House of Blues, February 23
Picking up where the Killers left off, New Orleans’s MuteMath explores the intersection of modern rock and electronic music with an eye toward presentation, resulting in a kaleidoscopic sound that ventures from ethereal to anthemic and back again. Their sound also makes an ideal backdrop for some ambitious music-video directors, something the band has taken advantage of since the beginning. “Typical,” from 2006 debut MuteMath, was nominated for a Grammy; other clips worth calling up on YouTube include “Blood Pressure,” “Backfire” and “Spotlight,” which features MuteMath performing in the back of a moving van. To accompany the Radiohead and MGMT-like vibe of last year’s Vitals, their first album since 2011’s Odd Soul, MuteMath have hit their highest click count to date (5 million and counting) with “Monument,” which stars Starkville, Mississippi, mailman Charles “LaLa” Evans and his house, which he turned into a shrine to his late wife of 60 years.
WORLD'S CHAMPIONSHIP BAR-B-QUE COOKOFF
NRG Park, February 25-27
The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo’s World Championship Bar-B-Q Cookoff is an outrageous cross between an all-you-can-eat buffet and an enormous tailgate party; in other words, every real Texan’s dream. Washing down thousands of pounds of smoked meats and tasty sides calls for lots of beer, naturally; nothing goes better with all that beer than rowdy songs about drinking beer, broken up by a ballad or two examining the consequences. The entire weekend is awash in great Texas music, starting Thursday as scrappy singer-songwriter Bart Crow plugs latest LP The Parade. Friday brings a visit from Texas country’s reigning hell-raiser, Kevin Fowler, on the heels of heir apparent Cameran Nelson; old friends and scene elders Pat Green and Cory Morrow burn one down for old times’ sake on Saturday, following rockin’ Nashville upstarts Old Dominion. Also worth catching over the weekend is Houston’s Bri Bagwell, whose poignant EP When a Heart Breaks was a 2015 highlight, opening Thursday’s bill before moving over to the Rockin’ Bar-B-Q Saloon Friday and Saturday. At cookoff, even vegetarians are welcome.
Hughes Hangar, February 25
Professional athletes have all sorts of options when their playing days are over, so it’s not too surprising that a few choose to enter the recording studio. Some are more serious about it than others, and ex-Rocket Matt Maloney definitely follows in the tradition of the late Wayman Tisdale, a Grammy-winning jazz musician after his Indiana Pacers days. For the past couple of years, Maloney has been recording an album with Calvin Stanley, former front man of brooding modern-rockers Pale, as the duo Starline. Designed to be “danceable and quotable,” according to Stanley, the result is CJM, a dense, sophisticated fusion of rock and electronica. Each of the album’s 11 songs was constructed from more than 100 individual tracks, making it an equally rewarding workout for detail-oriented headphone freaks or those who’d rather enjoy its plush, well-sculpted grooves on the dance floor. With DJ Zeelus (remixing tracks from CJM) and DJ Sun.
BAD ASS WEEKEND IV
Walters Downtown, Eastdown Warehouse, Houston House of Creeps and Donkey Paw, February 25-28
Don’t plan on getting any work done on your face or starting that master cleanse this weekend: That’s when Bad Ass Weekend IV slouches into our dear Babylon. You may be needing that extra face leather in the event that a fellow reveler’s spiked accoutrement awards you a nonelective piercing whilst in the circle pit, and you may be needing the extra blood sugar to keep up with an intense schedule of events that crisscrosses three Warehouse District venues and nearby screen-printing shop Donkey Paw. This is a celebration of everything bristly, blast-beaten and feedback-intensive, a cavalcade of heavy rockers from the UK, Mexico, Canada and all over the USA, including legends such as Skullflower, Warwound, Hellbastard, Excel, Rusted Shut and Black Leather Jesus, as well as modern miscreants like Total Abuse, Protomartyr, Calafia Puta, Cryptic Void, Cop Warmth, Spray Paint, Alimanas, Muhammad Ali, Rosemary Malign, Battle Rifle and many more worthies, old and new. Now is the time, as festival organizer Juan Carlos Newton says, “for the true weirdos to come out of the woodwork.” Arrive a connoisseur, depart in ribbons. See badassweekend.net for further details. TEX KERSCHEN
Nightingale Room, February 26
One of the more talked-about bands in Texas right now is Blue Healer, the Austin trio that purports to play “pop music with teeth.” Arising from shambolic roots-pop quintet Sons of Fathers, Blue Healer is less outdoor music fest and more subterranean cocktail lounge as the clock inches past midnight. With an album on the way, their gauzy single “Luminescent Eyes” was recently showcased on A-list indie blog Consequence of Sound, which said the song “exemplifies their penchant for earworm hooks and sexy, danceable grooves.” Apparently it’s also the first song Blue Healer ever wrote and recorded as a band, so surely more good things lie in store. With Taylor and the Wild Now; 6 p.m. doors.
Raven Tower, February 26
We caught the Seratones at a SXSW showcase in 2015 and have been eagerly awaiting the Shreveport rock ensemble’s emergence as bona fide headliners. That moment has arrived. Led by the huge voice of rhythm guitarist A.J. Haynes, who will remind locals of Kam Franklin of the Suffers, the band won first place in the 2013 Louisiana Music Prize competition and recently signed to roots label Fat Possum Records, who quickly released the band’s hard-rocking 7-inch “Necromancer”/“Take It Easy,” produced by roots-rock guru Jimbo Mathus. Singled out as one of Paste's Top 20 new bands of 2015, the Seratones appear to be on much the same trajectory as Alabama Shakes, another rocking foursome fronted by a strong black female voice. With Los Coast and Middlechild. WILLIAM MICHAEL SMITH
Toyota Center, February 26
AC/DC is back in black in Houston this Friday, and thank God (er, Satan) for that. But folks, this could very well be the classic-rock icons’ last hurrah. Malcolm Young, possibly the hardest-rocking rhythm guitarist in history, and the heart and soul of AC/DC, was forced to retire from the group not too long ago because of dementia. Hard to imagine them pulling off yet another globe-spanning album-and-tour cycle without him. Show up ready to send the lads off with a proper “Big Gun” bang. NATHAN SMITH
Continental Club, February 27
Minus the bile that made him one of rock’s great “Angry Young Men” of the late ’70s, Elvis Costello has a lot in common with Houston’s “King of the Oldies,” Allen Hill. Both man share a madcap onstage energy and a solid appreciation for all things British Invasion, particularly taut songs that get in and out in three minutes or less. A good friend of Hill’s is also an EC nut with a birthday coming soon, so his band’s wedding gift is a deluxe set of covers for the reception next month. Saturday's gig, dubbed “Get Happy!!” after Costello & the Attractions’ 1980 album, represents some paid rehearsal time as the Allen Oldies Band gears up to “throw our Texas party rock and roll approach at some very cool British brat rock.” Plans are also in the works to set several of these covers to disc as future party favors for fans.
GEORGE THOROGOOD & THE DESTROYERS
House of Blues, February 28
Since bursting on the scene with his 1982 appearance on Saturday Night Live, Delaware blues boogie-blues man George Thorogood has sold 15 million records, with two albums going platinum and six turning gold. Backed by Dallas superpicker Jim Suhler, Thorogood still goes full throttle and remains quintessentially bad to the bone, just like his hit song testifies. Thorogood has fashioned a huge career by making boogie anthems out of old tunes like “House Rent Boogie,” “One Bourbon, One Scotch, and One Beer,” “Who Do You Love” and other sly blues standards rarely heard in today’s pop-music milieu. Once one of the hardest-touring bands in the land, George Thorogood & The Destroyers has dialed it back to 100 or so dates per year, many of them involving festivals and casinos. Don’t be surprised if Thorogood sneaks some Texas-centric favorites into his always high-energy show. With Damon Fowler. WILLIAM MICHAEL SMITH