Free Radicals Avant Garden, May 13
Free Radicals is both Nick Cooper's revolving-door ensemble that at any given moment could be playing free jazz or Latin funk, and also Cooper's ongoing testimonial to how much he digs being a member of the Houston music community. He has so much experience at this point that he has very much become a one-man hub of that community.
Last year Cooper brought that same kind of musical civic pride to the Radicals' first album in several years, The Freedom Fence, and then in July watched it win a well-deserved Houston Press Music Award for Local Album of the Year; just while we're thinking about it, don't forget to nominate your favorites in this year's HPMAs right over here.
Free Rads' weekly jam, wherever it may be, is a true local-music institution. These days it happens to be at AvantGarden, a local-music institution of its own, and follows David Dove's They, Who Sound showcase -- still another. CHRIS GRAY
Smashing Pumpkins Bayou Music Center, May 15
From 1988 to 2000, Billy Corgan headed Smashing Pumpkins, one of alternative rock's reigning bands -- one that endured years-long obstacles like emotional dysfunction, personal conflict, drug addiction, and even death. Each "death," however, has ignited a resulting musical rebirth.
But even those obstacles couldn't keep Corgan from pursuing the band he still adores, as we've witnessed in the six years since he regrouped Smashing Pumpkins with a wholly new lineup. Only Corgan himself can best describe his personal ups and downs through it all, the births and rebirths, the destruction and resulting creation.
"I've had the rise and the fall, and these years since then have been a clusterfuck," he admits. Wednesday with Texans Ringo Deathstarr and Girl In a Coma; read the rest of this week's music feature story at this link. NEPH BASEDOW
Hacienda Warehouse Live, May 15
San Antonio's Hacienda is one of the most exciting live rock and roll bands in Texas at the moment. After Villanueva brothers Abraham, Jaime and Rene's supercharged latter-day Tex-Mex came to the attention of Dan Auerbach, the Black Keys guitarist took Hacienda under his wing and produced 2010 breakout LP Big Red & Barbacoa.
For last year's Shakedown, Auerbach stuck around to co-write the songs with the band, resulting in an album that's both retro and modern, with dashes of psychedelia and plenty of Hacienda's patented South Texas soul. With Young Girls and Knights of the Fire Kingdom. CHRIS GRAY
Taylor Swift Toyota Center, May 16
It's hard to believe that country warbler turned pop-crossover megastar Taylor Swift is only four albums into her career, given the insane amount of hits she's had in heavy radio rotation. Those four albums have sold a whopping 26 million copies worldwide and spurred an Internet meme or two on her way up.
Known for her narrative songwriting that focuses almost solely on ghosts of relationships past, Swift is like the black-widow spider of pop-country music, lovin' 'em and leavin' 'em in the dust, with her lyrical musings handed over as a parting gift. Potential boyfriends, beware: if you mess with this one, she'll make sure you, along with every tween girl in the nation, know that you are never, ever, ever getting back together. With Ed Sheeran. ANGELICA LEICHT
Kylesa Walters, May 16
More adventurous than most metal bands, Kylesa walks down some shadowy corridors in its journey toward impending doom. Formed in Savannah, Georgia, about a decade ago, the five-piece spreads vocals across three singers and doesn't get so caught up in shread-worthy theatrics it forgets about melody. We actually caught a strong whiff of the Cure on parts of upcoming seventh album Ultraviolet, due later this month.
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Never less than sludgy, Kylesa surely deals out their fair share of headbanging moments, but pauses every once in a while to let in a stray shaft of sunlight. With Blood Ceremony, White Hills and Lazer Wolf. CHRIS GRAY