Bad Suns Fitzgerald's, February 24
Formed all the way back in 2012, Bad Suns is another stylish, dance-friendly act jockeying for whatever fans haven't yet been gobbled up by Imagine Dragons; perhaps they're just positioning themselves as potential openers for the "Radioactive" pace-setters' upcoming arena tour. Either way, the Southern California quartet folds '80s synth-pop into Phoenix-style alt-rock the way a skilled pastry chef would whip up a tray of delicious petit fours, and quickly found a receptive radio audience with candy-coated singles like "Salt" and "Cardiac Arrest." With Coasts and Maudlin Strangers.
Meghan Trainor House of Blues, February 25
Rapping singer of some of 2014's most enjoyable pop songs, Meghan Trainor became a star and eventual Grammy nominee thanks to back-to-back smash hits "All About That Bass" and "Lips Are Movin'." It'll never be Dylan, true, but the Massachusetts-born vocalist and multi-instrumentalist scored major points with fans by broaching issues like body image and teen vulnerability, topics seldom mentioned on a typical Top 40 playlist. Now based in Nashville, the 21-year-old Trainor has already unseated Taylor Swift from the top of Billboard's albums chart with last month's Title, and hopes to use her first full-fledged tour to prove she's got real staying power.
Dwarves Warehouse Live, February 25
Among the most willfully offensive bands in punk history, the Dwarves would also be among the most tongue-in-cheek, except their collective tongue is no doubt otherwise occupied with much more perverse pursuits. Of course the Chicago-formed band's most infamous stunt is the the hoax surrounding guitarist Hewhocannotbenamed supposed death in the wake of 1990's breakthrough album Blood, Guts & Pussy, which promptly got them dropped from Sub Pop, but they've hung around long enough to make their mark in areas other than perpetually poor taste: members of the Offspring, Queens of the Stone Age and Urge Overkill all appeared on 2004's The Dwarves Must Die. Last year they returned with the typically obnoxious Dwarves Invented Rock and Roll.
More shows on the next page.
Libby Koch Redneck Country Club, February 25
Libby Koch may have set her 2014 album Tennessee Colony in the tiny East Texas settlement near Palestine where her ancestors settled in the days of William B. Travis, but the lively arrangements -- a frisky blend of country, folk, bluegrass and gospel set to some mighty fine fiddle, banjo and mandolin -- not only make Tennessee Colony sound daisy-fresh, but also like the rare acoustic-based album that truly deserves to be called "Americana."
World's Championship Bar-B-Que Contest NRG Park, February 26
Never mind the Hideout during the rodeo itself, but critics who gripe that the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo embraces the likes of Fall Out Boy at the expense of the boot-scootin' talent in its own backyard must have overlooked the World's Championship Bar-B-Que Contest. This year the contest spreads an even dozen top Texas country and like-minded acts over its three days, down to "Hound Dog" howler Bri Bagwell mini-residency at the "Rockin' Bar-B-Que Saloon." Kicking things off Thursday are San Marcos' Texas Renegade Band and Texas City's George Ducas, who wrote the rodeo's 2015 theme song, "Party With Your Boots On." Lots more to come this weekend, too.
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