Tim McGraw NRG Stadium, March 10
Although some of the more regrettable traits of the recent "bro-country" fad can be laid squarely at Tim McGraw's doorstep, his 20-year career has been a lot more than 12-packs and Daisy Dukes; his keen interest in Southern soul music and knack for crossover ballads like "Live Like You Were Dying" are just two reasons McGraw has outlasted and outsold just about every other hat-wearing star who cut his teeth in the mid-'90s. Earlier this year his 13th studio album, last year's Sundown Heaven Town, gave him yet another No. 1 single with "Shotgun Rider"; he was also excellent saluting Glen Campbell at the Oscars last month.
Paul Wall Warehouse Live, March 11
As he has progressed beyond 30, onetime King of the Parking Lot Paul Wall has become a diamond-encrusted grill merchant and pitchman for hip-hop companies such as Texan Wire Wheels (SLAB-friendly TV ad shown above). But the slimmed-down, self-styled Po Up Poet -- taken from the title of his 2014 album -- is now a mentor to aspiring young rappers as well, including including the two scheduled to join him at Wednesday's birthday bash, Memphis' Young Dolph and Cleveland's Nessacary.
Be*Witched Wednesdays Numbers, March 11
Houston's only night to hear the most sinister subgenres of alternative music all in one place, Be.Witched Wednesdays is a lot more than Siousxie & the Banshees, the Cure and Bauhaus -- not that they'd ever skimp on such cornerstones, either. DJs Damon Allen and FrankiFranki (and their guests) touch on goth, industrial, post-punk, darkwave, EBM, New Romantic, synth-pop, and a lot more besides, meaning all the greats (Skinny Puppy, Clan of Xymox, Sex Gang Children) among plenty of legends and just as many acts you'd nearly forgotten. Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, anyone? Note: this show was added to this article after Freddie Gibbs cancelled Monday morning.
More shows on the next page.
Zac Brown Band NRG Stadium, March 12
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One of the most organic ensembles country music has seen in decades, both in terms of its skilled musicianship and eclectic influences, Georgia's Zac Brown Band is also one of the most successful; last week "Homegrown," the lead single off next month's first album in three years, Jekyll + Hyde, debuted in the Top 10 on country radio. Thursday's RodeoHouston appearance, the band's fifth in a row and fifth overall, is a precursor to an exhaustive U.S. tour that also includes Alabama's Hangout Fest, Arkansas' Thunder On the Mountain, and a September spot headlining Chicago's Wrigley Field over hometown heroes Cheap Trick.
SXSW Overflow Fest Super Happy Fun Land, March 12-25
One of Houston's truly remarkable musical events, Super Happy Fun Land's annual SXSW Overflow fest doesn't get nearly the amount of attention it deserves, but the longtime East End music venue/artist sanctuary has always been driven by motives other than publicity. Now in its 11th year, Overflow fest runs from Thursday through March 25, or about twice as long as its Austin quasi-doppelganger, and also throws open its doors to artists from all over the map, both geographically and aesthetically. (This year acts from Argentina, Japan, D.C., Boston and right here in Houston caught our eye, for starters.)
Besides a paying gig, performers also get a delicious meal and cheap place to crash, which can go a long way when you're all but stranded hundreds or even thousands of miles from home. As with years past, the bill on any given night can be something of a mixed bag, but SHFL's calendar helpfully provides links to each performer's Web page(s) for your sampling pleasure.