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

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

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

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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The Foreign Exchange at Fitzgerald's, 06/27/2014

Photos by Brando
The Foreign Exchange
June 27, 2014

Fitzgerald's isn't known for outright soul revivals on a Friday night. Or any night, for that matter. The last one my father could remember when I let it be known I was heading there for some groovy R&B was a Hugh Masakela concert he attended solo back in the mid-'90s.

Friday night, Fitzgerald's felt cool, in all senses of the word. The atmosphere was rich enough for twenty- and thirtysomethings to have some equal footing in terms of loving and appreciating music. Nobody looked as if they had a stress to worry about or a care to harp on. That's probably because Phonte, front man of The Foreign Exchange, told us all to leave that shit at the door.

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Mickey Gilley & Johnny Lee at Stafford Centre, 6/25/2014

Photos by Jason Wolter
Urban Cowboy Reunion Tour
Feat. Mickey Gilley & Johnny Lee
Stafford Centre
June 25, 2014

Urban Cowboy has had an unusual half-life. As fiction, it comes up somewhat wanting today; its star-crossed lovers Bud and Sissy ain't exactly Romeo and Juliet. But the film did have the good fortune to be largely set in a real nightclub overflowing with larger-than-life characters, an earthy but alien culture that proved irresistible once Esquire scribe Aaron Latham and then Paramout Pictures came calling. And in some ways, the myth of Gilley's has only grown in the three and a half decades since the film's June 1980 release.

But how to account for the continued interest in Urban Cowboy, which brought a full house to the Stafford Centre Wednesday night for the "Urban Cowboy Reunion Tour"? Part of it had to have been simple nostalgia; at the beginning of the evening a DJ from 97.1 Country Legends asked the theater how many people had been to the old honky-tonk on Pasadena's Spencer Highway, and at least half the room cheered in the affirmative. The other is that tour headliners Johnny Lee and Mickey Gilley are charismatic entertainers with a repertoire of classic-country hits as long as your arm, and often a wincingly corny joke at the ready.

That amounted to a rabbit-hole sort of evening that felt like it really did suspend time for the show's three-plus hour duration. It didn't always make a whole lot of sense, and felt markedly out of step with the times once or twice, but overall it was enjoyable enough if you rolled with what was happening.

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Los Skarnales' 20-Year Bash a Show for the Ages

Photos by Marco Torres
Los Skarnales
June 20, 2014

It was hot, crowded, loud, and borderline dangerous. And it was damn near perfect. Friday night at Fitzgerald's, Los Skarnales showcased every ounce of heart and love their bodies and souls could disseminate, giving Houston a performance that will go down as one of the best the city has ever experienced.

The night began with the most player move of all, a mariachi band. It was only fitting as Mexican tradition dictates that most celebrations should include a mariachi band. And this...this was a celebration of 20 years, from a punk/ska trio called Desorden to the powerhouse band that fascinates crowds at music festivals. There was indeed much to be thankful for.

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A Bumpy, Baffling Beat-Down at BBVA Compass Stadium

Photos by Marco Torres
From the moment I pulled into the parking lot across from BBVA Compass Stadium for the H-Town Beat Down Friday, it was pretty obvious that something was off. It was 7:05 p.m., the earliest and most on-time I'd been for a show in a very long time, and the show slated to start at 7 p.m. had in fact started. At least from the sound of Paul Wall bumpin' through the parking lot, anyway.

This theory was confirmed at check-in, where we were handed a printout of the night's schedule. While the show had been advertised to start at 7 p.m., it actually started earlier than that. And I missed Paul Wall.

So did 99 percent of the rest of the concertgoers. I didn't make it to my seat before the "Sittin' Sideways" rapper left the stage, but neither did anyone else. Apparently I wasn't the only one who missed the memo; the place was empty.

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Raucous Crowd, Latino Stars Enliven El Tri Watch Party

Photos by Marco Torres
Eddie "Piolín" Sotelo of El Show de Piolín on SiriusXM Channel 147 hosted the event.
"A que venimos? A TRIUNFAR!!!"
-- Piolín

Piolín's Jugada Musical feat. Gabriel Iglesias and Intocable
House of Blues
June 17, 2014

When you interview someone who talks for a living, keeping him or her on topic is about as easy as winning the World Cup. In other words, it can take what seems like four years to get a word in. That was my experience last week when I spoke with Eddie "Piolín" Sotelo by phone in anticipation of Piolín's Jugada Musical which took place at House of Blues on Tuesday afternoon.

The Mexican radio-show host and actor spoke with a rapid-fire cadence full of jokes, idioms, slang and colloquialisms. Although I had about five or six questions on my notepad, it was much easier to just go with the flow and converse informally with him. We spoke about his childhood in Mexico and how fitness, music and soccer played a big part of his upbringing.

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Say Anything & the So So Glos at Warehouse Live, 6/15/14

Photos by Violeta Alvarez
The So So Glos
Say Anything, You Blew It!, the So So Glos, The Front Bottoms
Warehouse Live
June 15, 2014

Sunday night my DeLorean took me straight back to 2006, and drove 88 miles per hour to Warehouse Live's four-band showcase starring Say Anything. Despite never having been a particularly rabid fan of the headliners, I'd listened to a good handful of their songs: they were always associated with bands I loved back when the Warped Tour was still the biggest highlight of the summer. Even so, nothing they did ever particularly grabbed me with the exception of 2012's "Burn a Miracle."

Sunday night's show was an experience that didn't necessarily change my feelings toward Say Anything, but at least I know why: I have no particular connection with this band because they never "got" to me in the way that others of the time did. Post pop-punk emo is successful when it taps into its audience's own thoughts and emotions (read: it's called emo for a reason). If a listener connects with the lyrics, it becomes a personal experience; if not, it all pretty much sounds exactly the same.

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James Taylor at Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, 6/14/2014

Photos by Jack Gorman
James Taylor and His All-Star Band
June 14, 2014
Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion

The cougars were on the prowl at the Woodlands on Saturday night, where James Taylor and his All-Star Band played to an almost sold-out crowd. JT did not let them down. His resume highlights include being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, five Grammy Awards and numerous Top 10 singles and albums, but the 66-year-old also reminded the audience on a couple of occasions that he was the first artist signed to Apple Records, the Beatles' record label.

Taylor entered the stage waving and saluting the crowd, clad in gray jeans, a blue button-down shirt and navy sport coat. During the first three songs he appeared a bit stiff as he sat on his stool, strumming his acoustic guitar and singing familiar songs. To get a reprieve from the Houston humidity, he soon took off the blazer, rolled up his sleeves and let loose the remainder of the night. At times he looked to be in awe of the crowd's energy and excitement, and the audience really began to get engaged in the show about five songs in.

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