Dick Dale at Continental Club, 4/17/2014

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Photos by Jim Bricker
Dick Dale
Continental Club
April 17, 2014

Walking into the Continental Club, I had the thought: "Can Dick Dale still do it at 76 years old?" I mean, I know folks younger that can't even send an email, let alone rip a guitar like it's going out of style. But I would soon find out that not only can he still play, but his guitar riffs sounded cleaner than ever.

Dale, who has had an off-and-on relationship with music since the late 1950s, likes to keep it simple, and proved that Thursday during a 90 minute set of mostly covers to an overly packed room. He doesn't need all the bells and whistles of modern technology -- just give him his Fender and a classic amp and he'll walk all over the youngsters trying to replicate his style today.


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Miami After Dark: H-Town Goes to South Beach

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Photos by Marco Torres
This past week, I packed my bags and headed east to Miami, that gorgeously naughty city in South Florida that rivals New York City and Los Angeles in its beauty and nightlife. The purpose was a professional one, a marketing and interactive conference for Latinos. But aside from the seminars and gift bags and networking, the most adventurous and rewarding time at any conference or festival is always the afterparty.

Below are just some of the extracurricular activities that had me dancing, and the soundtrack that accompanied them:


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All Dogs Go to Heaven. The Boneyard Is a Close Second.

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Photos by Angelica Leicht
"Man, just let him...his humping isn't hurting anybody."

Some pretty epic humping is going on while we sip an Abita Grapefruit IPA. What started off as a twosome now involves four or five participants rolling around the dirt in a dog pile. Literally.

Those risque entanglements are not unusual here, though. The Boneyard Drinkery is Houston's only dog-park bar meant to house such promiscuous activity. (Among the dogs, anyway.) Scattered around picnic benches in the backyard area, the owners are much better behaved.

Evenly split between men and women, we're all dressed as if we were taking our pets out for a day at the park rather than a night on the town. The Boneyard is all about the dogs; the beer and socialization is just an added bonus for their human companions.


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Saint Genevieve's Party Brunch: Like a Club, With Mimosas

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Photos by Angelica Leicht
Frida Kahlo once said, "I tried to drown my sorrows but the bastards learned how to swim, and now I am overwhelmed by this decent and good feeling."

If those sorrows are going to learn to swim, they're going to have to do so in the pitchers of bottomless mimosas flying past our heads at record speed at Saint Genevieve. We've never seen as much champagne as at this very moment, nor as much orange juice,either. The bottomless drinks at this place might as well come in buckets, which would certainly save the servers some time.

Kahlo's quote would fit almost any bar, but is especially appropriate for this River Oaks Sunday hotspot, where a new generation of brunchers goes to work out those weekend emotional kinks. This particular Sunday we're propped up at a high-top table, taking in the newest addition to Houston's brunch scene in all its glory.


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Gemini on the Wane: Main Street's Bar Twins, Dean's & Notsuoh, Head in Opposing Directions

Categories: After Dark

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Photos by Angelica Leicht

"Excuse me, but do you hear that too? Is that people having sex? What the hell is that noise?"

A large group of men in suits has just entered a small downtown bar, and they're looking around with confusion, presumably puzzled by the voices drowning out Pimp C's rapping. As eerily similar as the late UGK MC's rhymes are to certain noises made by overzealous romantic partners, most of us know better. It's just the slam poetry going on in Notsuoh, this bar's next-door neighbor.

We are sitting at Dean's Credit Clothing, which has traditionally been seen as a sister bar to Notsuoh. For many years the two bars shared an owner, Jim Pirtle, who installed an interior door between them that rendered the two nearly inseparable, as did his love of quirky, eclectic d├ęcor. But now Pirtle is long gone, at least where Dean's is concerned.

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The Seven Scariest Houston Rap Songs

Categories: After Dark, Lists

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Rappers are scary. Some of them live in Houston. With Scary Season (aka Halloween) around the corner, we decided to visit some of the most spooktacular rap songs Houston has ever produced.

No Halloween party is complete without these seven Houston rap songs.


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10 Songs Too Scary for Halloween

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My, what a quaint little neighborhoouuaAAAAHH!
Halloween music sucks. We can all agree on that, right? Every year at every party, it's the same crap: "Thriller," "Monster Mash" and the "Ghostbusters" theme. Actually, that last one is pretty great, but you get the point: people blast tunes in October that they'd rather deafen themselves with cannon fire than listen to in September.

Worst of all, the wack Halloween songs that get played every year aren't even scary! Consider that proof positive that folks simply ain't even trying when they're putting that party playlist together. It's really as if they don't even care so deeply about popular music and the personal identity that it confers so much that it's impossible to stop obsessing over it long enough to microwave a corndog.

Well screw 'em. We here at Rocks Off do care that much. Because the Misfits' "Halloween" does not a playlist make, here are ten actually spooky, creepy, eerie and downright disconcerting songs that are practically too petrifying for Halloween, let alone the rest of the dumb year.

Some creep and crawl, some scream bloody gore and others simply lurk in the night, ready to cut your fingers off while you sleep. If you absolutely must listen to them alone, make sure to leave plenty of lights on.


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The Weeknd at Bayou Music Center, 9/25/13

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Photos by Julian Bajsel
The Weeknd, Banks
Bayou Music Center
September 25, 2013

There were signs posted outside the Bayou Music Center Tuesday night that read "Tonight Show Contains Mature Content." Now, when it comes to an artist who seemingly knows no boundaries when it comes to lyrical content, a "mature content" caveat is one of the things that comes with the territory. The Weeknd, after all, is one of the few songwriters who rivals Kanye in the "did he really just say that?" category.

That said, it was a weird sign to have posted up on the doors. It's the type of sign that gets the mind turning, half to wonder how mature things might get, and half to worry if this is going to be one of those shows where tits and ass are the smoke and mirrors used to distract from an underwhelming live show.

Whatever expectations might have been set, the show itself was something almost completely different. The Weeknd may write songs focusing more on lust than love and the dark side of romance, and while Kiss Land may in fact be a dark place, live the man knows how to have a good time.


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12 Hours In Houston: Bun B & the Mayor, Caribbean Festival, Graffiti Kids & '80s Mania

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photos by Marco Torres
L-R: Bun B, Mayor Annise Parker and Shea Serrano share a photo-op at Cactus Music.
"Tryna see how much paper that I might gain/ While I still keep it trill in what I write, mayne!"

-- Bun B, "Let 'Em Know"

I've been told by some that I live an interesting life. Concerts, dinners, photo shoots, dancing, art... you name it, I'm about it. I don't exactly know when this became my life, shit just happened.

One day I'm a four-eyed dork working in the accounting department, and the next I'm running all over town and beyond photographing concerts and music festivals, reviewing shows, eating barrio food and five course meals, and making friends with just about anyone who I encounter. This was my Saturday.


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Depeche Mode at Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, 9/18/2013

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Photos by Groovehouse
Depeche Mode
Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
September 18, 2013

People talk about how improbable it is that Keith Richards is still alive to tour with the Rolling Stones, but for a time there in the mid-'90s, it seemed equally unlikely Depeche Mode would ever hit the road again. Singer Dave Gahan suffered a heart attack (in 1993), attempted suicide, and finally had to be revived by paramedics following a heroin overdose in 1996. Richards may have been an addict longer, but to my knowledge he has never had to be brought back from the dead.

Of late, DM has settled into a familiar cycle, releasing new albums every few years and embarking on lucrative tours. Of course, as with most bands whose peak years are well behind them (and whether they like it or not), Mode is largely a nostalgia act. Folks who abandoned the group circa Ultra may not even be able to name their recent efforts (hint: the latest is the Violator-ish Delta Machine). But really, who cares? None of that matters much when you're arguably the greatest electronic band of all time, having influenced everyone from a-ha to Rammstein.

Besides all that, Gahan's been clean for quite some time now. And if Wednesday night's show is any indication, he's back at the top of his game. putting on a sinewy, animated performance that was in diametric opposition to a certain other lead singer's as he and fellow DM lifers Martin Gore and Andy Fletcher held a steamy CWMP crowd in the palms of their black-lacquered hands.

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