Ume Fitzgerald's, June 6
Former Houstonians Ume have been threatening a national breakthrough for a few years now, advancing to the finals of a Rolling Stone "choose the cover" contest in 2011, but it's just a matter of time, really. The now Austin-based trio excels at both aggressive riff-rockers and shoegaze-touched reveries, piloted either way by the expressionist guitar work and dream-like vocals of Lauren Larson.
After a couple of years of heavy touring behind 2011's Phantoms, Ume returned late last year with second LP Monuments, which showcased Larson's nascent star quality more than ever. Ume plays a 5:30 p.m. in-store at Cactus Music before opening for the Courtneys later at Fitz.
Accordion Kings & Queens Miller Outdoor Theatre, June 7
If you still think the accordion is uncool, you just haven't been to one of these festivals yet. For the past few years, Texas Folklife's annual Accordion Kings & Queens event has filled Miller Outdoor Theatre to the brim with fans celebrating the "national instrument of Texas," but the contest's 25th go-round Saturday should really put on the squeeze. Pardon the pun, but there is a lot going on.
Besides the winners of the 2014 Big Squeeze competition -- Randall Jackson (zydeco), Aaron Salinas (conjunto) and Garrett Neubauer (polka) -- performing will be Houston's own polka mainstays Mark Halata & Texavia; crown prince of zydeco C.J. Chenier & the Red Hot Louisiana Band; and a special next-generation tribute to Tejano/conjunto pioneers Esteban Jordan and Valerio Longoria led by Rio Jordan (featuring Esteban's three sons), Flavio Longoria (Valerio's son) and inaugural Big Squeeze winner Juan Longoria Jr. Free admission.
Houston Beer Fest Sam Houston Park, June 7 & 8
What has happened over at the Houston Beer Festival? We can't even remember who played last year, and suddenly this year it's loaded with big names like Rick Ross, Slightly Stoopid and Action Bronson; acts we haven't heard from in forever like the Texas Tornados and Austin's Dynamite Hack (remember their "Boyz N tha Hood" cover); and lots of locals including thelastplaceyoulook, Featherface, Shotgun Funeral, Wandering Bufaleros, Second Lovers, We Were Wolves, the Beans, Catch Fever and BLSHS (who are officially everywhere as this point). So what happened?
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"This year, we've enhanced our festival in all areas and we wanted to enhance our line-up to give our customers a cool experience," says Timothy M. Hudson, who says he's booked the HBF music since the first one in 2011. "With so many beer festivals popping up we have to create a competitive advantage." Guess so. See more info at houstonbeerfestival.com.
More shows on the next page.
Little Dragon Fitzgerald's, June 8
Boy, this is a hot ticket. Sold out, as a matter of fact. (What's it worth to you?) Little Dragon comes to Houston about as often as any other dragon, and the veteran Swedish group's sleek hybrid of esoteric synth-pop and futuristic R&B (as heard on the brand-new Nabuma Rubberband) is uniquely suited to their singer and budding style icon Yukimi Nagano. Sunday could easily be one of the most fashionable shows Houston sees this year, and with two sold-out nights at New York's Terminal 5 and a DJ set at esteemed UK fest Glastonbury later this month, Little Dragon will no doubt be grateful for the opportunity to get their feet wet.
SIX OTHER SHOWS TO THINK ABOUT
Winger: Go ahead, give in to "Seventeen," "Headed For a Heartbreak," "Miles Away" and even a few tunes from brand-new album Better Days Comin'. We won't tell anyone. (Concert Pub North, June 6)
A Live One: Phish covers, all night long. (Last Concert Cafe, June 6)
The Suspects: Sweet, sweet ska from soulful Houston veterans. (Big Top Lounge, June 6)
Mark Armes Benefit: Locals The Energy, Young Mammals, Secret Prostitutes, Turbokrieg and Hamamatsu Tom & the Heights Lawn Shitting Ensemble (love it) help out one of the Free Press Houston/Fitz family, who recently injured his knee in a brutal kickball mishap. Give 'til it hurts. (Fitzgerald's, June 7)
St. Arnold's 20th Anniversary Party: A rare appearance by Sideshow Tramps highlights the legendary local brewery's two-decade bash, but sets by the Niceguys, the Suffers and Hayes Carll -- all of them huge St. Arnold's fans, we bet -- are nothing to sneeze at either. (St. Arnold's Brewery, 2000 Lyons Ave., 5 p.m. June 7)
Nikki Lane: South Carolina singer with haunted songs and a haunting voice is New West Records' latest trad-country ingenue; her brand-new album All or Nothin' takes some getting over, what with lines like "it's always the right time to do the wrong thing." (Continental Club, June 7)
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