Bayou City

Shows of the Week: Emo Unicorns Finally Link Up On Tour

Max Bemis and Say Anything at House of Blues-San Diego in 2014
Max Bemis and Say Anything at House of Blues-San Diego in 2014 Photo by Laura Luz Photography/Flickr Commons
click to enlarge Max Bemis and Say Anything at House of Blues-San Diego in 2014 - PHOTO BY LAURA LUZ PHOTOGRAPHY/FLICKR COMMONS
Max Bemis and Say Anything at House of Blues-San Diego in 2014
White Oak Music Hall , April 17
Longtime emo/pop-punk staples Bayside and Say Anything kick off their co-headlining North American tour with a visit to the Bayou City. Bayside’s earnestness will be counterbalanced by Say Anything’s sarcastic slant, which should make for quite the emotive and entertaining show. Though Bayside’s Anthony Raneri is more direct with his feelings, Say Anything’s front man is hardly shallow. Max Bemis self-medicated for years before being diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and his struggles are laid bare in his music. His whimsical tone may indicate otherwise, but Say Anything’s lyrics encompass a variety of serious topics, including drug abuse, mental health and religion. Formed in 2000 on separate sides of the country, Bayside and Say Anything’s fan bases have overlapped for years, but this tour will be the first time the two acts have toured together. As a teaser, the bands released covers of each other’s songs — Bayside reinterpreted Say Anything’s “Night’s Song,” and Say Anything recorded a cover of “They’re Not Horses, They’re Unicorns.” MATTHEW KEEVER

Warehouse Live, April 20
One of rap’s more relatable weed smokers, Curren$y lives an enviable type of rap life. It’s not extremely flashy, nor is it so far out of reach that you’ll kick yourself and strive for something else. No, his rap life equates to craving a certain kind of food in the middle of the night, or hastily rolling blunts to get ready for the next function. Curren$y’s aesthetic is effortlessly smooth. And, as an Aries, he knows a little bit about sentimental value. Unlike many other rappers, all he has to be is consistent in his releases. His 2009 mixtape, Smokee Robinson, remains one of his best, but the sheer volume of his work makes that distinction arguable. For a full calendar year in 2016, Spitta dropped a mixtape on the 30th of every month, even in February. BRANDON CALDWELL

The Heights Theater, April 21
At a time when far too much attention on U.S.-Mexico relations is focused on our president’s border-wall fantasy, we should spare a moment or two to recognize the opposite of such close-minded thinking — which happens to be personified in Los Lobos. Consider that Just Another Band From East L.A., the 1993 Warner Bros. anthology released to mark the group’s 20th anniversary, now condenses less than half their career. Even their improbable barnstorming of the U.S. pop charts with the La Bamba soundtrack is now three decades ago, and yet the musical brotherhood of Cesar Rosas, David Hidalgo, Louis Perez, Conrad Lozano and Steve Berlin sounds more relevant than ever. Their latest studio release, 2015’s Gates of Gold, is a fine example of how the same interlocking strains of roots-rock Los Lobos displayed on classic albums like Will the Wolf Survive? or By the Light of the Moon have only grown deeper and tighter with age and experience. With Making Movies.

White Oak Music Hall, April 21
Sallie Ford's latest album, Soul Sick, is a mid-century modern delight; its songs blend together bubbly doo-wop riffs with Ford's signature twists of irony. "Screw Up," the clap-happy exploration of personal failures, strikes listeners with an opening homage to the Ronettes, while "Middle Child" tackles the singer's sense of displacement with floor-stomping fun. The album is not without its wistful moments: "Failure" will tug at the heartstrings of anyone who has ever spent his or her early adolescence holed up in a bedroom crying and watching Criterion films (just me?). It's a gentle, mournful tune about the teenage alienation that some of us never quite escape. But Ford's voice is the real treat of the album. It's guttural, yet pretty. It's wry and expressive. Friday’s show with Molly Burch is the antidote for listeners weary of hyped-up musicians who can't deliver onstage. With Molly Burch. KATIE SULLIVAN

Walters Downtown, April 21
Metal fans can expect a slowdown of touring acts as we draw near to the summer months and bands make an exodus for Europe. Sadly, that dry spell has already hit Houston as of this month. While there are quality tours out there, they’re either skipping Houston (surprise!) or Texas altogether. So we all owe a huge debt of gratitude to the booking gods at Walter’s for keeping solid metal bands in the Bayou City. Here, headliners Chelsea Grin are taking their own brand of deathcore on the road behind last July's Self-Inflicted; a deluxe version was reissued in January featuring the new songs “American Dream” and “Avidus.” Prepare for serious sound carnage as this tour, also featuring Ice-Nine Kills, Gideon and Enterprise Earth, tears through town. KRISTY LOYE

Rice University Central Quad (6100 Main), April 22
Houston’s KTRU is celebrating an incredible anniversary this year: 50 years as one of the city’s most reliable nonconformist media outlets, and a crucial FM advocate for noncommercial music of all stripes. For now, Rice Radio’s footing on low-power frequency 96.1 FM seems secure, just one of the many reasons to toast the station at its 26th annual spring outdoor gathering on the campus’s Central Quad. Headlining are a pair of artists from the Windy City, poetic R&B singer-songwriter Jamila Woods and frequent Chance the Rapper collaborator Saba, over an impressive roster of local and regional talent that hews true to KTRU’s eclectic and artist-first mission: the ethereal electronica of Austin’s Bayonne (aka ex-Houstonian Roger Sellers); gonzo local jazz outfit Free Radicals, who’ll celebrate their 20th anniversary later this month; charming indie-pop quartet Rose Ette; the Eastern-tinged spiritualism of Florida’s the Mayapuris; and KTRU’s 2017 Battle of the Bands winner, the enigmatically named Steve Cox’s Beard. All this, plus food trucks, art installations and a beer garden, should offer at least a tiny hint as to why Houston is so lucky to have KTRU, so come out and say thanks — the festival is no-cover/all ages, too. Gates open at 2 p.m.

White Oak Music Hall, April 22
Formerly a quintet, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah became a solo project following the release of their fourth studio album, 2014's Only Run. Vocalist Alec Ounsworth was left the sole remaining member of the Philadelphia-born indie outfit, whose eponymous debut created so much buzz in 2005. Propelled by glowing reviews and a feature on NBC's The Office, CYHSY's self-released album was a breakthrough success. The band released three more albums before disbanding, but Ounsworth retained the CYHSY name and continued writing music. In February, he released fifth album The Tourist, which exhibits plenty of familiar sounds while managing to sound unique. Written during a period of turmoil for the singer-songwriter, it possesses a a moodier atmosphere than much of the band's earlier work. The electronic- and synth-infused indie rock is unmistakably CYHSY, but The Tourist sees its author delving into darker territory than before. Ounsworth's music is true to the band's sound, but the dance-friendly vibe has been abandoned for depth. With Laura Gibson. MATTHEW KEEVER
KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
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