January: Houston's Month of Tribute Bands

I spend a lot of time working out my concert calendar. Even if I don't make it out to all the shows I want to go to, I still like to know when all my favorite bands are going to be in town. So besides the Houston Press' own concert calendar, I spend a lot of time on the great Web site Space City Rock, both of which feature a constantly updated schedule of all the shows going on around Houston.

Thanks to their tireless work, I also happened to notice recently that, wow, there are a lot of tribute bands coming through town this month. I don't exactly know why, but hey, I can't begrudge the phenomena. I mean, it allows people to see Guns N' Roses performed by someone who isn't an asshole, as GN'R impersonators Appetite for Destruction did this past weekend at House of Blues alongside sham-glam rockers Poison'd and Red, White & Crue. And if the '90s are more your speed, the Nirvana Experience and Evil Empire -- whose lead singer even rants just like Rage Against the Machine's Zack de la Rocha -- were right next door at HOB's Bronze Peacock Room.

So in light of that, here is your guide to the world of upcoming tribute-band performances here in Houston, including evaluations of the tributes and whether or not they're worth checking out.

Southern Backtones' "Bowielvis" night, Fitzgerald's, January 12 Southern Backtones are a rock band from here in Houston that happens to do the tribute thing every once in a while too. Most of the bands on this list are cover bands, but the Backtones are a real recording band with several albums to their credit (most recently 2012's La Vie en Noir) who happen to be very indebted to the music of their influences. Therefore, they choose to pay homage so to speak by performing sets of music by their elders, specifically David Bowie and Elvis Presley. Sound like a weird combination? Well, Southern Backtones are a bit of an odd band, plus Bowie and Presley happen to share the same birthday of January 8.

That being said, this one should be awesome for fans of the band themselves, for fans of Bowie, and for fans of Elvis. Plus, it's a dress-up affair, so impersonators are welcome and appreciated. Not to mention free peanut butter and banana hors d'oeuvres. With all that, this might be the most fun night for your buck when it comes to these cover concerts.

Elvis Lives at Jones Hall, January 17 and 18 Given the venue, this should be a pretty classy affair. I don't know if this stacks up with a Vegas Elvis tribute, but here in Houston this is the best you're going to get to satisfy your craving to see the King live.

He sounds close to the real thing, and he certainly looks the part. I'd say this is a winner if you're an Elvis diehard.

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Toology and Evil Empire at Scout Bar, January 18 If you don't happen to be an Elvis fan, though, or even if you can get your fill with just the first night of Elvis Lives, then consider Toology, a pretty decent Tool cover band, at Scout Bar. Evil Empire is even back to open for them.

If you haven't been able to catch the real thing in concert lately -- Tool last came through Houston in June 2010 -- it might be the next best thing. This Houston-based cover band has been playing since 2005 and seems to have done well for themselves on the market, so I'm going to put a check in the "win" column for them and recommend this show.

Badfish at House of Blues, January 25 The best-known Sublime cover band outside of Sublime with Rome hits Houston again on January 25th and if you're a big Sublime fan it's definitely worth checking them out. Even though I'm not a Sublime fan, I have to admit these guys really capture the band's sound and style.

Check out the "Santeria" cover above for proof. It's really stunningly dead on and actually seems to inject some new life into the overplayed track.


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