FLORIDA GEORGIA LINE
NRG Stadium, March 20
With 2012’s world-conquering, hip-hop-enabled “Cruise,” Florida Georgia Line realized their wildest dreams — and painted a giant target on their backs. Ever since, the duo has been trying to keep the party going while urging fans to take them more seriously, the impetus for last year’s third LP, Dig Your Roots.
NRG Stadium, March 21
Fast approaching a half-century of soundtracking Texans’ good times, ZZ Top keeps chugging along like one of their iconic riffs. Last seen thrilling a jubilant Super Bowl LIVE crowd, the trio stands as proof that few problems in this world can resist their stiff dose of beards and boogie.
NRG Stadium, March 22
Every decade has a singer or two whose nondescript image conceals a voice whose songs are playing every other time the radio is on. Once it was Don Williams; nowadays it’s Chris Young, the 31-year-old Tennesseean behind hits like “I’m Comin’ Over,” “Voices” and “You.”
House of Blues, March 22
One year removed from their first release in five years, The Hand of John L. Sullivan, Flogging Molly will return to Houston with British folk outfit Skinny Lister. The last time I witnessed their live antics was two years ago, when the band tossed Guinness dry stouts into a sweaty FPSF crowd. For nearly an hour, Dave King and his merry band of Irish-rock gents kept fans' heart rates as high as their spirits despite the unforgiving heat emanating from the pavement of NRG Park. It was a sweaty mess of fast-paced tunes, aggressive drinking and Celtic appreciation. If you'd care to experience something similar with central air-conditioning in the mix, this HOB show won't be one to miss. With Skinny Lister. MATTHEW KEEVER
Smart Financial Centre, March 22
Duran Duran adding another U.S. leg to their tour behind 2015’s Paper Gods isn’t that surprising, considering it’s their first album to reach the U.S. Top 10 since 1993, and its principal themes — pop music’s eternal tension between substance and style, as reflected in relationships and society — are just as relevant now as in their Rio days. Younger guests like Kiezsa and Janelle Monáe, who were born into the hybrid world Duran Duran helped to create, and big names on the production team (Mr. Hudson, Mark Ronson, Nile Rodgers) all help clear room for the group’s classic sound within a contemporary space; the pillars of their catalog now dominating “classic hits” stations like Houston’s 95.7 The Spot should take care of the rest. To borrow a title from Paper Gods, Duran Duran still have a face for today, and probably for the next 25 years, too.
NRG Stadium, March 23
Fall Out Boy’s successful 2016 appearance confirmed mall-punk’s viability with 21st-century rodeo audiences, so here come the virtual founders of the genre. Blink themselves are on the upswing, recharged by the 2015 installation of ex-Alkaline Trio front man Matt Skiba and last year’s comeback album, California, whose songs include “Cynical” and “Sober.”
MARK C. AUSTIN'S 40th BIRTHDAY
Heights Theater, March 23
If you’re reading this, you probably already know Mark C. Austin’s influence on Houston’s currently thriving music scene. He left a staid career in accounting to begin The Convoy Group, his artist-management, booking and promotions company that represents some of Houston’s best-known acts. The success he’s had (read: the tireless work he’s put in) has made him the go-to person for anyone interested in bringing music or music business to Houston. Although he’s just one man (with a beard fit for two), he’s incredibly generous with his time, offering his experience and judgment to others interested in pushing local music to its full potential. This birthday is Austin’s 40th, a milestone worthy of a celebratory bash in anyone’s life. Because he has some notoriety and opportunity, he’s sharing the moment with Donate Life Texas, the state’s only official organ and tissue-donor registry.
Austin recently shared with followers his personal reasons for choosing the organization as a beneficiary. His mother died from complications related to kidney failure and was on the wait list for a donor match that never came. Ticket sales and a silent auction will raise funds for and awareness of DLT’s mission. As his name is synonymous with music, no night honoring Austin would be complete without it. The event will feature performances by The Tontons, Say Girl Say, -Us., Kay Weathers and Romina von Mohr. No word on which of them will get to serenade Austin with “The Birthday Song” (our money’s on the Tontons’ Asli Omar), but it should be one hell of a group singalong. JESSE SENDEJAS JR.
DAYS N DAZE
White Oak Music Hall, March 23
Arguably one of Houston's most underappreciated bands, Days N Daze will play to a hometown crowd before departing on tour in support of their seventh studio album. These DIY anarcho-punk-folk rockers employ a lo-fi sound that transforms crowds into riotous mosh pits, the kind in which fans' arms are draped over one another's shoulders as they cheerfully jump into each other. DND’s music makes it practically impossible for listeners to stand still, not that they’d want to anyway. Slower ballads like “Blue Jays” exhibit the softer side of vocalist Whitney Flynn’s voice while giving listeners time to catch their breath, before “Misanthropic Drunken Loner” gets them jumping and laughing at comparisons between unsociability and masturbation. Crustfall – the band's first full-length release since 2013's Rogue Taxidermy – should possess the same relentless tone, aggressive instrumentation and provocative lyrics as its previous counterparts. Their live shows are especially remarkable, and they will likely go all out for a Houston crowd. With So Unloved, FUSKA, the Ballistics and The Real McCoys. MATTHEW KEEVER
NRG Stadium, March 24
Arizona-raised Bentley has a real knack for crystallizing common country themes into idiosyncratic material, be that “Every Mile a Memory” or “Drunk On a Plane.” As such, he’s become a rodeo standby, recently returning to the upper reaches of the charts with Elle King duet “It’s Different For Girls.”
House of Blues, March 24
One of the most exciting performers to break through in country music in a while, Maren Morris blends a youthful spirit with an ear for the classics. That combination would be hard to resist in any era, but in modern-day Nashville, which remains tradition-conscious almost in spite of itself, she’s been manna from heaven. Raised on Sheryl Crow, Bonnie Raitt and the Backstreet Boys, the 26-year-old Morris was playing Metroplex honky-tonks around her native Arlington by age 11. In 2015, she cut a five-song EP featuring “My Church,” whose gospel-tapping chorus shot straight through the rafters on the charts and sent Morris home with a Grammy for Country Solo Performance last month. Hero, her debut LP, released last summer on Sony, is further sealing the Texan’s claim to stardom with additional hits “’80s Mercedes” and the still-rising “Once.” With Devin Dawson.
Rudyard’s, March 24
Golden Sombrero revives the golden days of slacker-rock, bringing the unruly guitars and heavy-lidded melodies of Superchunk, Built to Spill and Dinosaur Jr. to local stages. The quartet’s roots stretch back to College Station, where core members Todd Hansen and Grant Nunneley started the group while students at Texas A&M. They moved to Houston the next year and locked in Golden Sombrero’s current lineup — original bassist Cody Franklin rejoining on lead guitar — a few months before releasing debut Replacement Level in the summer of 2015. Friday’s show is the release party for sophomore LP Defensive Indifference, an easygoing and ingratiating album buoyed by the comfortable grooves and bold hooks of tracks like “Wasting You Again” and “Made in the Shade.” With Brand New Hearts and Astragal.
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NRG Stadium, March 25
Like Vince Gill before him, Brad Paisley will collaborate with anyone and out-pick nearly everyone, qualities that make him indispensable to the Music City establishment and RodeoHouston alike. Mick Jagger, John Fogerty and Timbaland number among the guests on his forthcoming 11th studio album, Love and War.
ZAC BROWN BAND
NRG Stadium, March 26
A country-music jam band with the Jimmy Buffett jones to match, this hyper-eclectic Atlanta group has jumped to the stadium circuit even as it continues confounding radio programmers. Forthcoming sixth studio LP Welcome Home suggests an embrace of the group’s chicken-fried roots, but don’t be too sure.