It's been four years since George Strait played NRG Stadium. Four years too long.
It's been four years since George Strait played NRG Stadium. Four years too long.

What a Perfect Post-Harvey Benefit Concert Might Look Like

The music community is mobilizing to take care of those affected by Hurricane Harvey with impressive speed. Many Houston streets were still underwater when these efforts began; less than a week removed from Harvey’s landfall, they are proliferating like mushrooms in the damp Southeast Texas climate. Several are already taking place across town this weekend. From faraway NYC, Vinyl Ranch honcho Dave Wrangler has partnered up with Brooklyn Brewery to organize a “NY <3 HOU” fundraiser tonight at Williamsburg bar Skinny Dennis. Central Texas's Old Settler’s Music Festival chipped in $5K. Bun B’s Trill telethon we told you about yesterday. Beyoncé is right there with her BeyGOOD Houston foundation; sister Solange is too.

Elsewhere, local shoegazers A Sundae Drive say all merch sales through the end of 2017 will go toward Harvey relief; super-likable MC Kyle Hubbard will donate the proceeds from his forthcoming album, All Good Things Come (order here). Still, there’s an inescapable feeling that all of these efforts, welcome as they are, are but a prelude to something really big on the horizon. Once the logistics are settled, Houston could be in for the kind of benefit concert that comes along less than once in a generation. It’s just a matter of time. But who’s gonna play it?

Beyoncé is from Houston. Beyoncé is also married to Jay Z. Why not have pop music’s ultimate power couple team up for a benefit that would most assuredly fill up NRG Stadium and raise millions for Harvey relief. Beyoncé is not shy in expressing her love for Houston, and Jay Z is actually making a run through town later this year as part of his 4:44 tour. But, for one night only, let’s have the first couple of pop music stand onstage, hand in hand, in the name of something special. CLINT HALE

What a Perfect Post-Harvey Benefit Concert Might Look Like
Photo by Violeta Alvarez

Brooks is already opening and closing next year’s Rodeo Houston festivities. Why not have proceeds from one, or both, of those concerts go toward Harvey relief? Better yet, perhaps Garth could carve out some time in his schedule to visit Houston later this year for a separate concert dedicated to Harvey relief. CLINT HALE

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Because Houston needs joy. And because the most joyful song in America is not "Wild Thoughts" by Rihanna and Bryson Tiller. It's not "Despacito," arguably the biggest song a summer has seen in decades. Instead, the one immediate "light up a room and watch it turn out" record belongs to a Bronx personality who simply cannot lose. "Bodak Yellow" being the No. 3 song in America, the highest-charting rap song of the moment, means this is Cardi's time. And nothing screams defiance more than overcoming something big (in Cardi's case, fixing her teeth and her mom in poverty) and doing something even bigger. Isn't that what Houston is about? BRANDON CALDWELL

This one makes too much sense not to happen. Coldplay was supposed to play NRG Stadium last week, just as Harvey was making its way into Texas. That concert, understandably so, was postponed, as the Texas coast faced one of the greatest natural disasters in American history. Let’s have Chris Martin and crew back for a sold-out show but one with proceeds going to fund Harvey relief efforts. Set up donation stands, have a portion of concessions and merchandise go to relief efforts, anything helps. Plus, Coldplay seem like pretty good dudes anyway. CLINT HALE

The longest fight about a benefit show will be getting the best acts to show up. Not only that, but getting the acts who genuinely love the city and this state. Though Houston Appreciation Weekend always feels like a minor donation to the city, Drake has already contributed $200,000 to JJ Watt's Harvey relief fund. Would it be enough to have him physically at the telethon or benefit show with proceeds going to the city's various charities? Maybe. He may not land as a top pick for a Super Bowl halftime performance, but this is bigger than any single night for the NFL. It's about Houston. BRANDON CALDWELL

Bob Dylan’s “Night of the Hurricane II” in January 1976 wasn’t a smashing success, not from a box-office standpoint at least, but it does rank as perhaps the most curious concert in Houston history. It wound up at the Astrodome by happenstance; was half-full and disparaged by some DJs who were supposed to be promoting it; and its purported beneficiary, controversially imprisoned New York boxing champ Rubin “Hurricane” Carter (subject of Dylan’s No. 1 hit song from the previous year, “Hurricane”), was little-known to many Houstonians. Though hoping for "Shelter From the Storm" is probably a little corny, perhaps Dylan would like another chance to do right by Houston on a big benefit stage. Some might even argue he owes the Bayou City a favor or two for these lines in 2009’s “If You Ever Go to Houston.” CHRIS GRAY

If you ever go to Houston
Better walk right
Keep your hands in your pockets
And your gun-belt tight
You'll be asking for trouble
If you're looking for a fight
If you ever go to Houston
Boy, you better walk right

If ever a city was ready to start feelin’ good again, it’s Houston right now. Luckily, we need look no further than a man who was born here, grew up in Sharpstown and can be counted on to chase those holiday blues with his annual “Merry Christmas From the Fam-O-Lee” revue. But his non-Yuletide shows in the area are relatively rare, and the bigger the crowd Keen is playing for, the more he can rile them up. He’s also a crack raconteur who would make a perfect host; some of his onstage introductions last longer than the songs themselves, as heard on last year’s Live Dinner Reunion. Finally, it should go without saying that Keen will probably welcome his old Texas A&M buddy Lyle Lovett onstage for a few songs; for an event of this stature, it’s practically a package deal. CHRIS GRAY

It might just be from seeing filthy water everywhere and connecting it to the band's autobiography — The Hepatitis Bathtub — but NOFX would be a pretty good band to help remove the post-Harvey blues. Nothing against poignant Coldplay tunes penned to tug at our dampened heartstrings, but my neighbors and I need a notorious punk band here to remind us to thumb our noses at adversity. When the Green Days and The Offsprings of the world were signing with big labels, Fat Mike and company simply did it on their own; that sort of self-reliance is going to be key to us too, once the first responders and FEMAs of the world depart for the next unfortunate event. They have a massive, global following and can bring acts that are on their Fat Wreck Chords roster along to beef up our imaginary benefit — groups like Against Me!, Descendents and PEARS, a New Orleans hardcore act who know a thing or two about hurricanes. Once we pull all that soggy carpet from our dens and bedrooms, we're going to need a little "Linoleum" in our lives. JESSE SENDEJAS JR.

Comedy? Too soon? Maybe, but the barrage of horrific scenes of despair we're encountering day after day needs some sort of counterbalance. It may be too soon to laugh at the situation, but not to share a laugh during it. The proprietors of Houston's own Secret Group have far-reaching access to some of the best contemporary comics working. With them in charge, we might get an irreverent break from Harvey by way of TJ Miller, or a chance to revel in silliness courtesy of Ron Funchess, or maybe we'd just smoke a bowl with Doug Benson to make things feel better. Whomever they bring, it'll be a high-quality act akin to those they've accumulated for their annual Come and Take It Comedy Take Over festival. As soon as it could, The Secret Group opened its doors and served as a station for gathering shelter donations for Houstonians in need all around them. So many people responded that they had to turn away volunteers and donations. In a few short years, their dedication to all things Houston has made them beloved and they'd deserve a place in these make-believe benefit events. Until one actually manifests, they're taking matters into their own hands with a Saturday benefit show, with all proceeds going to families affected by the storm. JESSE SENDEJAS JR.

If there’s a musician that better personifies Texas than George Strait, good luck finding that person. Strait, in fact, is already organizing a benefit for Harvey relief, and there’s no doubt he will pull in scads of country royalty to help out. One of Strait’s live records was recorded in the Astrodome, and his affinity for Houston is well-documented. Of course, it goes both ways; Houston loves itself some George Strait just as much as George Strait loves himself some Houston. So let’s fill up NRG Stadium and make this thing happen. CLINT HALE

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