiary and Rival Mob on Saturday. See Rocks Off's Thursday conversation with Incendiary, looking ahead to their first-ever Texas show, at this link. Two-day passes are only $26; see Walters' Web site to purchase.
More shows on the next page.
SIX OTHER SHOWS YOU SHOULD CONSIDER
DRI: Kurt Brecht's seasoned band of thrash-punks head back to Egret Bay. (Scout Bar, December 5)
Mayor's Holiday Celebration & Tree Lighting: R&B stars Angie Stone and Chante Moore help usher in a soulful Noel; starts 6 p.m. (Houston City Hall, December 5)
Mid-Main Holiday Street Party: In conjunction with the Bizarre Holiday Market, Double Trouble celebrates its third anniversary; Grand Old Man of the block Sig's Lagoon its tenth. Cheers! (Double Trouble/Sig's Lagoon, December 6)
Fox Parlor, Jealous Creatures: Local indie outfits host a "Western Winter Wonderland," welcoming Lubbock's Wolverton and Austin's Madisons. (Notsuoh, December 6)
BettySoo: Poignant Spring-born songbird visits the Fair. (Anderson Fair, December 6)
Woody Witt Trio: Homecoming gig for recent first-prize winner in Taiwan's Taichung Saxophone Competition. (Bohemeo's, December 7)
Moody's Blues: Who's who of local blues scene pitches in for ailing stalwart Eugene Moody. (The Big Easy, December 7)
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