Stone Temple Pilots & Blue October at The Woodlands, 7/19/2014

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Photos by Francisco Montes
Stone Temple Pilots
Bud Lite Weenie Roast
Feat. Stone Temple Pilots, Blue October, 10 Years
Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
July 19, 2014

When it was first announced that Chester Bennington would be singing with the Stone Temple Pilots, the public raised a collective eyebrow and even avid Linkin Park fans wondered if he possessed the chops for the job. But Bennington slowly won over fans, both old and new.

With an appreciation for the band's original sound but also a swagger all his own, he strode out onto the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion stage Saturday night alongside the rest of the band's original lineup to the elation of the crowd.

Unlike many contemporary rock concerts, Bennington's vocals were subdued, set alongside the bass and guitar levels instead of high above them. As fans gleefully sang along to the likes of "Sex Type Thing," "Vaseline," "Big Empty" and "Dead & Bloated," it became clear that Bennington had resolved himself not to reinvent the wheel.

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Beyoncé & Jay Z at Minute Maid Park, 7/18/2014

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Photos courtesy of Parkwood Entertainment
Beyonce & Jay-Z
Minute Maid Park
July 18, 2014

When the downtown lots were charging upwards of $80 for parking, could there be any doubt that the biggest tour of the summer had hit Houston with all the force of a summer lightning storm on Friday night? Beyonce, our very own homegrown megastar was in town, and she brought her hit-making hubby along for the ride. By 8 p.m., the air outside the ballpark was absolutely crackling with anticipatory energy as legions of ladies in their club-ready best lined up with and without the men who love them to bear witness to the spectacle cooked up by the closet thing we've got to a modern-day musical monarchy.

It was the biggest assembly that Minute Maid Park has seen in years, and the stadium staff seemed more than a little overwhelmed by it all. Huge crowds clustered at every entrance waiting as patiently as they could to get inside as harried security tried to check everyone as thoroughly as time allowed. With thousands still outside the gates as the show began, staffers finally gave up on the metal detectors and began sending everybody through, narrowly avoiding what felt like a riot in the making.


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The Crystal Method at Stereo Live, 7/17/2014

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Photos by Jack Gorman
The Crystal Method
Stereo Live
July 17, 2014

Over the past two decades, the Crystal Method has cleared the way for electronic artists to flourish today. Their debut album, Vegas, was released in 1997 and today is iconic in the world of electronic music, while Ken Jordan and Scott Kirkland have remained relevant by releasing five more studio albums, multiple collaborations with mainstream artists, a large number of commercials and contributed to a vast array of video game and movie soundtracks.

This year the duo is celebrating their 20th anniversary together with a tour supporting their latest, self-titled album that stopped at Stereo Live Thursday night. It was the third time that I have attended a Crystal Method show, the most recent being in 1998 when the music media was hyping up electronica as the next being thing. One Houston Press article described their music as a bunch of beeps and bloops that created melodies.

I remember going to purchase the tickets at the Record Rack on Shepherd Drive. I also recall either a radio interview or a local article that warned concertgoers to expect something different than a normal concert - you would be disappointed if you attended expecting to see people playing instruments and moving around on stage, it said.

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Lady Gaga at Toyota Center, 7/16/2014

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Photos by Barry Brecheisen-WireImage/Courtesy of Live Nation
Note: media photography was not approved for Houston. These photos are from Gaga's artRave at Chicago's United Center.
Lady Gaga, Lady Nightshade, Crayon Pop
Toyota Center
July 16, 2014

For a good handful of years there, there was no question who reigned as pop music's auteur supreme. Arriving as if from some stranger, sillier and downright gayer dimension than our own, a chameleonic diva calling herself Lady Gaga took the charts by storm by bidding the planet to "Just Dance," and dance we did.

She hatched from an egg at the Grammys. She wore a dress made of meat. And her music went into heavy rotation at discos and shopping malls the world over. A new pop icon -- the talented, mutant spawn of Michael Jackson and Madonna -- seemed to be emerging, and it was exciting breath of fresh, Rihanna-free air.

That was then. A couple of middling albums and a few world mega-tours later, and Gaga seems to have been bumped down the pop pecking order a notch or three, teetering on the brink of becoming old hat. While no one doubts her talent for singles and spectacle, could yet another big arena tour from Mama Monster really still compete with Miley's bizarre Bangerz staging, or Beyonce's mechanized perfection? Worse yet, might she actually be committing the unforgivable sin of trying too hard? Reviews (and predictions) have been mixed.


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Lionel Richie & Cee-Lo Green at The Woodlands, 7/13/2014

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Photos by Jim Bricker
Lionel Richie, Cee-Lo Green
Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
July 13, 2014

It's not a stretch to say that many of my peers could have possibly been conceived thanks to Lionel Richie's body of work. The legendary R&B singer's sexy-meets-soulful approach, both with the Commodores in the '60s and '70s and solo since the '80s has provided the soundtrack for lovers everywhere for quite some time.

The incredibly preserved Richie is the performer that you never knew you wanted to see until you were there seeing him, singing along to his hits. And hits there were. Advertised as "All The Hits -- All Night Long," Richie's show didn't let down the crowd in that category, as for a little more than two hours he brought his all to the hot and steamy Woodlands summer night.

To be honest, I didn't really expect much going into the show. I figured on a phoned-in performance from a guy just trying to turn his past into a few more bucks. Thankfully, it was anything but.


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The Cro-Mags at Walters, 7/10/2014

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Photos by Jack Gorman
The Cro-Mags, Die Young, Black Coffee, BLUNT, H.R.A.
Walters Downtown
July 10, 2014

When the Cro-Mags arose from the streets of New York City in the mid-'80s, punk and heavy metal were hardly the best of friends. If there's one thing that singer John Joseph and company have proved over their tumultuous career wrecking stages together, though, it's that the tight bonds of friendship aren't necessarily a prerequisite to do some groundbreaking damage.

After more makeups, breakups and lineup changes than anyone cares to count at this point, the 'Mags have reemerged as proud hardcore elder statesmen in the 21st century, recognized far and wide for their thrashing, crossover sound's indelible influence on both sides of the once-deep punk/metal divide.

On a rare stop in Houston on Thursday night, the band drew a crowd ready to show out for the scene legends who wielded such a heavy hand in crafting the modern underground's sound and aesthetic.


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Nick Greer & the G's Launch Heart On Fire in Soulful Style

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Nick Greer & the G's
Heart On Fire CD Release
Warehouse Live
June 27, 2014

Its not his voice alone that stuns you, it's the emotion and life behind the voice of Nick Greer that reminds you why and how much you love music. It's not the strokes of his keyboard that are particularly astounding (although they very much are), rather the balance between his delicate touch and the forceful brigade of sound that Greer and his band create.

Friday, the Green Room at Warehouse Live was packed wall to wall for the CD release party for Heart On Fire, the newest offering from Nick Greer & The G's. Rocks Off was in attendance at April's preview event at Wire Road Studios that was attended by friends, family and the Trill OG himself. We heard then about the life trials that have fueled the songwriting and provided motivation to produce something grand and special with this new work; after hearing more tracks from the album, we feel totally confident that Greer has succeeded.

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Reel Big Fish at House of Blues, 6/29/2014

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Photos by Jim Bricker
Reel Big Fish
House of Blues
June 29, 2014

Nostalgia is all the rage these days, but not just today. For some time, people have been looking to the past to gain current happiness in their lives. Whether the '80s are the focus, or the '60s or the '20s or even as far back as the Middle Ages, people are constantly seeking out the past to escape the monotony of everyday life.

Currently it's the '90s, a decade far enough removed from current culture, but easily remembered by most people to be the latest focus of nostalgia's lens. Big hair and flashy outfits, the growth of hip-hop, pop-punk and ska, technology, and all-around larger-than-life personas made the '90s stand out, and now people are eating it up all over again.


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Lunice at MFAH's Mixed Media, 6/27/2014

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Lunice @ MFAH Mixed Media
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
June 27, 2014

If ever a DJ could be considered a virtuoso, then Lunice would certainly fit into that category. Dressed in all black, with tight jeans and an oversized, fitted, extended drop tee, the Montréal producer/DJ created his own art during the June version of the monthly Mixed Media event at the MFAH.

Armed with a laptop and an MPC controller, Lunice began with a seemingly random series of sounds that emanated from the flurry of hits he pounded into the rows of buttons in front of him. Whether he utilized this time to check his levels or declare to the crowd that his set was about to begin, the random sounds turned into a rhythm, which led to a furious adventure of sound which would continue for almost two hours.

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Goo Goo Dolls at Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, 6/27/2014

Categories: Last Night

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Photos by Violeta Alvarez
Goo Goo Dolls
Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
June 27, 2014

"Darling, I'm sorry," the Goo Goo Dolls' frontman John Rzeznik said from the Woodlands Pavilion stage Friday night, addressing a young woman he had just publically chastised for being on her phone during his band's performance.

"I just want you to have a good time tonight," he continued. "So this song is for you."

He then began strumming his acoustic guitar, and the opening chords to 1995's breakthrough hit "Name" echoed through the amphitheater as the crowd roared its approval.


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