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.
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.
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
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
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
JFA, REAGAN YOUTH, LOOSE NUKES, THE COPS
Walter’s Downtown, October 19
When I was first getting into punk, all the older guys had JFA patches on their jackets — leather jackets, jean jackets, army jackets, didn’t really matter. However, that striking imagery made me look them up that much faster. JFA, or Jodie Foster’s Army, makes punk that you could ride a skateboard to, and the fact that they came from Arizona just made them bigger outsiders than what was coming out of the West Coast. Their 1981 album Blatant Localism was my Bible for more than a decade, and they haven’t toured in what seems like forever. Add in the political, no-future NYC punk of Reagan Youth and now we’re talking. Though singer Dave Insurgent committed suicide almost 25 years ago, this will be the closest you get to a reunion; their 1984 album Punk Rock New York still sounds relevant. Canada’s Loose Nukes are just as fitting, and the fully uniformed, tongue-in-cheek antics of Houston’s The Cops will make this an all-ages punk show you shouldn’t miss. DAVID GARRICK
PILFERS, JOYSTICK, FUSKA, METANOIA
Satellite Bar, October 19
We all have a friend who refuses to dance. Maybe he or she once was ridiculed for questionable dance moves, or simply lacks the confidence to share his or her inner Baryshnikov with the world. This person needs the extreme remedy available when this quartet of ska-influenced acts teams for one of the best nights on the October calendar. Metanoia, one of Houston’s busier acts, and Fuska, one of its veteran ska bands, play host to out-of-towners and current tourmates, New Orleans's Joystick and headliner Pilfers. The former is a horn-heavy party that bounces easily between ska and punk; the latter is an NYC outfit celebrating 20 years as a band in 2017, two decades of bringing its brand of “raggacore” to the masses while touring with the likes of Bad Brains, Zebrahead, Mighty Mighty Bosstones and Reel Big Fish. These acts will have Stiff Biff and Rigid Bridget toe-tapping in no time. JESSE SENDEJAS JR.
PROTOMARTYR, FLASHER, LACE
The Secret Group, October 22
Detroit’s Protomartyr is about as close to solid new post-punk as it gets in today’s music world. Sounding like a mixture of Wire and Television, these guys make records in the spirit of not giving a damn without losing their edge. Their latest, this year’s Relatives In Descent, is a concept record of sorts, while keeping their core sound intact. The last time they were in Houston, their live show was riveting, something that could also be said of Washington, D.C.’s Flasher to a degree. The trio makes music reminiscent of the New Wave-tinged punk that littered the ’70s and seemed to almost get lost on everyone in the States. Add to this, the live show of Houston-based openers LACE is like getting punched in the face with hardcore, and though their new album won’t be as intense, it’s certainly just as dark. DAVID GARRICK
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THE AFGHAN WHIGS, HAR MAR SUPERSTAR
Heights Theater, October 26
Let’s pretend that Greg Dulli and company didn’t drop two stellar albums in 2014’s Do to the Beast and this year’s In Spades, and just focus on their two relatively recent reissues. Originally released in 1993, Gentlemen is highly regarded as one of the best albums of the ’90s, and the stark and dark nature of ’96's Black Love opened my ears to the possibility of a band doing things their own way. The Whigs rarely come here, but are one of the strongest live bands going; they’re like experiencing a tent revival minus the religion, though I’m sure some have seen God at their shows. Add the soulful sounds of the underrated Har Mar Superstar, whose Bye Bye 17 is a soul masterpiece; his latest, Best Summer Ever, takes the ’80s pop-throwback sound to a whole new place. This coupling is so sick that only sickness should keep you away. DAVID GARRICK
House of Blues, October 26
Opening for Justin Bieber could jump-start just about anyone's career these days, and Post Malone capitalized on that opportunity just last year. The Dallas native's relationship with the Biebs was further emboldened on his debut album, Stoney, which featured a sensual verse and suggestive hook from Canada's hottest export alongside Malone's more explicit narrative about falling in love. Combining country and hip-hop with a lazy flow, Malone has benefited from a sound popularized by the likes of Drake, Lil Yachty and Houston's own Travis Scott. Malone's career is in its infancy, and he already has a certified Platinum album to his name. His star will continue to rise as long as he's able to land features with big stars like Quavo, Future, 2 Chainz and, of course, Bieber. MATTHEW KEEVER