ANDREW W.K. House of Blues, October 5
How to convince you that Andrew W.K. is a show worth attending? Shouldn't you already know this by now? I've personally written on his Houston trips at least twice and he's been performing since the 1990s, specializing in dizzily jubilant musical pep talks like "We Want Fun" and "Party Hard." Instead of summoning more words to get you to literally join the party, maybe his advice will work. The multi-instrumentalist, motivational speaker, author, actor, producer, radio personality and one-time presidential candidate was also an advice columnist for Village Voice. Concerning partying — his life's work — he says, "The only thing that true partying must involve is partying. How each of us decides to party within that partying is up to the individual, but true partying doesn’t necessarily require drugs any more than it necessarily requires skydiving — to each their own.” Wisdom set to body-moving tunes is what you get at an Andrew W.K. show; I’d say that's worth your attention. JESSE SENDEJAS JR.
TOVE LO House of Blues, October 13
Tove Lo's last scheduled set in Houston was ruined by — no surprise here — rain. Lots of it, during Free Press Summer Fest back in June. Those downpours seem quaint now by comparison, of course, but at the time fans of the Swedish pop star were robbed of the chance to hear her no-nonsense lyrics set against body-swaying beats, the stuff that made her a global sensation and Grammy-nominated artist. The good news is she's back in Texas, playing both weekends of ACL and working Houston into her agenda. Even more good news, she's recently released "Disco Tits," a track from her approaching album, Blue Lips. The follow-up to last year's Lady Wood shows the electro-pop chanteuse is as prolific as she is direct. There's no room for nuance in her growing catalog; her brazen takes on life, love, sex and all the other stuff confidently come through on tracks like "Cool Girl," and her biggest hits, "Habits (Stay High)" and "Talking Body." Best of all, this Houston gig is indoors, safe from any rain that may fall. JESSE SENDEJAS JR.
STURGILL SIMPSON Smart Financial Centre, October 14
Sturgill Simpson has enjoyed a pretty heroic rise to semi-stardom, a rebel with a conscience who appears to be doing it for the right reasons: to make music with grit and integrity, and (lest we forget) also feed his family. Case in point: his latest album and major-label debut, last year’s A Sailor’s Guide to Earth. Building on the hardscrabble honky-tonk parables of 2013’s High Top Mountain and acid-dusted Americana of the next year’s Metamodern Sounds In Country Music, Sailor’s Guide is no less than a road map to life for his young son, as told by a troubadour in his prime but wise beyond his years, and embellished with Memphis horns, serious-minded strings and one novel reworking of Nirvana’s “In Bloom.” It’s a trip, and rather than worry about which existing commercial radio format might make sense of it (hint: none), Simpson has simply hit the road again and watched the size of the rooms he plays triple since the album’s release. CHRIS GRAY
THE WEEKND Toyota Center, October 17
Most Americans were introduced to The Weeknd on Drake's sophomore studio album, Take Care. Born Abel Makkonen Tesfaye, the Toronto-born singer captivated fans with his robust tenor vocals and, in the six years since then, has become a star in his own right. Boasting Drake's penchant for oversharing but much more natural talent, The Weeknd writes songs brimming with light-skinned party girls, bumps of cocaine and heartache atop danceable tracks that belie the content within. Tesfaye's music is the HBO of rhythm and blues, with as much sex and drugs as you can stand with top-notch production helping qualify them as art. Drake was just the beginning of the Weeknd's collaborative efforts, which have since expanded to include the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Lana Del Rey, Ed Sheeran and Daft Punk. While some of his lyrics have been criticized for being misogynistic, The Weeknd remains his own harshest critic. Despite his braggadocious nature, he seems painfully aware of the emptiness found in nonstop partying and endless one-night stands, raising the question: What's next for this Starboy? MATTHEW KEEVER
MACKLEMORE House of Blues, October 18
Five years removed from "Thrift Shop," Macklemore, born Ben Haggerty, has freed himself from the shackles of superstardom. He's still a name, but the Seattle-born rapper is no longer held to the standard he once was. Mack's debut collaborative album with producer Ryan Lewis, The Heist, took the industry by storm in 2012, selling nearly 1.5 million units in the U.S. and eventually beating out Kendrick Lamar's Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City to win the Grammy for Best Rap Album. A nationwide conversation about white privilege in hip-hop followed, and Haggerty's attempt to reconcile his standing in the community further polarized listeners. Following an amicable split with Lewis last year, Macklemore released his first solo album in 12 years this September. On Gemini, Mack rests on his laurels, returning to an amicable flow and upbeat, often silly lyricism bolstered by a robust list of features, including Offset, Lil Yachty, Kesha and Skylar Grey. The record's lead single, "Glorious," is everything "Thrift Shop" and "Can't Hold Us" were, with a bit of reflection sprinkled in for good measure. MATTHEW KEEVER
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