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

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.

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

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Aerosmith at The Woodlands, 8/25/2014

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

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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One Direction at NRG Stadium, 8/22/2014

Photos by Jack Gorman
One Direction, Five Seconds of Summer
NRG Stadium
August 22, 2014

To thrive, boy bands need the right combination of personality and passion. Good songs help too, but you can get away with decent music (at best) if the members of the group have enough charisma.

Personality goes a long way, and with enough of it people will fall head over heels for you, they'll scream themselves hoarse for you, they'll make posters for you and, most importantly, they'll spend lots and lots of money on you...or at least get their parents or legal guardians to do so. NRG Stadium saw an abundance of personality and passion under its roof Friday night, as the two biggest boy bands around and thousands and thousands of their biggest local fans spent the final Friday before school starts together.

Thanks to One Direction and Five Seconds of Summer, there are going to be a lot kids keeping quiet come Monday. Screaming wears a voice out.

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DJ Mustard's Hyper-Branded Ratchet Turns Up House Beyoncé Built

Categories: Aftermath

Photos by Marco Torres
Type the words "post-superproducer" into Google (go ahead...just come back) and the first name you're likely to see is that of the ubiquitous DJ Mustard. While he's been the engineer of the type of music that makes the classiest girls twerk something, Mustard has also been a key ingredient for today's charting hip-hop scene. The guy really is everywhere, and has been for a while now.

On Saturday night Mustard stepped onto the smallish stage at Houston's House of Deréon; he was a little late due to flight from Los Angeles being delayed, he said. The crowd got an extra dose of special guest Devin the Dude, as well as Doughbeezy, the night's opener.

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Soundgarden at The Woodlands, 8/16/2014

Photos by Jim Bricker
Soundgarden, The Dillinger Escape Plan
Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
August 16, 2014

Although Soundgarden somehow managed to disappear from the hard-bitten rock landscape for more than 13 years, their fan base never went anywhere. Buoyed by continuous rock-radio airplay of their mid-'90s hits, the cult continued to grow in the band's absence, and large crowds are still more than happy to plunk down a decent chunk of change to hear Chris Cornell belt out "Fell On Black Days" again. And if he took his shirt off, that'd be just fine, too.

While the dark and lean Cornell remains physically ageless, the rest of Soundgarden are unashamedly showing their age these days. Kim Thayil and Ben Shepherd are not the kind of rock stars who get facelifts and hair treatments. Thayil might've been sporting quite a few white whiskers up there, but his guitar sounded as freaky as ever as the curtain dropped and he cranked up the wah pedal on the thunderous opener, "Searching With My Good Eye Closed."

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Wiz Khalifa, Jeezy & More at The Woodlands, 8/15/2014

Photos by Francisco Montes
Wiz Khalifa
Under The Influence of Music Tour
Feat. Wiz Khalifa, Jeezy, Rich Homie Quan, Ty Dolla $ign, IAMSU! & Sage the Gemini, Mack Wilds

Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
August 15, 2014

Either I've gotten older or Wiz Khalifa doesn't exactly do it for me anymore.

That's not a slight to Khalifa, as far as charting of his evolution from stoner kid who used to rap with a spitfire energy and rasp to arena-rocker. It's more an overall assessment of where my fandom with him has lain over the years. It was at its apex maybe three years ago, right as his Kush & OJ mixtape became a late-night soundtrack and "Black And Yellow" became an inescapable hit record.

Ever since then, it's lowered and watching him live -- for the third time this year, no less -- it's clearly evident he's more in a rocker kind of mood than a rap star.

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Nine Inch Nails at The Woodlands, 8/16/14

Categories: Aftermath

Photos by Jim Bricker
Nine Inch Nails, Soundgarden, The Dillinger Escape Plan
Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
August 16, 2014

For the first time in literally six years, Trent Reznor took the stage in front of a Houston crowd Saturday night.

Hard to believe, but true: the last time Nine Inch Nails performed in Houston was August 16, 2008, on the first round of the "Lights in the Sky" tour. Houston didn't get a show on the NIN|JA tour, NIN didn't Wave Goodbye to Houston, we didn't get a How to Destroy Angels show and somehow last year we were passed over while San Antonio -- SAN ANTONIO -- got a show.

In the past six years, Nine Inch Nails has been a lot of things in a lot of different configurations, but right now they're a lean, amphitheater-rocking machine, stripped down to what's absolutely necessary musically and led by a guy who won a Golden Globe and an Oscar during his time not being NIN.

And maybe the wait was a good thing, because the band that took the stage Saturday night may be the most interesting version of the band yet.

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Clap Your Hands Say Yeah at Fitzgerald's, 8/12/14

Photos by Jim Bricker
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
August 12, 2014

It's hard to say that this show was perfect, but that was the only adjective coursing through my mind as I walked down the stairs and out of the door of Fitzgerald's after a performance from storied indie rockers Clap Your Hands Say Yeah.

Sure, the performance had a whole lot going against it. Being a Tuesday night, possibly the least social night of the week, definitely hurt ticket and bar sales, but in the end I think worked out for this show. People that were there were there for one reason and one reason only -- to see a great band put on an even better performance.

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Quartet of Rising H-Town Rappers Shines at Warehouse Live

Photos by Marco Torres
Live Life Experience
Feat. OneHunnidt, De'Wayne Jackson, Stoppa & Doeman
Warehouse Live
August 8, 2014

This past weekend, the world experienced something called a "Super Moon." Apparently, that means that a full/new moon coincides with the closest approach to our planet on its elliptical orbit, resulting in the largest possible size of the lunar disk as seen from Earth. This doesn't happen too often, although when it does, the results are spectacular.

At this time, whether due to celestial alignment or other factors, the status of the Houston rap scene is also on the rise. The four individuals who performed at Warehouse Live last Friday night are as bright and brilliant as the moon in the sky, and they seem to be on a trajectory to continue to shine for an extended period of time, regardless of what the moon or the Earth or the haters are doing. It's their time; we are just living through it.

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