There's nothing more American than celebrating its independence with some cold brews while taking in a show on a hot summer's day. That's exactly what music fans will get this week, with several high-profile shows set at outdoor venues featuring some of the best and brightest rising talents on the tour circuit right now.
CultureMap's biggest, best, and most notable shows of the week are:
Freedom Over Texas
The official Houston Fourth of July party, Freedom Over Texas, is back with all you need to celebrate the country's independence from royal rule. This is the 30th year the City of Houston has held fireworks and music in Eleanor Tinsley Park and Sam Houston Park, and the always family friendly event usually features some decent talent.
This year, it's country star Jake Owen and multimedia star Kellie Pickler. Owen has hit No. 1 on the country charts six times for hits such as "Barefoot Blue Jean Night," "Alone with You," and "The One That Got Away." His last No. 1 album was the aptly named 2016 album American Love. Pickler gained fame on reality TV, first on American Idol, then as the winner of Dancing with the Stars with partner Derek Hough. She currently hosts the TV show Pickler & Ben.
Freedom Over Texas takes place at Eleanor Tinsley Park, located at 18-3600 Allen Pkwy., on Thursday, July 4. Tickets are $8 before July 3, $10 on the day of the show. Gates open at 4 pm.
Pat Green at 4th Fest
Texas country fans looking for fun and fireworks will feel at home in New Caney this Fourth of July as part of that fast-growing community's 4th Fest at Valley Ranch Town Center. The dream of developers is for the grassy knoll hosting the event to become the next Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, with plans to build a 16,000-capacity amphitheater on the same spot. For now, attendees of this patriotic bash will gather to take in some fine Texas country talent, headlined by a Lone Star favorite in Pat Green, along with a barbecue cook-off, cirque acts, and fireworks at 9:45 pm.
Pat Green headlines the 4th Fest celebration at Valley Ranch Town Center, located at 11985 TX-99 in New Caney, on Thursday, July 4. Max Stalling, Jody Booth, and JB & The Moonshine Band open. Tickets are $25, plus fees. Gates open at 2 pm.
Houston Symphony does Queen
"Bohemian Rhapsody" gets the symphonic treatment when the Houston Symphony takes on the best of Freddie Mercury and company with a night of Queen songs. This one will feature a rock band accompaniment and a singer belting out the many hit songs, including "We Will Rock You," "We Are the Champions," "Bicycle Race," "Somebody to Love," and more. Call this performance a warm-up for the real thing: Queen (guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor) will perform with Adam Lambert at Toyota Center later this month.
The Houston Symphony plays the music of Queen at Jones Hall, located at 615 Louisiana St. on Friday, July 5, and Saturday, July 6. Tickets start at $43, plus fees. Show starts at 7:30 pm.
Charly Bliss brings the buzz to HOB
One of the buzziest bands on the alt-rock circuit, the Connecticut-based Charly Bliss first made waves with their power-pop 2017 debut, Guppy, but made an even stronger artistic statement with this year's follow-up, Young Enough, which critics are hailing as one of the year's best.
Making music in the vein of mid-'90s alt-rock, the band has opened for bands like Sleater-Kinney, Death Cab for Cutie, and Veruca Salt. They've taken on a much bigger sound with Young Enough, more pop leaning and much bigger in sound, the melodies and guitar crunch complementing the vocals of lead singer Eva Hendricks. Take a listen to "Capacity" or "Hard to Believe" as evidence.
Charly Bliss headlines the Bronze Peacock at House of Blues, located at 1204 Caroline St., on Friday, July 5. Emily Reo opens. Tickets are $15, plus fees. Doors open at 7 pm.
Summer Block Party in The Woodlands
Now this is how you do an R&B and soul throwback show. According to the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion site, the Summer Block Party has sold out every year since 2015. Based on the line-up, this year will likely be no exception with Grammy Award winner Jill Scott headlining, joined by the smooth sounds of '90s megastars Boyz II Men, and multi-platinum singer Faith Evans, former wife of the Notorious B.I.G.
Scott was first discovered by The Roots in the late-'90s and went on to collaborate with some of the biggest names in the genre, later winning two Grammys and hitting No. 1 twice behind her soulful sound and personal lyrics. She will be joined by another Philly act that rocketed to stardom in Boyz II Men, who at one point were one of the biggest acts in the world, producing megahits "Motownphilly," "End of the Road," and "On Bended Knee," and essentially paving the way for the late-'90s boy band explosion. Meanwhile, Faith Evans shot to stardom following the death of her hip-hop star husband with the tribute song "I'll Be Missing You" but later establishing her cred as a vocal force on future albums.
Jill Scott, Boyz II Men, and Faith Evans are at Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, located at 2005 Lake Robbins Dr. in The Woodlands, on Saturday, July 6. Tickets start at $29.50, plus fees. Gates open at 5 pm.
CultureMap show of the week: Santana
"It's hard to say what makes a man a legend — until you see him at work." That's what we wrote following one of the best RodeoHouston performances this past year by Santana. Thankfully, the Latin guitar hero returns to the Houston area for an encore, extended performance with his exciting and electrifying band of high caliber musicians, that surely will have the audience grooving along to 50 years(!) of hits.
Santana's back with the new release Africa Speaks, but it's his long and varied catalog in addition to his next-level skills that will put people in seats. And no doubt, there'll be plenty of doobies at the show. The Doobie Brothers, that is, as the classic rock group makes the perfect complementary act next to Santana's fret-slaying heroics.
Santana returns to Houston to play the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, located at 2005 Lake Robbins Dr. in The Woodlands, on Sunday, July 7. The Doobie Brothers will also perform. Tickets start at $47, plus fees. Gates open at 5:30 pm.
CultureMap recommends: Fitz the Giant?
Fans of high energy alt-rock will get their fill with the co-headline lawn show featuring Fitz and the Tantrums and Young the Giant. Both acts have been survivors in an age when many audiences have left this type of music behind. But both are exceptions, producing some of the catchiest pop-rock songs of the last decade.
Fitz got a huge boost by being named by Ellen DeGeneres as one of her favorite bands and later using the song "The Walker" for promos during her run as an Oscars host. Young the Giant scored a hit with the propulsive 2011 song "My Body" and are on a similar run with their latest, "Superposition (In the Open)," from their latest album, Mirror Master.
Fitz and the Tantrums and Young the Giant co-headline the lawn at White Oak Music Hall, located at 2915 N. Main St., on Sunday, July 7. Tickets start at $45, plus fees. Gates open at 5 pm.