Toyota Center, October 17
Most Americans were introduced to The Weeknd on Drake's sophomore studio album, Take Care. Born Abel Makkonen Tesfaye, the Toronto-born singer captivated fans with his robust tenor vocals and, in the six years since then, has become a star in his own right. Boasting Drake's penchant for oversharing but much more natural talent, The Weeknd writes songs brimming with light-skinned party girls, bumps of cocaine and heartache atop danceable tracks that belie the content within. Tesfaye's music is the HBO of rhythm and blues, with as much sex and drugs as you can stand with top-notch production helping qualify them as art. While some of his lyrics have been criticized for being misogynistic, The Weeknd remains his own harshest critic. Despite his braggadocious nature, he seems painfully aware of the emptiness found in nonstop partying and endless one-night stands, raising the question: What's next for this Starboy? With French Montana and Nav. MATTHEW KEEVER
White Oak Music Hall, October 19
Harlem’s A$AP Mob arrived at the cusp of 2012 with a single goal in mind: to take over hip-hop with an emphasis on being regionless. A$AP Rocky sounded like he was from Houston, while A$AP Ferg took on Cleveland's quick-melodic punch and flair. It worked. Their live shows matched that energy of being from anywhere and nowhere all at once. In some ways, they’ve exhibited all of the storybook ups and downs of your traditional rap crew: their leader, A$AP Yams, tragically passed away. Their face, A$AP Rocky, remains one of rap’s more under-appreciated forces, both in a fashion sense and rap-wise. It hasn’t stopped the Mob from making fashion-specific rap tailor-made for being flashy as well as bombastic NYC-specific hip-hop. Play A$AP Ferg’s “Shabba Ranks” in a specific venue and watch people get up. The Mob persists through struggle, striving and prospering. Just don’t step on their Raf Simons collection. With Key! and Cozy Boys. BRANDON CALDWELL
House of Blues, October 19
Sam Hunt’s mushy, electro-lite “Body Like a Back Road” has rewritten the rules for what hit country singles sound like, and Jon Pardi is about as far from Sam Hunt’s style of country as possible. The 32-year-old singer from near Sacramento broke through last year with California Sunrise, an album full of ringing guitars and working-man’s anthems like “Paycheck”; Pardi would have easily been labeled a throwback if he didn’t strike such a chord with today’s fans. Sunrise bowed at No. 1 on Billboard’s country albums chart, produced two Top 5 singles in “Dirt On My Boots” and “Heartache On the Dance Floor,” and was certified gold in August. Regardless of how high his songs do or don’t chart, however, Pardi will keep pulling in more fans the more records he makes. Don’t expect him to play a room as small as House of Blues his next trip through town. With Midland and Runaway June.
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DEEP CUTS' HALLOWEEN BLOODBATH
Wonky Power Live, October 20
It’s hard to imagine a more chill group within Houston’s indie ranks than Deep Cuts, therefore that makes them the most likely act to go Christian Bale in American Psycho for Halloween. Their most recent single, last summer’s “Friends” b/w Sade cover “Hang On to Your Love,” is a model of after-hours soft-rock smoothness, radiating the kind of poise that makes them ideal puppet masters for this “Halloween Bloodbath” Friday night at Wonky Power Live. Deep Cuts themselves are promising a tasty buffet of ‘90s Top 40 favorites united chiefly by their one-word titles — “Pony,” “Smooth,” “Dragula,” etc. — and the promise of a truly sick dance floor. Come early for Oasis as imagined by by members of Young Mammals, Narrow Head and Clare; folks from Baby Horse and the Lories taking on Frank Ocean; Robert Ellis & the Boys guitarist Kelly Doyle’s salute to Celine Dion(!); and Jazz Radio doing Soundgarden. All ages welcome, costumes encouraged, goosebumps mandatory. BYOB.
JD McPHERSON, NIKKI LANE
Continental Club, October 21
Shine up those boots, snap that pearl-snap shirt, give that vintage A-line a good once-over with the lint roller, and put an extra dab or two of pomade behind your ears, because Saturday nights at the Continental were made for shows like these — two dynamic young roots-rock performers whose echoes of the past are amplified tenfold by their raw energy onstage. That energy practically bleeds all over JD McPherson’s latest, Undivided Heart & Soul (New West), which was born out of a weekend the Oklahoma native spent jamming with his friend Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age and recorded in RCA Records’ Studio B in Nashville, about as hallowed as real estate gets in the music business. His partner and labelmate Nikki Lane combines a classic country twang and dusky vocals with the sort of hellraising spirit that, on this year’s Highway Queen, adds another tanker truck’s worth of fuel to her reputation as Americana’s premiere bad girl with a heart of gold.