What did we ever do to get so lucky? Houston's strongest fall season of concerts in memory is in full swing with another strong slate of shows this week that features plenty of fantastic touring acts, local events and several free shows that will ease the burden on the pocketbook. The best part is this is only the beginning. Houston's about to benefit from the ACL Festival trickle-down when bands book side-shows before, during and after the major event's double weekend slate in October. The weather may be cooling down, but the music is just starting to heat up.
Must-See Show of the Week
If the music industry completely collapsed tomorrow, forcing bands to become traveling minstrels like days of old, The Flaming Lips would would survive on its live show alone. The Oklahoma City based indie-psych band has developed from modest beginnings in the Nineties as a minor concern on the alternative rock charts (“She Don’t Use Jelly”) to a powerful live force making fans of millions, including one very famous pop star in Miley Cyrus.
The Lips are touring behind their latest album, Oczy Mlody. Lasers, a LED light show, costumes, confetti and giant inflatable balls are all within the realm of possibility, mixing LSD-meets-Mardi Gras visuals with heartfelt songs plucked from the stratosphere. Fronted by the charismatic Wayne Coyne, the creators of Oklahoma’s former state rock song (“Do You Realize?”) offer a sensory experience that could easily be considered performance art. The Flaming Lips play the Revention Music Center on Friday, September 29, with indie darling Mac DeMarco. Tickets are $40-$45. Show starts at 8 pm.
Family Friendly Events
Live music and the famous Clydesdale horses are on tap at the Budweiser Brewery Open House and Open-Air Market Saturday, September 30. Organized in only a few weeks to assist local musicians, arts and businesses affected by Hurricane Harvey, the event will include performances by local acts Los Dientes, Mind Shrine, Los Guerreros De La Musica, Sik Mule, Good Grief and Flash Gordon Parks. Several local artist and clothing vendors hurt by Harvey will be selling their wares, food trucks will be on site and beer will flow. The event takes place at 775 Gellhorn Drive from 10 am - 6 pm.
The Party on the Plaza concert series kicks off Wednesday, October 4, for a six-week run and has built an impressive lineup. Hosted along Avenida Plaza in front of George R. Brown Convention Center on Wednesdays through November 15, the series begins with the return of Nashville-based singer-songwriter Robert Ellis, appearing just blocks away at the Super Bowl Live experience last February. Subsequent weeks feature Ben Kweller (October 18), Bob Schneider with The Tontons (October 25), The Molly Ringwalds (November 1), The Old 97s (November 8) and Reverend Horton Heat (November 15). The best part? These shows are free. Shows start at 6 pm.
Other Shows of Note
Friday, September 29
Friday’s stacked concert schedule plays like the world’s best battle of the alternative bands. Emo-superstars Paramore, fronted by neon-haired dynamo Hayley Williams, hit the stage at the Smart Financial Center at Sugar Land with critically acclaimed So Cal indie darlings Best Coast in tow. Tickets are $38 to $340. Show starts at 8 p.m.
White Oak Music Hall offers the two excellent line-ups for one great price when Philadelphia '70s throw-back rockers War on Drugs play the lawn with fantastic Montreal band Land of Talk. War on Drugs is performing behind one of the best albums of the year in A Deeper Understanding, which hones the best of Dylan, Springsteen and Fleetwood Mac through a modern rock gauze.
Following that show, British upstarts The Cribs play a free show upstairs behind their brash, melodic new release 24-7 Rock Star Shit. This band has serious cred back home — The Smiths’ guitar genius Johnny Marr joined the band for a tour and album in 2009. Tickets for War on Drugs are $31 in advance, doors open at 7 p.m. The Cribs perform with PAWS, show starts at 10 p.m. Free for those 21-and-up. Tip your bartender!
Saturday, September 30
Fans of middling '90s torch songs sung by sensitive dudes prone to over-articulation that famous actresses inexplicably drooled over back in the day will get a thrill from the Matchbox Twenty and Counting Crows line-up at The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion. Both acts found huge success in the Nineties, the former with grunge-lite radio hit “Push" among others, and the latter with multi-million copies sold August and Everything After hits, including "Mr. Jones," and "Round Here." Tickets are $24 to $210 and the show starts at 6:45 pm.
Those with a little more distinct musical palate should check out the killer bill of Young The Giant with Cold War Kids and Joywave on the White Oak Music Hall lawn. Young The Giant has been touring behind the 2016 release Land of the Strange and hits that sweet spot on the spectrum between Mumford and Sons and .fun. Tickets are $32 in advance. Doors open at 6 pm.
Sunday, October 1
Eccentric, critically-acclaimed alternative troubadour Father John Misty is also at White Oak this Sunday. The LSD-dosing, Lana Del Rey caressing singer-songwriter satirist is touring behind well received album, Pure Comedy. Tickets are $35 in advance. Weyes Blood opens. Doors open at 6 pm.
Thursday, October 4
Massively popular hip-hop festival headliners Run The Jewels return after a closing set at Day For Night last December to take over the Revention Music Center with Cuz Lightyear in tow. The duo of El-P and Killer Mike has caught the imagination of hip-hop diehards, indie music heads and critics alike with a string of cerebral and fun albums in Run The Jewels, Run The Jewels 2, and Run The Jewels 3, producing some of the most exciting music of any genre over the last five years. Tickets start at $35. Doors open at 7 pm.
“Play Free Bird!” This may be the one concert where it’s okay to scream this at the band as 2016 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees Lynyrd Skynyrd brings its Southern-fried hits from the Seventies to the Smart Financial Center at Sugar Land stage. They bring along fellow Southern boogie-blues band Molly Hatchet of “Flirtin’ With Disaster” fame. Tickets are $39 to $286.