HAIM at House of Blues, 4/22/2014

Photos by Nicholas Zalud
Danielle Haim
House of Blues
April 22, 2014

Aspiring bands wondering how to go from obscurity to selling out House of Blues in barely two years could do worse than studying HAIM's example. In this case, the L.A. act fronted by the three Haim sisters fills a niche that hardly even existed previously: girls next door who happen to be badass musicians. Both categories are abundant within the past 50 years of pop history, true, but not together in the kind of proportions that HAIM brings to the table.

There is a little more to it than that, yes. Originally from the San Fernando Valley, Este, Danielle and Alana Haim (pronounced HEYE-m) have already had their share of lucky breaks. Their arrival/discovery at SXSW 2012 looks destined to be a story HAIM tells at many a Texas show to come. Onstage, they come across as genial, wisecracking young ladies who are unafraid to be cheesy and will let an f-bomb fly at the drop of a hat. They're easy to root for.

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Manchester Orchestra at House of Blues, 4/21/2014

Photos by Jim Bricker
Manchester Orchestra
House of Blues
April 21, 2014

Sometimes a band just floors you. They leave you crawling away from the venue without the ability to walk, think, talk or use your major motor functions for a period of time. While such an aural assault doesn't happen that often, when it does you know the band did its job.

That happened last night, when a rather large Monday evening crowd gathered at House of Blues to witness seemingly everyone there's favorite band, Manchester Orchestra. Their set was as much raucous and loud as it was soft and endearing, but throughout the night there was never a dull moment.

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Houston Celebrates Record Store Day In Grand Style

Photos by Jim Bricker
Record Store Day fans waiting to get into Cactus Music
Frustrated. Nervous. Tired. Anxious. Wired. Those are pretty much the only words to describe the numerous Record Store Day lines throughout town Saturday. Nope, tax day was four days prior so these lines were certainly not at your local H&R Block. These were the emotions of a quickly growing group of collectors lining up around town at their favorite record stores.

Record Store Day is the equivalent to a vinyl lovers' Christmas. For hours and hours, people line up outside of their favorite record store in anticipation of getting one or several of a limited release of specialty records made for just the day.

Towards the front of the lines people had no worries about not getting a specific record, but they had earned their carefree ability with an unprecedented time of sitting and waiting, but as the lines grew the hope for those at the back of them started to diminish. And for good reason. If you're 50 people back in line, and your record store has only three copies of a specific album, then most likely you're not going to get it. If you're 500 people back, you're definitely not going to get it.

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Dick Dale at Continental Club, 4/17/2014

Photos by Jim Bricker
Dick Dale
Continental Club
April 17, 2014

Walking into the Continental Club, I had the thought: "Can Dick Dale still do it at 76 years old?" I mean, I know folks younger that can't even send an email, let alone rip a guitar like it's going out of style. But I would soon find out that not only can he still play, but his guitar riffs sounded cleaner than ever.

Dale, who has had an off-and-on relationship with music since the late 1950s, likes to keep it simple, and proved that Thursday during a 90 minute set of mostly covers to an overly packed room. He doesn't need all the bells and whistles of modern technology -- just give him his Fender and a classic amp and he'll walk all over the youngsters trying to replicate his style today.

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Jeff Bridges & the Abiders at Warehouse Live, 4/12/2014

Photos by Jim Bricker
Jeff Bridges & the Abiders
Warehouse Live
April 12, 2014

Sometime during Jeff Bridges' headlining set at Warehouse Live on Saturday night, things just seemed to click. It took a little bit for the band to warm up to the room, and more specifically the room to warm up to the band, but after that happened this show became a good one.

I'm not sure if it took the crowd getting over the fact that Jeff Bridges was standing in front of them, but when people finally did get over his celebrity and stopped shouting quotes from The Big Lebowski at the stage, things seemed to fall into place and it became a real show.

Not that Bridges and his aptly named band the Abiders were churning out bad tunes, it just seemed to bore the audience at first -- one that seemed quite excited about the performance heading into the start. Could be that most of the crowd paid the hefty ticket price just to get a glimpse of Bridges or yell inaudible movie quotes at him, but after they realized that it wasn't just him acting out his "Dude" persona, the unrest throughout the room was noticeable.

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Kings of Leon at Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, 4/10/2014

Photos by Jim Bricker
Kings of Leon, Local Natives
Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
April 10, 2014

Welcome back, Kings of Leon. We had missed you since you skipped out on our last show. While you might've been touring pretty relentlessly since your return last year, it was nice to see you back at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, in seemingly good health, and with a re-established vigor.

We weren't sure if you had the ability to give us your all last night, but that was soon disproven in the first minutes of your performance. You showed us that, despite all your brotherly quarrels in the past, you really do like playing with each other the songs you've cleverly crafted in the past decade.

You have good songs, and you certainly know how to rock, but how long is that going to last? When are you going to fall into that same situation that caused a ruckus in Dallas a few years ago and made you cancel your Houston performance the next night? I mean, I guess you are (mostly) brothers, so those arguments are deep-seated in years of alcohol-fueled love and hate, but how long can it last?

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Arcade Fire at Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, 4/9/2014

Photos by Jim Bricker
Who is that masked man?
Arcade Fire
Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
April 9, 2014

I may not be the first person to say it, but then Arcade Fire is not the first group to counter the "most important band in the world" tag by breaking out the costumes and mirrors. U2 is the obvious model, with their Joshua Tree-Achtung Baby-Zooropa cycle, but the tradition is at least as old as their fellow Irishman Oscar Wilde, and no doubt a lot older. "Man is least himself when he talks in his own person," the 19th-century wit famously said. "Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth."

Arcade Fire's latest album, Reflektor, is clouded with suspicion and anxiety. It's the kind of record a band who has conquered the world and is wondering both who they can trust and what to do next might make, but it's so full of shiny surfaces, synthesizer-spawned smoke and mirrors, and a relentless Studio 54 beat that you'd almost never notice. The camera never lies, and there is always redemption on the dance floor. Not their best record, maybe, but maybe the one that translates best to the stage.

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Grouplove at House of Blues, 4/7/2014

Photos by Jim Bricker
Grouplove, MS MR
House of Blues
April 7, 2014

Damn the iPod. Really. It's truly ruined the way we ingest music. Long gone are the days of sitting down to a full album, taking in all of its little intricacies from front to back, allowing a band to tell their story on two full sides.

We may never have another White Album or Dark Side of the Moon, and can only hope to see another Quadrophenia or Thriller, but the chances of that seem slim. And because of that, bands have now changed their approach to how they release music.

Now we are force-fed a band three and a half minutes at a time, which can't possibly give us a full picture of what they can really do. It's almost a step back to the days of the 45, where people would fall in love with a band based solely on an A-side and (if the band is lucky) a B-side. Today, given music listeners' love of the shuffle, it's rare for anyone to know what a band truly sounds like.

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Upcoming: Justin Timberlake, 311, Bro Safari, Calle 13, Wolfmother, The Fray, ZZ Top, etc.

311: Wed., July 30, 8 p.m., $39.50 to $45. Bayou Music Center, 520 Texas, Houston, 713-225-8551.

4th Annual SouthEast 4/20 Fest featuring Disfrutalo!: With Downer, Devil Killing Moth, Zoofeelia, 72Names, InZurgo, Cosmic Bug Loaf, Dadsmom, Gio Chamba, Marc D, Def Perception Music. Sun., April 20, 3 p.m., $5. Bohemeo's, 708 Telephone, Houston, 713-923-4277.

Anthony Hamilton: Fri., May 16, 9 p.m., $59.50. Arena Theatre, 7326 Southwest Fwy., Houston, 713-988-1020.

Bro Safari: With Parker Clark, Vance Lawrence. Fri., April 25, 9 p.m., $10 to $15. Stereo Live, 6400 Richmond, Houston, 832-251-9600.

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Chromeo at House of Blues, 4/6/2014

Photos by Jim Bricker
House of Blues
April 6, 2014

For someone to dance means he or she feels something deep down in his or her bones that moves not only the muscles but the spirit. Not everyone was given the gift of rhythm, but everyone has the ability to dance. It might not be with skill, nor with care, but given the right sound or beat everyone will eventually find themselves moving their bodies to music.

Some factors heighten this ability, such as a performance from the Canadian duo Chromeo. If you've ever been enlightened by a performance from the group, you know what I'm talking about. If you happened to be at House of Blues Sunday night, then you most certainly know what I'm talking about.

Chromeo is the catalyst. They'll make even the most stubborn folk get past that traditional head-bob and do that fancy footwork.

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