The 25 Best Concerts In Houston This Summer

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No need to sugarcoat anything: summer in Houston can be a grind. OK, it stinks. Amateur lexicographers could coin a different synonym for “unpleasant” for each day between Free Press Summer Fest and well past the autumnal equinox, and going outside would still be awful. Local weather during the middle part of any year is the reason thousands of people refuse to even entertain the notion of moving to Houston, and why thousands more who do live here hate it anyway. Fortunately, subtropical latitude-dwellers such as Houstonians have concocted worthy summer activities a little more exciting (if not ultimately more rewarding) than avoiding the unfortunate condition known as "gig butt." Live music is perhaps chief among them, so we have narrowed the multitude of summer concerts taking place around our vast metropolitan humidosphere before Labor Day to these 25 almost-sure things. Happy mosquito-swatting!

House of Blues, June 8
Five years ago, I caught my first Thrice show at the House of Blues. On tour in support of 2011's Major/Minor, the California-based quartet's set list spanned from older cuts rooted in punk, metal and hardcore to newer musical styles, giving newfound and seasoned fans alike plenty to enjoy. The crowd was enthralled by each song, and my fandom of Thrice was solidified. Come to find out, their 2011 tour was practically a farewell, and the band went on hiatus shortly after. But Thrice has finally returned - a long five years later - with a new album and a tour in support of it, and I can't wait to hear "Back Honey" live. MATTHEW KEEVER

House of Blues, June 9
It’s been a few years since the mysterious shredder sporting a horror-movie mask and highly recognizable fried-chicken-container headgear has brought his act on the road. In the meantime he has recorded and released hundreds (not an exaggeration, literally hundreds) of albums, which should give him plenty of fresh material to pull from. Equal parts out-there performance art and genuine marvel of technical ability, Buckethead should leave fans with more than they came with. And that’s without counting the tendency he has to hand out his favorite toys during his shows. ERIC SMITH

Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, June 10
It's fair that fans might be a bit gun shy on Weezer, who has given us a solid decade of some epically shitty albums. But their latest effort, another self-titled affair known as The White Album, turns the clock back to a palatable time in the band's sonic history. Songs like "King of the World" and "L.A. Girlz" will tug on the heartstrings of listeners who lust after Weezer's iconic power pop sound. With over twenty years of experience and the humility of their many missteps, Weezer now knows how to give fans a show they want to see. KATIE SULLIVAN

Toyota Center, June 15
Selena Gomez is all grown up, and that's for the best. The last time she was in town, she was still straddling that weird line between teen and adult pop star, and the result was a show that had the crowd screaming less because of her talent and more because she simply existed; given how bored she looked onstage, it was not a good look. Word is the Revival Tour is more of a showcase for Gomez as an artist and less a pop spectacle, which mainly means less choreography. It's the kind of tour she needs to crush if she's wants to solidify a spot next to the Ariana Grandes of the world. Still, it'll be interesting to see where a song like “Love You Like a Love Song” fits in with a song like “Hands to Myself.” As an added bonus, DNCE are the openers, so you'll get to hear “Cake by the Ocean” too. CORY GARCIA

Fitzgerald's, June 17
About to release his fourth album as Shinyribs, Kevin Russell’s expanded project has now attached Austin’s Tijuana Trainwreck Horns and backup singers Alice Spencer and Sally Allen, whose hoochie-mama choreography puts their visual stage show over the top. The ex-Gourds co-pilot and crew just recorded a brassy swamp pop album at SugarHill with Jimbo Mathus before hitting the road for Merlefest in North Carolina, where they stunned the crowd with their high-energy Gulf Coast funk. In spite of their original repertoire, the band has also vaulted into the top rungs of that somewhat stale genre we call Texas music and is now packing the largest clubs and theaters in the state. Maybe there is salvation from the Texas-music herd after all. WILLIAM MICHAEL SMITH

Last Concert Cafe, June 18
FreshDark may be a little festival on the make, well-sited in one of the comfiest yards in Houston, but you can still call it a star-studded event. Firstly, because both L.A. New Age R&B crooners J*Davey and our own homegrown psychedelic rockers Space Villains* have seen fit to decorate their own names with an asterisk; and secondly, because this party is so heavy with groovy local talent including Philippe Edison, Android Genius, The Aspiring Me, and electro-cumbia champ Gio Chamba. TEX KERSCHEN

Walters Downtown, June 18
People are always after me to agree with them that three things made America great: cool cars, electric guitars, and drum machines. Before these, they argue, America was a backwater. Cool cars are a thing of the past? just the same, The Wiggins will be bringing their signature car-crash music and American exceptionalism to an atmospheric and Eurostyled (think London dungeon) bill also featuring San Antonio’s Moze Pray, new space-rock band Fantasy Ritual, coldwave duo Tearful Moon, and DJ Bad Bones. TEX KERSCHEN

Walters Downtown, June 21
I love PWR BTTM and Petal, and I love that they're on tour together. I love PWR BTTM for its glittery, gay garage rock, for the youthful earnestness bursting from its songs. I love Petal for its wistful guitar reverberations, and for Kiley Lotz's subterranean voice. Both of these bands will bring a vintage '90s style of rock to Walters, the ideal venue to showcase both groups' verve and authenticity. Either of these up-and-comers are worth sweating it out to, so together they're a must-see. With Pity Sex. KATIE SULLIVAN

House of Blues, June 22
The adjectives used to describe Anderson .Paak’s stage show border on the type of hyperbole reserved for acclaimed films. “Superb” meets “enchanting” meets “memorable”, that sort of thing. For .Paak, it’s something that’s been a long time coming, a L.A.-based artist who through his own mix of soul and hip-hop not only stole the show on Dr. Dre’s Compton album, currently possesses of the year’s best album. At .Paak's Houston debut, he may wiggle around delivering a pitter-patter flow on records like “Come Down” or launch into a spastic tinge of soul with “The Waters," both standout tracks from January's Malibu. It’s a style that even the best have truly found difficult to describe. We just know it’s accessible, it’s sweeping and ultimately, it builds upon grooves and influences from James Brown to Prince and even Kendrick Lamar. It’s free-range expression from a man still coming into his own. BRANDON CALDWELL

Stereo Live, June 24
Expect lights flashing, steady beats, drinks flowing and sweat pouring when the legendary British DJ takes over the decks at StereoLive. Twice named best DJ in the world, Oakenfold has influenced dance music on a global level for more than three decades and remains a constant force.  The originator will be in town along with another tastemaker and his best mate, Liquid Todd, for another “Stellar” event put on by Nightculture.  For a hint of what to expect, check out Todd's guest mix from Oakenfold’s Planet Perfecto Radio. JACK GORMAN

Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, June 25
93Q, which traditionally trounces The Bull in Houston's radio-ratings sweepstakes, tends to skew (barely) younger than its FM-country competitor, but here it's throwing its listeners a honky-tonk curveball by asking Dwight Yoakam to headline its annual summertime fan-appreciation fest. Smart move: since rejoining the Warner Bros. roster a few years back, Yoakam's albums 3 Pears and Second Hand Heart have been as good as anything he's done since 1993's This Time; as a performer, few of his ilk – past, present or future – combine the craft of songwriting with the flair of live performance as deftly as he does. Among the young studs on hand here who might learn a thing or two include Kip Moore (“Beer Money”); Canaan Smith (“Love You Like That”); Easton Corbin ("Yup"); and even Wade Bowen, the Texas-country stalwart known for his band the Stragglers and the successful 2015 duets album with compadre Randy Rogers, Hold My Beer and Watch This. Former American Idol contender Lauren Alaina (“Last Boyfriend”) and Jana Kramer (“I Got the Boy”) guard against this Day In the Country becoming a complete sausage party. CHRIS GRAY

Walters Downtown, July 1
No two artists better exemplify the Asian-American millennial female experience than lo-fi rocksters Mitski and Japanese Breakfast. This experience is pretty far from my own, but themes of love and loss resonate universally on their awesomely-titled recent albums, Bury Me At Makeout Creek and Psychopomp, respectively. By the time this show comes around, Mistki will have another album with a fantastic title, Puberty 2. Jay Som, who also fits the above description, will open the show with her self-described “woozy” guitar pop. All in all, looks to be a real vibey night. ERIC SMITH

Revention Music Center, July 2
Time travel doesn’t exist, as far as we know, but a tour like this is close. Step out onto the floor of Revention Music Center and take a trip back to a world before smartphones and YouTube, to a magical time known as 2002, and prepare to relive all the awkward emotions that came with being a young music fan. Don't try and deny it: you still, to this day, know all the words to “Screaming Infidelities” and “Cute Without the 'E'.” This is the emo reunion of the summer, and you know you don't want to miss it. CORY GARCIA

Walters Downtown, July 2
If you already know to recognize Montreal as a freak haven, then the sight of Montrealer and longtime garage-rocker King Khan’s beautifully bold and shiny belly won’t strike you amiss, as it’s a near-certainty that it’ll be no time at all before the close quarters of Walters finds him in a stage of dishabillle. TEX KERSCHEN

Wortham Center, July 14
There's nothing wrong with Weird Al playing regular venues. Seriously. It's just that seeing him play somewhere like Revention is likely to leave you thinking, “he deserves better.” Weird Al is a genius and a treasure, and while he songs are without question extremely silly, he's an artist of the highest caliber, and he should be celebrated as such. Plus, given the costume changes and what not, having more space to do his thing can't be anything but good for the show. There is no show coming to town this summer more likely to make you smile or make you hungry — the man loves his songs about food — than this one. CORY GARCIA

House of Blues, July 15
The grungiest gals from the alternative scene took an extended hiatus for more than a decade and left fans growing Hungry For Stink. Donita Sparks and the ladies finally banded back together to play a handful of festivals in 2015 and make their return to Houston on a rescheduled date this summer. Stay of their “Shitlist” and don’t miss this opportunity to see the women that carried the torch for female metal during the '90s. JACK GORMAN

Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, July 21
There are a lot of “dream” tours of a sort on the road this summer, but if you're the type of person that has gotten irrationally excited about the Warped Tour in the last five years, this is likely at the top of your list. This is the tour people have been waiting on since Blink 182 reunited, with rumors popping up seemingly every spring that it was going to happen, the former and current kings of the scene out on the road for a summer of sweaty singalongs. Start resting your voice now, because you know you're going to scream your head off. CORY GARCIA

NRG Stadium, August 5
Guns N' Roses were the greatest cock-rock band of the late '80s; their epoch-defining Appetite For Destruction came factory-installed in the tape deck of every IROC, Mustang and Firebird of the time. For one blazing moment, they embodied everything transcendent in American life, everything orgiastic, flamboyant in form and fashion, drug-thin (because they were all on all the drugs), brimming with maudlin extravagance and a total contempt for the world outside their own bleary Paradise City. This world is not perfect, so we will likely not be getting a hologram of 1987 Axl Rose on GN'R's current "Not In This Lifetime" tour, else we’d be seeing a heavy uptick in births next spring. Original members Slash and Duff are back in the hot tub time machine, so there’s a good chance you’ll be feeling like a space brain one more time tonight. TEX KERSCHEN

Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, August 6
This will mark one hell of a weekend for reunion tours in Houston. One night after Guns N' Roses (hopefully) plays NRG Stadium, the Woodlands will host one of the most popular groups in country music history. You know how it all ended for the Dixie Chicks; lead singer Natalie Maines made some comments that, in hindsight, weren't really all that inflammatory, the Chicks' country base protested, country radio boycotted, and the band finally disbanded. While a lot has changed on the musical landscape in the ten years since the trio released new music, one thing remains constant – the Dixie Chicks know how to put on a show. CLINT HALE

Numbers, August 6
Since the '80s, San Francisco auto mechanic-cum-iconoclastic disc jockey Joseph Watt has opened up the possibilities on the dance floor with his innovative Razormaid tape edits and remixes of synth-pop, Euro sleaze and avant-rock jams. Trade in the dead heat of an August night for the body heat of a leather and PVC summer getup. TEX KERSCHEN

Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, August 14
If you have never had the fortunate opportunity to actually watch Gwen Stefani live in concert, go buy your tickets for this show now. Stefani, boasting 30 years of making music both as No Doubt's stellar lead singer and an engaging solo act, is likely one of the best performers of our time. Never giving anything less that 110 percent to her audience, Gwen will be the most beautiful woman sweating actual buckets that you have ever seen. Expect a plethora of hits from her solo albums as well as some of her best songs off of her newest album, This is What the Truth Feels Like. Bonus: with Eve as the tour's opener, "Let Me Blow Your Mind" and "Rich Girl" will be better than ever. SELENA DIERINGER

White Oak Music Hall, August 20
If you're not familiar with Cody Jinks, the Fort Worth native is akin to a slightly more rugged Chris Stapleton and has one hell of a story to go along with one hell of a catalog. The former lead singer of Unchecked Aggression, a hardcore metal group that formed in the late '90s, Jinks found himself going solo after the band's 2003 breakup amid infighting and heavy drinking. So Jinks turned to his Texas roots and began hitting the honky-tonks, and more than a decade later, is headlining a summer tour and prepping new album I'm Not the Devil, due August 12. His most recent release, 2015's Adobe Sessions, is country storytelling at its finest. CLINT HALE

Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, August 20
Would seeing Snoop Dogg in concert be awesome? Of course. Would seeing Snoop Dogg with Wiz Khalifa perform in the most suburban venue in town be even more awesome? You better believe it. It's a curious thought if the parents who plan to escort their kids to this show even know who these artists really are. After Khalifa and Charlie Puth's 2015 hit "See You Again" crossed over into every imaginable radio format, moms everywhere were suddenly under the impression that they were Wiz fans. Watching them realize that the majority of this show will likely be about smoking pot will be entertaining in and of itself, almost as much as watching the crowd attempt to smoke in the most sanitized pavilion around. And, of course, Snoop Dogg is the man. All in all, there's a lot of entertainment to be witnessed at this show. SELENA DIERINGER

White Oak Music Hall, August 21
Fans who witnessed the Flaming Lips' recent Memorial Day gig at White Oak Music Hall may have some idea what they're in store for here, but even the mind-expanding potential of Wayne Coyne's Oklahoma pranksters is dwarfed by what Explosions In the Sky can do. Since breaking through with 2003's beatific, profound The Earth Is Not a Cold Dead Place, the Austin quartet's majestic, otherworldly instrumental rock has inspired the kind of slack-jawed awe that even the stadium-fillers of the world can't always match. Subsequent releases like Take Care, Take Care, Take Care and this year's The Wilderness, plus copious soundtrack work (Friday Night Lights, Prince Avalanche), have only added to the band's mystique. And complex, cascading guitar symphonies like these are meant to be experienced in the open air, so this is the kind of show a venue like White Oak was made for. CHRIS GRAY

Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, August 26
In the late '90s and early 2000s, few acts frightened the collective sensibilities of American parents more than Slipknot and Marily Manson. On the 20th anniversary of Manson's Antichrist Superstar and 15 years removed from the massive success of Slipknot's IOWA, the two groups will collaborate for the first time since Slipknot percussionist Joey Jordison appeared in the music video for Manson's reinterpretation of "Tainted Love." It's amazing that it took this long for them to go on tour together, but good things come to those who wait. Neither act is in its prime anymore, but the grandeur of Slipknot's live act remains undisputed; Manson has become something of of sordid uncle of industrial rock and metal. He's worth visiting if only to hear the older stories of his heyday. (Note: this show has been postponed from June 26 due to Corey Taylor of Slipknot's imminent surgery.) MATTHEW KEEVER

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