Cher Toyota Center, March 24
Cher's six-decade career is all the proof we need that she can do just about anything she sets her mind to. She's a musician, an actress and an all-out badass from feathered head to stiletto-ed toe, and has been ever since the moment she hit the screen singing "I Got You Babe" with Sonny Bono in the '60s.
She's reinvented herself as one of pop's most dynamic divas time and again, through early '70s hits such as "Gypsys, Tramps and Thieves" and "Half-Breed" through '80s and '90s anthems like "If I Could Turn Back Time" and "Believe," and even 2013 dance chart-topper "Woman's World." In fact, it's hard to pick a favorite Cher decade, just because everything about her screams "living legend." ANGELICA LEICHT
Ellie Goulding Bayou Music Center, March 24
Skyrocketing onto the charts with well-received 2010 debut Lights, Ellie Goulding elevates her sound well past simple "singer-songwriter" terms by dropping in dance beats and lofty textures in unexpected places, but her dreamy vocals manage to keep her sound from going full-on electronica. A consistent pop presence since Lights' title track became a worldwide smash, Goulding has stayed in the charts recently, thanks to followup Halcyon and non-album hits "Burn" and Calvin Harris collaboration "I Need Your Love." ANGELICA LEICHT
Bayou City Good Old Boys Continental Club, March 25
Early rock and roll, rockabilly and boogie-woogie may have all but disappeared from non-satellite radio, but the sounds of yesteryear are alive and swingin' Tuesday nights at the Continental, as played by a group of youngsters who couldn't have been born before the Reagan administration.
But for the past several months, first at Mango's and now on Mid-Main, the Bayou City Good Old Boys have been bringing the sounds of Jerry Lee Lewis, Ritchie Valens and the pre-Sgt. Pepper Beatles to a crowd that would otherwise only recognize "Fat Elvis" as ex-Astro Lance Berkman's old nickname. Attendance has been steadily picking up, helped no doubt by no cover charge, but do the Boys a favor and slip them a well-deserved fiver or two. With the Broken Spokes. CHRIS GRAY
Schoolboy Q Warehouse Live, March 25
Schoolboy Q is not quite new to the game, but last month's major-label debut Oxymoron could definitely be considered his arrival. On it, the 27-year-old L.A. rapper -- a mixtape veteran and member of the group Black Hippy with Ab-Soul, Jay Rock and Kendrick Lamar -- pours his compelling biography as a high-school honors student, ex-drug dealer and gangbanger, and father of a young daughter, into an album that's both gangsta and bohemian, with the trippiest production this side of Lamar's good kid...m.a.a.d city.
At the beginning Q nods to Kirko Bangz's "Drank In My Cup" ("Gangsta"); before it's over we've heard from Jay Rock and Lamar (duh), 2 Chainz, Tyler the Creator, Kurupt, Raekwon the Chef and Suga Free, and Oxymoron's author has established himself as rap's quirkiest new star. CHRIS GRAY
List continues on the next page.
Tool Toyota Center, March 25
Tool's absence from iTunes should be a good hint that Maynard James Keenan and his comrades do things a little differently. Mixing postgraduate-level metal and a worldview verging on sociopathic, of course they've been one of rock's biggest acts for a solid generation now. Often spending years at a time on side projects a la A Perfect Circle and Puscifer, Tool works at its own pace and is often openly hostile to the corporate music industry, which only makes their fans love them more.
Although the band has reportedly been working on a new album, which would be their first since 2006's 10,000 Days, this tour is instead heavy on demented fan favorites such as "Hooker With a Penis," "Schism" and "Intention." You can also count on Tool's trademark over-the-top audiovisual concert barrage, which may leave you sleeping with the lights on for a few nights afterward. CHRIS GRAY
VNV Nation Fitzgerald's, March 27
VNV Nation, or Victory Not Vengeance, is all about the love of electronic music. The Hamburg-based duo of producer Ronan Harris and drummer Mark Jackson incorporate electro, industrial, synth-pop and EBM into a danceable hybrid of pounding beats and haunting electronic wails. As heard on releases like 1999's Praise the Fallen and last year's Transnational, VNV's unique brand of electronica makes for one potent, body-rocking mash-up. With Whiteqube. ANGELICA LEICHT
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