The 30 Best Concerts In Houston Before Halloween

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Islands Walters, September 6

Given the recent excitement of the Unicorns' first shows in a decade, opening some recent Arcade Fire dates, the good news that their Canadian indie successors Islands are headed back to town for the first time in a while should make a few townies happy. The show should be a burner, too. JIM BRICKER

Black Lips, King Khan & BBQ Show Fitzgerald's, September 11

If you find yourself wishing that the rock and roll show you're attending would erupt into a bit more orgiastic mayhem, then circle this Black Lips date right now. The Atlanta garage-punks have a true talent for whipping crowds into a frenzy without resorting to hyperspeed tempos or unintelligible screaming, and their unpredictable antics will be helpfully fortified by their tour mates in the King Khan & BBQ Show. King Khan, with his scanty Pacific Islander getup, turned quite a few uninitiated heads and ears at this past FPSF, and his garage-rock intensity figures only to ramp up inside Fitz's air-conditioning. NATHAN SMITH

Delta Spirit Fitzgerald's, September 12

Above any show on this music-crowded weekend, you'd be a fool to miss the Delta Spirit. They've become something of legend around these parts, dating back to their famed Walter's performance with Dr. Dog on the eve of Hurricane Ike. With a bunch of Cactus in-stores under their belt, and shows at pretty much every venue in Houston, they've always been kind to us. JIM BRICKER

¡Pachanga! Tour feat. Los Rakas and Bomba Estereo Warehouse Live, September 12

Equally competent remixing Wiz Khaifa's "We Dem Boyz" as with a reggaeton love jam, Panamanian cousins Raka Dun and Raka Rich are as cool and colorful as their adopted city of Oakland, Calif. This year's major-label debut, El Negrito Dun Dun y Ricardo, is a triumph of Latino Pride and adventurous movimiento.

Their live show is full of positivity, dance circles, and seemingly unlimited energy. This concert is the third stop of the ¡Pachanga! Tour featuring co-headliners Bomba Estereo, the Colombian alternative electro-tropical quartet, and Houston's own Bombón DJ Collective joining the Houston and San Antonio dates. MARCO TORRES

Panda Bear Fitzgerald's, September 13

I've been wanting to see a Panda Bear set for many years. In my humble opinion, his solo releases are as strong or stronger than any and all Animal Collective efforts to date. Hipsters be trippin', so I might get some flack for that, but I stick to it. JIM BRICKER

Lily Allen September 13, House of Blues

Lily Allen took her blunt, tongue-in-cheek music-industry criticisms to a whole new level with her latest Kanye West-inspired album, Sheezus. No stranger to self-induced controversy, the UK pop veteran stirred up lots of angry blog posts in the past few months after releasing the "racist and hypocritical" music videos for album tracks "Hard Out Here" and "Sheezus."

This time it seems like Allen is really immersing herself in her parody art with new brightly colored hair, skimpy performance outfits, and more. This being her first U.S. tour in five years, surely the clever singer will continue to not give a rat's behind when she brings Sheezus to H-Town. IVAN GUZMAN

Also Picked By: Jesse Sendejas Jr., Matthew Keever

DJ Shadow & Cut Chemist House of Blues, September 20

Hardcore hip-hop history buffs practically creamed their Pumas when it was announced earlier this year that select pieces from the 40,000-record vinyl collection of genre pioneer Afrika Bambaataa would be making their way across the country this fall. Rather than display these records behind glass, however, mixmasters DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist are putting them to work, curating a traveling performance illustrating the spark of a musical revolution. The HOB show promises to include six turntables, two mixers, a drum machine and plenty of vintage gear from the late '70s and early '80s. Get ready to dust off that Kangol and step inside a body-rocking time machine. NATHAN SMITH

Coheed and Cambria House of Blues, September 17

In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3 is a mouthful, and the name of C&C's second album, which they're playing all the way through on their fall tour. Call it what you want - smart business, nostalgic cashgrab, giving the fans what the want - but as long as they can pull it off, it's going to send the fans home happy.

IKSSE3 is peak Coheed, a mix of solid pop hooks and anthemic epics, all while telling the story of... well... I think there are robots and superpowers and space truckers. It's a weird story, so maybe dust off the comic books and read them so you can follow along. CORY GARCIA

Nails, Twitching Tongues, Code Orange Walters, September 19

Holy hell, what a lineup this is for hardcore fans. Twitching Tongues and Code Orange are two of the most exciting bands in the hardcore scene today; in particular, the band formerly known as Code Orange Kids shocked the hell out of me a few SXSWs ago with a stunning live show reminiscent of bands like Converge and Dillinger Escape Plan. But as a massive bonus, Nails will be headlining for the Texas dates of this tour only, bringing the heaviness like only they can. COREY DIETERMAN

Porter Robinson Stereo Live, September 21

Porter Robinson was primed to be the great wunderkind of EDM, so the fact that his new album Worlds has been labeled post-EDM is at least a little funny. Post-EDM is a terrible descriptor for a great album that at times sounds like M83, Chvrches, Daft Punk and/or Skrillex, depending on the track. Basically, everyone else making electronic music is trying to make bangers and Robinson is on a different level trying to build art. It'll be interesting to see if the audience follows him on his journey. CORY GARCIA

More shows on the next page.

Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers Toyota Center, September 25

Hands up, everyone who is shocked that I picked this. One of two first-ballot Rock and Roll Hall of Famers on the fall concert docket are touring behind their strongest album in maybe two and a half decades, Hypnotic Eye, which sails an ornery garage-rock attitude through a few white-rabbit holes; mostly it reveals how much Petty and the boys enjoy jamming together after 40 fruitful years. Expect all the hits and a few cuts you weren't expecting, but don't expect the new stuff to be a license to hit the beer line, either. CHRIS GRAY

The Felice Brothers Fitzgerald's, September 25

Bluegrass-meets-indie-rockers the Felice Brothers have been churning out album after album for many years now, never really jumping into the spotlight never straying too far from it. Their latest two releases have distanced themselves from the folk-based songs of their previous efforts, a needed direction for them to really progress as a band, but early rompers like "Frankie's Gun" and their on-point cover of Jimmie Rodgers' "T For Texas" are still what really do it for me. JIM BRICKER

Marc Anthony Toyota Center, September 27

"Como cambio de piel (how do I change)?" asks Marco Antonio Muñiz on his latest album, 3.0. Known to the world as Marc Anthony, this international salsa and pop superstar melds his Puerto Rican roots with a street-savvy NYC attitude that has elevated him to one of the most influential and top-selling Latin artists of our generation. His honesty permeates every aspect of his creativity, whether singing pop tracks with amigo Enrique Iglesias, acting in high-profile Hollywood dramas, or acting as an ambassador of salsa and musica tropical from his beloved Puerto Rico. MARCO TORRES

Drake vs. Lil Wayne Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, September 27

Rap tours these days are usually based around monolithic messages like Kanye West's extravagant "Yeezus" tour a year ago, or a reason to gather up a motley crue of performers who all have something to promote at the same time. Drake & Lil Wayne, however, can at least say they're literally attempting to battle one another every single night.

In terms of popularity, they may be 1a and 1b and their joint tour closes a two-month stretch where they're using fan participation to gauge the best man. Considering Lil Wayne is letting everyone know about Tha Carter V and Drake is globetrotting as the most consistent artist in the genre, it'll be hard to pick a winner. BRANDO

Also Picked By: Matthew Keever

Santana Bayou Music Center, October 1

Carlos Santana has been a treasure of American music for more than 40 years and as many albums. Combining blues and rock with Latin-American rhythms, the fiery soul of his guitar enthralls listeners to open both heart and mind to his thrilling sonic experience. His new album, Corazón, is a combination of covers and duets with a constellation of talented Latinos such as Gloria Estefán, Pitbull, Juanes, Romeo Santos, and more, and has already been certified double platinum. MARCO TORRES

A Day to Remember, Bring Me the Horizon NRG Arena, October 1

It's weird to think that there's a metalcore/pop-punk band big enough to play NRG Arena, and yet A Day to Remember exists. You may not hear them on the radio or see them on TV, but they've won the hearts and minds of a generation of kids who still think that rock music is pretty damn cool.

Add in the British monster that is Bring Me the Horizon and you've got quite possible the best 1-2 punch of scene music Bayou City will see this year. It's like the Warped Tour without all the bands you don't care about and that miserable sun. CORY GARCIA

Sam Smith House of Blues, October 4

Until the inevitable occurs and Adele returns to change our lives once more, Sam Smith currently rules the land when it comes to downtrodden British pop-soul music. The 22-year-old broke major ground by appearing on Disclosure's "Latch" last year, and his own solo moments have reduced many to tears or wondering about their own status in life.

"Stay With Me" registers as one of the year's most stirring performances based on Smith's vocal range alone, which he has in spades. His first Houston appearance comes in with a penciled can't-miss tag, as he's one of the lone males on the R&B circuit actually singing about love and heartbreak. [Note: this show is already sold out.] BRANDO

Also Picked By: Ivan Guzman

Interpol House of Blues, October 3

After 2010's self-titled release was met with a collective shrug and following the departure of long-time bassist/co-founder Carlos Dengler, Interpol looked like it might be down for the count. But after a short hiatus and two solo albums from vocalist Paul Banks, the NYC band regrouped and found enough inspiration to release what might be their best album since 2002 debut Turn on the Bright Lights. The first two singles released from El Pintor were enough to blow Interpol's eponymous release out of the water, and a once-over of the entire record via NPR confirmed these suspicions. [Note: this show has already sold out.] MATTHEW KEEVER

Jimmy Cliff House of Blues, October 5

Many people know little of reggae beyond Bob Marley, or, more specifically, his still-selling Legend. While Bob's imprint on reggae is undeniable, that world was and continues to be packed with an amazing amount of equally talented singer-songwriters who have been churning out one meaningful tune after another for decades.

Toots Hibbert, Bunny Wailer, Gregory Issacs, Burning Spear, and many other artists have made reggae much more than that one "greatest hits" record that Marley probably never even wanted to release in the first place, but Jimmy Cliff may be the first among equals. As heard on his 2012 album Rebirth, his show will be full of positive vibes and even better people. JIM BRICKER

Beck, Jenny Lewis Bayou Music Center, October 9

Beck doesn't comes around often, and many of Jenny Lewis' fans thought she'd written off Houston for good after her 2009 appearance here when a talkative crowd forced her to cut a slow song short out of frustration. But thanks to the fact that both are in the Lone Star State for Austin's ACL Festival, we've been granted a second chance from Lewis, and a long-overdue stop from Beck in the same show. These two L.A. acts both have a heavy following, so this show will likely be full of diehard fans. Grab tickets while they're still for sale. ALYSSA DUPREE

Also Picked By: Jim Bricker

More shows on the next page.

Katy Perry Toyota Center, October 10-11

People can hate on pop concerts all they want, but they're probably viewing them all wrong. If they attend expecting a musical experience that rattles their very core, they will likely be disappointed. But approach it as a spectacle, and the experience is and it's almost always enjoyable. (You wouldn't watch Superbad the same way as Citizen Kane, now would you?) Perry is a walking spectacle that churns out pop hit after pop hit, and her stage show is bound to be highly entertaining. SELENA DIERINGER

Also picked By: Brando

Crowbar Fitzgerald's, October 10

Still relatively fresh off his exit from New Orleans supergroup Down, guitarist/growler Kirk Windstein has once again resurrected his pioneering sludge outfit (and Beavis and Butt-Head favorites) Crowbar to pulverize North America's heaviest metal haunts behind Symmetry in Black. But if Crowbar's agonizingly slow and brutal riffs weren't enough to flatten Fitzgerald's, they're bringing evil death-metal wizards Revocation, Denver thrash-meisters Havok, and more longhaired bruisers besides, providing a little something for metal-heads of all stripes. NATHAN SMITH

Living Colour Warehouse Live, October 12

Living Colour's October Warehouse Live date will be just weeks from the 25th anniversary of their opening set for The Rolling Stones at the Astrodome. A lot may have changed over that quarter-century, but where Dome is truly a relic that's seen better times. Living Colour is a different story. (Cf. Bob Ruggiero's 2013 review.)

When I saw them in '89, Living Colour was the whale in the room, huge and angry and thrashing violently, but ultimately no match for the vastness of the sea that was the Astrodome. This year, I'll be up close and personal in a room with great acoustics, a beautiful thing when combined with songs that have held up well over time. JESSE SENDEJAS JR.

Charli XCX Fitzgerald's, October 16

Charli XCX is gaining traction as a solo artist, as seen with her recent performance on the red carpet at the MTV VMAs. Her initial propulsion in popularity came from collaborating with other artists (Icona Pop's "I Love It"; and Iggy Azalea's "Fancy"), but the Brit's debut single, "Boom Clap," is shooting up the charts, and has her on the verge of becoming a big-time pop star. This may be your only chance to see her at a small venue before Britain's next musical import moves on to bigger and better things. JACK GORMAN

Brand New Bayou Music Center, October 18

Brand New are the Beatles for a generation that grew up in a certain time period, universally beloved and still heard on the car stereos around America every night out, the whole car full of twentysomethings thrilling to their iconic emo hits. This show will be their first time in Houston since 2009, and should be an epic singalong with scores of diehard fans. COREY DIETERMAN

Also Picked By: Alyssa Dupree

Enrique Iglesias, Pitbull Toyota Center, October 19

Security guards hate Enrique Iglesias. In an arena full of hyper-sexual fans, all it takes is the slightest of suggestions to push them over the top... and out of their seats, over the barriers, and onto the stage. Iglesias revels in the chaos he incites at each show, while fans not only enjoy an exciting musical experience, but also a feeling that the Spanish heartthrob is channeling his love and lust directly to them. When combined with the superpowers of Miami's own Pitbull, this show turns into a spectacle usually reserved for New Year's Eve or Mardi Gras. MARCO TORRES

Watsky House of Blues, October 21

Last year, the most badass statistical analyst you've ever heard of, Matt Daniels, released something called the Hip-Hop Flow Chart, which ranked several popular rap acts by vocabulary size. I pored over the results like a rap geek and wondered how could Daniels have missed this prolific word-monster. This year, Daniels' version 2.0 of the chart rightfully included Watsky, and counted 5,651 unique words among the first 35,000 he rapped.

That slotted him alongside some of the very best, names like Aesop Rock (still reigning champ), Sage Francis, Immortal Technique and The Roots. Watsky's new album, All You Can Do, which features more smart and empowering raps from the San Franciscan, who always seems genuinely grateful to be able to do what he does. JESSE SENDEJAS JR.

Rubblebucket Fitzgerald's, October 24

Yeah, their name kind of sucks, but don't let that stop you. This will be the show of the fall. Seriously. I know those are strong words, but they will be understood after Rubblebucket takes the stage at Fitz. They are funky, soulful and groovy, way better than anything you normally listen to. Don't sleep on this show, because you'll regret it. JIM BRICKER

Something Wicked Sam Houston Race Park, October 25 & 26

Houston's annual Halloween EDM festival is getting bigger and better with every year, and this year expands to an additional day of electronic mayhem. In addition to giving fans their fill of bone-rattling dubstep, dance, remixes, trap, electronica, grimy, bass music, it also provides an extra day of fans in devilishly sexy costumes.

Recently DJ/producer 12th Planet was added to the already-deep lineup headlined by Bassnectar, Dillon Francis, Kaskade and Martin Garrix. Something Wicked is quickly moving up the ranks of EDM festivals, and is definitely one of Houston's most exciting fall events. JACK GORMAN

Shovels & Rope Fitzgerald's, October 31

You may already know Shovels & Rope as a sort of inverted-Americana White Stripes with a better singing drummer. Maybe you caught the husband/wife folk-rock act on Letterman recently and saw how they made the grizzled host gush over a rousing version of their hit, "Birmingham."

She's Cary Ann Hearst and he's Michael Trent; primarily, she strums and sings and he does lots of other stuff, including drums, keys and vocals. Sometimes, like on last year's NPR Tiny Desk Concert, they switch roles. They're versatile musicians, strong songwriters and best of all, have injected swagger to a genre that can sometimes seem too docile for the masses. JESSE SENDEJAS JR.


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