Ranking Houston's Mainstream Hard Rock Shows of Summer 2018

We hope maybe Prophets of Rage have given up on the parody hats.
Photo by Violeta Alvarez
We hope maybe Prophets of Rage have given up on the parody hats.
The best metal show of the year took place a few days before summer officially kicked off. While there are an ample amount of shows for you to raise your devil horns up left in the year, it’s hard to imagine any of them being quite as strong as the collection of bands that rolled into town last weekend with Slayer on top. It was an amazing goodbye to an amazing band, but life marches on, and so to the shows on the loud end of the spectrum.

If you’ve still got a major league hard rock and heavy metal itch to scratch, you have some pretty interesting shows to pick from for the rest of the year if you’re looking to headbang with a couple thousand strangers. There’s something to enjoy at every show, so let’s break them down.

Honorable Mentions: Because this is a summer list, we can’t quite rank Ozzy’s Houston farewell gig with Stone Sour on September 28, but you should absolutely go. You don’t want to beat yourself up for missing it. And if you don’t mind hitting the road, consider heading to San Antonio on the final day of summer to catch River City Rockfest, which boasts a lineup that features Nine Inch Nails, Suicidal Tendencies, The Sword, and a whole lot more.

Note: For the purposes of this list, we’re focusing on Revention-sized venues and up. Don’t let that stop you from going to see CKY or Deafheaven at some of the smaller venues around the area this summer. They’re cool too.
7. Five Finger Death Punch, Breaking Benjamin
August 3, The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion

Although I like FFDP more than most of my colleagues that write for the Houston Press, even I acknowledge that they’re a bit of a hard sell as a headliner. They might not even be together come August. They are the wildest of wild cards, and not necessarily in a good way. As for BB, recent setlists say they’re ignoring Saturate, and that’s a bummer. At least we’ll always have “The Diary of Jane.”
6. Alice in Chains
September 7, Revention Music Center

Did you know we’re only a few years away from William DuVall being the lead singer of AIC as long as Layne Staley was? Where does the time go? The reborn Alice in Chains have been around for 12 years now, and they’re perfectly fine. Still, this show might rank just a little higher if they announce a good opening act. I’d settle for The Joy Formidable, in case you were curious.
5. Godsmack, Shinedown
August 11, The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion

I will always have a soft spot for Godsmack. Do a lot of their big singles just sort of blur together? Sure, but not in an unpleasant way all things considered. They’ve been doing the festival circuit most of the year, so they should be in fighting shape when they arrive in town. As for Shinedown, it may be hard to buy them as an amphitheater coheadliner, but they’ve had a steady string of mainstream rock hit singles for over a decade. I can’t name any of them, but good on them.
4. Avenged Sevenfold, Prophets of Rage
September 2, The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion

No, they aren’t Rage Against the Machine, but even if Prophets of Rage are just a shadow of RATM, that shadow packs plenty of firepower. Yes, you’ll walk away missing RATM more than ever, but you’ll have also experienced the wonder of “Killing in the Name of” live, and that’s worth the price of admission alone. Avenged Sevenfold should be a good time for the hits and their stage design, as they always are.
3. Rob Zombie, Marilyn Manson
August 18, The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion

I still believe in Marilyn Manson. Always have, always will. I know, I know, he’s just as likely to have a bad show as a good one, and maybe this is just nostalgia talking, but isn’t that part of the excitement of going to see Manson? I’m not going to promise you greatness, but I still believe there is greatness in him if you’re there on the right night. Rob Zombie is Rob Zombie, and I’m surprised he’ll be hitting the road so soon given that he’s in the middle of directing a film right now.
2. Rise Against, AFI, Anti-Flag
September 12, Revention Music Center

Anti-Flag is one of those consistently great live punk rock acts that somehow never seem to lose a step. AFI has a catalog of classics that are always fun to hear live. And Rise Against are one of those acts that, on the right night, can go toe to toe with anyone in music. One hopes that the last year of politics have built up a rage in them because bands willing to use their platform to help shine a lot on the marginalized are needed now more than ever.
1. Bud Light Roast, featuring Blue October, AWOLNATION, Theory of a Deadman, Robert Delong
July 21, The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion

Is The Buzz playing it safe with this lineup? Sure, but it bangs in a delightful way. Even if you’ve seen Blue October more times than you can count, they’re about as rock solid a band as you’ll find, and Justin Furstenfeld has a fire inside few can match. AWOLNATION is simply one of the best touring acts in modern music, and I’d put them up against any band on this list in terms of stage presence and performance. And sure, Robert Delong isn’t hard rock or metal, but he’s a mad scientist who puts on a performance unlike any you’ve ever seen, and one you won’t soon forget.