Down Leads a Southern-Metal Feast at Warehouse Live

Photos by Violeta Alvarez
Phil Anselmo (right) looked a little fatigued Sunday, but his bandmates and Down and a supportive crowd put him over the hump.
Down, Orange Goblin, Marzi Montazeri
Warehouse Live
December 21, 2014

Regardless of age, sometimes fatigue can simply get you. It appeared to take hold of Phil Anselmo Sunday night, when his sludge-metal supergroup Down closed out the three-day End of the World Fest III at Warehouse Live. Band members from other Southern-metal groups Eyehategod, Honky, Corrosion of Conformity, Pantera and Crowbar plowed through one dozen songs from Down's catalog lasting nearly two hours.

Before "Eyes of the South" got into a full groove, Anselmo walked to the side of the stage where a large group of people were standing and gave Marzi Montazeri, Houston favorite and his bandmate from the Illegals, a huge hug.

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Cheap Trick Are Classic in the Best Possible Way

Photos by Jack Gorman
Cheap Trick's Rick Nielsen and Robin Zander, shrugging off another snub by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Cheap Trick
House of Blues
December 17, 2014

In rock and roll, as in most genres of popular music, there are benefits that come with youth. You have more energy, odds are good you haven't hit your creative peak yet and, if you're lucky, you haven't been in the world long enough to become completely cynical. There's something to be said about writing, recording and performing knowing you still have most of your life ahead of you.

But there's also something to be said for our rock and roll survivors, the road dogs who have put in decades doing this whole music thing we all know and love. Yeah, it's easy to pick on those bands limping through playing the Scout Bar/Concert Pub circuit, but if you can play and you've got the songs, why not do what you love?

And so we come to Cheap Trick, who can still play and who do have the songs and have been doing this whole rock and roll thing for four decades now. And somehow still have the energy to go out and put on a hell of a show.

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The 22 Best Touring Concerts of 2014

Categories: Live Shots

Photo by Jack Gorman
Screaming at Strangers: Antemasque
Fitzgerald's, August

Texas needs Antemasque. We need a band that can storm the country and remind everyone that we in the Lone Star State still know how to write great rock music and have the chops to deliver those songs live. We need to remind folks from coast to coast that we can write big hooks that sound even better when screamed with a bunch of strangers.

On top of that, it's really, really good to see Cedric and Omar back on the same page again. Would more At the Drive-In/Mars Volta be cool? Yeah, I guess, but I'm genuinely way more curious about the future of Antemasque than I am about their past success. CORY GARCIA

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Please Hold on While the Old 97's Are Moving

Photos by Violeta Alvarez
@Fidoz: Going to @Old97s tonight. Be jealous bitches.
Note: Dallas' alt-country heavyweights the Old 97's are doing a victory lap around Texas this month, performing their 1994 debut LP Hitchhike to Rhome front to back alongside with selections from this year's Most Messed Up -- now reaping its fair share of year-end accolades -- and the rest of the group's 20-year catalogue. Although Rocks Off's reviewer had to back out last-minute due to a family emergency, photographer Violeta Alvarez and a few of the 97's Houston faithful in the packed-out Fitzgerald's stepped in to pinch-hit at what turned out to be a perfect gig for their hometown bash at Dallas' Majestic Theater the next tight.

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The 10 Best Local Concerts of 2014

Photo by Marco Torres
The Geto Boys huffed, puffed and brought the house down.
93.7's "Welcome to Houston" Party
Arena Theatre, February

When 93.7 The Beat premiered early this year, you could tell that the station really wanted to establish itself in the local hip-hop community and forge a connection with Houston listeners. And the reason you could tell is that they called up just about every famous Houston rapper they could get on the phone and put them on a bill together, calling it the "Welcome to H-Town" concert.

Not only did the stunt give us some strong sets by the likes of Z-Ro, Paul Wall, Slim Thug and Lil' Keke, but it also provided the best local Geto Boys performance in more years than anybody was really willing to count. If there were any radio execs in attendance who showed up needing a crash course on Houston hip-hop, they went home with at least an associate's degree. NATHAN SMITH

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Ryan Adams Charms Yet Another Loutish Houston Crowd

Photos by Violeta Alvarez
Ryan Adams, still the best hair in rock and roll.
Ryan Adams
Bayou Music Center
December 3, 2014

The story of Ryan Adams' performance at Bayou Music Center Wednesday night can be boiled down to one song called "Amstar." Born of something a fan shouted at the stage, the word was deemed by Adams to be the name of an especially disagreeable intergalactic supervillain with an appetite for shitty weed and other mood-altering ingestibles, so the 40-year-old singer and his four-piece band worked up an impromptu Pink Floyd-style space-rock jam about him.

This "Amstar" turned out to be a pretty decent tune, too; maybe it will even end up on an album sometime. It came toward the end of Adams' two-hour set, and made a fine example of not only his band's musical interplay but the way they were able to prevent the sometimes-unruly audience (more on them later) from seizing the upper hand.

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AEG, TMG Bringing Kenny Chesney to BBVA May 22

Categories: Live Shots

Photo by Barry Sigman
Kenny Chesney is about say "hi" to Houston one more time.
After dipping a couple of toes in with last summer's "Beat Down" hip-hop mini-fest, BBVA Compass Stadium is jumping into Houston's concert waters with both feet next May by welcoming Kenny Chesney's "The Big Revival" tour to the East End.

The show -- scheduled for Friday, May 22 -- was announced Wednesday morning at a press conference overlooking the BBVA pitch by Louis Messina, owner of The Messina Group, Chesney's principal tour promoters.

The show, also featuring Jake Owen and Chase Rice, will be Chesney's first show in Houston since the 2013 Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo. The Tennessee-born singer, best-known for No. 1 country hits like "Come Over," "Somewhere With You" and "Out Last Night," also really loves the beach.

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Ace Frehley Makes KISS Army Wait for It at Scout Bar

Photos by David Rozycki
Ace Frehley didn't go on until 11:30 p.m. Tuesday, but he made it worth the wait.
Ace Frehley
Scout Bar
December 2, 2014

Members of the KISS Army started to grow a little restless Tuesday, as the night closed in on 11 p.m. and Ace Frehley had not appeared on the Scout Bar stage. An hour earlier, the crowd had chanted "We Want Ace!" and "Bring on Ace!" As time continued to tick forward with no appearance, one man in the crowd shouted, "Hurry up, Ace, get your old-man ass out here!" The frustrated crowd then started chanting, "Bullshit! Bullshit!" around 10:56 p.m., followed by a few boos.

An unverified rumor going around the crowd was that Ace was busy backstage with a large number of fans who paid for the V.I.P. Experience package, which included a meet-and-greet and personal photo with Ace before the show. As 11:20 p.m. rolled around, some concerned fans started to ask each other whether there was a curfew in place that would not allow the concert to go forward at all.

But finally, around 11:30 p.m., a recording of Frehley's song "Fractured Mirror" began to play and Ace and his band hit the stage to open with "Rip It Out" from his 1978 self-titled solo album. The crowd erupted in cheers, and the long wait had seemingly been forgiven.

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Augustana's Dan Layus Leads With His Heart

Photos by Francisco Montes
Augustana's Dan Layus (left) radiated an effortless ease at Fitz Monday night.
Throughout the past ten years, singer Dan Layus has been the only constant member of Augustana through a number of lineup changes. For some bands, this is is one of the toughest roads to travel, especially once more die-hard fans get involved.

For Layus, however, it's been a chance to prove what he can do when left to his own devices. If his stop at Fitzgerald's on Monday was any indication, he's got plenty of tricks up his sleeves. Augustana took the stage around 9:15 p.m. for what would be a nearly 30-song, two-hour set.

Although Layus and company hail out of California, their sound is best defined as roots-rock. It feels almost too sincere to come from a state defined by its pull on men and women trying to make it big in entertainment. More like Nashville, but that might also have to do with Layus himself.

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Dwight Yoakam Was the Eternal Honky-Tonk Man at Arena Theatre

Other than a few dozen new songs, not much has changed about Dwight Yoakam -- whose management has taken to not approving photography of his concerts -- since 1986.
Dwight Yoakam
Arena Theatre
November 28, 2014

Guitars, Cadillacs, etc., etc. was released in 1986, and other than his catalog expanding, not much has changed about Dwight Yoakam. He has been one of country music's most consistent performers, who gives equally consistent performances. If you have ever seen one of his concerts, it is highly likely that you did not walk away disappointed.

Last Friday night, the Arena Theatre looked like Gilley's back in the day, packed with pearl-snap shirts, boots, tight-fittin' jeans, large belt buckles and tall cowboy hats. Or it could have been the inside of a large tent at the rodeo cookoff. Groupon specials helped bring in fans on the unofficial day-after-Thanksgiving holiday, but it still wasn't quite enough to sell out the venue as several rows in each section sat vacant.

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