Palms at Scout Bar, 9/29/2014

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Photos by Nathan Smith
Palms, Boyfrndz, Born From Ruins
Scout Bar
September 29, 2014

The last time we saw Chino Moreno around these parts, he was rocking one of the big stages at Free Press Summer Festival with the Deftones. In recent years, though, that band's pace of output seemingly hasn't been steady enough to encompass all of the front man' reverb-drenched artistic urges. First came his electronic side project Crosses, with its witch-house trappings and electronica experiments. Now, Moreno is concentrating on Palms, the "supergroup" he's formed with three of the guys from the (now unfortunately named) post-metal icons Isis.

For fans who still miss Isis' masterfully heady crunch, it's an intriguing project with the potential to give Jeff Caxide, Aaron Harris and Bryant Clifford Meyer a second act in the spotlight. But make no mistake -- there was only one star onstage at Scout Bar on Monday night. From start to finish, all eyes (and lenses) were pointed at Chino, happily slumming it on a stage that more regularly hosts his forgotten nu-metal contemporaries than a group with the still-potent drawing power of his famous main gig.

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Marc Anthony at Toyota Center, 9/27/2014

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photos by Marco Torres
Marc Anthony
Cambio De Piel Tour
Toyota Center
September 27, 2014

Triumphant. That was the adjective that came to mind while roaming the photo pit Saturday night, trying my best to keep up with international Latin-pop/salsa superstar Marc Anthony as he danced, sang and smiled in front of his adoring fans at the Toyota Center. To triumph is to achieve a great victory, to be successful, to win, and if anyone has done just that in the entertainment business, it is this man.

His career has spanned more than 25 years. And on Saturday night, he offered songs from each of those years, from early salsa hits "Y Hubo Alguien" and "Hasta Ayer" to tracks from his latest release, 3.0, like "Vivir Mi Vida" and "Cambio De Piel," from which this tour takes its name. Living life as a new man, yet keeping the passion and emotion that he delivers so beautifully onstage, is what his fans have come to adore.

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The War On Drugs at House of Blues, 9/27/2014

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Photos by Jason Wolter
The War On Drugs
House of Blues
September 27, 2014

There was a certain point in time when I thought truly simple and original music was a thing of the past. These days, if you don't have a certain niche or unique twist to your sound, there's a good chance your band will get passed by like most of them.

Gone are the days of the simple, straightforward rock and roll band. Since Alan Freed coined the term in the early 1950s, every decade has seen its own version of the genre come and go, leaving a stamp on its venerable history. But these days, if you say rock and roll music to a kid, he or she might not know what that means.

Of course you have your radio-friendly Buzz-rock songs, but it's just sad to relate that cookie-cutter product to the music once mastered by Zeppelin, Sabbath and the Stones. Now you have to dig much deeper to find even a taste of what was once a noble genre.


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Drake vs. Lil Wayne at The Woodlands, 9/27/2014

Categories: Aftermath

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Photos by Violeta Alvarez
Drake vs. Lil Wayne
Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
September 27, 2014

"He flew across the stage on the stripper pole?"

And so the summer of 2014 concluded with two best friends forever trading insults about themselves and the quirks that make them who they are. It's been a summer of awkward dances around one another, Jay Z & Beyonce probably being chief among them. Watching Drake and Lil Wayne banter back and forth in between their colossal combined set lists felt almost as if it had zero edge to it, despite the tour's billing as a summer-long battle between the two superstars.

Drake vs. Lil Wayne had crisscrossed between various U.S. cities for weeks and Houston, fittingly if you're Drake, was the last stop. Also fitting? The date happened to be Lil Wayne's 32nd birthday. Never mind the fact that Wayne seemed like he was 27 for three years straight at one point, it allowed both men to be even more freewheeling when trading insults.


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The Felice Brothers at Fitzgerald's, 9/25/2014

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Photos by Jim Bricker
The Felice Brothers
Fitzgerald's
September 25, 2014

Without a doubt, the best shows to come through town are those that basically go unnoticed. Whether they don't get enough advertising or another big-name event or two in town is taking the crowds away, there is nothing better than a non-packed show at a smaller venue such as Fitzgerald's downstairs.

The Felice Brothers played said venue last night, and with so many things going on around town Thursday night, such as FPH's Sammy Awards and the mega-Tom Petty gig at Toyota Center, attendance at this show seemed much lighter than it could have been.

Which is not a bad thing -- for the fans, at least. It's already tough enough sweating through a show in the storied venue when it's half full, but the lack of the extra bodies in the room only brought a light dew on the brow rather than the full-on back sweat it sometimes does. Well, until the dancing began. Fitz, please fix your air conditioner.


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Conor Oberst at House of Blues, 9/19/2014

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Photos by Jim Bricker
Conor Oberst
House of Blues
September 19, 2014

I was never sad enough to be a Bright Eyes fan. Growing up in Nebraska, I was always aware of the band, as Oberst is also from there, but I was too busy enjoying the good life to get into them. Not until later on, when I gave his music more of a chance, did I slowly become a fan. More specifically, though, I became a fan of Conor Oberst.

Undeniably a great songwriter, and proving himself quite the showman as well at a moderately busy House of Blues, Oberst has brightened up his world and, to my surprise Friday night, his performance. Supported by a crack band dotting the stage around him, the mop-topped and denim-clad Oberst gave his deep catalog -- from Bright Eyes to Monsters of Folk to Desaparecidos to the Mystic Valley Band -- a new set of legs over the course of the evening.


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Luke Bryan at The Woodlands, 9/19/2014

Categories: Aftermath

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Photos by Violeta Alvarez
Luke Bryan, Lee Brice
Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
September 19, 2014

Among the various forms of popular music, country seems to age the most gracefully. An old rapper can keep trying to put out new music, but it's often just kind of embarrassing. Old rockers stay out on the road playing the hits for the 27,000th time, but often it's just kind of pathetic. Old country singers usually just look like survivors.

From outlaws like Willie and Merle to the gods like Garth and Tim, older country guys command a certain amount of respect but country music is one of the few genres that is in love with its history. Every country singer wants to be part of the fabric of country-music history, whether it's for personal pride or just good business.

What then are we to think of the current crop of bro-country singers? How well will the weird but currently relevant mashup of country, rap and pop age? Or, 20 years from now, will a 58-year-old Luke Bryan still be asking country girls to shake it for him?

Maybe we're getting ahead of ourselves. Let's talk Luke Bryan 2014, the immensely entertaining showman who hit The Pavilion on Friday night.


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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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