Jay Z at Toyota Center, 12/19/2013

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Photos by Jim Bricker.
Jay Z
Toyota Center
December 19, 2013

Jay Z is the king. A few other rappers have enjoyed their time at the top throughout the years, but Hov's been perched upon the throne for the better part of a decade and a half. A handful of others have tried to climb that hill (I'm looking at you, Mr. West), but even if Jigga quit the game today he'd still be No. 1. He's become so much more than that young rapper filling our heads with stories about his Brooklyn youth; he's a true-blue, bona fide superstar. A hip-hop legend, if you will.

And he doesn't need any gimmicks to prove it. His performance at Toyota Center Thursday night proved that to the near-capacity crowd with a blistering set of his best. While Kanye is busy singing his auto-tuned R&B ballads and building mountains, Jay-Z is sticking to what he does best. His two hours onstage didn't feature any dancers or masks or crazy lights, it was just Mr. Knowles-Carter front and center with his words, a microphone and the energy of 20,000 people as his support.


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Buxton 10-Year Anniversary at Fitzgerald's, 11/30/2013

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Photos by Jim Bricker
Buxton, Papermoons, Deep Kvts
FItzgerald's
November 30, 2013

Ten years gone. How the hell did that happen? Long before the New West days, before the band had five members (or six or four or three), and definitely before they all had those adorable little beards, Buxton first started putting pen to paper and pick to strings.

They didn't have a drummer when the band first started, and could have easily been classified in the same category as Dashboard Confessional and other standard emo fare of the early 2000s, but the only thing that mattered was that those youngsters, sitting in their parents' homes in La Porte, decided to start a band with little hope they'd be playing to a packed room of their family, friends and fans a cool decade later.

These five guys have firmly planted themselves into our Houston music culture, and are some of the friendliest dudes you could ever possibly spark up a conversation with. I'm proud to call each and every one of them my good friends, and while that makes it a bit hard to write an unbiased review, there really is no need to worry about it. Even if I were a casual observer and didn't know them personally, I still would have left this show with a beaming smile upon my face.


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The Head and the Heart at Warehouse Live, 11/14/2013

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Photos by Jim Bricker
The Head and the Heart
Warehouse Live
November 14, 2013

I think Thursday is starting to be that night again where everyone decides not to worry about how they feel the next morning at work. When I was growing up, "thirsty" Thursdays were the thing, especially when I was first legally allowed to get a drink in a bar. It seemed to stop being a thing, with each day of the week taking over as that weekday that was socially acceptable to have a few cocktails.

Well, the past few weeks around town have been noticeably busier at bars, restaurants and concert venues, packing rooms with people looking to let loose. That was no different at Warehouse Live Thursday, where The Head and the Heart were headlined their first show in Houston since last summer's not-nearly-as-packed performance at Fitzgerald's.


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Bun B & the Houston Symphony's "Concert Against Hate" at Jones Hall, 11/14/2013

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photos by Marco Torres
"Concert Against Hate"
Houston Symphony feat. Bun B
Jones Hall
November 14, 2013

Thursday afternoon, Bernard Freeman paces nervously backstage at Jones Hall during rehearsals for the evening's program. "This isn't your normal House of Blues show," he proclaims.

The scope of this performance is indeed grand. Houston's Anti-Defamation League and the Houston Symphony are celebrating their respective 100-year anniversaries, and they have invited Freeman, a.k.a. Bun B, to be a special guest performer.

This will be the first time the orchestra has incorporated a hip-hop artist into a performance. Bridging the symphony with "the [hip-hop] culture," as Bun calls it, is a major step toward acceptance, both for him personally and that culture.

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Cut Copy at Warehouse Live, 11/9/2013

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Photos by Jim Bricker
Cut Copy
Warehouse Live
November 9, 2013

It's been a busy week in Houston for live music, but especially if you're a fan of shaking your booty. While most of the area hipsters were busy getting their fun (fun fun) on in Austin, we benefited from the festival overflow in a big way this year. Cut Copy, one of the acts I was most disappointed about missing at FFFF, made their way to Warehouse Live Saturday night for their first area club gig ever.

It had been since their 2011 FPSF performance that Cut Copy had been in Houston, but they made up for lost time with an energy-filled performance to a packed-out Ballroom. I wasn't really sure how many people would make it to the show, but it turned out to be a nearly sold-out event by the time the Australian indie/dance-rockers took the stage.


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Brrr! The 10 Skimpiest Costumes at Something Wicked

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Photos by Marco Torres
What is it about EDM that compels folks to walk around in their unmentionables?

Houston's second annual Halloween EDM festival, Something Wicked, took place over the weekend at Sam Houston Race Park, and boy did we ever get an eyeful. Both guys and gals chose to suffer through the somewhat chilly night by wearing nothing more than a bra, a cape, and a pair of undies. Rocks Off stopped several festival attendees and asked them to bare it all for our photographer's camera.


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Paramore at Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, 10/27/2013

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Photos by Violeta Alvarez
Paramore, Metric, Hellogoodbye
Cynthia Woods Pavilion
October 27, 2013

Well, they've done it again.

On the way to Cynthia Woods Pavilion Sunday night, I realized that it had been about six months to the day since I reviewed Paramore at Bayou Music Center in April. Back then, the band's opener was rougher and more experimental, and the crowd was just learning Paramore's new songs as the band favored older material.

In six short months, a lot has happened in Paramore's world. Their self-titled album debuted at No. 1, their tour has been selling out across the country, and "Still Into You" just hit No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100. Sunday night's show was considerably more arena-ready and injected with the confidence a group gets from reestablishing themselves as a bona fide rock band and not a flash-in-the-pan teenybopper pop-punk group.

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Black Flag at Walters, 8/26/2013

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Photos by Jim Bricker.
Black Flag and Good for You
Walters Downtown
August 26, 2013

News that hardcore punk legends Black Flag were heading through Walters on their current tour of the U.S. and Australia inspired no small amount of excitement around these parts. After all, the band hasn't played Houston (or much of anywhere, really) since at least the mid-'80s. But it inspired a lot of questions, too.

Namely, why now? Was guitarist Greg Ginn getting the band back together (or some new-fangled version of it, anyway) just to show up Keith Morris' competing troupe, FLAG? Where, exactly, did he dig up long-lost singer Ron Reyes, and who were the new guys in the rhythm section? Were they in any condition to do proper justice to the angst-riddled anthems that once caused audiences to degenerate into violent mayhem?

Unsurprisingly, a lot of people wanted to see those questions answered live and in person on Monday night. Weeknight or no, Walters was as crowded as it's perhaps ever been, with several generations of punkers showing up ready to see if this new Black Flag was worthy of name.

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Up All Night to Get Lucky With Bun B, Fat Tony, Riff Raff, Nosaprise, Red Bull...

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Photos by Marco Torres
Saturday night, the eyes of the world were on Houston. The North American Finals of Red Bull's BC One B-Boy competition was taking place at Warehouse Live. As hundreds packed in to the venue, tens of thousands watched the livestream online.

Just south of the city, in a graffiti mecca known as The Kingspoint Mullet, iced-tea makers Lipton, in association with Vice Magazine, presented their widely popular Brisk Bodega party, hosted by local DJ collective Bombón and featuring performances by Fat Tony, Riff Raff, and the Trill OG himself, Bun B.

We at Rocks Off do our best to bring you premium coverage of the Houston music and party scene. The following is my personal timeline from a long, exciting, and tiring night in H-Town.


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Smash Mouth, Sugar Ray, Gin Blossoms & Fastball at Arena Theater, 8/17/2013

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Photos by Jim Bricker
Why are all these people onstage during Smash Mouth's set?
Under The Sun Tour
Feat. Smash Mouth, Sugar Ray, Gin Blossoms & Fastball
Arena Theater
August 17, 2013

The '90s were an interesting time for music, especially in the realm of pop. It was an age of one-hit wonders, and as a band it seemed like it took a whole lot more than that one catchy song to keep you on the map. Saturday evening at Arena Theatre featured an onslaught of 90's bands that were good enough to take that next step and not fizzle off with the rest of the Aqua's and Baha Men.

In a show billed as the "Under the Sun" tour, Arena's spinning stage hosted Smash Mouth, Sugar Ray, Gin Blossoms and Fastball -- a grouping of bands responsible for more hits than you'd probably realize. Over the course of three hours, these four bands had no problem bringing the '90s nostalgia to full tilt.

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