Bayou City

Shows of the Week: The Final Curtain Falls for Metal's Masters of Reality

Toyota Center, November 10
Everything ends, and after years of reunions that stuck, reunions that didn’t, semi-reunions, various Ozzfests, lineup shuffles and far too many unfunny “Iron Man” jokes, Black Sabbath is at last headed for their final resting place, playing the penultimate American date of their THE END tour in Houston. It’s been almost half a century since Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and now-estranged drummer Bill Ward oozed up from the post-industrial decay of steel-sodden Birmingham, England, warping electric British blues into monolithic and sinister slabs of suffering and paranoia that enabled the band to set new records for volume onstage and debauchery backstage; Spinal Tap would of course be nowhere without them. The world’s children of the grave, tortured and forgotten, flocked to them by the tens of thousands, creating not only the original metal fan base but a tribe of true believers whose only option is to see Sabbath through to the bittersweet end. With Rival Sons.

Warehouse Live, November 10
The music of Frank Zappa, whose gonzo brand of rock kept it weird when that phrase really meant something, was so far ahead of its time it’s still an acquired taste. No matter the electric free-jazz mania of Hot Rats or dead-on ‘80s satire of “Valley Girl,” his spiritual influence far outpaced his commercial impact. This year the Zappa estate is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the patriarch’s debut album with sidekicks the Mothers of Invention, Freak Out!; keeping Frank’s laser-brained legacy alive is the one man who knows his dad’s music better than anyone (except perhaps one person), his eldest son, Dweezil. Despite an ongoing feud with brother Ahmet over who owns the trademark to the copyrighted terms “Zappa” and “Frank Zappa” — recently prompting the name of Dweezil’s group to revert from Zappa Plays Zappa to his own name — Dweezil is forging ahead with a roadshow titled “50 Years of Frank: Dweezil Zappa Plays Whatever the F@%k He Wants – The Cease and Desist Tour.” Expect nothing less.

Fitzgerald's, November 11
Shooter Jennings has never been one to shy away from tossing his fans a curveball. Debuting as a solo artist in the mid-‘00s after an extended detour in the GN’R-inspired L.A. outfit Stargunn, his albums Put the “O” Back In Country and The Wolf may have had a little too much of his dad Waylon’s shaggy country-rock edge for his major label to handle, but he made his point and graduated to a more fulfilling existence as an indie artist and longtime host of Saturday-afternoon free-form funhouse Electric Rodeo on Sirius/XM’s Outlaw Country. All that said, and despite fine latter-day outings like 2012’s Family Man, Jennings’ latest output speaks to how far-ranging his interests remain. Besides this year’s Countach (For Giorgio), a tribute to Italian disco auteur Giorgio Moroder, tomorrow (a.k.a. Election Day) is due an expanded edition of 2010’s Black Ribbons, his Illuminati-haunted country-psych album featuring narration by Stephen King. With Two Tons of Steel.

Walters Downtown, November 11
High-octane garage rock plus camp has seldom been a more winning formula than with The King Khan & BBQ Show, the Montreal/Berlin duo that is the furthest thing from formulaic. The partnership of Arish Khan and Mark Sultan, both alumni of Montreal punk destroyers the Spaceshits, first unleashed their cosmic howl on 2005’s The King Khan & BBQ Show; soon they were a favorite at dives all over two continents, factoring outrageous stage costumes and a keen sense of underground-rock history into their primal guitar/drums attack. After bouncing around a few of the finer garage labels, the duo split acrimoniously in 2010 but rebounded in fine fettle on last year’s Bad News Boys (In the Red), 12 expertly crafted fuzz-rock confections that conceal their crunchy punk center with deliciously sweet doo-wop icing. With Paint Fumes.

Heights Theater, November 13
Ray Wylie Hubbard, (mostly) God-fearing Okie kid turned ne’er-do-well Cosmic Cowboy turned Zen role model for two generations of Texas singer-songwriters, has led the kind of white-knuckle, seat-of-the-pants charmed life that, laid end to end, seems like it should add up to a lot more than 70 years. (Required reading: His 2015 memoir/lyric file A Life...Well, Lived.) For fans of a certain type of music in a certain part of the world, namely this one, Hubbard’s albums – which he is kind enough to gift us every year or two, the latest being last year’s The Ruffian’s Misfortune – yield nearly as many entrée-rich word banquets, wayward yet (mostly) well-meaning characters, and subtly disguised morals as the collected works of ol’ Billy Shakespeare himself. That Hubbard’s 70th birthday party aligns with the very first show at the restored Heights Theater augurs nothing but good things for the historic movie house, and might even be cause for an extra chorus of “Up Against the Wall, Redneck Mother” or “Screw You, We’re From Texas” or two. With Larry Campbell & Teresa Williams.
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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