The Top 20 Houston Concerts of 2013

Black Flag Walters, August 26

Not a heck of a lot of complimentary things have been said about Black Flag's 2013 "reunion," and when fans arrived at Walters in August to discover stage barricades and signs warning against stage-diving and photography, odds weren't looking terrific. But when the hyper-stoic Greg Ginn flipped the switch on his guitar and Ron Reyes screamed "It's not my imagination! I've got a gun on my back!", we got the balls-out frenzy we were hoping for. NATHAN SMITH

Bun B feat. The Houston Symphony Jones Hall, November 14

This was first time I've ever seen Bun B nervous before a performance, but the Trill OG pulled off an outstanding version of "Where Is the Love" to a room full of kids, dignitaries, and even his own mother (at her first Bun B show ever). A partnership between the Symphony and Houston's Anti-Defamation League, this Concert Against Hate was the trillest show of the year. MARCO TORRES

Cannibal Corpse, Napalm Death, Immolation Fitzgerald's, May 10

Fitzgerald's was never sweatier than when the Decibel Magazine Tour 2013 lurched into the old club in May -- not just the death-metal tour of the year, but possibly the decade. Immolation, Napalm Death and Cannibal Corpse packed the place to overflowing, and headbangers had nowhere to go to escape the roiling mosh pit while the bands had to dodge wild-eyed stage divers all night as they extracted punishing, metallic contortions from their instruments. NATHAN SMITH

Flogging Molly House of Blues, February 18

Flogging Molly's rowdy concert reiterated how fun these Celtic punks can be. Beer flew, flasks were passed around, and gnarly punk kids climbed the stage in utter disregard for the rules. A sea of people bobbed in unison, totally happy to be doused by beers from the balcony. I've never reeked quite like I did leaving that show. ANGELICA LEICHT

fun. Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, October 6

So much more than a pop-radio band, fun. brought their exhilarating musical talents to one of the most engaged crowds I've seen in Texas, and promptly positioned themselves into my Top 10 Concerts of All Time. I can't wait to see them again. SELENA DIERINGER

Gaslight Anthem House of Blues, April 25

Brian Fallon and Gaslight Anthem's themes are easy enough to follow, but he must be the only contemporary vocalist who can pleading for fans to let him keep some of his life private on one song, then convincingly sing from a woman's perspective on the next. Top 40 could use a little more soul, substance and passion, and these guys have all three in spades. MATTHEW KEEVER

Guns N' Roses House of Blues, May 28

Guns N' Roses' handlers revoked our press credentials for House of Blues over the kind of light-hearted ribbing Axl has never found funny. We went anyway, and though the new faces (and top hats) weren't entirely familiar, the tunes certainly were. Led by guitarist Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal, the 2013 Gunners proved a well-oiled and polished machine, fronted by a mysterious figure who sounded like and often even resembled W. Axl Rose himself. NATHAN SMITH

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Heart Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, August 14

Ann and Nancy Wilson blew my damn mind. Late-'70s album Dreamboat Annie is every bit as relevant now as back then, and the haunting "Alone" earned a standing ovation in the middle of the show. Though a bit weathered, Ann's voice still kills, and I'll forever remember Nancy kicking the air as she threw Heart into the first notes of "Crazy On You." It was awesome. ANGELICA LEICHT

Iceage Mango's, June 3

After seeing Iceage described as "post-hardcore punk" and a "must-see" band, I figured I'd give them a spin. And the Danes' set was short for a headliner that came all the way from Copenhagen, but even at less than an hour it was still one of the most exciting, emotionally charged and inspiring concerts I've been to all year, if not ever. ALYSSA DUPREE

Kendrick Lamar Reliant Arena, June 11

I've seen Kendrick Lamar perform no less than 12 times since 2011, but on this night -- his largest Houston audience before opening for Kanye West December 7 -- he moved like a sprite would if kept bottled up enough. He didn't do like most rappers, short-changing sets with only one verse per number, but performed the whole goddamn songs. With his TDE crew backing him the entire time, Lamar literally owned us. BRANDO

Langhorne Slim Fitzgerald's, October 22

A born performer, Langhorne Slim put on one of those "I'm lucky to be here" or "Sucks you missed it" type of shows. Everyone came happy and left even happier, a sure sign of greatness. JIM BRICKER

Man Man Fitzgerald's, September 22

One thing I love about pop music is costume changes, but they're hard to come by in rock -- apart from Man Man lead vocalist Honus Honus. For all you tough guys who think there's only one way to be a rock star, he used alien masks, suit jackets and capes to turn Man Man's discography into a funhouse-like experience, and undoubtedly the most enjoyable show I saw all year. ALYSSA DUPREE

The Men Free Press Summer Fest, June 2

Brooklyn's the Men are equal parts guitar-heavy scuzz-punk and warm folk-rock that somehow flawlessly pulls that off live, better thanon their records. For me, they were the highlight of Summer Fest. NEPH BASEDOW

List continues on the next page.

The Monkees Arena Theatre, August 1

The Monkees had just torn through "I'm Not Your Stepping Stone," and I just sat there quietly as my +1 asked me how much I was hating the show. I replied, "I'm not. This is fucking amazing." I was dumbstruck, and if I could relive any moment from any show this year that would be it. CORY GARCIA

Paramore Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, October 27

Paramore was also fantastic at Bayou Music Center in April, so I'm counting both shows as one. Goddess of rock Hayley Williams kicks more ass at her job than you can ever hope to at yours, stoking fans to fervently cheer every single second. SELENA DIERINGER

Polyphonic Spree Fitzgerald's, August 29

Fitzgerald's served as a church, temple, mosque or whatever other building where religious people do Polyphonic Spree things. The plus-size group makes you laugh, cry and sing all within the first few notes, and toys with your emotions the rest of the way. For a few hours they shared their heartwarming vision. JIM BRICKER

The Postal Service Free Press Summer Fest, June 1

My best guess is The Postal Service spent the last decade holed up curating an amazing concert experience, because it felt like perfection, and fans of all ages were completely engrossed in the show. Call me cheesy (I'm used to it), but it was pretty magical. SELENA DIERINGER

Taylor Swift Toyota Center, May 16

Almost by pure personality alone, Miss Swift managed to not just grab my attention but have me engaged in songs I'd never heard before. I didn't even mind the songs I hate, and during "All Too Well" and then suddenly I found myself with all these feelings. CORY GARCIA

Texas Concert for Conservation feat. Dwight Yoakam, Robert Earl Keen, Hayes Carll & Ray Wylie Hubbard Sam Houston Race Park, May 18

Texas' coastal waters and our wry but soulful singer-songwriters are two of this state's most precious natural resources. Lucky for us both seem to be renewable, too -- up to a point. This was a beyond-pleasant evening even before Lyle Lovett showed up to sing "hey hey" a few times with old Aggie buddy Robert Earl Keen, and it got even better with each sly swivel of Yoakam's hips. CHRIS GRAY

Twenty One Pilots House of Blues, November 15

From behind their signature ski masks, this Ohio-born duo will be the first to tell you they sound weird. But quirkiness aside, their songs abound with messages of resilience and sticking together as we all try to figure out this thing called life. MATTHEW KEEVER


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