The 22 Best Touring Concerts of 2014

Antemasque Fitzgerald's, August

Texas needs Antemasque. We need a band that can storm the country and remind everyone that we in the Lone Star State still know how to write great rock music and have the chops to deliver those songs live. We need to remind folks from coast to coast that we can write big hooks that sound even better when screamed with a bunch of strangers.

On top of that, it's really, really good to see Cedric and Omar back on the same page again. Would more At the Drive-In/Mars Volta be cool? Yeah, I guess, but I'm genuinely way more curious about the future of Antemasque than I am about their past success. CORY GARCIA


Beyoncé & Jay Z "On the Run" Minute Maid Park, July

Although I like her just as much as the next Houstonian, going into this show, I couldn't say that I was a Beyoncé fan. She is beyond gorgeous and reps hard for the city, but to me her music was catchy at best. But if she's good enough for Jay-Z, she's okay with me. And boy, did she ever win me over!

Not only was this one of the best shows of the year, it was one of the best I've ever seen. Queen Bey and Jay alternated tracks like a game of H.O.R.S.E. to see who could outdo the other and get the loudest applause. The passion and sexual energy they shared onstage was adorable and dirty, and absolutely trill. MARCO TORRES

Ben Folds Jones Hall, June

Folds's performance with the Houston Symphony Orchestra showcased top-tier musicianship in an informal atmosphere, filling the concert hall with a lot of young fans and bewildering the old-line season-ticket holders. Both hilarious and entertaining, Folds's performance was one for the books, both for concertgoers and a few symphony members who got to meet and hang out with him before the show. From a fan's perspective, even though I'm no Folds enthusiast, this was my favorite show of 2014. MATTHEW KEEVER

Bring Me the Horizon NRG Arena, October

Listen, this is not a knock on co-headliner A Day to Remember, but Bring Me the Horizon was the only show I saw this year that gave me chills. It's weird to be moved on a visceral level by such in-your-face music, but BMtH are a kind of perfect blend of modern post-hardcore aggressiveness and epic pop hooks.

I know that's a sentence that seems kind of dense with genre references and adjectives, so let me say it this way: Sometimes they're screaming and angry, and sometimes they're screaming and emotion, and the way they flip between the two is where the greatness is created. CORY GARCIA

Cash Cash Something Wicked, October

Who would have thought a former post-pop-punk-emo boy band could become one of 2014's most exciting touring acts? Proving themselves to be more than "One to Watch," Cash Cash lit up the stage and won the hearts of EDM fans at Something Wicked. No one expected the New Jersey duo to be the highlight of the festival, but to many, they were just that.

Poppy enough to appeal to a mass audience but not as diluted as other radio-friendly acts, they put on a show that exceeded everyone's expectations and caused earthquakes of dancing throughout their set. Thank God for re-branding! SELENA DIERINGER

Counting Crows Bayou Music Center, July

Even the most diehard fans of Counting Crows couldn't have predicted how amazing their Bayou Music Center performance would be. What was most impressive is that the band did not rely in any way on '90s nostalgia, but harnessed the original qualities that made a generation adore them and blended their classics alongside several wonderful new songs, creating a feeling that was somehow totally contemporary. SELENA DIERINGER

Cro-Mags Walters Downtown, July

No show in Houston this year was crazier than the Cro-Mags. The New York crossover icons rarely play anywhere near here, so they had a big crowd waiting for them this summer -- some of whom you could just tell had been waiting for years to see these guys.

Before the band could even plug in, lunatics were already leaping offstage feet-first, and it only degenerated into more aggressively brainless mayhem from there. The ridiculously large mosh pit, driven by the Cro-Mags' whip-crack snare, was the sort of thing that can give you survivor's guilt. You shoulda been there, man. NATHAN SMITH

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