Summer is back and so is humid Houston.
After weeks of bad weather, temps soared to 90 degrees this past weekend, and the swampy air returned to the Bayou City, meaning the gorgeous spring concert season is over. For those who live to soak up the sun and sweat to the sounds, enjoy. Drink plenty of fluids, wear your sunscreen, and don proper headwear and sunglasses. The rest of us will be seeking shelter for the next five months in a dark, air-conditioned nightclub.
Memorial Day weekend is generally a slow one on the H-town music scene, but for those looking to enjoy their extra day off, there are plenty of options, including a couple of great free concerts.
CultureMap's biggest, best, and most noteworthy shows of the week are as follows:
Party on the Plaza at Avenida Houston
The best happy hour in downtown Houston comes to a close for the season as Party on the Plaza throws one last shindig at Avenida Houston. This installment celebrates Asian Pacific American Heritage with headliner, Kishi Bashi, the eclectic noisenik that utilizes looping techniques to build out-of-this-world soundscapes. He'll be joined by another experimental artist and bandmate, Tall Tall Trees, as well as the pop leaning Ugly Wolves.
Party on the Plaza takes place on Thursday, May 23, at Avenida Houston. Admission is free. Show starts at 6:45 pm.
CultureMap show of the week: David Gray at Revention
One of the best artists to hear whilst strolling down the grocery aisle, British star David Gray is back on the tour circuit with his tenth album, Gold In A Brass Age. Gray is best known for his best-selling 1999 album, White Ladder, which would go on to sell seven million albums on the strength of the smart and heartfelt mix of acoustic folk and low-key electronica.
His underdog story is remarkable in that he nearly quit music altogether after an unsuccessful U.S. tour before that monster album would go on to make him famous, hitting No. 1 on the U.K. charts nearly two years after it hit shelves, aided in part by a re-release on the Dave Matthews Band label ATO (see, Dave Matthews is good for something — don't @ me, DMB fans). That album is a near classic, producing the excellent single "Babylon," in addition to "Please Forgive Me" and "Say Hello Wave Goodbye."
David Gray plays the Revention Music Center, located at 520 Texas Ave., on Friday, May 24. Tickets start at $39.50, plus fees. Doors open at 7 pm.
Sarah Grace and the Soul
Houston native Sarah Grace has been busy over the past year, showing that she picked up a thing or two from her time under the tutelage of pop star Kelly Clarkson during her semi-final run on hit TV show, The Voice. The Houston School of Performing and Visual Arts student released her much-talked about version of "Amazing Grace" from her time on the show, performing with the Blind Boys of Alabama, and recorded in Memphis.
She's set to head out on a multi-city tour with her band Sarah Grace and the Soul this summer but first, the bluesy singer and multi-instrumentalist will play a show at her old stomping grounds at McGonigel's Mucky Duck.
Sarah Grace and the Soul performs at McGonigel’s Mucky Duck, located at 2425 Norfolk St., on Friday, May 24. Peterson Brothers Band and PR Newman open. Tickets start at $18, plus fees. Show starts at 8 pm.
Free show alert: Twin Shadow DJ set
Fans of George Lewis Jr. aka Twin Shadow will want to head down to Alexrad this weekend when the excellent indie-rock artist will spin some of his favorite tunes in a special one-off appearance. Lewis last played Houston with his band at the now defunct In Bloom Festival almost a year ago to the day, turning in one of the best performances of the weekend.
While he's better known for his fantastic albums, Forget and Confess, his alternative, new wave, indie, and chillwave influences should make for a fun time for those who like to dance while enjoying a cold brew.
Twin Shadow spins a DJ set at Alexrad Beer Garden, located at 1517 Alabama St., on Saturday, May 25. Various other DJs will perform. Admission is free. Music starts at 7:45 pm.
Matthew Logan Vasquez
Delta Spirit frontman Matthew Logan Vasquez also returns to Houston behind his third solo album, Light'n Up. Based on a period of separation from his family due to touring commitments and his wife and son moving to Norway to take care of his ill father-in-law, the album finds Vasquez in a more introspective place from the more freewheeling sounds of his band Delta Spirit. In other words, it's the perfect show for the intimate Heights Theater.
Matthew Logan Vasquez performs at Heights Theater, located at 339 W 19th St., on Saturday, May 25. Amo Amo opens. Tickets start at $36, plus an $8 service fee. Doors open at 7 pm.
CultureMap recommends: Turnpike Troubadours at WOMH
Those who saw country act Turnpike Troubadours at the past year's edition of RodeoHouston will get a chance for an encore performance in the decidedly more relaxed setting of the White Oak lawn on this long weekend.
While they haven't released anything since 2017's A Long Way from Your Heart, their strong catalog will make for a crowd-pleasing full set with nary a bad album to draw from, their sound combining sounds of old school country, folk, bluegrass, and Cajun. In other words, the great mix for a Houston audiences that always turns out for the Oklahoma-based band.
Turnpike Troubadours are at White Oak Music Hall, located at 2915 N. Main St., on Sunday, May 18. Bri Bagwell and Jason Boland and The Stragglers open. Tickets start at $30, plus fees. Gates open at 6 pm.