Superchunk Fitzgerald's, February 7
Among the handful of '80s/'90s college-rock acts who have found equal if not greater success on the reunion circuit -- Pixies and Sebadoh come to mind, both due here later this month -- Chapel Hill's Superchunk melded the melodic roar of Husker Du with the quirks of peers like Archers of Loaf and Pavement. In the process they turned out one slacker anthem after another -- "Slack Motherfucker," "Mower," "Hyper Enough" -- and wound up defining indie-rock in more ways than one.
Today the label Superchunk co-founders Mac McCaughan and Laura Ballance originally started to release Superchunk's records, Merge Records, has now given the world Spoon, M. Ward, Neutral Milk Hotel and Arcade Fire, among many others. Later this month it will re-release Superchunk's long out-of-print 1997 album Indoor Living only a few months after their latest, I Hate Music. CHRIS GRAY
Rhett Miller McGonigel's Mucky Duck, February 7
As front man for Dallas warhorses the Old 97's, Rhett Miller spearheaded the band's infusion of neo-country with punk rock and a whole lot of percussion, creating a new sound without alienating too many traditional country fans. The 97's paved the way for an entirely new type of genre that eventually became known as "alt-country." As a singer-songwriter, he continues pushing boundaries and testing limits while remaining true to the essential components of that neo-folkie sound. Shows at 7 and 9:30 p.m. ANGELICA LEICHT
Sting & Paul Simon Toyota Center, February 8
Between the two of them, longtime friends Sting and Paul Simon have produced a trove of pop-rock gems so vast that even Saturday's top ticket price of $250 seems like a bargain. (Almost.) As the quintessential New York '60s songwriter and one of the UK's chief architects of New Wave a generation later, the two share little on the surface except a knack for translating their rigorous intellectual minds and restless musical spirits into runaway pop success.
They are neighbors in the same NYC apartment building, though. That's more than enough reason for a joint tour featuring full sets by Sting and Simon's bands, followed by a third-act collaboration. The tour, which opens in Houston, is easily one of the hottest tickets on 2014's still-young concert calendar. CHRIS GRAY
White Ghost Shivers McGonigel's Mucky Duck, February 8
The White Ghost Shivers are a rowdy, whistle-throwing, lyrically-naughty bunch, which is exactly why we love 'em. The seven-piece band is heavily dosed with a melting pot of all the big band greats; everything from vaudeville to hokum, jazz, and ragtime are entwined among the band's innuendo-laced lyrics, and the combination makes for one hell of a rowdy live show.
That mix of musical eclecticism, theatre-troupe antics, and sheer lunacy has been going strong for the past decade, and thanks to their shenanigans they've become known as one of the most fun bands to rise out of the Austin scene in recent years. ANGELICA LEICHT
More shows on the next page.
Alejandro Escovedo Continental Club, December 8
A rootsy songwriter with the passionate heart of a punk rocker, Austin's Alejandro Escovedo is doing some of his finest work as he enters his sixties. Each one of them excellent, thoughtful and crackling with electric-guitar energy, his albums Big Station, Street Songs of Love and Real Animal have all been released since Escovedo received the Americana Music Association's Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006.
In 2013 he reunited with his legendary '80s group the True Believers (issuing the limited-run Dedication EP in the bargain), but even that band's three-guitar musculature can pale in comparison to the steely, experience-tempered noise of Escovedo's current outfit the Sensitive Boys. (This show was postponed from December 7.) CHRIS GRAY
Queens of the Stone Age Bayou Music Center, February 9
After making one of the 21st century's most audacious breakthroughs with 2000's raunchy and robust Rated R, Josh Homme's motley crew of high-desert renegades known as Queens of the Stone Age went right on to become one of the 21st century's signature bands. Following 2007's Era Vulgaris, the Queens disappeared, reappeared, toured incessantly, became big-festival standbys and eventually reemerged at the top of their game with last year's ...Like Clockwork.
Reliably tense and riddled with odd guest stars (Elton John?!), it's quintessential QOTSA: Even at their heaviest moments the songs radiate a palpable erotic pulse, calling to mind the words of a great California ancestor, Jim Morrison: the men don't know, but the little girls understand. With Chelsea Wolfe. CHRIS GRAY
ROCKS OFF'S GREATEST HITS
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW