Total Abuse, Rusted Shut Mango's, August 1
Modern hardcore a tad too cute for you? You certainly wouldn't be alone in that sentiment, but take care that you're ready for the alternative. From the all-too-safe environs of Austin, punk terrorists Total Abuse have been savagely battering audiences with their uniquely disturbed version of ugly, noisy hardcore since 2006, and if you haven't caught them live yet, you're missing out on some bloody raw and sexually depraved punk. The band's rollicking, loose slabs of heavy distortion have been fairly compared to late-period Black Flag and D.C. thrashers Void, but they're messier and more demented than either of those groups.
Even better, the tiny environs of Mango's will also host an increasingly rare appearance from the sick, anti-social Houston noise legends Rusted Shut. Don't expect a lot of moshing or stage diving during their set; just shattered ears and personal degradation. With Breathing Problem, Cop Warmth and RU486. NATHAN SMITH[jump]
Houston Summer Jam NRG Arena, August 2
After five long years spent living inside the Louisiana State Penitentiary, "Ratchet" rapper Lil Boosie is looking to make up for some lost time. The Baton Rouge MC, fresh out of the joint after serving time for drug offenses, returns to Houston as one of the South's hottest rappers. There's a local connection to his street cred, as well -- Boosie was originally signed to Trill Entertainment, the regional record label co-founded by local hip-hop impresario Pimp C.
Saturday night the self-proclaimed "Bad Azz" is set to headline what should be a wild and rowdy show at the former Reliant Arena; Houston was a leading locale in the years-long "Free Boosie" campaign, and his fans are eager to hear his rags-to-riches street rhymes again. Boosie's Baton Rouge partner Webbie and Atlanta rapper K Camp will be along for support. NATHAN SMITH
Galactic Cowboys Warehouse Live, August 2
Another remnant of the early-'90s hard-rock revolution, Houston's Galactic Cowboys were one of the most promising progressive-metal bands around until they ran straight into the grunge buzzsaw that also hobbled their neighbors and onetime Geffen labelmates King's X. On albums like Galactic Cowboys, Space In Your Face and Machine Fish, the Cowboys proved they could shred like Motorhead if they wanted to, but with acute melodic instincts much closer to Cheap Trick than Metallica.
It was a potent combination that sadly didn't quite the fit the times, but has aged quite a bit better than many flannel-clad relics still stuck in 1996. After a handful of Texas dates in 2009, the Cowboys played a well-received reunion last September at Cypress Creek rock outpost Acadia Bar & Grill; no further activity after Saturday has been announced, but another gig is certainly a good sign. With Peace and the Chaos. CHRIS GRAY
Ray LaMontagne Jones Hall, August 3
Ray LaMontagne has been recognized as one of the 21st century's leading brown-eyed soul singers almost immediately since his debut, Trouble, appeared in 2004. Channeling greats like Sam Cooke, Otis Redding and Van Morrison into his world-weary croon, the New Englander has now released five LPs marked by a deep-seated sincerity even as the musical sands around him have shifted considerably.
Trouble's largely acoustic roots-pop begat the haunting orchestral textures of 2006's Til the Sun Turns Black, which in turn led to the overt classic-soul flourishes of Gossip In the Grain two years later. Following 2010's comfortably casual God Willing & the Creek Don't Rise -- a full-band record credited to Ray LaMontagne & the Pariah Dogs -- in April he returned with Supernova, an eclectic and '60s-enamored affair helmed by the Black Keys' Dan Auerbach. CHRIS GRAY
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