Empire of the Sun Warehouse Live, September 20
If you enjoy your woozy, MGMT-style electro-pop with the costume design of a Spielberg epic, Empire of the Sun is ready for their close-up. The Australian duo of Luke Steele and Nick Littlemore -- who hail from the Western outpost of Perth, sometimes called the most remote large city on the planet and also INXS's hometown -- have been creating expansive, sometimes blissful electronica for half a decade when someone is not off pursuing sidelines like composing music for Cirque du Soleil. (That was Littlemore.)
Empire's most recent album, this year's Ice On the Dune, suggests their infatuation with Frank Herbert's sci-fi universe may be bordering on the pathological. CHRIS GRAY
A Fistful of Soul Big Top Lounge, September 20
If you're seeking a scene, maaaaaaaaaan, you could do a hell of a lot worse than A Fistful of Soul, the monthly where some of Houston's grooviest DJs drip rare (and not-so-rare) vintage wax all over Midtown. Fistful dates back to the Mink in 2009, hopped next door to the marginally bigger Big Top some time later, and soon enough spilled over onto the Continental Club patio, where it celebrates its fourth soul-spinnin' anniversary tonight.
Last week the Fistful guys -- Joe Ross, Stewart Anderson and Alex LaRotta -- were kind enough to count down their Top 25 tracks for Rocks Off. It's always no cover, and always all 45s. Enter through the Big Top. CHRIS GRAY
Boogie, Blues & Brews Walter Hall Park, League City, September 20-22 This catch-all roots-music festival heavy on regional flavor returns for a second edition, touting more than 20 performers at reasonable rates, plus a chili cookoff and Texans tailgate party Sunday. Musically, the lineup is headed up by Louisiana lightin'-rockers Cowboy Mouth and their more-or-less Red Dirt counterparts Cody Canada & the Departed -- who are about to suffer the departure of pivotal member Seth James in November -- besides familiar names including Jesse Dayton, Marcia Ball, Wayne Toups, Brian Jack & the Zydeco Gamblers, Hamilton Loomis, and Houston's Runaway Sun. A weekend pass is $30; see boogiebluesandbrews.com for more. CHRIS GRAY
The Rides Arena Theatre, September 20
How the new guitar-centric blues-rock supergroup The Rides came together involves a genesis that's more football than foot pedals. But the core trio of singer/guitarists Stephen Stills and Kenny Wayne Shepherd and keyboardist Barry Goldberg couldn't be happier about the venture, whether it's a one-off project or one with more legs.
"This was an interesting opportunity for me to do something out of the norm. I've always wanted to put together a side project," Shepherd says from a stop on the band's current tour in support of debut CD Can't Get Enough (429 Records). "I wanted to be part of a band and have a new experience." Read the rest of Rocks Off's interview with Shepherd at this link. BOB RUGGIERO
Kinky Friedman Old Quarter Acoustic Cafe (Galveston), September 20
Sold out. Sorry, y'all. CHRIS GRAY
Tom Russell Dosey Doe Music Cafe, September 20
Think of the ballyhooed Texas "singer-songwriter tradition," and Tom Russell may not be the first name that comes to mind, but he absolutely belongs up there with the Elys and Hancocks and Lovetts and Earles. The longtime El Pasoan is in many ways roots music's answer to fellow borderlands citizen Cormac McCarthy, author of one volume after another of story-songs rich in drama, poetry, legends and blood. Many of his albums, including the latest, 2011's Mesabi, qualify Russell as much as a folklorist as a songwriter. CHRIS GRAY
Herman's Hermits Starring Peter Noone Stafford Centre, September 20
In the early-to-mid '60s, Herman's Hermits racked up a string of uptempo pop hits that helped define the British Invasion, including "I'm Into Something Good," "Mrs. Brown, You've Got a Lovely Daughter," "I'm Henry the VIII, I Am," "Can't You Hear My Heartbeat?" and "A Must to Avoid," along with covers of "Silhouettes" and "Wonderful World. Fronting the group was the angelic-looking Peter Noone, dubbed "Herman" for his resemblance to the character "Sherman"on "The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show" cartoon. Recently Rocks Off had the pleasure of speaking with Noone, who now fronts the American version of Herman's Hermits bearing his name (ex-bandmate Barry Whitwam runs the UK-based Hermits); please see both parts of the interview below. BOB RUGGIERO
Still more shows on the next page.