Houston's Recent Onslaught of Sold-Out Shows: What's Up With That?

XX 0321.jpg
Photo by Julian Bajsel
The xx at House of Blues in February is but one of the dozens of sold-out shows Houston has already seen this year.
Regular concertgoers in Houston have probably noticed more sold-out shows in the area over the past year. Just a few years ago, sellouts were generally reserved for the biggest marquee acts at Toyota Center, Bayou Music Center, and Reliant Stadium's RodeoHouston shows.

These days, though, it seems every giant hip-hop or indie show is selling out within a few days of the on-sale date. Nearly every big traveling Fitzgerald's indie show has sold out recently, most notably Tame Impala, Local Natives, Toro Y Moi and Alt-J the past few weeks. The April 26 Atlas Genius show has been sold out for weeks.

Other smaller acts have stirred up sellouts too. Those mentioned above are now what you would call festival bands at this point in their development. Even former club acts such as Muse, who played Toyota Center last week, are now arena bands.

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Photo by Craig Hlavaty
Just a year ago, a band like fun. could play Warehouse Live to a decent crowd in the studio room. Earlier this week, fun. announced an October 6 Woodlands date after the band's successful Valentine's Day Bayou Music Center show, and will more than likely play both weekends of the Austin City Limits Music Festival this fall.

BuzzFest at the Woodlands is always a sellout one way or another, naturally. Other Buzz bands that do brisk business include Cage the Elephant and AWOLnation.

Warehouse Live and House of Blues both hosted sold-out Kendrick Lamar appearances late last year.

Mike Meegz with the Scoremore group has brought Lamar and a host of other hip-hop and electronic shows to Houston and Austin. He thinks that the tides are changing in terms of paying for the privilege of seeing live music.

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"Outlets such as iTunes and Spotify have made it 'cool' again to pay for music, or a subscription to a music service," he says.

Meegz adds that another important part of this boom is that some EDM artists will release music for free, and in exchange ask for fans to attend their shows and purchase merch while they're there.

"I feel this has set a standard for shows to be the revenue stream for artists instead of the record companies," he adds.

EDM shows always do big business in Houston, as you have no doubt noticed by our coverage here. Acts like Skrillex, Girl Talk, Major Lazer, Dillon Francis and Porter Robinson have all been hot tickets.

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23 comments
Cyndi Garcia Villegas
Cyndi Garcia Villegas

The last show I went to was Muse, it was not sold out. I bought my tickets months in advance as I always do. Lately though I can't even get presale tickets to shows which never was a problem in the past. I don't wait until the last minute to purchase tickets to a show I know I wouldn't want to miss but it has been hell lately and I don't believe it's fans snatching up tickets, but scalpers buying them and reselling them. I'm gonna use The Killers show in Houston as an example of this. There were so many tickets available on StubHub the day of the presale and the day the tickets actually went on sale and I couldn't even purchase 2 either day.

Tony Carr
Tony Carr

dead horse , yes it was packed

Jeff Berlat
Jeff Berlat

No concert is worth $100 these days.

Joe G. Camacho
Joe G. Camacho

Final show of the rolling stones 13th reunion tour..."complimentary dialysis night"!!:-)

Kristie Smith
Kristie Smith

You guys need to interview The Asexxxuals....blowin up man. Bringing back the music Urban Art Bar would appreciate.

Jeff Gilmer
Jeff Gilmer

The xx, Fun. Both were packed. I was really surprised how fast The xx sold out. I've never seen so many people standing outside of a venue trying to buy tickets at show time.

Katy Manning
Katy Manning

Thao and the Get Down Stay Down @ Fitz and it was elbow to elbow.

Ben First
Ben First

blame it on that damn hipster connor barwin

EskimoQuin
EskimoQuin

Re: Fitzgeralds

Those acts you mentioned draw very well across the country. Fitz is great but it is too small for these bands. I just checked those tours and they are playing in much larger venues almost everywhere else. IMHO, I would like to see a larger venue in town that books well like Fitz but is more appropriately sized.

That being said, its fun to be at a sell out show and theres nothing better than a packed house with a little bit of history.

Travis Leatherwood
Travis Leatherwood

I think some of these bands are in too small of venues. Didn't Local Natives play the House of Blues last time? That's going from a 1,500 person venue to a 700 person venue (unless they were in the small room at HoB, I wasn't there so I don't remember), and their second album has been more popular then the first. I love Fitz but popularity wise they should have been at Warehouse or HoB, and same with some of these other bands (Kendrick probably could have played and sold out the Bayou Center). But, on the other hand, its probably good that bands are doing well here, it means they'll keep coming back instead of skipping us like so many bands do for some dumb reason.

houstonfuse
houstonfuse

Houston has evolved.  It used to be a strictly blue-collar city, and it's artistic preferences reflected that.  Now it has as many young doctors, engineers, lawyers, techies, and financiers (new population) as any city in the world.  That has created a market for music such as "indie-rock", which a lot of people would have dismissed before as "wussy-music".  Unfortunately, Houston has not found a way to grow/support its own artists that engage in the very genres that the new population starves for.  It's up to the artists and the press to do so.   When it does, Houston will bloom into one of the largest and most recognized producers of art in the world (the way it already is for medicine and energy).  With the support of the money in Houston, the arts scene could dwarf that of cities like Austin.  BUT WE MUST REDUCE OUR DEPENDENCE ON FOREIGN ART.  Until local acts are selling out, not just touring ones, Houston will not have an artistic identity.  It will merely be a commerce city.  

Kelley Dellafave
Kelley Dellafave

Probably the same reason it now takes me 45 minutes instead of 30 to get into work. People be movin' here like whoa, and they all like music.

Judith Cruz Villarreal
Judith Cruz Villarreal

I was asking the same question! why does almost every show sell out even at fitz?! I find myself rushing to buy tix when I band come to town :/

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