Bayou City

Shows of the Week: Journey's Wheel In the Sky Turns Into Sugar Land

Photo by Travis Shinn/Courtesy of Live Nation
Smart Financial Centre, July 12
Journey is among the more interesting cases in the history of rock music. They’ve maintained a steady touring presence for the better part of their career, despite the fact that enigmatic front man Steve Perry – one of the more, um, interesting figures you’ll find in the annals of pop music – left the band nearly 20 years ago. In his place, the band now employs Arnel Pineda in his stead. Pineda, who first found fame in his native The Philippines, has fronted Journey for the past decade, touring and releasing a couple of albums during that time. Can he wail like Steve Perry? No, but then again, few can. That said, Pineda and Journey have been a band long enough now that those in attendance should be in for quite an experience. Plus, Smart Financial Centre is a welcome addition on the Houston-area concert scene. With Asia. CLINT HALE

Smart Financial Centre, July 14
Because most traditional film composers don't regularly tour, it's rare that you get the chance to bask in the magnificent melodies they've created in real life, unless you have a very cool symphony in your city. Hans Zimmer is changing the game, however, hitting the road for a worldwide tour that brings some of the most iconic movie music to life. Zimmer has been a composing powerhouse for decades, being the man behind the scores for Rain Man, Driving Miss Daisy, Days of Thunder, A League of Their Own and The Lion King, and that only takes us up to 1994. There's also the music that elevates Gladiator to a Best Picture and (with James Newton Howard) The Dark Knight to the best Batman movie of them all. Seeing him live means getting to experience some of his greatest moments, including that dramatic foghorn from Inception. You may not know Zimmer's face, but odds are very, very good you know his sounds. CORY GARCIA

Fitzgerald’s, July 14
Fitzgerald’s is billing this show starring two of Texas’ foremost cowpunk pranksters as “[the] most fun you’ll have with your clothes on”; we know it’s hot, but please, God, do. The Hickoids are freshly returned from a tour which fans can only hope results in future songs; besides squiring Lubbock-based brothers in arms the Beaumonts to their first Nashville gig in 30 years (where they also hoped to teach wannabe outlaw Wheeler Walker Jr. a “lesson”), the San Antonio veterans ventured forth on their first-ever trip to Alaska. The Nashville stop actually had a little more poignant purpose than the Hickoids’ usual profane shenanigans: delivering a few of late guitarist Davy Jones’ possessions to the Country Music Hall of Fame. Their 2016 EP The Out of Towners also stands as a fine memorial to the band’s fallen comrade via the dissolute glory of songs like “Dead In a Motel Room,” plus Roky Erickson and Doug Sahm covers. As for Houston’s own Bastards, a fully-clothed set is never a guarantee, so be prepared to duck. With HighMass.

Toyota Center, July 15
Kendrick Lamar’s Compton-to-Coachella transition from underground sensation and critical darling to full-blown superstar has been a joy to watch. He’s restored a measure of credibility to the foundering idea that an outspoken, principled artist can still reach a mass audience, and even a little hope that the global music business signing his checks may not be totally spiritually bankrupt after all. (Maybe.) It’s nearly impossible to imagine a scenario where you couldn’t root for him — delivered at a dizzying pace, his lyrics seethe with righteous anger, Biblical humility, and inner strength; the underlying music. meanwhile, is catchier, more adventurous and harder-hitting than his would-be peers. Before he reaps the inevitable armful of awards for his his latest release, April’s DAMN., Lamar is on a summerlong tour of the provinces; with Missouri City breakout Travis Scott along as main support act, Saturday’s Toyota Center stop should have the air of a coronation. With D.R.A.M.

McGonigel’s Mucky Duck, July 15
Since his late-‘90s breakthrough No Angel Knows, Slaid Cleaves has established himself as one of Texas’ most dependable, erudite and unassuming singer-songwriters, someone who once slyly titled an album Unsung. (That one, from 2006, was a rarity in that it was all other people’s songs, often friends of his.) Cleaves has now lived in Central Texas for a solid 25 years, and yet — to his considerable benefit — his music has never conformed to the stereotypical Lone Star sound, no doubt a product of his upbringing back East in Maine. His songs tend to be clean, melodic, wistful but not without hope, crowded with simple pleasures and familiar losses — the work of a keen-eyed artist who can recognize the poetic in the most mundane of situations, whether he’s being autobiographical or just telling a story. On his latest, Ghost On the Car Radio, Cleaves lays out a dozen more such yarns, among them the brilliant “Drunken Barbers Hand,” instructive “Take Home Pay,” tavern tribute “The Old Guard” and fatalistic “Junkyard.” (Note: the 7 p.m. seating is standing-room only.)
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