Coming Soon to Houston: Tons of 2012 Critical Favorites

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"No good bands ever come to Houston, I swear."

Welp, you're wrong buddy.

In the next few weeks and months, plenty of critical darlings are coming to Houston venues, and it's not even festival season. They are coming because they are actually on tours and not taking pity on us.

OK, Houston crowds, job one for you now all is to not throw ice or beer cans at the stage during their sets. Unless they say that Dallas and Austin had better crowds and that our tacos suck. Then, do what you have to do.

Down, Warbeast, Honky January 11, Warehouse Live Long-running sludge daddies Down are still riding high from last year's six-song EP, Down IV Part I - The Purple EP, and rightfully so. The effort was one of 2012's best releases, making it onto plenty of year-end lists and satisfying Down fans' hunger for new material.

Youngblood Hawke, Keane January 16, House of Blues If you have satellite radio, you no doubt heard your fill of this L.A. power-pop act. They are opening for UK soft-rockers Keane week after next, and haven't even yet released a proper full-length. Think if Arcade Fire and Win Butler really got into M83.

Ed Sheeran January 17, Bayou Music Center Guesting on a Taylor Swift album is pretty much like winning the lottery for a burgeoning songwriter in this day and age, and playing the Olympics closing ceremony in front of millions can't hurt your record sales. He plays the BMC in a few days, a date which was originally planned for the HOB, but had to get moved to the bigger BMC due to demand. The Taylor Effect, you see. Wouldn't you know it, Sheeran also opens for Ms. "Never, Ever" May 16 at Toyota Center.

Gojira, Devin Townsend, The Atlas Moth February 2, Warehouse Live French heavy-metal act Gojira's album L'Enfant Sauvage was one of the best-received metal discs of the last year, and their Warehouse Live show should be packed, if Houston metal-heads know what's up. Plus, Devin Townsend is an opener.

The xx, Austra February 9, House of Blues The xx's sophomore album Coexist was one of the biggest of 2012, managing to reel in indie kids, bros, and even a few true-blue goths. No wonder this show is nearly sold out at House of Blues, and I wouldn't be surprised if it gets moved to the Bayou Music Center to alleviate the strain.

Imagine Dragons February 12, House of Blues Seen the name all over, and the haircuts look familiar. This Las Vegas rock act has a sound in the same vein as Passion Pit and AWOLNATION, if that makes sense. They were also nominated for "Best Rock Video" at this year's MTV Video Music Awards, which means the "kids" like 'em.

Fun. February 13, Bayou Music Center No sense ignoring that Some Nights was one of the biggest rock albums of 2012, and that it carried with it three hit singles. I think they played eight shows at SXSW alone. Expect them to be a big festival band this year too following this winter tour. I still thinks it's great to see yet another Fueled By Ramen band on SNL. The indie label has come along way from The Hippos and The Impossibles.

Tame Impala February 25, Fitzgerald's I first saw Tame Impala opening for MGMT back in June 2010, and their opening slot was one of bright spots of an evening that saw the headliners boring me to death. Flash-forward almost three years and MGMT is now a quaint memory for Urban Outfitters kids and Tame Impala's Lonerism is a critical favorite, and rightfully so.

Alt-J March 10, Fitzgerald's Alt-J won the 2012 British Mercury Prize for An Awesome Wave, which is like, a big fucking deal and I'm not even being facetious. Past winners include PJ Harvey, Pulp, Primal Scream, Arctic Monkeys and Gomez, so they are in great company.

Deftones March 30, Bayou Music Center Koi No Yokan arrived at the end of 2012 to the delight of Def-heads and metal critics alike. Following up 2010's excellent Diamond Eyes, here is hoping this artistic tear for the Deftones continues. Keep it up and no one will remember anything from before White Pony, which I have heard fans call the band's OK Computer.

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