A Place to Bury Strangers Brings the Noise

Photos by Dusdin Condrin/Courtesy of Dead Oceans
A Place to Bury Strangers' new LP Transfixiation approximates their visceral live assault.
A Place to Bury Strangers is not your father's shoegaze band.

Moreover, labeling them as revivalist shoegazers takes for granted the ingenuity and showmanship of the Brooklyn-based trio's driving force, Oliver Ackermann. During live performances, he tosses his guitar around like an unwanted toy, generating sounds that disturb and compliment the songs.

More Who than Slowdive, more Ramones than Ride, no one in the band stands idly staring at the rarely washed stage floors as feedback pitches scream throughout the room. Beneath the Jesus and Mary Chain firmament of feedback lies 21st-century textures constructed around Ackermann's sonic vision.

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Bob Seger's System Satisfies Every Time

Photos by Eric Sauseda
Bob Seger's exuberance quickly spread to Saturday's Toyota Center crowd.
Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band, Heartless Bastards
Toyota Center
February 14, 2015

Love was undoubtedly in the air on Valentine's evening at Toyota Center. Throngs of die-hard Bob Seger fans poured into the arena to celebrate their undying devotion to their favorite Detroit son, while he and his expansive crew of top-notch performers poured every ounce of that devotion right back into the audience. Through their 18-song set of classic rock gold and two well-earned encores, Seger and company reaffirmed why fans have been loving his blue-collar rock since the 1960s.

His catalog of hits includes a decent amount of "slow and steady" songs, so one might make an assumption that his stage show might not exactly captivate the audience with excitement. This would be a horribly inaccurate assumption. Seger, who donned a sweatband around his silvery locks and smiled with pure joy throughout the entire show, ran around the stage as if it would be his last, giving the audience a performance from the heart.

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The Black Keys at Toyota Center, 11/15/2014

Photos by Violeta Alvarez
Accept no substitutes: the Black Keys' Dan Auerbach and a ton of gear
The Black Keys, Jake Bugg
Toyota Center
November 15, 2014

For the past few years, there has been a lot of chatter about the viability of "rock and roll." Are any artists truly making rock anymore, or has the genre itself been so heavily diluted that its roots have totally disintegrated? Or, more importantly, why does so much stuff that passes itself as rock nowadays blatantly suck?

Back in September, KISS bassist Gene Simmons wagged his famous tongue and declared that "rock is finally dead," blaming file-sharing, TV talent shows and technology. Clearly he had not yet been turned on to the Black Keys. The duo originally from Akron, Ohio came to Houston Saturday night to dispel any doubts about whether rock is alive, resuscitating the audience with a killer 18-song set and a roaring encore.

From the opening chords of "Dead and Gone" (off 2011's well-deserved Grammy winner El Camino), Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney put to rest any rumors of rock and roll's extinction before an audience that was completely engrossed in the music from the very start, thankfully giving their full attention to the stage show rather than their cell-phone screens.

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Santana at Bayou Music Center, 10/1/2014

photos by Marco Torres
¡Con el corazon, se hace todos los milagros! (With heart, one can make miracles)
-- Carlos Santana

Carlos Santana
"Corazón" tour
Bayou Music Center
October 1, 2014

As I was watching the documentary B.B. King: The Life of Riley last week, I saw a familiar face on screen. It was rock legend and guitar hero Carlos Santana, speaking about the attributes that fueled B.B. King's music.

"You need to be sincere, honest, true, for real, and genuine. If you've got those five things, then you can play the blues" he declared. Those characteristics are definitely true about Mr. King, but they can certainly also be said about Mr. Santana.

The imprint that Santana has left on American music is undeniable. This man was part of the psychedelic-rock era in 1960s San Francisco, famously played at Woodstock, is the winner of ten Grammy awards, and was a 2013 Kennedy Center Honoree. He is without a doubt one of music's most recognizable and respected talents.

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Paramore & Fall Out Boy at The Woodlands, 8/1/2014

Photos by Francisco Montes
MONUMENTOUR featuring Paramore, Fall Out Boy & New Politics
Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
August 1, 2014

Haters gonna hate, but Paramore and Fall Out Boy make great rock music. Any band that gained notoriety during the post-pop-punk-emo boom of the mid-2000s has been pigeonholed into a very specific category -- namely, much of the general public doesn't consider them to be credible rock and roll.

Fall Out Boy has certainly experienced a great deal of this backlash, despite continuing to mature as a group and output good music. Many of the bands of that era could not grow past it; Paramore and Fall Out Boy, who are co-headlining this summer's MONUMENTOUR, are both talented exceptions. Touring together was a wise and logical choice.

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The Heavy-Metal Past of a Beloved Houston Karaoke Joint

Photo by Alexa Crenshaw
Spotlight Karaoke is a popular Galleria-area destination that has been open for more than 15 years now. Located at Westheimer and Fountainview, it holds a large space with several rooms' worth of karaoke, and an adjacent store equipped with scads of karaoke music and machines.

A man named Charlie Chang is Spotlight's general manager, running both the Fountainview location and the newer one in Midtown, plus the karaoke shop. He's also a closet metalhead, and remembers frequenting Cardi's, the club that once stood in Spotlight Karaoke's place.

"I have to say that nothing's lasted in that spot as long as we have; we've been there as Spotlight Karaoke for 15 years," says Chang. "But Cardi's, man, that was just a huge thing. They had so many party times [laughs], and so many big names in heavy music played there."

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Answering the Questions: A Handy Guide to the Band Tool in 2014

Photos by Jim Bricker

You've probably read online that Tool is touring again (and was in fact in Houston Tuesday night), and if you're like most music fans you probably have a lot of questions. According to the rules of rock, bands only tour for a handful of reasons, and since you haven't heard any news about Tool recently, you're probably thinking you missed something big.

REWIND: Tool at Toyota Center, 3/25/2014

Fear not, casual to semi-casual Tool fan; we just saw them live and we can answer any question you might have.

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10 More Aging Pop-Star Tours We'd Like to See

Photo by Jason Wolter
This Saturday night, Houston will be greeted by two very familiar faces: Sting and Paul Simon. The two are legends in their respective fields, and although their music doesn't quite sound similar, the tour is welcome all the same. It's sort of like Elton John and Billy Joel, only a little less obvious when you read their names together.

I know I'd like to see more of this. If nothing else, it's two for the price of one off the old concert bucket list. It's also an opportunity to see, as in the case of John and Joel, collaborations between two old favorites as a segue during the show. Here's ten more I'd like to see hit the road together for a tour.

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Seven Bad Singers in Good Bands

Photo by Groovehouse
Eddie Van Halen and David Lee Roth
I'm willing to bet you've heard more than one band and thought, "that guy can't sing." Maybe you even liked the music, but the singer was just so awful it ruined it for you. It's not simply the domain of local bands who couldn't find a decent singer off Craigslist either. Some popular bands have singers so bad they can ruin the whole band, though more often than not it can thankfully be overlooked.

It's hard to understand how it happens. Maybe they just really like the person, or maybe they just really couldn't find anyone else and got stuck. No matter how though, it's a recurring issue, and these are just a handful of the bad singers you find fronting great bands.

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Six Ways to Enjoy a Concert More

flattop341 via Flickr
At least someone in this audience is pissed off at the person next to them.
As a fairly extroverted person who is hyper in general and also suffers from a crippling caffeine addiction, I'm constantly going out and doing things, especially things that involve large crowds and performance. Translation: I go to a lot of concerts and live shows. This is a passion that some of my more introverted friends don't quite get.

I understand where they're coming from. To an introverted person, the atmosphere of a live show can be absolutely dreadful. You've either got people trampling over you having a good time themselves, or you don't really know how to take in such an environment without just wanting to go home and be alone for a while.

There are things that we can all do to help with this. I came up with some advice for both those who want to have a better time at concerts but don't know how, and some advice for those people who trample on others' good times. While the latter could probably be boiled down to "don't be an asshole," where would the fun be in that? So here's six ways you can have fun at a concert that will benefit you no matter what camp you fall into.

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