Nice Knowing You, Mango's

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Photo by Chris Gray
This sign is part of the new mural at Mango's completed last month.
One of Montrose's most distinctive and colorful live-music venues is not long for this world, signaled by the "for lease" sign that appeared on the side of Mango's earlier this week. For close to a decade, the building has welcomed local bands from across the musical spectrum, who learned to begrudgingly tolerate the club's difficult parking situation and sometimes unusable bathrooms. But after talk began circulating on the Internet, Tuesday afternoon the owner confirmed that he has decided to step away.

"I've been doing this for four or five years, and I've been trying to find a way to find something else to do," says Eduardo Lopez, adding that he owns several other businesses and wants to spend more time with his two young children. "I've got quite a bit on my plate, and I don't want to kill myself and wind up paying bills in the hospital from working too many hours in the music business until 3 o'clock in the morning."


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The Five Best Houston Music Videos of 2014

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I feel bad that I don't make it to more live shows here in the city, but try very hard to make up for it with my lightning focus on the art of the music video. Houston produces extremely high-quality music videos, and if 2014 didn't compare to last year in terms of quantity, it did so in quality. So here's the cream of that particular crop.


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Tanner Garza's Creation in the Here and Now

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Photos courtesy of Tanner Garza
Tanner Garza says he's been making improvisational music since age 21.
From a city that is never silent to a sound that resembles the sky above its soaring scrapers, Tanner Garza's heartfelt experiments are imperfectly painted portraits of here and now. A place that seems far away, yet too close.

Mention the phrase "experimental music" to the amateur connoisseur and one of two visceral reactions occur. Facial features cluster together forming freshly exposed wrinkles or question marked expressions lead to shrugged shoulders. Either it is synonymous with unlistenable nonsense like one artist throwing a piece of lunch meat against the wall while another artist records it, or it is met with the question: "Is this even music?"

For Tanner Garza, experimental music is none of the above. He describes it as "building the house with your own blueprints and by your own rules." His music creates wordless internal dialogue -- communicating feelings robbed by misspoke words and prattle. Constructing a house built on the heart of his carefully crafted blueprint, his sound transcends any vulgar definition.


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Deluxe '70s Sets Make Early Gift for Rock Fans

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Led Zeppelin has recently re-released two more titles from their catalog, again remastered by Jimmy Page: the 1971 album commonly referred to as Led Zeppelin IV (or "Zoso") and 1973's followup Houses of the Holy, both now upgraded with better sound and a bonus disc of material. Each extra disc mirrors the original album's track list, but with different versions of each track that range from alternate takes to instrumental versions. It goes without saying that the albums definitely sound better, but the bonus discs are what most fans have been anticipating.

Unlike the reissues of Zeppelin's first three albums, the bonus material here does not differ noticeably from the album versions. The majority of songs are slightly different mixes that the listener can pick up if he or she has heard the albums numerous times (who hasn't?), and the remainder are instrumental mixes. Page had already worked different mixes of some of the songs at the time of recording before choosing which ones made the album, and here he shares those ideas with us.


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Houston's 10 Most Merciless Mosh Pits of 2014

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Photo by Jack Gorman
New York's Cro-Mags incited one of the best mosh pits in Houston this year.
2014 was another bruising year for punk and metal fans in Houston, and naturally, most of those bruises were self-inflicted. From the southern outpost of Scout Bar to the northerly slope of the Woodlands Pavilion hill, alcohol-fueled crazy persons made a sport out of slamming into one another, turning the city's clubs, dives and amphitheaters into rock and roll proving grounds. In mosh pit after mosh pit, we watched the adrenalized mayhem turn boys into men and girls into badass chicks who are not to be fucked with.

At times, it was beautiful: Only at a rock show can you see a grown man hug the guy who just violently knocked him off his feet. Other times, the moshing got flat-out scary, sending all but the most indestructible mutants scurrying towards the bar. More than once, the action in the pit proved to be more memorable than the music onstage.

While nobody can claim to have caught every mosh pit in Houston this year, we here at Rocks Off are proud to say we braved quite a few of them to bring you those pictures you like so much. And a few of those pits stood out more than others, forcing us to stand back and simply admire our city's lack of sanity. What better evidence of a great show can there be?

So for all the skankers and the skaters, the bros and the bullies, we present to you now our official accounting of the Top 10 mosh pits of 2014:


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R&R Hall of Fame Finally Admits Stevie Ray Vaughan

Categories: Texas Me

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Photo by Groovehouse
Rockin' Robin's famous Stevie Ray Vaughan mural
A great injustice in the eyes of many Texas music fans has been corrected with this morning's announcement that Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble have finally been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The late Texas guitar icon was elected in his sixth year of eligibility, long enough to make many fans wonder if he would ever make it in. According to the Hall's rules, artists become eligible 25 years after releasing their first album or single; although forming in Austin in the late '70s, Double Trouble did not make their debut recording until 1983's Texas Flood.

Results were announced early Tuesday morning. Also inducted this year were Green Day; the late Lou Reed; Joan Jett & the Blackhearts; Ringo Starr -- the last of the Beatles to be inducted as a solo artist -- soul singer Bill Withers; the Paul Butterfield Blues Band; and early Carolina R&B group the "5" Royales, whose songs "Dedicated to the One I Love" and "Think" later became huge pop hits for the Shirelles and James Brown's Famous Flames, respectively.


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Fleetwood Mac Thrills Toyota Center for Two-Plus Hours

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Photos by Jack Gorman
Have Shawl, Will Travel: Stevie Nicks and Mick Fleetwood (back)
Fleetwood Mac
Toyota Center
December 15, 2014

The Mac Attack is Back! And with the Songbird back in the nest, the Chain has been reforged, and seems stronger than ever.

Okay, that may be a little heavy on the symbols and metaphors. But it's hard to overestimate the importance the Fleetwood Mac's return to its classic mid-'70s to mid-'80s lineup of Lindsey Buckingham (vocals/guitar), Stevie Nicks (vocals), namesake rhythm section Mick Fleetwood (drums) and John McVie (bass), and returning vocalist/keyboardist Christine McVie.

So many references were made by other band members onstage to McVie's unlikely and never-thought-possible comeback after 16 years (she had retired to her English castle, vowing never to make music again), that no one would have blamed her for blushing, even nearly 40 dates into this reunion tour.

Every classic-rock band of any importance or longevity has gone through lineup changes -- including Fleetwood Mac, whose origins stretch back to 1967 as a straight-up, all-English blues band. But there just seems something so...right about this lineup reconstituting. Take out any one of the five, and it's just not the same.


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Upcoming: Hozier, John Prine, Sleater-Kinney, Steve Miller Band, Taylor Swift, Wilco, etc.

Categories: This Just In

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Singer-Songwriter Adam Carroll co-headlines with Owen Temple at Main Street Crossing
An Acoustic Christmas: With The Bourbon Cowboys, Raf Rivera, Jordan Tyding, Matt Cash, Jordan Appleby., Thu., December 25, 8 p.m., Free. Scout Bar, 18307 Egret Bay, Houston, 281-335-0002.

Adam Carroll & Owen Temple: With Zach Aaron., Fri., December 26, 6 p.m., $15 to $25. Main Street Crossing, 111 E. Main, Tomball, 281-290-0431.

Amanda Miguel & Diego Verdaguer: Sun., February 15, 8:30 p.m., $39.50 to $59.50. Arena Theatre, 7326 Southwest Fwy, Houston, 713-988-1020.

American Aquarium: With Mike & the Moonpies., Fri., January 23, 9 p.m., $15 to $20. Firehouse Saloon, 5930 Southwest Fwy., Houston, 713-977-1962.


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Jennifer Lawrence's Sudden Pop Dominance Is Legit

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Sometimes in life, we normal human beings must shelve our own insecurities and recognize that some among us are simply good at anything they attempt. Like that song from the Annie Oakley play, they can do anything better. Some of us recognize these people with awe and admiration, while others choose to hate.

These are the prevalent reactions to Jennifer Lawrence, Billboard-charting singer. Her sing-song contribution to the Mockingjay Pt. 1 score is "The Hanging Tree," which entered Billboard's Hot 100 at No. 12, ahead of multiple entries by chart whores Ed Sheeran and Iggy Azalea. The seriously depressing tune from a movie about teen genocide came in higher than recent comeback attempts by Fall Out Boy and Fergie. The Oscar-winning actress's vocal turn has now charted higher than "Yellow Flicker Beat," Lorde's Golden Globe-nominated song from the movie's original soundtrack.

Lawrence has now joined the odd ranks of "Hide Your Kids, Hide Your Wife" Web star Antoine Dodson, the NFL's Chicago Bears and Irene "Granny Clampett" Ryan, who also all had Billboard-slotted hits. But those other folks were one-offs, whereas Lawrence is so good at being good there's probably already a pop album in the works for her (I hope).


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The 22 Best Touring Concerts of 2014

Categories: Live Shots

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Photo by Jack Gorman
Screaming at Strangers: Antemasque
Antemasque
Fitzgerald's, August

Texas needs Antemasque. We need a band that can storm the country and remind everyone that we in the Lone Star State still know how to write great rock music and have the chops to deliver those songs live. We need to remind folks from coast to coast that we can write big hooks that sound even better when screamed with a bunch of strangers.

On top of that, it's really, really good to see Cedric and Omar back on the same page again. Would more At the Drive-In/Mars Volta be cool? Yeah, I guess, but I'm genuinely way more curious about the future of Antemasque than I am about their past success. CORY GARCIA

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