Coheed and Cambria at House of Blues, 9/17/2014

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Photos by Jack Gorman
Coheed and Cambria, Thank You Scientist
House of Blues
September 17, 2014

Concerts are rarely a communal experience, even though they should be.

The reality is that we all get our tickets for different reasons; someone's favorite band may just be "those guys who have that one song" to someone else. Some people really love the new album and some people really miss the band they used to be. Some people go to the show because they would hate to miss it and others because they'd hate to not be seen at it.

Different people, different agendas, all sharing the same space. And this lack of community is often what makes shows a bummer. It's what leads to rampant talking until the band plays "the song" or people shouting out random bullshit to get themselves over.


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Goatwhore at Fitzgeralds, 9/15/2014

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Photos by Nathan Smith
Goatwhore, Venomous Maximus, Demoniacal Genuflection, Legion
Fitzgerald's
September 15, 2014

Of all the days of the week, none are less metal than Mondays. The domain of alarm clocks and rent payments, Monday must necessarily be the sworn enemy of middle fingers and Jager shots. Nobody applies KISS makeup on a Monday. No one has ever gotten a skull tattoo on a Monday. If you're listening to heavy metal on a Monday, it's only because you listen to heavy metal every day.

It was these everyday-metal types who showed up to Fitzgerald's on Monday night, with not a part-timer in sight. The black-clad die-hards came to see Goatwhore, the long-running New Orleans headbangers who draw upon the entire, vast universe of metal to arrive at a sound forged in the rank heat of the Gulf Coast. But they were also treated to a fairly stacked bill of local talent on a night when, by all rights, they should have been at home in bed. And they weren't about to just stand around and clap politely.


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Growing Crowds Can't Spoil UtopiaFest's Blissful Vibe

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Photos by Jim Bricker
During Aaron Behrens & the Midnight Stroll's Friday-evening set, while the dancing crowd was surrounded by the darkened hillsides that surround UtopiaFest, the singer said, "I don't feel like we're a part of any continent or country, I just feel like we're floating in space." That sentiment wasn't too far off from the truth, and seemed to be shared by the multitudes of new faces who took roost in scattered campsites throughout the festival grounds.

That seemed to be the theme of the weekend, too. While all those who had experienced UtopiaFest before were there, this time they seemed to had brought their friends. And their friend's friends. And their parents and kids, too. UtopiaFest was a noticeably larger animal this year, which became evident before the festival reached capacity Saturday afternoon.


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Pachanga Tour w/ Los Rakas & Bomba Estereo at Warehouse Live, 9/12/2014

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Photos by Marco Torres
Pachanga Tour
Feat. Bomba Estéreo, Los Rakas, Bombón Houston
Warehouse Live
September 12, 2014

"Maaannn.... We've got a million stories!" proclaimed Raka Rich as we chilled in the Los Rakas green room at Warehouse Live last Friday night. Stories about meeting fellow Panameño musician El General at the "white people gym" back in Panama, how Scarface and Devin the Dude are their favorite Houston-based rappers, and how a bird mysteriously fell from the sky during the video shoot for their just released remix of Wiz Khalifa's "We Dem Boyz."

Within the last few years, Rich and his cousin Raka Dun have elevated themselves to the top of the Latin charts with their energetic and light-hearted mix of hip-hop, reggaeton and other Latino-Caribbean sounds. Their name is derived from the Panamanian slang "Rakataka," which means "hood rat" or "ghetto." By reclaiming the term and wearing it proudly, they provide hope to everyone who hears their hip-shaking and motivational tracks.

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The Black Lips at Fitzgerald's, 9/11/14

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Photos by Nicholas Zalud
Black Lips, King Khan and BBQ Show
Fitzgerald's
September 11, 2014

Summer may be officially over in Houston, but that didn't stop Thursday night's crowd at Fitzgerald's from turning in one of the sweatiest shows of the year. Hell, when the Black Lips are in town, sweat should be the least of your worries. The Atlanta four-piece once cultivated a reputation for vomiting, pissing and swapping spit on stage, all (well, mostly) in the name of entertainment. These days they're better known for their raucous garage-rock tunes, but the threat of wild unpredictability still hangs in the air at their shows, urging their fans on to mayhem lest the band resort to ralphing once more.

Regurgitation wouldn't be necessary on Thursday. The bill was too good. There can't be too many better fits with the Black Lips than the Montreal duo King Khan & BBQ Show, who were greeted with nearly as much enthusiasm as the headliners by the crammed-in crowd.


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Brad Paisley at The Woodlands, 9/6/2014

Categories: Aftermath

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Photos by Violeta Alvarez
Brad Paisley, Randy Houser, Leah Turner, Charlie Worsham, Dee Jay Silver
Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
September 6, 2014

Brad Paisley fans don't appreciate how good they've got it. The man has been here three times in the last 14 months and four times in the last three years, each show built around the same core of 12 songs.

This brings up the obvious question: can you burn yourself out on a great song or a great performer?

If you've seen Paisley live since July 2013, Saturday night's show at the Pavilion felt at a minimum familiar, but not exactly the same. Many of the graphics have been updated, the stage has changed and the songs are in a different order, but if you felt a little bit of déjà vu, no one would judge you.

The constant is the showman at the center of it all, who remains rock-solid in his ability to perform and entertain an audience.

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Linkin Park at The Woodlands, 9/5/2014

Categories: Aftermath

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Photos by Violeta Alvarez
Linkin Park
Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
September 5, 2014

It's kind of weird that Linkin Park find themselves more than 15 years and six albums deep into their career still headlining a venue like the Pavilion. If you were a rock band that had someone in your band doing anything even close to rapping in the early '00s and are still together now, the odds are good that you're playing Clear Lake rather than Houston or The Woodlands.

Honestly, Linkin Park's success post-2007 has always seemed to be a bit of a mystery. When was the last time you talked to someone who said Linkin Park was his or her favorite band? And yet, they've continued to put out albums and tour big venues, all while being seemingly marginalized in the world of modern music. When you think "biggest bands in rock," a lot of other bands probably come to mind before Linkin Park.

So while it may not be the primary reason, a lot of their continued success and goodwill probably has to do with the fact that they know how to put on a killer show, with a refreshing lack of pomp and circumstance.


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Mad Decent Block Party's Central Texas Stop Was Pretty Good All Right

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Photos by Marco Torres
Houston's own Wrestlers warmed up the stage.
After a last-minute request and approval to cover the New Braunfels stop of the Mad Decent Block Party, Rocks Off's own Marco Torres sent in this visual summary of the event, held this past Saturday at the Whitewater Amphitheater.

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Liz added attitude, style and a feminine touch to the Block Party.


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Aerosmith at The Woodlands, 8/25/2014

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Photos by Violeta Alvarez
Aerosmith, Slash feat. Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators
Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
August 25, 2014

More than 40 years into a career that's seen more ups and down than the S&P 500, Aerosmith no longer has any use for another comeback. Thanks to an extensive catalogue of hits and sheer, stubborn longevity, the group even detractors have been forced to acknowledge as perhaps America's greatest rock band has nothing much left to prove (or say) at this point.

The Bad Boys from Boston didn't play anything approaching new music on Monday night, nor did anyone ask for any. All that's needed to send a huge Woodlands Pavilion crowd home happy is for Aerosmith to do what it does best: roll out the classics and continue on being Aerosmith, forever and ever and ever.

Steven Tyler can still screech out the high notes and Joe Perry can still play the hell of that axe, and they still look pretty damn good doing it -- even if Tyler's unfortunate mustache-and-beardlet combo looks like something purchased in a pop-up costume shop. The 66-year-old singer's stage shimmy may be slower and more subtle these days, and his voice has certainly acquired a bit of a patina over the decades. But he and his bandmates can still reliably bring the rock and roll thunder that has made them icons.


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Beach Blanket Bingo Festival In Galveston, 8/23/2014

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Photos by Jack Gorman
Beach Blanket Bingo Festival
Feat. Dillon Francis, Adrian Lux, Paris Blohm, etc.
East Beach, Galveston Island
August 23rd, 2014

While it probably happens more frequently in different parts of the world, an EDM bash at the beach is not a regular occurrence in our neck of the woods. This is a bummer, because the meeting of dance music and sand makes of a lot of sense, especially when you consider that plenty of folks wear beachwear to dance shows as it is.

Of course, in order to have a beach show one has to get to the beach, and maybe therein is the issue. Driving to Galveston isn't exactly difficult, but the stretch of 45 from Houston until the Buc-ee's in Texas City can be maddening if you're the type who hates traffic, as most of us are.

Still, it's all worth it once you feel the wind in your hair and the bass in your ears. On a warm night, Beach Blanket Bingo proved to be one of the highlights of the soon (we hope) to be ending summer.

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