Houston Concert Watch 12/23: Tennis, Rob Thomas and More

Tennis at Coachella in 2017
Tennis at Coachella in 2017 Photo by Mathew Tucciarone
Typically, there isn't much live music to enjoy during the week of Christmas. But in the age of COVID-19, when most artists are live-streaming performances rather than touring, there will be plenty of great shows worth watching — either with loved ones or as a reprieve from them. Here's to 2021, Houston. Maybe it be anything but 2020.

Rob Thomas
Live-Streaming – 23 December

Rob Thomas made a name for himself as the front man of Matchbox Twenty, the radio-friendly grunge-pop hybrid that dominated the airwaves in the late '90s. He branched out with a feature on Santana's "Smooth" in 1999, cementing his status as a solo artist. Since 2005, he has released four studio albums, leaning more toward pop than Matchbox Twenty ever did. Benefiting his Sidewalk Angels Foundation — which provides funds to no-kill animal shelters and animal rescues across the country — Thomas will live-stream a performance tonight.

Live-Streaming – 23 December

Despite her affinity for sailing, vocalist Alaina Moore has admitted in recent interviews that she only learned how to swim in the past year. That might come as a surprise to longtime fans of Tennis, a duo that is well-known for its sea legs. Moore and her husband Patrick Riley practically live on a boat, and their ethereal dream pop has been linked with water since 2011’s Cape Dory. But the musically-intertwined couple has proven, ten years since their formation, that they are still full of surprises and heartfelt ballads. Tennis is scheduled to live-stream a performance of their lo-fi, retro tunes tonight.

Ben Folds
Live-Streaming – 26 December

Ben Folds is classically trained and irreverently witty, capable of lifting his fans' hearts through comedy on one song, then bringing them to tears on the next. In 2014 and 2017, the California native performed alongside the Houston Symphony Orchestra with the express goal of introducing younger fans to classical music. His songs are both cheeky and endearing, at times boasting glib lyricism alongside an underlying affinity for humanity. Instead of rockin' the suburbs, Folds – like the rest of us – has been rockin' his own home these days, and for a while he hosted a weekly live-streaming from his home. This Saturday, he will perform at "Georgia Comes Alive," a virtual festival aimed at getting out the vote.

The Suffers
Live-Streaming – 26 December

The Suffers are well-known for being a literal big band. Unfortunately, due to the ongoing pandemic, the band's eight members were unable to physically share space for quite some time during the COVID outbreak. But that didn't keep front woman Kam Franklin from bringing her fans a healthy dose of soulful vocals and encouraging lyrics every week, lifting spirits virtually while continuing to raise funds for her band. The entire band will live-stream a socially-distanced performance this Saturday at the virtual music festival "Georgia Comes Alive."

Zac Brown Band
Live-Streaming – 27 December

Equal parts a traditional country big band and boundary-pushing genre-hoppers, Zac Brown Band fuses country with bluegrass, regularly sprinkling in rock-and-roll with nods to pop music as well. Not all the Georgia natives' albums have been hits, and recent outings have polarized listeners. But crowd-pleasers like "Chicken Fried," "Goodbye In Her Eyes," "Colder Weather" and "Highway 20 Ride" are likely to keep the group's massive fan base buying tickets for the foreseeable future. The multi-platinum, Grammy Award-winning outfit will live stream a concert this Sunday.
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Matt is a regular contributor to the Houston Press’ music section. He graduated from the University of Houston with a degree in print journalism and global business. Matt first began writing for the Press as an intern, having accidentally sent his resume to the publication's music editor instead of the news chief. After half a decade of attending concerts and interviewing musicians, he has credited this fortuitous mistake to divine intervention.
Contact: Matthew Keever