Aftermath: Our Favorite Shows of 2011

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Photo By Craig Hlavaty
Rex's War Face: The crowd's at June's Free Press Summer Fest were feral and friendly.
This week we asked our pool of Rocks Off writers what their favorite shows of 2011 were, the ones that brought joy to their hearts to attend and helped them make magic with a keyboard hours later. Hopefully delivered to us editors on time. Ahem.

Our team was busy this year, friends, and in 2011 you got to know plenty of new names and bylines, each with unique voices that Rocks Off had been lacking in the past, with double-threats coming to the forefront again, doing double-duty, shooting and writing about shows.

2012 promises even more awesomeness, with the return of music editor Chris Gray, and the ensuing battle between he and I to figure out which one of us will cover the rumored Beach Boys and Rolling Stones dates coming through town.


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Photo by Jay Lee
Peter Gabriel
The orchestra was at turns this big glowing thing onstage, whipping out insane textures onto the audience, and Peter Gabriel gave it room, sometimes dropping from view to showcase them. We know that orchestras are made multiple parts that work like a machine in ways we can't fathom. Needless to say we're not good at describing them, we just know that when we hear them live, great ones, that they can have a psychical effect on your body, which we very much felt.

If the idea of a Gabriel show with no guitars or drums bothers you, then you haven't been paying attention to his career from Genesis on. He's never done anything per the unwritten rules of rock, and he's not going to at age 61. He doesn't owe that to you. Yeah, he's paying for an '80s pop period that lame folks don't want to shake, but Gabriel has a lot more to offer than 40 nights of "Ya remember this ditty from 1986?"

Dwight Yoakam and his band gave no quarter, revving up the cougars and MILFs in the crowd, who are still brought to their Pilates-toned knees but the man's trademark painted-on jeans and customary cowboy head-cover. The only thing their men in the crowd could do was hold their purses and hope for a physical release of their pent-up, base frustration later in the evening as their dates/significant others went into hysterics every time Dwight swiveled his hips.

"Fast As You" and set closer "Long White Cadillac" rumbled and throttled the crowd like any - dear God, are we about to say this? - Motorhead show we have seen. We saw Houston Police officers inch up closer to the revolving stage to get in between Yoakam and his adoring females. Or maybe they too just wanted to get a better look at what a 54-year-old having the time of his life looks like. -- Craig Hlavaty

The seemingly simple task of rounding up our two favorite shows from the past year proved to be a daunting feat, as, refreshingly, 2011 was a solid year in music releases and touring. The Meat Puppets' October show at Ftizgerald's surely makes the cut -- it was two hours' worth of poignant, raw rock 'n roll.

On the farthest end of the spectrum from the Meat Puppets, I sifted through my remaining, predictable yet deserving list of my other favorite shows -- a list including Beirut, St. Vincent, Andy Bell, and Robyn -- and decided on June's New Kids on the Block show. I waited 20+ years to hear Joey McIntyre sing "Please Don't Go Girl;" I, unapologetically, had a blast at that show -- and have the fan-girl cell phone videos to prove it. -- Neph Basedow

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Photo by Marco Torres
Jay-Z at the Toyota Center
A perfect blend of rock jams, love songs, and revolution, this Mexican rock en Español band Maná hosted two awesome sold out shows at Toyota Center. The group released their eighth studio album Drama y Luz earlier in the year. The name translates into "Drama and Light," a near perfect description of their catalog. The show offered new hits "Lluvia Al Corazon" and "Amor Clandestino," as well as their classics "Oye Mi Amor," "Vivir Sin Aire" and "En El Muelle de San Blas." The lead singer Fher Olvera recently turned 52 years old, which is hard to believe considering all the "moves like Jagger" he displayed for his loyal, adoring fans.



Jay-Z is the greatest rapper alive, maybe of all time, and Kanye West is equally iconic as a producer/rapper/personality. Even knowing beforehand that "Niggas In Paris" was going to be the closing track, and that it would be repeated multiple times, it still managed to "get the people going." The big brother/little brother dynamic felt genuine, with each performer playing the part of cheerleader when the other ventured into his solo set. The energy of the sold out crowd, which included the Houston Texans defensive line and their star running back Arian Foster near the front row, was the most electric and loudest bunch of music fans we have ever experienced at a concert, rap show or otherwise. -- Marco Torres

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10 comments
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Guest
Guest

Arcade Fire at the Woodlands for me too.

Gotitwhereitcounts
Gotitwhereitcounts

Goddamn Gallows at the Continental with Jayke Orvis and the Broken Band, I agree about Off with their heads and Riverboat Gamblers at Fitz, and Man... Or Astro Man at Fitz

Chris
Chris

I think that it was a great year for live music (even if you can't tell from your list) I was underwhelmed by the records released this year but the shows were great.  As Artists mature and have a greater back catalog to pull from the quality of a show increases. It must be liberating not to have to push the latest album since no one is making money from the latest CD bands can play what they want and the shows are better for it.

KING
KING

My favorite was Arcade Fire in The Woodlands.

Championshipvinyl73
Championshipvinyl73

Lucero / Social Distortion @ HOB, Bouncing Souls / NOFX @ HOB, Latch Key Kids / Off With Their Heads / Riverboat Gamblers @ Fitz.

Larry
Larry

Latch Key Kids and the Gamblers was my favorite as well.  I hear the Latch Key Kids are finally releasing some new stuff at their show on January 14th. at Fitz.  I'm so there.

Kejo
Kejo

The best shows of 2011 were both at House of Blues, Tech N9ne and Atmosphere were phenomenal.

Matt
Matt

I thought 2011 was a very disappointing year, compared to previous years, as far as the depth of concerts. Lots of small and local acts, and some major ones, but way less as far as nationally (or internationally) recognized bands than before. Basically we only have Fitzgerald's for those kind of acts (think Beach House, Frightened Rabbit, Cymbals Eat Guitars, et al) now, and looking ahead to 2012 things aren't promising at this point. Kinda makes me miss the days when we also had Mango's and Walter's to choose from.

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