15 Houston Concerts You Shouldn't Miss This Fall

Earlier this week Rocks Off asked our contributors to tell us one or two concerts coming to Houston this fall they considered a "can't-miss" show. They didn't disappoint us.

Depeche Mode Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, September 18

Maybe this makes me a bit geeky, but I'm totally stoked for Depeche Mode and I don't care; I'll be there in my torn tights and overabundance of eyeliner. If there is such a thing as synth-pop royalty, even after 30-plus years Depeche Mode really hasn't had much competition in knocking them off their throne. I can't think of another concert that will be as fun to people-watch at, either. The crowd just better keep it down during "Strangelove," because they don't know how intimidating I can be in my New Wave gear. ANGELICA LEICHT

Man Man Fitzgerald's, September 22

If you quit life and decide sitting on your couch is all you're going to do while the weather cools this fall, there are only a few reasons you should decide to join civilization again. One major one would be when Philadelphia's gruff, circus-like indie toysters Man Man return to Fitz. These guys always make for a good show -- their unique sound and all-over-the-place performances are the perfect anecdote for the ADD-riddled youth of today. It may be a Sunday night, but live a little, you know. JIM BRICKER

Imagine Dragons Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, September 26

I'm curious to see the progression Imagine Dragons has made as artists now that their song "Radioactive" has blown up the entire radio. It's literally on every station ever, even hip-hop stations, and such a far cry from where they were just a few months ago: House of Blues. Cynthia Woods is where they'll be bangin' all those drums this time around, and I wonder if it'll translate or if all the fame and the bigger venue will cause them to lose a bit of sparkle. I have to hope it's the former. ANGELICA LEICHT

Ray Wylie Hubbard, Shinyribs Discovery Green, September 26

The Wylie Llama is a jaded spiritual guru, philosopher of no philosophy, teller of tall tales, Holy Ghost of the Groove, and Grand Poobah of all things Texas music. The man is literally awash in soulful grime. But the stroke of genius here is pairing him with Shinyribs, the Austin four-piece fronted by Kevin Russell.

A Shinyribs show encompasses all the emotions of a loss of virginity behind a revival tent: they don't make confession boxes large enough for the sinful fallout of an hour with the Bearded One. Screw those $50-$60-$70 ticket prices. One word: free. Screw you, we're from Texas. WILLIAM MICHAEL SMITH

List continues on the next page.

Blondie, X Warehouse Live, September 27

The combination of Blondie and X is pure genius. Blondie may have had all the hits and sexy, sleazy New York/CBGB attitude, but X had that cut-your-throat edge and male-female tension between Exene Cervenka and John Doe, which made tunes like "Burning House of Love" anthems of idle youth. Angry love songs? X specialized in them. With Cervenka's health issues, who knows when or even if we'll ever see another show by X, one of the most musically accomplished bands of the punk era. WILLIAM MICHAEL SMITH

Fun. Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavillion, October 6

I had the pleasure of seeing fun. earlier this year in Paris. As much as I didn't expect it to be, this was one of the major highlights from the trip, and that show is now firmly planted in my Top Ten live shows. The band's unique sound, which fluctuates from '70s Electric Light Orchestra to indie to pop, transferred beautifully to the live stage. I vowed at that time to see this band again and again any time I could, and I've been looking forward to this show since. In the event that it sucks, hey -- We will always have Paris -- but I HIGHLY doubt it will. SELENA DIERINGER

John Fogerty Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, October 20

No contest. Country, R&B and roots-rock are my favorite kinds of music, and Creedence has always been my pick for the best American band of its time, namely the pre-Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers years. It doesn't even bother me that on his latest album, this year's Wrote a Song For Everyone, Fogerty steps on one of my biggest pet peeves about the current music business: established stars calling in a bunch of guests to record the old familiar favorites and calling it a "new" album.

Featuring My Morning Jacket, Miranda Lambert, Dawes and Zac Brown, among others, Everyone is probably one of the lesser offenders. But Fogerty is so cool that he even makes me want to hear Keith Urban sing part of "Almost Saturday Night." CHRIS GRAY

Widespread Panic Bayou Music Center, October 27

It would be a disservice to my fellow jam-band brethren, despite being few and far between here in Houston, to not bring up the fact that Southern jam gods Widespread Panic are performing a rare indoor gig at Bayou Music Center a few days before Halloween. If you've never experienced a Panic show, specifically one indoors where you can experience a musicians' wet dream while being soaked in the psychedelic lights, I highly recommend the journey. Just make sure you have enough whiskey in you; some weed might help too. JIM BRICKER

List continues on the next page.

Drake Toyota Center, November 14

Ever since February, we've been on a ride with Drake. We've gone through memes, new songs, album covers, the eventual new album landing on September 24 and best of all, a Breaking Bad-esque Tumblr page where Drake's always the villain, doing things we know in real life he'd probably send someone a hallmark card and apologize for.

Drake live, on the other hand, brings the caveat of being special. Outside of his home city of Toronto, he treats his adopted home of Houston with major favor, like super-special-guest favor. It's not often the city gets praise as a big-time performance arena but when Drake's in town, anything can happen. BRANDON CALDWELL

Polica, Marijuana Deathsquads Fitzgerald's, November 14

Polica has been blowing up this year, and with good reason: The group blends a signature synthy sound with funked-out, sometimes mutated vocals that dance between airy and distorted. Despite many songs having more of a low-key vibe, Polica is known for putting on a great stage show. Fitzgerald's will be a great venue to see this band, and now is the time to see them. Tickets to Polica shows are only going to be harder and harder to get. SELENA DIERINGER

Chvrches November 24, House of Blues

If you love synthesizers and female vocals, it's a very exciting time for music. At the head of the pack (that includes Purity Ring and Electric Youth, among others) is Scottish group Chvrches (pronounced "churches" because, you know, that's how these things work), who released one of the best songs of 2012-13 with "The Mother We Share." The rest of their debut album, The Bones of What You Believe, is pretty good too, so if you're a synth-pop nut this may be your best chance to see your new favorite band. Plus, it's the day after my birthday, and that's pretty cool too. CORY GARCIA

A December to Remember Toyota Center

One venue, four - five if we're including rap's current West Coast king in Kendrick Lamar -- acts who have sold hundreds of millions of records, and are pretty much universally hailed as among their generation's top performers. Justin Timberlake (December 5) fulfills a solo date here after doing a ton of work on the Legends of the Summer stadium tour with buddy Jay Z that sadly skipped Minute Maid or even Reliant.

Two days later, Kanye West closes his Yeezus tour with Kendrick Lamar at the same arena in which he and Jay Z, with "Watch the Throne," gave Houston 2011's concert of the year. Toss in Beyoncé's second Houston show of 2013 (December 10) and Jay himself's grand finale (December 19), and we're talking about more highlights in one month than even the Rockets could deliver. BRANDON CALDWELL


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