Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band at The Woodlands, 10/10/2014

Photos by Violeta Alvarez
Ringo Starr & His All Starr Band
Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
October 10, 2014

Ever wonder what Todd Rundgren would sound like playing guitar for Santana? Or Gregg Rolie offering Hammond B-3 organ flourishes for Toto? Or Ringo Starr pounding drums for...Mr. Mister?

Probably not. But in the musical sampler platter that is the continuing saga of Ringo Starr and His All-Starr Band, those unlikely pairings happened. Much to the delight and often surprise of a crowd who knew the songs -- if not necessarily the men who originally sang or played them. Oh, and there's a freakin' Beatle onstage to boot as well.

Since 1989 and through 13 incarnations, Starr -- wisely knowing that an all-Ringo show might be a bit much -- has hit the road with a rotating roster of '60s, '70s, and '80s rockers. They play both as a unit backing Ringo, and then step forward to regale the audience with their own hits.

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Beck at Bayou Music Center, 10/9/2014

Photos by Nicholas Zalud
Bayou Music Center
October 9, 2014

Following a lengthy, convoluted introduction of his band mates, during which every member had a solo of some kind, Beck had a question for his fans.

"Have we alienated everyone yet?"

It was an earnest question, at least in theory. (With Beck, one never knows.) During the preceding ten minutes, the onstage ensemble had performed snippets of Van Halen's "Runnin' with the Devil" and The Rolling Stones' "Miss You" as Beck drawled on about everything and nothing simultaneously.

Many Houston crowds would have become furious and begun screaming at the top of their lungs for the artists onstage to shut up and play the hits. But those in attendance at Bayou Music Center Thursday night couldn't have been less annoyed.

"We're just having fun," Beck continued dryly.

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Interpol at House of Blues, 10/3/2014

Photos by Violeta Alvarez
House of Blues
October 3, 2014

Interpol is, at least in theory, a gem.

Heavily influenced by British post-punk, the New York-based quartet-turned-trio remains an indie-rock band at heart more than a decade into its spotty career, one that was arguably never supposed to be as successful as it has become. Since the release of their debut album, however, Interpol have been a prominent topic in pop culture, praised by diehard fans even during their creative missteps and heavily criticized by bloggers whose ears their music was never intended to reach.

The buzz surrounding the release of last month's El Pintor, the group's first album in four years and most critically acclaimed release since 2002 debut Turn on the Bright Lights, was palpable, owing to a return to the beloved sounds of that first album. Seemingly within minutes of going on sale, their Houston date sold out.

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Kacey Musgraves at Warehouse Live, 10/2/2014

Photos by Jason Wolter
Kacey Musgraves
Warehouse Live
October 2, 2014

Kacey Musgraves feels almost too good to be true. The 26-year-old Texan seems as sweet as can be, both onstage and in her media appearances, and sparks the kind of connection with fans that has them singing her songs back to her without her even asking them to. Running across this kind of guileless talent in 2014, not just in Musgraves' chosen realm of country but in all of pop music, feels a little like driving past a jackalope on your evening drive home from work. You're not sure it's real, but you won't soon forget it all the same.

Although it came out a while ago (March 2013), Musgraves is still touring behind Same Trailer, Different Park, prompting her to slyly dub the leg that brought her to Warehouse Live Thursday evening "Same Tour, Different Trailer." As she apologetically explained to the venue's near-packed ballroom, she's been so busy she simply hasn't had time to make another record. Picking up award after award and spending the balance of the year as Katy Perry's hand-picked opening act will do that.

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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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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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The Felice Brothers at Fitzgerald's, 9/25/2014

Photos by Jim Bricker
The Felice Brothers
September 25, 2014

Without a doubt, the best shows to come through town are those that basically go unnoticed. Whether they don't get enough advertising or another big-name event or two in town is taking the crowds away, there is nothing better than a non-packed show at a smaller venue such as Fitzgerald's downstairs.

The Felice Brothers played said venue last night, and with so many things going on around town Thursday night, such as FPH's Sammy Awards and the mega-Tom Petty gig at Toyota Center, attendance at this show seemed much lighter than it could have been.

Which is not a bad thing -- for the fans, at least. It's already tough enough sweating through a show in the storied venue when it's half full, but the lack of the extra bodies in the room only brought a light dew on the brow rather than the full-on back sweat it sometimes does. Well, until the dancing began. Fitz, please fix your air conditioner.

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Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers at Toyota Center, 9/25/2014

Photos by Violeta Alvarez
Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Steve Winwood
Toyota Center
September 25, 2014

Anyone curious what might motivate Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers to continue making records could do worse than starting with "Shadow People," a song from the band's new album Hypnotic Eye. Like its neighbor "American Dream Plan B," the song itself carries a vague political charge, exactly the sort of curmudgeonly tone a 63-year-old man might adopt, shaking his head as he mutters under his breath. These kids today.

In some ways Petty is like Hank Hill, the exasperated but fundamentally decent hero of Mike Judge's late, great animated Fox series King of the Hill. Petty appeared in the show as Lucky, the good-ole-boy love interest of Hank's niece Luanne, but in the Heartbreakers he is the man whose dismay at society's general direction is tempered by his deep bond with the people dear to him. Even among his closest peers, Bruce Springsteen and John Mellencamp, Petty comes off more regular guy than man of the people.

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Royal Blood at Warehouse Live, 9/23/2014

Photos by Jack Gorman
Royal Blood, Meg Myers
Warehouse Live Studio
September 23, 2014

Playing Lollapalooza and SXSW is one thing. But to be a true buzz band, you've got to generate the kind of heat that can draw a big crowd to a club on a Tuesday night in flyover country. By that standard, at least, Royal Blood has arrived.

The U.K. garage duo is less than a month removed from the release of their first full-length, but appreciation for their hard-edged guitar punch is spreading fast. Last night, the Warehouse Live Studio filled up with fans eager to find out if these guys really can be the rock and roll saviors they've already been branded as by the NME set.

Before Houston could get its first look at the pair, however, we were treated to another intriguing, rising talent. A Los Angeleno by way of Tennessee, Meg Myers is blessed with the sort of rich and elastic voice that simply begs to be applied to rock and roll. Flitting between a breathy whisper and an anguished shout, the singer occupies a sonic territory somewhere between Fiona and Alanis, and she's got stage moves enticing enough to keep a Tuesday night crowd enthralled.

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Goatwhore at Fitzgeralds, 9/15/2014

Photos by Nathan Smith
Goatwhore, Venomous Maximus, Demoniacal Genuflection, Legion
September 15, 2014

Of all the days of the week, none are less metal than Mondays. The domain of alarm clocks and rent payments, Monday must necessarily be the sworn enemy of middle fingers and Jager shots. Nobody applies KISS makeup on a Monday. No one has ever gotten a skull tattoo on a Monday. If you're listening to heavy metal on a Monday, it's only because you listen to heavy metal every day.

It was these everyday-metal types who showed up to Fitzgerald's on Monday night, with not a part-timer in sight. The black-clad die-hards came to see Goatwhore, the long-running New Orleans headbangers who draw upon the entire, vast universe of metal to arrive at a sound forged in the rank heat of the Gulf Coast. But they were also treated to a fairly stacked bill of local talent on a night when, by all rights, they should have been at home in bed. And they weren't about to just stand around and clap politely.

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