Heart at Stafford Centre, 10/22/2014

Photos by Jason Wolter
Stafford Centre
October 22, 2014

The tone of this review has already changed between Wednesday evening's Heart concert and today's news of Walters owner Pam Robinson's passing; in my case it was a matter of a simple drive into the office. It would have been a great show coming or going, but now it seems more important than ever to underline the achievements of strong women in music.

Although a lot has changed since the mid-'70s, the music industry is still dominated by men, locally, nationally and internationally. But if it's less dominated by men now than it was back then -- and it most certainly is -- it's because of the contributions of people like Robinson and Heart's Ann and Nancy Wilson.

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Twenty One Pilots at House of Blues, 10/19/2014

Photos by Jody Perry
Twenty One Pilots
House of Blues
October 19, 2014

"This is music, and I want you to use it," vocalist Tyler Joseph told the crowd at House of Blues Sunday night. "Fall into it. Disappear."

He and percussionist Josh Dun then began to play "Kitchen Sink," a song about individual struggles and finding hope in the creative process.

"Write something, yeah it might be worthless; then paint something, and it might be worthless; pointless curses, nonsense verses; you'll see purpose start to surface."

The verse was one of many that perfectly encapsulated the appeal of Twenty One Pilots: the band's primary concern is the search for meaning. The Ohio-based duo doesn't pretend to know it all; instead, their lyrics emphasize the beauty of the search itself.

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The Best Things We Overheard at ACL Fest, Weekend 2

Photos by Marco Torres
...and so the sun sets on another year of ACL. See you in 2015!
By Ivan Guzman and Marco Torres

"What's that smell?"
"It's YOU, bro!"

"I am not waiting an hour to take a photo! That's just dumb!"
-- regarding the wooden ACL picture-frame art piece

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The Best and Worst of ACL Fest, Weekend 2

Photos by Julian Bajsel
Note: this article was updated at 8 a.m. Tuesday, October 14, to add Ivan Guzman's contributions.

Best 17-Year-Old Who Rocked
Oh Lorde! This lovely New Zealand native is the real deal, and stole Weekend 2 with her windpipes, big hair and humility. The crowd at the Retail Me Not Stage was one of the largest of the festival, with everyone in awe of this youngster's performance and singing along. She even sprinkled in an amazing cover of Kanye's "All Of The Lights."

Lorde said ACL was her last show on her first world tour, and asked the crowd to "cheer louder than you have ever cheered before" as a token of appreciation of her crew. I'll take a Lorde performance over Iggy Azalea any day of the weekend. MARCO TORRES

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Erasure at Bayou Music Center, 10/10/2014

Photos by Francisco Montes
Bayou Music Center
October 10, 2014

The first song that came up on PA system Friday after Dangerous Muse finished their brief opening set was Simple Minds' "Don't You (Forget About Me)." As if the '80s memories already flooding into Bayou Music Center weren't heavy enough.

Erasure, though, slippery old synth-toting warhorses they are, aren't about to be painted with anyone's nostalgia brush. Electronic music's profile within pop's pecking order is considerably higher now than in Erasure's Top 40 days, but even in that context the UK duo's new album The Violet Flame doesn't sound dated. It's a sleek, supple vehicle that injects Erasure into the same conversation dominated by Avicii, Porter Robinson, Deadmau5 and other top EDM names, but not in an out-of-it old-farts kind of way. At the very least, Friday they gave their adoring Houston fans a contemporary epilogue for the personal John Hughes movies in our heads.

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The Best Acts at Untapped Houston 2014

Photo by Jack Gorman
The technical issues that plagued the Omission Stage for Featherface's set were seemingly resolved by the time Channel 39's Maggie Flecknoe introduced her favorite band from Austin, Bright Light Social Hour. It quickly became apparent that many at the festival came to see the vibrant rock band start their current tour.

Bassist Jack O'Brien cracked a smile during a solo when the crowd started chanting, "Slap da bass! Slap da bass!" The psychedelic keyboards and groovy basslines provided a perfect accompaniment for the bluesy vocals of "Detroit." Most of their set reminded me of the dreamy sounds of My Morning Jacket's EP "Mageetah." Grade-A performance for the gentlemen returning to play November 5. JACK GORMAN

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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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The Best Things We Overheard at ACL Fest's First Weekend

Photos by Marco Torres
By Cory Garcia and Marco Torres

On ACL becoming more like Brochella:

"Ive seen dudes chest-bumping."
"It's disgusting. I don't think men should wear tank tops."

"I'm too old for this shit!"

-- a 20 year old blonde girl who literally could not even

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The Best and Worst of ACL Fest, Weekend 1

Photos by Marco Torres
Best Act That We Didn't Understand How They Were Making Noise: The Glitch Mob
With a battery of touchscreens and drum triggers, The Glitch Mob dropped what was the most impressive set of electronica on the festival, which is saying a lot on a bill that features some of the biggest DJs in the world. Their set was a fun mixture of originals and remixes, including a filthy cover of "Seven Nation Army." Tired of seeing dudes peering down at laptops? The Glitch Mob got your back, even if you're not exactly sure what's going on up onstage. CORY GARCIA

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Iggy Azalea at Bayou Music Center, 10/3/2014

Photos by Jack Gorman
Iggy Azalea
Bayou Music Center
October 3, 2014

Artists come and go. That's a fact of the music business. It's very easy to lose relevancy in any aspect of life, but seems much easier in the music industry. If, as an artist, you don't stay at the forefront, you're pushed to the back of the line as soon as the next best thing comes around. While that's probably true in most aspects of life, it's most noticeable in music.

There's a reason we have a category called "One Hit Wonders." Hell, VH1 basically survived off the genre for the better part of a decade in the '90s. And while you don't realize that it's happening during the right here and now, wait until a decade from now and tell me how Gotye or Macklemore's career turned out. I promise the Lumineers won't be a highly charting band again, either.

But then came along Iggy Azalea seemingly out of nowhere within the past year, and while at first seemed like she might fit in that category, she has now blown up to become a huge star. With a pair of top singles with the ever-so-catchy "Fancy" and her guest spot on another recent up-and-comer Ariana Grande's "Problem," suddenly Azalea is a household name.

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