Alicia Keys, Miguel Toyota Center, March 18
Alicia Keys just keeps rising. The Harlem-raised soul singer and pianist has reached the peak of her profession, exuding a retro vibe and flashing her classical training while becoming a fashion-forward style trendsetter. Along the way, Keys has gone multiplatinum without sacrificing any street cred on a long string of era-defining singles that only starts with "Fallin'," "No One," "If I Ain't Got You" and Jay-Z duet "New York State of Mind." And she's not even 35 yet.
Notwithstanding Keys herself, Monday's opener Miguel is simply the hottest thing going in R&B these days after last year's Kaleidoscope Dream, and that even includes Frank Ocean. CHRIS GRAY
Giving Tree Band Rudyard's, March 18
Fans of Neil Young's earthier passages, Trampled By Turtles, and the Avett Brothers will find themselves at home in front of the Giving Tree Band's Americana clamor. The Illinois bluegrass-and-the-kitchen-sink group comes through Fitz on a SXSW hangover run behind their latest, 2012's Vacilador. With Desert Noises and Hollis Brown. CRAIG HLAVATY
Maroon 5 Toyota Center, March 19
Now four studio albums deep into a predictably boffo pop career, Adam Levine and Maroon 5 return to Houston high on last year's smash Overexposed. Yes, this near-unstoppable force of pop mastery and Levine's own dreamy, bedroom-ready body - seemingly built for carnal passions and your girlfriend's daydreams - cannot be stopped, unless Levine puts on 60 pounds.
Sadly, this time around the 5 is joined by lame-os to the max Neon Trees and Owl City as openers, so stay at the bar for another drink or two. CRAIG HLAVATY
Merle Haggard Stafford Centre, March 21
Inching toward 80 years on the planet, The Hag is still making country and rock crowds giddy with cuts like "The Fightin' Side of Me" and "Mama Tried" when most men his age can barely open a car door. Showing no signs of slowing down the touring grind, Haggard is now a lovable presence on Twitter for anyone with or without a red neck.
His career includes 40 No. 1 hits and nearly every country-music accolade one can own, and his name is synonymous with the outlaw genre at large. Now if we can only get him his own reality show. CRAIG HLAVATY
RiFF RaFF Fitzgerald's, March 21
Those as yet unfamiliar with RiFF RaFF, or however the hell he spells his name, probably won't be for long. The former Houston rapper has enjoyed a relatively meteoric rise from hawking self-made CDs at local malls to 21st-century self-styled superstardom on the MTV reality show From G's to Gents and as a recording artist on Diplo's Mad Decent label, which released his self-explanatory mixtape debut Birth of an Icon last summer.
With his cartoonish hyper-pimp outfits, nonsequitur-laced songs like "Jose Canseco" and "Deion Sandals" and outrageous Twitter feed (dial up @JODYHIGHROLLER and laugh away), RiFF has been called the most viral human being on the planet and the "rap game James Franco," and lives up to both every time another tweet or YouTube video posts. CHRIS GRAY
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.