93.7's "Welcome to Houston" Party Arena Theatre, February
When 93.7 The Beat premiered early this year, you could tell that the station really wanted to establish itself in the local hip-hop community and forge a connection with Houston listeners. And the reason you could tell is that they called up just about every famous Houston rapper they could get on the phone and put them on a bill together, calling it the "Welcome to H-Town" concert.
Not only did the stunt give us some strong sets by the likes of Z-Ro, Paul Wall, Slim Thug and Lil' Keke, but it also provided the best local Geto Boys performance in more years than anybody was really willing to count. If there were any radio execs in attendance who showed up needing a crash course on Houston hip-hop, they went home with at least an associate's degree. NATHAN SMITH
Cassette Tape House of Blues, March
I don't think I saw a local band in 2014 whose crowd was having a better time than Cassette Tape's. A growing cult of good vibes has followed the reggae-rockers north from the beach over the past two years, culminating with a win this year at the Houston Press Music Awards.
But their finest moment inside the Loop in 2014 was this album release/tour kickoff show at the Bronze Peacock back in the spring. Thanks to a couple of timely cannons, there was as much confetti in the air as dope smoke by the time they were done, having ascended with their smiling, dancing fans onto a higher plane of fucking chill. NATHAN SMITH
Nick Greer & The G's, Heart On Fire CD Release Warehouse Live Green Room, June
There are few musicians who truly live, love and feel the music they make as passionately as Nick Greer does. With every piano note he hits and guttural expression his vocal chords express, the bespectacled redhead entrances the audience as his band The G's seduce them with their extraordinary musical prowess.
Such was the case during the CD release party for Heart On Fire at Warehouse Live. The emotions and lyrics of each track seem deeply personal, mostly because they are. With friends, family and fans gathered around, Nick and his partners reminded everyone in attendance what real music is supposed to sound and feel like. MARCO TORRES
Los Skarnales' 20-year Anniversary Show Fitzgerald's, June
I remember going to see Los Skarnales at Fitzgerald's during my high-school years. Fast-forward 15 years, and the little band that began as a raucous trio of noise has become one of the most beloved and talented groups the Bayou City will ever know; they were even inducted into the Houston Music Hall of Fame last year.
A full house greeted the vatos rudos as they took and proceeded to tear down the stage with an attitude and passion that are hard to match. They invited past band members to jam along into the night, and ended with a Spanglish cover of "Pressure Drop" by Toots & the Maytals. Eres tu, Skarnales! Oh yeah! MARCO TORRES
Fat Tony's Fall Function The Summit, September
Always the hustler, Fat Tony held one extremely sweaty and ratchet show at newish venue The Summit in the East End before venturing off on his latest tour. Openers included DJ Good Grief as well as DJ Navo and Gracie Chavez of Bombon Houston. With Remy Martin and Topo Chico providing the beverages on the back patio, the night was both chillaxed and turnt up, with newcomer Rai P warming up the crowd before Fat Tony led a twerk carnival inside the dark and damp room. MARCO TORRES
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Premium 10 Year Anniversary 8th Wonder Brewery, October
It was a pleasant mid-October evening in EaDo as clothing and shoe boutique Premium Goods celebrated its ten-year anniversary party. The line-up included a roster of the finest talent in H-Town, with DJ Mr. Rogers in the mix, Mr. Steak x Shrimp Le$ bringing a pack of homies to rock with him, legends Devin Tha Dude and ESG smokin and flowing, then bookended by the Suffers performing with the Trill OG, Bun B. With good drinks and good people all around, this event proved to be one of the best shows of the year. MARCO TORRES
Come See My Dead Person Walters Downtown, October
Two of my friends got married at Walters this fall, and Come See My Dead Person played their reception. So, sorry to drop a show where the vast majority of Houston wasn't invited, but for those who were, it was a pretty special night. Granted, I'm willing to bet if you saw CSMDP play any other show this year, you enjoyed that one plenty as well. SELENA DIERINGER
Young Mammals, Alto Seco Release Party Fitzgerald's, October
Featuring a conglomerate of Houston's most popular indie bands, this show was scheduled to be Young Mammals' release party for their second LP, Alto Seco. To my knowledge, though, it wasn't actually released that night; a mix-up resulted in no album copies being available, but that was okay. Two local groups I hadn't heard before that night, Toast and Hooked Rugs, opened up before Wild Moccasins. Each band brought a fantastic energy that culminated in Young Mammals and Wild Moccasins sharing the stage in the downstairs Fitzgerald's area, and most everyone in the audience looked very happy. ALEXA CRENSHAW
Grady Gaines The Big Easy, Halloween Night
While most of the kids ooh-ed and ahh-ed over the Suffers or Tontons, rock and roll godfather Grady Gaines quietly went about his usual business of destroying the Big Easy. With three vocalists, five horns including Gaines's own historic instrument, wicked veteran guitar ace Rick Restelli, and big Reggie Yarbrough, the smoothest drummer in town, Gaines makes the rest look like beginners.
C'mon, the man has been doing this since 1952, so he's got some idea about what makes a show and moves a crowd. Gaines has one of the few bands in town that can shift with ease between low-down blues, driving soul or disco, and when they lay into Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean" or Little Richard's "Tutti Frutti," get to the dance floor before there's no room. WILLIAM MICHAEL SMITH
For the Community 8 Last Concert Cafe/Eastdown Warehouse, November
I told my brother I'd man the barbecue pit while he checked out the acts at Visionary Noise's For the Community 8 Festival. He's a food vendor who was a cook who was at the event, and got away from serving chopped beef sandwiches long enough to get served a big helping of some good stuff. From socially conscious rapper Biz Vicious -- currently Bandcamp's most-tagged Houston artist -- to the "psychadelectric" rock of Space Villains and the joyful noise of hillbilly punks Radio Flyer, he found plenty of nourishment.
When he returned, I roamed and was impressed by the talent Visionary Noise had gathered. Massachusetts's Empty Vessels were bombastic. Austin's Wonderbitch melded technical expertise with soul. Versa Nova was the kind of late-night fun that keeps you coming back to events like this. It's been pretty sweet watching Visionary Noise grow these events from house shows to DIY venues to the warehouse district. Next up is Winterfest, a December 26 music fest headlined by the People's Champ, Paul Wall. JESSE SENDEJAS JR.
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