The Tontons at Fitzgerald's, 10/24/2014

Categories: Aftermath

Photo by Nathan Smith
The Tontons, with guest Andrew Lee (right)
The Tontons, Ume, Buckamore, -Us.
October 24, 2014

The Tontons are no longer Houston's little secret, and haven't been for a minute. The local indie darlings have spent the last couple of years crisscrossing the country, playing to some of the hippest crowds in the hippest cities. This summer, they performed at Brooklyn's Afropunk Fest alongside the likes of Trash Talk and D'Angelo. This weekend, they'll be onstage at the venerable Voodoo Fest in New Orleans. Their new album has been featured by Rolling Stone and Spin. They're doin' thangs.

Which makes it all the sweeter that they're still the same terminally cute, ingratiatingly fun Houston band that they've always been. They haven't grown too cool for our muddy little hole on the Ship Channel. By staying on their grind, they've simply made Houston a little cooler.

And make no mistake, Fitzgerald's was the cool place to be on Friday night. Many in the crowd that filled up the club's creaky old wooden floor were putting on a pretty comprehensive hipster fashion show. Sharp ankle boots and coiffed facial hair were definitely the order of the day. But the Tontons' fans aren't so neatly pigeonholed as all that, and neither was the music that night.

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Pitbull & Enrique Iglesias at Toyota Center, 10/19/2014

Photos by Marco Torres
Pitbull & Enrique Iglesias
Toyota Center
October 19, 2014

At the beginning of his set last night at Toyota Center, Pitbull retold his life story on the immense video wall that towered over the stage. The words on the screen talked about his mother and her revolutionary tendencies, his crunk and reggaeton start in the music biz, and his current standing as "a walking television network." In short, he bills his life as the embodiment of the American Dream, one that he makes sure to celebrate at every opportunity.

With the combination of dazzling lights, exotic dancers and a wide smile, Pitbull hit the stage already cranked all the way up to the roof. With his black suit and oversized shades, he charmed the bra and panties off the ladies in the crowd, shouting "dalé" and gyrating his hips up and down and all over the somewhat phallic-shaped stage.

"Houston has always showed me love and support throughout my entire career" he thanked the crowd. "Or as y'all say around here...Awwwready!"

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Charli XCX at Fitzgerald's, 10/16/2014

Photos by Jack Gorman
Charli XCX, Elliphant, Femme
October 16, 2014

Fans of British pop starlet Charli XCX who missed her show at Fitzgerald's last night are pretty well out of luck. We're not likely to see her in such a small venue again anytime soon. She's already too famous for the place.

That wasn't the plan, exactly. When her current club tour was booked, it was meant to help break the singer stateside as her new album, Sucker, hit store shelves. But now, after her hook on Iggy Azalea's "Fancy" helped propel her to household-name status over the summer, she is broken, baby. Her advance single from the new record -- the bouncy, synthed-out "Boom Clap" -- hit No. 1 on the Top 40 chart, prompting her label to push the release of Sucker back to December in order to prepare a much larger marketing blitz.

That blitz will almost certainly involve putting her on stages much larger than the one at Fitz. The old club on White Oak was packed past the rafters on Thursday night with a strange mix of radio-obsessed teenyboppers and synth-loving hipsters, illustrating the British import's unusual crossover appeal.

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Mötley Crüe at The Woodlands, 10/11/2014

Photos by Violeta Alvarez
Mötley Crüe, Alice Cooper
Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
October 11, 2014

Could this really be it? Was Saturday night really, honestly the last time Mötley Crüe will ever darken the door of a Texas venue? Can their claims of calling it quits really be taken seriously? Pretty hard to predict, one way or the other. After more than three decades of shocking behavior, nothing much the Crüe can do would surprise us anymore.

Vince, Nikki, Tommy and Mick swear up and down that "The Last Tour" is just that. But no one in the very large crowd that showed up to see them in The Woodlands on Saturday night seemed to be in a particularly somber mood. It felt hard to believe a band that can still reliably draw tens of thousands every time they step off a plane in this day and age has had enough of the spotlight. Doubly so when their set was preceded by Alice Cooper, the living embodiment of nostalgia-tour immortality.

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Crowbar at Fitzgerald's, 10/10/2014

Photos by Nathan Smith
Crowbar, Revocation, Havok, Fit For an Autopsy, Armed for Apocalypse
October 10, 2014

The last night of a long tour can be a tough gig. Oftentimes, the musicians arrive in town broken down and tired, their eyes already glazing over with visions of home. Maybe the men of Crowbar were feeling their age a tad when they rolled into Fitzgerald's on Friday, but when you've got to headline a stacked bill in front of a blackened horde expecting the burliest mosh of the year, there ain't much choice but to deliver the goods.

And deliver they did, with plenty of help from their friends. California sludge troupe Armed for Apocalypse warmed up the early birds, and by the time New Jersey deathcore upstarts Fit for an Autopsy blasted their last beat, the floor at Fitz was pretty well full of large metalheads ready to tear into each other for real. They wouldn't have to wait long for the chance. Denver's thrashing maniacs Havok hit the stage next with a whipping set of speed metal tailor-made for aggressive moshing.

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Katy Perry at Toyota Center, 10/10/2014

Categories: Aftermath

Photos by Jack Gorman
Katy Perry, Becky G, Ferras
Toyota Center
October 10, 2014

There are moments in Katy Perry's Prismatic World tour that may make you utter "wow" out loud. They're few and far between, but every few songs something genuinely impressive happens.

That the rest of the show doesn't live up to these moments is just fine, because it's a seriously fun, familiar production. There's nothing particularly groundbreaking or innovative -- unless you count giant floating emoji or maybe-racist mummies as either of those -- and that's OK too, because when you think groundbreaking and/or innovative, Katy Perry probably doesn't come to mind.

She doesn't have to be. Perry is the antidote to the times when pop music gets a bit too full of itself, a reminder that sometimes people would rather have a good time than appreciate high art. She's the blockbuster of the modern pop landscape.

Which makes it all the weirder that the show, massive and fun as it was, didn't feel particularly special.

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Iggy Azalea at Bayou Music Center, 10/3/2014

Photos by Jack Gorman
Iggy Azalea
Bayou Music Center
October 3, 2014

Artists come and go. That's a fact of the music business. It's very easy to lose relevancy in any aspect of life, but seems much easier in the music industry. If, as an artist, you don't stay at the forefront, you're pushed to the back of the line as soon as the next best thing comes around. While that's probably true in most aspects of life, it's most noticeable in music.

There's a reason we have a category called "One Hit Wonders." Hell, VH1 basically survived off the genre for the better part of a decade in the '90s. And while you don't realize that it's happening during the right here and now, wait until a decade from now and tell me how Gotye or Macklemore's career turned out. I promise the Lumineers won't be a highly charting band again, either.

But then came along Iggy Azalea seemingly out of nowhere within the past year, and while at first seemed like she might fit in that category, she has now blown up to become a huge star. With a pair of top singles with the ever-so-catchy "Fancy" and her guest spot on another recent up-and-comer Ariana Grande's "Problem," suddenly Azalea is a household name.

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Santana at Bayou Music Center, 10/1/2014

photos by Marco Torres
¡Con el corazon, se hace todos los milagros! (With heart, one can make miracles)
-- Carlos Santana

Carlos Santana
"Corazón" tour
Bayou Music Center
October 1, 2014

As I was watching the documentary B.B. King: The Life of Riley last week, I saw a familiar face on screen. It was rock legend and guitar hero Carlos Santana, speaking about the attributes that fueled B.B. King's music.

"You need to be sincere, honest, true, for real, and genuine. If you've got those five things, then you can play the blues" he declared. Those characteristics are definitely true about Mr. King, but they can certainly also be said about Mr. Santana.

The imprint that Santana has left on American music is undeniable. This man was part of the psychedelic-rock era in 1960s San Francisco, famously played at Woodstock, is the winner of ten Grammy awards, and was a 2013 Kennedy Center Honoree. He is without a doubt one of music's most recognizable and respected talents.

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A Day to Remember at NRG Arena, 10/1/2014

Photos by Jack Gorman
A Day to Remember
A Day to Remember, Bring Me The Horizon, Chiodos, Motionless in White
NRG Arena
October 1, 2014

It's always good to see a band, no matter how big or small, swing for the fences. The reality is that while you can start a rock band and tour the world, you won't always be able to pull of your dream stage show. For every Kanye-built mountain or Gaga multi-floor castle, there are dozens of rock bands stuck with little more than a banner and a dream.

And so it's nice to see a band like A Day to Remember in a venue like NRG Arena, because while they might not be able to sell the venue out, they can certainly make good use of the space. For the Parks and Devestation tour, that meant building a Mount A-Day-to-Remember-Rushmore with the band members' heads, a fake campfire, a human hamster ball and a fancy graphics package.

It may not be Mount Yeezy, but by God it's good to see a band that teens love celebrating the fact that rock music is awesome.

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Palms at Scout Bar, 9/29/2014

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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