ANDERSON .PAAK & THE FREE NATIONALS House of Blues, June 22
The adjectives used to describe Anderson .Paak’s stage show border on the type of hyperbole reserved for acclaimed films. “Superb” meets “enchanting” meets “memorable”, that sort of thing. For .Paak, it’s something that’s been a long time coming, a L.A.-based artist who through his own mix of soul and hip-hop not only stole the show on Dr. Dre’s Compton album, but currently possesses of the year’s best album in his own right. At .Paak's Houston debut, he may wiggle around delivering a pitter-patter flow on records like “Come Down” or launch into a spastic tinge of soul with “The Waters," both standout tracks from January's Malibu. It’s a style that even the best have truly found difficult to describe. We just know it’s accessible, it’s sweeping and ultimately, it builds upon grooves and influences from James Brown to Prince and even Kendrick Lamar. It’s free-range expression from a man still coming into his own. With Little Simz & Pomo. BRANDON CALDWELL
LAKE STREET DIVE House of Blues, June 23
As headliners of the Suffers' first post-Letterman full-length tour, Lake Street Dive is already a footnote in Houston music history. They deserve to be remembered for more than that, though. Founded in Boston in 2004 by jazz students at the New England Conservatory of Music, the four-piece has crafted an infectious pop-soul sound that winks at Motown and the Beatles but always puts singer Rachael Price’s vocals front and center — she may not be Kam Franklin, but she’s close enough. After a head-turning appearance at a New York concert featuring the music of the Coen Brothers’ 2013 film Inside Llewyn Davis, Lake Street Drive landed at Nonesuch Records, which released new LP Side Pony earlier this year. Recorded with Dave Cobb, Nashville’s producer du jour thanks to his work Jason Isbell and Chris Stapleton (among others), Side Pony takes playful ‘70s side trips into disco (“Call Off Your Dogs”) and funk (“Can’t Stop”), but, wisely, mostly lays back and lets Price belt. With Walker Lukens & the Side Arms.
A DAY IN THE COUNTRY Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, June 25
93Q, which traditionally trounces The Bull in Houston's radio-ratings sweepstakes, tends to skew (barely) younger than its FM-country competitor, but here it's throwing its listeners a honky-tonk curveball by asking Dwight Yoakam to headline its annual summertime fan-appreciation fest. Smart move: since rejoining the Warner Bros. roster in 2013, Yoakam's albums 3 Pears and Second Hand Heart have each been as good as anything he's done since 1993's This Time; as a performer, few of his ilk – past, present or future – combine the craft of songwriting with the flair of live performance as deftly as he does. Among the young studs on hand Saturday who might learn a thing or two include Kip Moore (“Beer Money”); Canaan Smith (“Love You Like That”); Easton Corbin ("Yup"); and even Wade Bowen, the Texas-country stalwart known for his band the Stragglers and the successful 2015 duets album with compadre Randy Rogers, Hold My Beer and Watch This. That’s a lot of dudes, to be sure, but former American Idol contestant Lauren Alaina (“Last Boyfriend”) and Jana Kramer (“I Got the Boy”) guard against this Day In the Country becoming a complete sausage party. Gates open at 1 p.m.
VANS WARPED TOUR NRG Park (Yellow Lot), June 26
Warped Tour has become quite good at building lineups capable of attracting the youth market as well as getting those all important nostalgia bucks, and this year is no exception. For the teens and young adults still in the scene, you've got bands like Falling in Reverse, Real Friends and Mayday Parade. For those who have been sweating it out at Warped for more than a decade, you've got bands like Less Than Jake, New Found Glory and Reel Big Fish. Up and down the lineup there's a little bit of something for everyone, whether you're looking for the intensity of Every Time I Die or the glam of Mother Feather. We've even got a feel-good local story; Houston pop-punks Waterparks are booked for the entire tour. You know how it goes: it'll be hot, it'll be messy, it'll be a fun time. Gates open at 11 a.m. CORY GARCIA
ELIZABETH COOK McGonigel's Mucky Duck, June 26
Flashing a sassy wit and equally brassy voice, Elizabeth Cook established herself as one of country music’s brightest 21st-century talents on 2007’s Balls and 2010’s Welder, where she celebrated loving mullet-wearing dudes even while mining past pain in songs like “Heroin Addict Sister.” Apart from the religious-themed Gospel Plow EP two years later, Cook’s time since then came to resemble “a boxing match with life,” as she told The Wall Street Journal last week. The results of such tribulations are revealed on new album Exodus of Venus (Thirty Tigers), as the Florida native sings “you can fall to pieces some other day” with strong hints of Stevie Nicks on the title track and straight-up kills honky-tonk tunes like “Straitjacket Love.” Even Cook’s many fans, either from her previous albums or Sirius/XM Outlaw Country hosting gig (or both), are likely to be a little taken aback at such a striking artistic leap forward.
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