Note: this article has been amended to reflect the fact that Death Grips is no longer with us.
Antemasque Fitzgerald's, August 4
After putting on some of the most exciting live shows of the last decade with their bands At the Drive-In and The Mars Volta, El Paso natives Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and Cedric Bixler-Zavala are back with their latest band, Antemasque. Texas has the distinct pleasure of hosting their first round of shows with their new band, rounded out by former Volta and Killer Be Killed drummer Dave Elitch, which should be just as rocking as every other show the pair has hosted in Houston. COREY DEITERMAN
The Both Fitzgerald's, August 13
Ted Leo and Aimee Mann's collaborative project The Both didn't quite live up to expectations, but the two are exceptionally talented musicians with rich back catalogs. Their live performance should include a good roundup of all their greatest songs, along with the brighter moments of their recent record together. It's pretty much a can't-lose opportunity to see these two veterans firing on all cylinders. COREY DEITERMAN
Crosby, Stills, and Nash Bayou Music Center, August 25
A song for every moment, for every feeling: Crosby, Stills, and Nash are an American jewel. With insurmountable natural talent, harmonies that could melt stone, and true lyrical content that connects to the soul, this band transcends space and time. Their live shows have proven the same. With a songbook of singable classics and a history of interpersonal drama, CSN's stage show should be full of heart and amazing music. SELENA DIERINGER
Cro-Mags Walters, July 10
Appearances by legendary New York street survivors the Cro-Mags are rare, indeed, in this part of the world, so if you've got any interest in catching the absolute cream of the Crossover Era crop, this is your chance.
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The Mags' punishing mix of metallic riffage and hardcore, tough-guy sing-alongs are expressly designed to incite violent mayhem, so watch out for tattooed types with something to prove on the dance floor. Even if you do go home with a bloody nose, though, at least you'll have a cool story about the time you got your ass kicked by a vegan. NATHAN SMITH
Counting Crows, Toad the Wet Sprocket Bayou Music Center, July 29
Twenty years ago, Counting Crows recorded one of the best sad sack albums ever, August and Everything After. The record's 11 tracks were like auditory barbiturates, changing bright moods to sullen mopiness in just under an hour. And, damn it, we loved them for that.
"Mr. Jones," was an MTV staple and made us all wonder if Adam Duritz was really trying to sound like Van Morrison or just naturally did. It remains one of the best examples of a song that sounds buoyant but is crafted from self-pity and tears. Beautiful human stuff. The band had some subsequent hits like "A Long December" and "Big Yellow Taxi," but I'll be at the show for August... and to be reminded of what my late twenties and all their self-doubt sounded like. JESSE SENDEJAS JR.
Houston Summer Jam NRG Arena, August 2
After five long years, the "Free Boosie" campaign has finally paid off. The Baton Rouge rapper, fresh out the joint, returns to Houston at last this summer to headline what should be a pretty big damn show at the former Reliant Arena. As always, there's no guarantee how long somebody with Lil' Boosie's troubled history with the law will stay out of trouble, so catch him while you can. And for God's sake, try to drop the thug pose long enough to smile and have a good time for a minute or two. NATHAN SMITH
More shows on the next page.
Houston Symphony Tribute to Led Zeppelin Jones Hall, July 26
I'm not quite ready for an AARP card, but if I had one I'd try to use it for discount admission to this show, which obviously has an aging target audience in mind. Call me a geezer, but I'll be there, throwing my arthritic devil horns up all night long. Besides the obvious - "Kashmir," which actually features strings and brass; "Stairway to Heaven," which has the slow-build-to-frenzy structure inherent in the best classical compositions - I'm excited to hear arrangements of less obvious choices. Zebra's Randy Jackson, whose voice is a musical mirror reflecting back on Robert Plant's earlier days, will handle vocals. JESSE SENDEJAS JR.
Nine Inch Nails, Soundgarden,
Death Grips Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, August 16
If this tour was taking place in 1994, it would probably be a lot more exciting. That being said, NIN and Soundgarden have shown us in recent years that they can still pull off their most stunning works with exceptional precision. Relive the classic rock of your youth with this one
, and experience the performance art of Death Grips as an opening bonus. COREY DEITERMAN
Queen + Adam Lambert Toyota Center, July 9
Look. It pains me to say it as much as you to read it: Freddie Mercury is dead. And terrible but true, he's never coming back. So in turn, unless you're in a lucky small percentage of Houston or have invented an effective time machine, you'll never see the original Queen live. Ever. But as irreplaceable as Freddie Mercury is, there is hope in Adam Lambert.
I can't definitively say that he's the second coming of Mercury, nor would I try. But Lambert is insanely talented, able to carry any tune wherever it should go and vocally experiment where it shouldn't. Like Mercury, he is a great performer who isn't afraid to let it all out. He will never impersonate Mercury. He will be Adam, loving Freddie while kicking his own kind of ass, and he shall prevail. SELENA DIERINGER
Total Abuse Mango's, August 1
Austin's Total Abuse has been battering audiences with its uniquely disturbed version of ugly, noisy hardcore since 2006, and if you haven't caught them live yet, you're missing out on some bloody raw and truly depraved punk. Even better, this show is set to feature an all-too-rare appearance from the even-sicker Houston noise legends Rusted Shut. Don't expect a lot of moshing during their set; just shattered ears and personal degradation. If you've got an extra Zoloft, be a dear and bring it with you. NATHAN SMITH
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