Aerosmith at The Woodlands, 8/25/2014

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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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Crosby, Stills & Nash at Bayou Music Center, 8/25/2014

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Photos by Jack Gorman
Crosby, Stills & Nash
Bayou Music Center
August 25, 2014

"I don't know how people got this idea that we are a political band," David Crosby -- trademark flowing grey hair and walrus mustache intact -- said Monday night. "It might be from just those one or two songs. Or 18."

And indeed, while it seems incongruous that anyone buying a ticket to see Crosby, Stills & Nash is utterly unaware of their strongly left-leaning views, those who came strictly for the warm buzz of a hippie-fest nostalgia trip sure got a rude awakening.

Oh yeah, they got the sweet, comfy love songs like "Guinnevere," "Helplessly Hoping," and a nicely done "Our House." And the bong-fest barn burners like "Wooden Ships," "Long Time Gone," and "Almost Cut My Hair."

But smack dab in the middle of that set, CSN shook it up with a number of new songs all about some pretty contemporary issues, and one decades-old that could have been written yesterday. Remember, this is three-fourths of the group that recorded and released the protest anthem "Ohio" in about a week after the 1970 Kent State shootings that it was about.


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OneRepublic at The Woodlands, 8/22/2014

Categories: Last Night

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Photos by Violeta Alvarez
OneRepublic
Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
August 22, 2014

Before One Republic was about to play "Preacher," a song from their latest album about lead singer Ryan Tedder's preacher grandfather, Tedder gave us a little background on his childhood and what it was like living under the eyes of a devout religious elder. He told the crowd, "If I could describe preachers with one word, it would be 'consistent'. They are consistent in everything they do."

OneRepublic is pretty consistent, too.

As a band, OneRepublic seems to stay out of the spotlight. We never see them in the news, never see any controversial interview quotes -- they're just that kind of band. However, the medium most friendly to OneRepublic is the radio, and people may not realize how prevalent their music has been on the Top 40 airwaves for the past five or six years.


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Soundgarden at The Woodlands, 8/16/2014

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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

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

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Photos by Jim Bricker
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
Fitzgerald's
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

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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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Marco Antonio Solis at Toyota Center, 8/10/2014

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photos by Marco Torres
Marco Antonio Solis
Toyota Center
August 10, 2014

Hailing from the beautiful Mexican state of Michoácan, Marco Antonio Solis is the epitome of a Latino superstar. He is suave, romantic, talented and charming, equally comfortable singing a ranchera as he is a love ballad, dancing to a cumbia or swaying along with bachata. He creates his compositions, writes his own songs, and plays his guitar and timbales masterfully. Solis is a natural performer, and exhibits attributes that he was seemingly born with, not learned or faked. In short, he is what Pitbull and Enrique Iglesias wish they could be.

On a sweltering summer night in the City of Houston, Solis began his show about ten minutes past 8 p.m. Sunday, allowing his large band and orchestra to introduce him with a medley of his past and current hits. A white backdrop showcased video of past performances and music videos, leading into the first song, "No Puedo Olvidarla (I Can't Forget Her)." The crowd cheered loudly and illuminated the arena with a sea of cell-phone cameras.


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Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival at The Woodlands, 8/10/2014

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Photos by Francisco Montes
Avenged Sevenfold
Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival
Feat. Avenged Sevenfold, Korn, Asking Alexandria, Trivium, Suicide SIlence, etc.
Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
August 10, 2014

August 10 was a date Houston headbangers had circled on their calendars. The Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival, North America's largest, loudest traveling menagerie of metal, promised to destroy the Woodlands Pavilion on the last day of the tour.

While many were miffed that the carnival's full coterie of bands wouldn't make the trip -- acts like Body Count, King 810 and Ill Nino couldn't be squeezed into the venue's silly two-stage configuration -- it was still more than enough heavy metal for anybody. The day started early and ended late, and the summer sun seemed bound and determined to helpfully redefine "brutality" for every tatted-up freak in attendance.


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7 Seconds at Walters, 8/9/2014

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Photos by David Ensminger
7 Seconds, the Copyrights, the Turnaways, Some Nerve
Walters Downtown
August 12, 2014

"Give the people what they want," seems to be the populist modus operandi of touring veteran punk and hardcore bands, from Youth Brigade to DOA and 7 Seconds, who belted out a stew of contagious hits from the early-mid 1980s at Walters on Saturday night. Sure, that meant a steady flow of lean hardcore, but it also meant a Stalinist purge of their pop-minded fare.

To be sure, the crowd, which swelled precipitously right before the band hit the claustrophobic stage, was eager to chew every morsel, especially when the band unleashed deep catalog shockwaves like "Red and Black," "The Crew" and "You Lose" (each under one minute long!) to dizzying singalong hoarseness and beer slosh that shot out like a fire cannon at times.

Up front, the punk ladies of the humidity-caked night pushed their way forward in a heave of righteousness on tunes like "Not Just Boy's Fun" and made the chorus of "99 Red Balloons" reach immense proportions, like a seismic sonic wave inundating the scene.


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