The 10 Best Concerts in Houston This Weekend: Katy Perry, Mötley Crüe, Erasure, Untapped...

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Photo by Kevin Mazur-Wireimage/Courtesy of Rogers & Cowan
Katy Perry
Toyota Center, October 10 & 11

People can hate on pop concerts all they want, but they're probably viewing them all wrong. If they attend expecting a musical experience that rattles their very core, they will likely be disappointed. But approach it as a spectacle, and the experience is and it's almost always enjoyable. (You wouldn't watch Superbad the same way as Citizen Kane, now would you?) Perry is a walking spectacle that churns out pop hit after pop hit, and her stage show is bound to be highly entertaining. SELENA DIERINGER

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Houston's Best Music Photographers: Todd Spoth

Back in June Rocks Off brought you Houston's ten best music photographers, as selected by a small panel of insiders and professionals. Now we'd like you readers to choose the best. Before voting opens, though, here's a little more about our finalists, in alphabetical order -- and a lot more of their spectacular photography. Best of luck to all ten.

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Photos courtesy of Todd Spoth
Meechy Darko of Flatbush Zombies
Rocks Off: Tell us a little more about yourself.
Todd Spoth:
I am a full-time commercial and editorial photographer based here in Houston. I was born in Galveston and grew up in Paris, France, before settling back in the Clear Lake area. I graduated from the University of Houston in 2006 with degrees in both Political Science and Psychology before ditching the idea of law school for something a little more creative.

I started out with internships with the Houston Astros, Colorado Springs Gazette, and Patuxent Publishing in Baltimore, Md. before moving back in Houston as an independent freelancer. Although I shoot for several great editorial clients such as ESPN the Magazine, Billboard and Complex, my focus in recent years has been on commercial and advertising work.

I am currently working on an on-going photo essay of hip-hop in Houston and beyond. High school photography was the only class I ever failed. @toddspoth on Twitter and IG and Ello and everything else.

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Congratulations, Best of Houston® 2014 Music & Nightlife Winners

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Houston is fun. Even if the ink is still wet on the lease you just signed after relocating here to work in the Bayou City's booming energy or health-care sectors, it shouldn't take you any more than 48 hours before something here makes you wonder how you ever got along back wherever it is you came from -- a restaurant, a store, a bar, a park, or maybe something uniquely Houston like the Williams Tower waterwall or the no-cover Wednesday-night blues jam at the Big Easy.

You came here at the right time, too. This week -- today, really -- the Houston Press is proud to unveil our annual Best of Houston issue, the product of the combined efforts of dozens of HP staffers and freelancers several months in the making. With dozens, if not hundreds, of winners in all sorts of categories (grouped into the wide-ranging fields of Arts & Entertainment, City Life, Food & Drink, Shopping & Services and Sports & Recreation), this issue should serve as a much better map of Houston than one that shows our often-congested roadways.

Now, Houstonians of an older vintage, we know we're not telling you anything you don't already know...or are we? You'll want to hold onto that not-so-slim volume that comes in this week's issue of the Press, and bookmark its online counterpart, just as much as our newcomers. Because Houston is a city that's always changing, always taking chances, some categories that have been around for years our longtime readers assume are shoo-ins might suddenly have a new winner. But other categories, like so many of our new neighbors, may not have even been around last year.


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Houston's Best Music Photographers: Jason Smith

Back in June Rocks Off brought you Houston's ten best music photographers, as selected by a small panel of insiders and professionals. Now we'd like you readers to choose the best. Before voting opens, though, here's a little more about our finalists, in alphabetical order -- and a lot more of their spectacular photography. Best of luck to all ten.

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Photos courtesy of Jason Smith
Charles Bradley
Rocks Off: Tell us a little more about yourself.
Jason Smith:
By day, I am a music teacher at a private school. I teach kids from pre-kindergarten all the way up to eighth grade how to sing and play xylophones and other rhythm instruments. I also help organize mini-music-festivals in Houston like Yes, Indeed! last month at Continental Club.

I also play bass in a band called Alkari, which is currently on hiatus. Lastly, I am part of a nonprofit organization called Houston Mod which encourages people to appreciate Houston's mid-20th-century modern architecture and design. I love to stay busy. I can't sit still for long.

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The Five Best Shows in Houston This Week: Nikki Lane, Fitz & the Tantrums, Beck, etc.

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Photo by Glynis Carpenter/New West Records
Nikki Lane
Cactus Music, October 6 (5:30 p.m.)

Nikki Lane, the South Carolina-bred singer with haunted songs and a haunting voice, is New West Records' latest trad-country ingenue. Her album from earlier this year, All or Nothin',' takes some getting over, what with lines like "it's always the right time to do the wrong thing." She'll be back for a proper club date at Fitz in December, but while she's in the area due to ACL Fest, stop by Cactus and dig her goth-Loretta vibe. CHRIS GRAY

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Some Nerve's Latest Cuts Pretty Close to Home

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Photo by Vanessa Gomez/Courtesy of Some Nerve
Some Nerve has been gigging with legendary bands like MDC, Casualties, Negative Approach, and 7 Seconds since rising from the local scene in 2013. On their new self-titled album, released by Dying Scene Records, they offer explosive, potent, metal-punk hybrids that leave play-by-numbers bands in the dust.

Almost effortlessly, they seem to weave the bellicosity and dark-encrusted atmospheric thrust of bands like From Ashes Rise with the grim punk politics and bottom-end bass blitzkrieg of Final Conflict, while also echoing the brooding musical dexterity of Darkest Hour.

Tunes like "Held Hostage" are both fiercely focused and limber, setting the tone and style of the entire work. The song's center of gravity is "the idea that we're never truly in complete control of our own lives," explains guitarist and back-up vocalist Allan Davis, who also recorded, mixed, and mastered the album last winter. "We have a knife held to our back, and they require us to partake in capitalistic constructs for us to even think about doing anything we want."


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The 10 Best Concerts in Houston This Weekend: Iggy Azalea, Bury the Crown, Jimmy Cliff, etc.

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Photo by Eliot Lee Hazel/Shore Fire PR
Interpol
House of Blues, October 3

After 2010's self-titled release was met with a collective shrug and following the departure of longtime bassist/co-founder Carlos Dengler, Interpol looked like it might be down for the count. But after a short hiatus and two solo albums from vocalist Paul Banks, the NYC rockers regrouped and found enough inspiration to release what might be their best album since 2002 debut Turn on the Bright Lights. The first two singles released from El Pintor were enough to blow Interpol's eponymous release out of the water, and a once-over of the entire record via NPR confirmed these suspicions. [Note: this show is sold out.] MATTHEW KEEVER

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Houston's Best Music Photographers: Greg Noire

Back in June Rocks Off brought you Houston's ten best music photographers, as selected by a small panel of insiders and professionals. Now we'd like you readers to choose the best. Before voting opens, though, here's a little more about our finalists, in alphabetical order -- and a lot more of their spectacular photography. Best of luck to all ten.

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Photos courtesy of Greg Noire
Arctic Monkeys at Lollapalooza 2014, Chicago
Rocks Off: What inspired you to become a music photographer?
Greg Noire:
My first gig shooting anything music related came from capturing the Niceguys, I'd say around 2007-ish, at the University of Houston's annual Frontier Fiesta event. Before then I was only doing portrait work, which wasn't the best, since I was just starting out.

I remember struggling with getting a decent image during the Niceguys' set because I wasn't familiar with my camera settings. I guess I looked extremely dissatisfied with my shots, because another photographer approached me, looked and my last image and proceeded to raise my ISO and lower my shutter speed. I felt like an idiot, but that did the trick.

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Houston's Best Music Photographers: Victor Cervantes

Back in June Rocks Off brought you Houston's ten best music photographers, as selected by a small panel of insiders and professionals. Now we'd like you readers to choose the best. Before voting opens, though, here's a little more about our finalists, in alphabetical order -- and a lot more of their spectacular photography. Best of luck to all ten.

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Photos courtesy of Victor Cervantes
Chino Moreno of the Deftones
Rocks Off: Tell us a little more about yourself.
Victor Cervantes:
To begin, my name is Victor Cervantes and I am a graphic designer/photographer currently based in Houston, Texas. I have been a full time graphic designer since 2005, after graduating from The Art Institute of Houston. I have been photographing professionally for two years now, but started my interest in photography about four years ago.

I currently own my own graphic design and photography business. Which I feel blessed to do what I love for a living.

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Houston Dancer Hopes Theft Won't Dash His Documentary Dreams

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Photos by Francisco Montes
Jose Figueroa (center, striped shirt) dances at Beetle's Continental Club set last week
All Jose Figueroa ever wanted to do was dance. This year, he also decided to make a documentary about it.

The 49-year-old native Houstonian, who during the day teaches life skills to special-needs students at Channelview High School, has become a fixture in the smaller corners of the local music scene. He likes places like Sambuca, the Big Easy, Shakespeare Pub and Birraporretti's, rooms that favor jazz, blues and swing, but Beetle at the Continental is a favorite too. Figueroa calls himself a "social dancer," and says he's been doing it for 15 years.

Figueroa's friends would tell him live music was better in Austin or other parts of the state, but he has been regularly dancing to live music in Houston long enough to not give their words much weight; about 15 years, by his reckoning.

"I knew better," says Figueroa, who was there when Herbie Hancock came to play the opening of Sambuca. "I wanted to prove [them] wrong."


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