H-Town Metal Institution Helstar Feathers Its Wicked Nest

James Rivera, center right, with Helstar
Over the past three decades, countless bands, clubs and backpatches have come and gone in the Houston heavy metal scene. But there has always been Helstar. Thirty years after the release of their Combat Records debut, Burning Star, the city's quintessential power-thrash quintet shreds on, anchored as always by the ageless, histrionic vocals of singer James Rivera.

Though they never quite broke through into the ranks of the immortals, Helstar has nonetheless managed to built a loyal, international fanbase over the years, and they've eschewed any notion of slowing down. Later this month, the band will release their tenth studio album, This Wicked Nest, on AFM Records.

Earlier this week, the group posted audio samples from the new record to YouTube, and it sounds like a ripper. If you want to be among the first to hear it in full, though, you'll have to buy a ticket to Fitzgerald's tomorrow, where Helstar tops a stacked bill also featuring Venomous Maximus, Warbeast, Sanctus Bellum and Termination Force.

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The 10 Best Concerts in Houston This Weekend: Slick Rick, Los Lobos, Celtic Woman, etc.

Photo courtesy of Def Jam
Slick Rick
Warehouse Live, April 11

Arguably the greatest pure storyteller in rap history, UK-born "Slick" Rick Walters first appeared alongside Doug E. Fresh as the tag team responsible for the 1985 touchstones "The Show" and "La Di Da Di." Great as those songs were, though, he really made his reputation on 1988's The Great Adventures of Slick Rick, vastly expanding hip-hop's vocabulary and setting an almost impossibly high bar for future MCs through the complex, often explicit narratives of "Treat Her Like a Prostitute," "The Ruler's Back," and more.

Not long after, though, Rick was convicted of attempted murder after a domestic dispute involving his cousin, a situation that indirectly led to problems with both the INS and Department of Homeland Security for years. Somehow he managed to release the 1999 album The Art of Storytelling amid all the drama, and was finally pardoned by then-New York Gov. David Paterson in 2008. Since then he hasn't released any new music, but at least -- thank God -- has resumed touring for Adventures' 25th anniversary. With Rich Williams, ACRE and Kyle Hubbard. CHRIS GRAY

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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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The Five Best Concerts in Houston This Week: Karmin, Arcade Fire, Kings of Leon, etc.

Photo courtesy of Epic Records
House of Blues, April 8

Almost the anti-Sleigh Bells, Karmin are still attempting to pull off the Pinocchio-like transition from viral sensation to offline pop success. The Boston-based duo of Amy Heidemann and Nick Noonan let the genie out of the bottle in April 2011, when their cover of Chris Brown's "Look at Me Now" lit up the YouTube switchboard (a staggering 89 million-plus hits to date), followed closely by versions of recent Nicki Minaj and Lil Wayne hits; Heidemann especially has a taste for hip-hop, and the flow to match.

Unable to resist, Sony signed Karmin shortly thereafter and has since been hoping they'll go viral on the pop charts as well, but it's been a rocky start. It took until this February for their debut LP, Pulses, to be released; the reception so far has been lukewarm. Nevertheless, there are a few simple-enough pleasures to be had here in easily digestible, paint-by-numbers tunes like "I Want It All" and the well-titled "Puppet." CHRIS GRAY

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CityCentre's Breezy Bars Teem With Nightlife

Photos (except Yard House) by Angelica Leicht
The bar at Straits Restaurant is hardly ever this uncrowded.
'Hi. Can you make me a ­lychee martini?"

"A what?"

"A lychee martini -- it's on your menu."

"I don't think we have those."

"I'm pretty sure you do; you guys serve them at dinner. And at lunch. L-Y-C-H-E-E martini."

We're trying desperately to communicate with the bartender at Straits, but there's no use in screaming over the thumping dance music. Still, it's a lychee martini, made from the Chinese subtropical fruit, and some things are worth the effort.

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Houston's Top 10 Rock Bars

As our sister blog Eating...Our Words does, from time to time Rocks Off will be giving your our picks for the top taverns in various Houston-area neighborhoods. Of course, the lines can be porous, but here anything with a TABC license that cannot reasonably be considered either a restaurant, coffeehouse or live-music venue is fair game.

Veteran rock jocks like Outlaw Dave should know a thing or two about how to open a killer bar, and luckily the radio god doesn't let us down. Outlaw Dave's WWHQ on Wash Ave is an awesome place to rock out with your...beer out, so you get over your fear of bros and go sometime. Not only is the bar home to Kiki's Sordid Sideshow -- a titillating circus-themed burlesque troupe -- but it's also where you'll find Dave himself and assorted guests broadcasting his KPRC 950 AM radio show 5-8 p.m. weekdays (plus 7-9 p.m. Saturdays), since it's equipped with a studio. Beer, grub, rock, and Outlaw Dave. It's like your '90s wet-dream is coming to fruition, right?

6502 Washington, 713-862-3283, outlawnation.us

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The 10 Best Concerts In Houston This Weekend: Pearland Crawfish Festival, Sleigh Bells, etc.

Quiet Company
Warehouse Live, April 4

Quiet Company are quickly becoming Houston's favorite Austin band, which must make Bob Schneider's crew a little nervous. It's was hard not to get swept up in the dapper five-piece's symphonic rock in the grand tradition of The Who or ...Trail of Dead ("You, Me & the Boatman"), cut with a little power-pop on their outstanding albums We Are All Where We Belong and A Dead Man On My Back. In concert, sometimes they'll break into the theme song from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, too. CHRIS GRAY

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The Rocks Off 200: Mister Insane, Host of The Insane Show

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.

Images courtesy of Mister Insane
Would you watch a program called The Insane Show? No? Are you nuts?!

Up in Crosby, of all places, is the base of operations of (it's safe to say) the Houston area's online music-oriented TV show that kicks the most ass. Very much backing up the claim "supporting local music worldwide," The Insane Show is a take-no-prisoners repository of videos, live performances and interviews with underground bands that fall along a wide metal/goth/industrial/hard-rock curve.

In other words, if you've ever fallen under the spell of the three Ms (Ministry, Manson, Metallica), you'll probably flip out about The Insane Show. Episodes can stretch past an hour in length, and don't exactly skimp on the T&A. Produced "roughly biweekly," it's like Austin City Limits with a lot more piercings and occasional plugs for midget-wrestling bouts; it's also fucking cool, and unlike anything else we've ever seen around here.

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Upcoming: Fleetwood Mac, Lucinda Williams, Too $hort, Peter Murphy, Skid Row, Swans, etc.

Acid Mothers Temple: With Perhaps, Pink Mountaintops. Thu., May 1, 8 p.m., $10 to $14. Fitzgerald's, 2706 White Oak, Houston, 713-862-3838.

Al Staehely: Tue., April 8, 7 p.m., $20 to $22. McGonigel's Mucky Duck, 2425 Norfolk, Houston, 713-528-5999.

Android Genius: With X!Lo, Broken Satellite, Bizzy Vicious. Thu., April 17, 8 p.m., $5. Fitzgerald's, 2706 White Oak, Houston, 713-862-3838.

Angel's All White Fundraiser feat. Slim Thug: With DJ Young Streetz, MC Kane. Thu., April 17, 8 p.m., $40 to $1000. Stereo Live, 6400 Richmond, Houston, 832-251-9600.

Baths: With Young Fathers, Stephen Farris. Fri., April 18, 8 p.m., $13 to $17. Fitzgerald's, 2706 White Oak, Houston, 713-862-3838.

Bermuda: With Deserters, Seekers, Destruction of a King. Sat., April 26, 7 p.m., $10 to $14. Fitzgerald's, 2706 White Oak, Houston, 713-862-3838.

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The Five Best Concerts In Houston This Week: Debonair Lounge, Merle Haggard, etc.

Photo by Marco Torres
These two enjoyed Debonair Lounge earlier this year.
Debonair Lounge
Cafe 4212, March 31

Since approximately Labor Day 2013, the only way to get each week off on a good foot has been at this Museum District oasis of cool. Debonair Lounge has already welcomed a who's who of Houston's hottest young hip-hop and R&B performers -- this week's "Ladies Night" features Tia Gold, Donnie Marie, Prince Cannon Mi'chel Rose and, as always, that smooth-ass Debonair house band -- strutting their stuff for one of the most stylish audiences in town.

Hosted by local scenesters Tay Mitch and Brad Gilmore, whom Channel 39's Newsfix called "ebony and ivory at its finest," these few hours will have you looking forward to every Monday...just not Tuesdays. The party never stops on Instagram at @DebonairLoungeHTX, too. CHRIS GRAY

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