Bayou City

Shows of the Week: Metal's Masters of Historical Fantasy Take Flight Again

Iron Maiden at London's O2 Arena last month
Iron Maiden at London's O2 Arena last month Ralph_PH via Flickr Commons
Toyota Center, June 21
Definitely the most dashing debutantes of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, Iron Maiden also have a claim to the most famous logo, the giant undead Eddie, courtesy of artist Derek Riggs. Like Eddie, Maiden has a time-worn, instantly recognizable identity. Now as then, they offer the promise of total escape through their fast tempos, killer riffs, dueling lead guitars, and the historical-fantasy fascinations, operatic vocals and onstage high jinks of their longest-lasting singer, the charismatic Bruce Dickinson, who is also a fencing master and a trained commercial pilot. TEX KERSCHEN

Walter's Downtown, June 21
MNDSGN’s synthesizers in satin jackets and drum machines in short-shorts recall the roller-rink funk of the 1970s. But beyond the blurry first impressions, there’s a DIY glow apparent through the loosely stitched seams, a purposefully low-rent, cottage-industry aura that links these productions to our time. Which is just as well; it’s seldom good manners to get caught checking the settings on the time machine. TEX KERSCHEN

Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, June 22
Trap-rap superstars Migos are currently experiencing an uplift after Donald Glover shouted them out during his Golden Globe acceptance speech earlier this year. In reality, the trio has been locked in for at least the past five years, giving us lyrically poetic standards such as “Versace," "Fight Night," "Hannah Montana," "Pipe It Up" and "Look at My Dab.” Each track pumps up the club into a frenzy, and makes rush-hour traffic just a bit more bearable. They have also reached No. 1 on the Billboard charts with both their platinum album C U L T U R E and the track “Bad and Boujee.” Their latest single, “Slippery,” features fellow ATL heavy hitter Gucci Mane, who recently joined Migos at Scoremore's JMBLYA music festivals in Dallas and Austin. As masters of the ad-lib, Quavo, Takeoff and Offset will definitely have you humming random words and dabbing until your arms fall off. Raindrops…drop top! Whoo, whoo, whoo, whoo! With Future, Tory Lanez and A$AP Ferg. MARCO TORRES

Smart Financial Centre, June 22
They may be sparse, but whatever recent John Mellencamp interviews do exist are well worth looking up anyway, because the lifelong Hoosier is guaranteed to shoot 100 percent from the hip. Mellencamp’s disdain toward the kind of narcissistic attitudes and materialistic values he witnessed up close as one of America’s biggest rock stars of the ’80s and ’90s comes through loud and clear in his latter-day music as well; even Bruce Springsteen’s post-superstardom transformation into a Guthrie-esque singing poet isn’t this radical. This year Mellencamp enlisted country-music royalty and present touring companion Carlene Carter — sounding especially like her late mother, June Carter Cash, too — for Sad Clowns & Hillbillies, an album heavy with fiddles, mandolins and talk of hauntings, trailers, angels and indigo sunsets. It’s Americana of the highest order; however great songs like “Pink Houses” and “Small Town” remain, it’s also no stretch to say that Mellencamp may be making the best music of his career. With Lily & Madeline.

McGonigel’s Mucky Duck, June 22
An active shadow player in Austin’s music scene since the early 2000s, Laura Scarborough busies herself as a member of groups like Golden Dawn Arkestra while nurturing a solo aesthetic that melds wandering jazz, ambient electronica and the confiding tone of pop sirens like Tori Amos or Kate Bush. However, Scarborough is in such high demand that she’s only just now put out her first solo release in more than 15 years, the 100-percent crowdfunded Reflection. Subtitled A Path to Love, the album explores themes like discovery, relationships and escape through nine songs’ worth of classical flourishes, hushed vocals and an overall moonlit, intimate vibe. Scarborough’s talents extend beyond the keyboard, too — still-available sponsor incentives for Reflection (available through her website) include hand-drawn covers; the companion book Finding the Path to Love Through Reflection, Music, and Creative Living; and an hour-long private lesson, even on Skype if need be.

The Secret Group, June 23
Were this bill exactly 120 minutes long, you would see that this lineup is a godsend to fans of the ideas and vibes once embodied by bands like the Cure and New Order. This a show for people who have feelings but who don’t necessarily trumpet them to all and sundry. This is a shebang for people who are aware of the anatomy of melancholy, but also inured to it enough to still want to dance. Furthermore, this is a party for people who are a little sensitive to natural light, but not so much that they would require colored contact lenses. With DRAA and Body of Light. TEX KERSCHEN

Cactus Music, June 23 (6 p.m.); Walter's Downtown, June 25
Ronald Reagan’s America had few more entertaining, or effective, social critics than Gary Floyd, conservative scourge and a key figure in Texas’s punk scene. As leader of the Dicks, Floyd was one of the era’s most confrontational front men, both in his songs and onstage, infusing songs like “Dicks Hate the Police” and “Saturday Night at the Bookstore” with the same kind of bitter energy and subversive glee as “Anti-Klan” and “No Nazi’s Friend” were rabidly anti-fascist. Floyd has long since relocated to the more hospitable climate of San Francisco, but maintains plenty of ties to his homeland; his latest memoir, the poster/flyer/photos/lyrics collage I Said That, was edited by musician, professor and sometime Houston Press music writer David Ensminger. Just in time for Pride Weekend, Floyd will be in Houston to sign copies of I Said That with Ensminger Friday at Cactus Music, where Ensminger will also spin some wax in the Record Ranch. Floyd will also appear at Sunday’s benefit for Houston LGBTQ resource center the HATCH, where he and members of Ensminger's Biscuit Bombs will perform songs from his ‘90s band Sister Double Happiness — and maybe a Dicks tune or two, who knows? — alongside all-star local alt-rockers like Supergrave, Doomstress, Texas Mod Crushers, No Love Less, Screech of Death and more.
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Chris Gray has been Music Editor for the Houston Press since 2008. He is the proud father of a Beatles-loving toddler named Oliver.
Contact: Chris Gray