The 10 Best Concerts in Houston This Weekend: Mercy Bros., Wiz Khalifa, Nine Inch Nails, etc.

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ReverbNation
The Mercy Brothers
McGonigel's Mucky Duck, August 15

Houston may not have seen a band like the Mercy Brothers around these parts since the Sideshow Tramps (mostly) folded up the tent. The five-piece from about 200 miles east in Lafayette, La., are the kind of evangelists who have no fear about playing the Lord's music in the devil's stomping grounds.

To them, "gospel music" includes country, rockabilly, R&B, second-line, swamp pop and other great stuff from the state where the cooking is spicy and the music even spicier. The Brothers' one and only album, Holy Ghost Power!, came out last December and is available at their shows, where you can hear their saucy covers of Prince's "Erotic City" and the Jim Carroll Band's "People Who Died," too.

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Day of Joy: Remembering Houston's First Outdoor Music Fest

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Photos courtesy of Vicki Welch Ayo
Day of Joy band Ginger Valley
"It was definitely a labor of love. It cost me $5,000, I'll put it that way; and, looking back on it, I'm not sure I didn't get my money's worth." -- Jim Tucker

We're living in the festival era of popular music. In the U.S. alone, there are more than 200 major music festivals annually. Some, like Bonnaroo and Coachella, have transcended from mere concerts to cogs in the modern zeitgeist.

In Houston, we're doing our part, with Free Press Summer Fest and new additions like last weekend's Whatever Fest. Our grassroots music community doesn't need benevolent corporate sponsors to do its thing, either. Practically every weekend, some group is resourcefully staging a festival, like last month's Grace Note, this month's Melt Fest or next month's Untapped Festival.

Does Houston have a good fest history? The short answer is yes. And, if you're the right age, you might think back -- way back -- to a time before the long-running Westheimer Street Festival and the Houston International Festival to recall a singular offering dubbed Day of Joy. The ambitious event was held at the long-gone Almeda Speedway and brought local and national acts together to perform for gathered masses under Houston's blistering summer sun.


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The Rocks Off 200: Phil Peterson, AR*V All-Star

Welcome to The Rocks Off 200, our portrait gallery of the most compelling profiles and personalities in the far-flung Houston music community -- a lot more than just musicians, but of course they're in there too. See previous entries in the Rocks Off 100 at this link.

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Photos courtesy of Phil Peterson
Phil Peterson outside Houston House of Creeps
Who? Rocks Off wouldn't say we know Phil Peterson that well, but we do know that he is one of the most unique personalities we've come across in our seven-plus years of covering the Houston music scene. Every time we run into him, which is at roughly every third concert where at least one local act is on the bill, Peterson is there and usually brimming with enthusiasm about one of the upcoming shows he's promoting.

So local musicians and bands, Peterson is a good guy to know, because he is a better conduit into the local scene than just about anyone else in town. Through his AR*V company, he promotes shows at grass-roots venues like Notsuoh and the Alley Kat, places that are (thanks to him) willing to take a chance on experimental or just inexperienced acts. He also has a hand in booking the heavily local multi-act/multi-venue festivals that have appeared in recent years such as the Main Street Block Party and Yes Indeed!, which relocates to the Continental Club/Big Top/Alley Kat Mid-Main compound next month.


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Quartet of Rising H-Town Rappers Shines at Warehouse Live

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Photos by Marco Torres
Live Life Experience
Feat. OneHunnidt, De'Wayne Jackson, Stoppa & Doeman
Warehouse Live
August 8, 2014

This past weekend, the world experienced something called a "Super Moon." Apparently, that means that a full/new moon coincides with the closest approach to our planet on its elliptical orbit, resulting in the largest possible size of the lunar disk as seen from Earth. This doesn't happen too often, although when it does, the results are spectacular.

At this time, whether due to celestial alignment or other factors, the status of the Houston rap scene is also on the rise. The four individuals who performed at Warehouse Live last Friday night are as bright and brilliant as the moon in the sky, and they seem to be on a trajectory to continue to shine for an extended period of time, regardless of what the moon or the Earth or the haters are doing. It's their time; we are just living through it.

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The 10 Best Acts at Houston Whatever Fest

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Photo by Jesse Sendejas Jr.
ANDREW W.K.
Andrew W.K. was a revelation. He came out, trademark grin firmly in place, and immediately told the crowd he was "not a musician." He's a known party inducer and he was exactly what Whatever Fest needed the moment he was booked. He ran through the hits in a frenetic set that featured audience stage-dives and mosh pits. "Ready to Die," "I Love NYC," "We Want Fun," "Party Hard," "I Get Wet"...he played them all while his hype man extraordinaire, Blakey Boy, revved up the crowd.

The energy and good vibes were contagious. It seemed everyone in the crowd was smiling just as widely as the man himself. I was impressed by his piano playing skills as attacked the keys like a modern-day Jerry Lee Lewis and played the craziest version of "Rhapsody in Blue" I've ever heard. Andrew W.K. is a lot of things -- quick-start-party-starter, motivational speaker and Village Voice writer among them. He is also definitely a musician. JESSE SENDEJAS JR.

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The Five Best Concerts In Houston This Week: Mikey and the Drags, The Both, Thrill, etc.

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mikeythedrags.bandcamp.com
Mikey and the Drags
Mango's, August 11

Mikey and the Drags are the type of band that you need to see late at night in a small dank club after you've put a few (dozen) down to really appreciate their greatness. Their garage-y surf-punk sound was obviously a void that needed to be filled in the Houston scene; last week they won an HPMA for Best Garage/Punk/Hardcore thanks in large part to their On the Loose EP.

A few members might look familiar from other Houston bands (drummer Andrew Lee from Wild Moccasins; organist Austin Sepulvado from Buxton), but front man Miguel "Mikey" Ponce is who really draws people in. His energy is unmatched by anyone else fronting a band these days in Houston, which makes the Drags quite addictive to see live. With Beach Day and Sons of Hippies. JIM BRICKER

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10 Can't-Miss Acts at Houston Whatever Fest

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Photo by Kelly Gairrocco/The Brixton Agency
Cheap Girls
SATURDAY

CHEAP GIRLS
I know some people who were converted by Cheap Girls. Not just a fun sentence to write, but a true occurrence from recent local show. This Lansing, Mich.-based trio must be starting to feel like Houston is a second home. By my count, this will be at least their second trip here (third?) since the new year.

Earlier in 2014, they swept through with their friends Laura Stevenson and Against Me!, some frequent tourmates and longtime supporters of Cheap Girls' fundamentally solid indie-rock. Check out "Her and Cigarettes," from 2009's Find Me a Drink Home, for just one lovely example of what these guys do. (4 p.m., EaDo Party Park Space City Vodka stage) JESSE SENDEJAS JR.

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The 10 Best Concerts in Houston This Weekend: Curtis McMurtry, 7 Seconds, Marco A. Solis, etc.

Categories: Only In Houston

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Photo courtesy of Jenni Finlay Promotions
Curtis McMurtry
McGonigel's Mucky Duck, August 8

It should come as no great shock that Curtis McMurty has the same kind of wicked gift as his father James and grandfather Larry; his words leave nasty welts. The Austin singer-songwriter has not yet reached 25 years of age, but the noir Americana of his brand-new LP Respectable Enemy -- seek it out on Bandcamp, not iTunes -- is the kind of gallery of not-so-noble adventurers ("Whiskey Sweats"), psychically scarred veterans ("Foxhole") and skeevy potential stalkers ("Eleanor's House") you might otherwise find in a Cormac McCarthy book or Coen brothers film.

The 11 songs' low-key acoustic arrangements are sometimes tastefully enhanced with strings and horns, but even that can't lessen the sting of knife-twisting lyrics such as "If you knew me at all, you wouldn't love me so much" or "We made love and you asked me to hurt you/ I wish I could say I refused." With Jimmy LaFave. CHRIS GRAY

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The 2014 Houston Press Music Award Winners

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Graphics by Monica Fuentes
Note: this article has been amended to include the Best Drummer winner. Our apologies to Nick and the Suffers for the omission.

We know it's early/late -- as a matter of fact, brand-new HPMA winners the Tontons are rocking out at Warehouse Live at this very moment, but we just couldn't wait another minute to share the results of this year's Houston Press Music Awards with you. Congratulations to all the winners and nominees, and check back in a few yours for a full recap of Thursday's festivities.


BEST LOCAL RECORDING

The Tontons, Make-Out King & Other Stories of Love


BEST LOCAL SONG

"I'm From Texas," Doughbeezy


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The Rocks Off 200: John Janatsch, Mayor of Houston Rock City

Welcome to The Rocks Off 200, our portrait gallery of the most compelling profiles and personalities in the far-flung Houston music community -- a lot more than just musicians, but of course they're in there too. See previous entries in the Rocks Off 100 at this link.

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Photos courtesy of John Janatsch
That's Janatsch on the right
Who? We're never quite sure just how much our inner-Loop readers are aware of this, but people out in suburbia like to party. Like, you might catch a wicked cabernet buzz in the Heights once in a while or need a cab after a few craft beers too many at Hay Merchant, but out in the 281 some people don't stop until losing control of their bodily functions. Sadly, we just can't handle that shit anymore, which is why it's so nice to have people like John Janatsch Jr. around.

Janatsch, 45, is our man on Jones Road, and calls into the office every so often to let us know what is going down at BFE Rock Club, pound for pound our choice for the hardest-rocking venue in the Houston area. Some of its neighbors up north give it a pretty good run for the money sometimes, but BFE also tosses in a wrestling night here and there, so it's really not that close.


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