Sad news for live music fans in Houston this week when Zachary Palmer, the owner of Walter’s Downtown, located at 1120 Naylor St., announced that the indie/punk/hardcore venue would close for good after Saturday, February 3.
It’s never a good thing when an established live music space shutters, as it almost always leaves one less space for particular types of bands to play, and one less place for music aficionados to see them. It’s complete speculation, but the case of Walter’s closing might have more to do with too much of a good thing in Houston, with the live music scene thriving, and simply too many places competing for the hearts and dollars of audiences.
Regardless, Walter’s will definitely be missed. Fans will be able to have last call with a stacked lineup through Saturday.
Here are your must-see shows in Houston this week:
Best chance to see an Americana legend
Jay Farrar cemented himself as a hugely influential singer-songwriter as part of the two beloved Americana acts, Uncle Tupelo, and Sun Volt — the former including Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy. Acoustically driven in the folk tradition, with a healthy dose of country and alternative rock sounds, Farrar’s music is solidified by his fine storytelling, and subtly rich and gravelly voice. Farrar will be joined by Gary Hunt as the Jay Farrar Duo, but the performance will likely cover over two decades of songs, including those from Sun Volt’s 2017 album Notes of Blue.
The Jay Farrar Duo will play on Friday, February 2 at The Heights Theater, located at 339 W 19th St. Andrew Duplantis will open. Tickets are $22 plus fees in advance. Doors open at 7 pm.
Best band to use Constantinople in a song
No indie band has been more prolific and have embraced quirky fun more than They Might Be Giants. Starting back in the ’80s, this Boston band is known for a lot of things, including their children’s albums, their television show theme songs (Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Malcolm in the Middle), and the interesting way they got signed to a label through their Dial-A-Song scheme. (They would leave a new song on a recorded message that fans could call in and discover, like a prototypical Pandora or Spotify.)
But the band is probably best known and most beloved for their early-’90s output of albums (Flood, Apollo 18 and John Henry) that sounded nothing like anything at the time (or ever since, really), a unique blend of indie sounds that embraced eclectic instrumentation, and clever lyrics. Check out “Birdhouse In Your Soul,” and “Istanbul” for indication of their off-center worldview. They Might Be Giants are touring their latest, I Like Fun. Expect the same from this performance.
They Might Be Giants get quirky on Friday, February 3 at White Oak Music Hall, located at 2915 N. Main St. Tickets are $25 plus fees in advance. Doors open at 8 pm.
Best second coming of T-Rex
Børns came almost out of nowhere in 2015 with the album Dopamine, a mixture of glam-pop, coming on like he was the long-lost love child of ’70s glam-rock pixie Mark Bolan, especially on the hooky, T. Rex name-aping single “Electric Love.” That song catapulted the Michigan native up the charts and towards multitudes of late night TV appearances. For an idea of his sound, check out his latest single “God Save Our Young Blood,” featuring Lana Del Rey from recently released Blue Madonna. No performer is hotter right now, and this might be one of the last times fans will get to see him in a more intimate setting.
Børns will play Saturday, February 3 at White Oak Music Hall, located at 2915 N. Main St. Charlotte Cardin and Mikky Ekko open. Tickets are sold out, but the venue does have a waiting list. Tickets are $25 plus fees. Doors open at 8 pm.
Best chance to see a one-time, potential U.S. Senator
If you watch Team America: World Police without any sense of irony, or if you really enjoyed the State of the Union address, or if you fondly remember the days when white dudes rapped over rock guitars, Kid Rock’s American Rock N Roll Tour is probably one show you don’t want to miss. If music doesn’t work out for Robert James Ritchie, there’s always politics.
Kid Rock performs Saturday, February 3, at Toyota Center, 1510 Polk St. A Thousand Horses opens. Tickets are $39.50. Doors open at 6:30 pm.
Show most likely to Sleigh
There is truth in the power of noise-pop duo Sleigh Bells. The NYC act, consisting of singer Alexis Krauss and guitarist Derek Miller, was always the dirtier, grimier antithesis to the White Stripes’ simpler, peppermint candy aesthetic, alt-rock. Incorporating thrash metal guitar hooks, hip-hop beats, synth flourishes, and Krauss’ cheerleader yelps, the Bells play it loud, aggressive, and in your face. They are touring last year’s mini-album Kid Kruschev.
An added bonus, Sunflower Bean will open the night, bringing songs from one of 2016’s best albums, Human Ceremony, and new tracks from their upcoming March release, Twentytwo In Blue. The hip Brooklyn trio plays fuzzy and exhilarating alt-rock, relying on catchy-as-hell riffs spawned from used copies of early Led Zeppelin records, interspersed by quieter moments of melody sung by both guitarist Nick Kivlen and bass player Julia Cumming.
Sleigh Bells and Sunflower Bean will melt your face off on Wednesday, February 7 at White Oak Music Hall, located at 2915 N. Main St. Tickets are $24 in advance. Doors open at 8 pm.