The Five Best Concerts in Houston This Week: Anvil, Dick Dale, YG, etc.

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Debonair Lounge
Cafe 4212, April 14

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 features Jonathas, Silvanus LaToison, Nadia and, as always, "Pan Fried" DJ Motai and 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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Lady L.A. Rockers, Coming Soon Here, Kill It at Coachella

Note: Coachella, Southern California's version of FPSF, is going on this weekend in the high desert outside Palm Springs. Our friends at LA Weekly and OC Weekly will be there the whole weekend and will be bringing us regular updates. This article is by Adam Lovinus.

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Photo by Chris Victorio
H-Town native Solange Knowles
As a dusty wind whipped behind her in hazy stage light, Solange and her ultra-slick backing band brought serious chops and swagger to the polo fields as nighttime fell over Coachella. And then Beyonce showed up on stage dancing to "Losing You." It was the first celebrity big surprise (before Pharrell's star-studded performance) of a festival characterized by strong sets turned in by female artists.

The musical pretext for the Solange set was laid out by two prominent bands on the L.A. scene, which now more than ever, in terms of bands, food, beer, style and attitude, dominates Coachella. This was illustrated by sunwashed afternoon sets by HAIM and Warpaint Friday and Saturday.


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Jeff Bridges Abides, in or out of Character

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Photo courtesy of Warehouse Live
When it comes to music, Jeff Bridges is not some dilettantish actor noodling around with a guitar. Inspired by Bob Dylan and the Beatles, he and a friend would play hootenannys at L.A. clubs like Ledbetter's while still in high school. Years later, while filming the infamous 1980 western Heaven's Gate, Bridges met a couple of co-star Kris Kristofferson's musician buddies from Texas: Fort Worth natives Stephen Bruton and T. Bone Burnett.

That friendship culminated almost 20 years later with Crazy Heart, which won Bridges a Best Actor Oscar for his role as down-but-not-quite-out singer Bad Blake and former Austin singer-songwriter Ryan Bingham a Best Original Song statue for "The Weary Kind."; it couldn't help but renew Bridges' interest in his own musical pursuits as well. Over the phone, though, he comes across much more like his bathrobe-Zen character from 1996 1998 Coen Brothers classic The Big Lebowski, who might have even been a musician himself. Rocks Off was lucky enough to pick Bridges' brain last week while he waited for someone to bring his car around one California morning.


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H-Town Metal Institution Helstar Feathers Its Wicked Nest

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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.

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

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Photo courtesy of Epic Records
Karmin
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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The 10 Best Concerts In Houston This Weekend: Pearland Crawfish Festival, Sleigh Bells, etc.

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

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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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Houston's Best Weekend Shows: SCOTS, Deltron 3030, Roky Moon, Queensryche, etc.

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Photo by Jay Lee
Southern Culture on the Skids
Continental Club, March 28 & 29

Taking a 30th-anniversary victory lap this year, Southern Culture on the Skids has parlayed their image as overalled, chicken-flingin' hillbillies into a virtual empire of lowbrow kitsch and randy "toe-suckin' geek rock." On the Chapel Hill, N.C. trio's Web site, you can learn how to make "Fried Pickle Stabber Slabbers" or "Apple Juice Pork Ribs," or replenish your stock of tacky SCOTS gear from the "Skidmart."

But their music has never been cheesy: SCOTS is a high-powered trio that can tackle everything from rockabilly to surf and swamp-rock, and has particularly astute taste in covers, as heard on 2007's Countrypolitan Favorites LP and live staple "Daddy Was a Preacher (But Mama Was a Go-Go Girl)." After inaugurating their own Kudzu Records with 2010's The Kudzu Ranch, SCOTS' latest project is last year's career-spanning Dig This!: Ditch Diggin' v. 2, complete with a bonus disc of karaoke-ready instrumentals. CHRIS GRAY

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The Best Concerts In Houston This Week: Cher, Ellie Goulding, Schoolboy Q, Tool, etc.

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Photo courtesy of Liz Rosenberg Media
Cher
Toyota Center, March 24

Cher's six-decade career is all the proof we need that she can do just about anything she sets her mind to. She's a musician, an actress and an all-out badass from feathered head to stiletto-ed toe, and has been ever since the moment she hit the screen singing "I Got You Babe" with Sonny Bono in the '60s.

She's reinvented herself as one of pop's most dynamic divas time and again, through early '70s hits such as "Gypsys, Tramps and Thieves" and "Half-Breed" through '80s and '90s anthems like "If I Could Turn Back Time" and "Believe," and even 2013 dance chart-topper "Woman's World." In fact, it's hard to pick a favorite Cher decade, just because everything about her screams "living legend." ANGELICA LEICHT

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