Live Music Now

10 cool concerts from Bad Bunny to Tool to catch in Houston this February

10 concerts from Bad Bunny to Tool to catch in Houston this February

Beloved hard rock heroes Tool are at Toyota Center on Friday, February 4. Photo by Travis Shinn
Chris Thile
Award-winning mandolin player, Chris Thile is at the Cullen Theater on Saturday, February 5. Chris Thile/Facebook
UK blues-pop powerhouse Joss Stone is with Corinne Bailey Rae at 713 Music Hall on Tuesday, February 8. Courtesy Facebook/Joss Stone
Caribou brings his heady synth sounds to White Oak Music Hall on Thursday, February 10. Photo by Thomas Neukum
British No. 1 albumi-selling The Wombats bring their hooky alt-rock to House of Blues, on Thursday, February 10. Courtesy Facebook/The Wombats
Patti LaBelle
Famed soul/R&B singer Patti LaBelle is at Arena Theatre on Saturday, February 12. Patti LaBelle/Facebook
Bad Bunny
Puerto Rican reggaeton star Bad Bunny plays two shows at Toyota Center, February 16 and 17. Photo courtesy of Bad Bunny
3 Doors Down
Alt-rockers 3 Doors Down headline Mardi Gras Galveston on Saturday, February 19. Photo courtesy of 3 Doors Down
Alt-folk rockers Houndmouth play the intimate Heights Theater on Sunday, February 20. Claire Marie Vogel
Action Bronson
Action Bronson appears at the House of Blues on Friday, February 25. Alexander Richter
Chris Thile
Patti LaBelle
Bad Bunny
3 Doors Down
Action Bronson

Let the good times roll! Maybe...

Will they or won't they? That's the question many Houston music fans are asking themselves recently as shows continue to be cancelled due to COVID concerns. The past few months have been confusing for all parties involved in the music industry with concerts now a crapshoot, ticketholders praying that their favorite artists will take to the stage. 

From the venue side, it's been a patchwork of COVID rules across the Greater Houston area with some places not following any protocol, to others requiring full vaccination or a negative COVID test within the last 72 hours. Sometimes it's a venue rule, sometimes it's an artist requesting extra layers of security. It's a frustrating way to do business.

From the viewpoint of the artists, it has become a measure of weighing the need to generate an income versus the amount of risk that comes with taking a band and crew out on the road. Sometimes, it's simply a matter of how concerned artists are about the possible spread of the virus among fans who show up to gigs.

That said, it's imperative that folks check venue websites frequently before they head out to make sure shows are still happening, and what health guidelines are required for that performance.

Despite a few, highly-anticipated shows being cancelled ahead of their February dates, these shows are still on the books, including a huge Mardi Gras celebration worth the drive. CultureMap's best, biggest, and most notable shows of the month are as follows:

Tool with Blonde Redhead
Friday, February 4
Toyota Center, 1510 Polk St.

Suburban dads, unite! When Tool first burst onto the scene in the '90s with the dark, heavy albums Undertow and Ænima, it provided a jukebox soundtrack for bros to show off how cool 6/8 time signatures could be while shooting pool with fellow bros.

The Southern California band, led by the enigmatic Maynard James Keenan, has grown past their hard rock-metal early years, morphing into today's version of prog-rock made popular in the '70s, writing songs veering past ten minutes rather than focus on radio friendly tunes that speak to the masses.

No matter, as Tool developed a strong following that shows up anytime they are in town on the strength of their live performances and the mystique they've built from releasing only three albums over the last 20 years.

Tickets start at $75 plus fees. Doors open at 6:00 p.m.

Chris Thile
Saturday, February 5
Cullen Theater, Wortham Theater Center
559-575 Prairie St.

Tapped as the successor to Garrison Keillor's hosting duties for the long-running NPR show, A Prairie Home Companion, and later renamed to Live from Here with Chris Thile, the award-winning mandolin player Chris Thile found himself without a regular gig after the network pulled the plug on the show when it couldn't perform live from anywhere due to the pandemic.

It was a real shame — Thile was just starting to roll on one of the best public radio programs in the country.

That said, the extremely affable MacArthur Fellow and Grammy Award winner is back to doing what he does best: playing to appreciative audiences, no doubt enhanced by his time broadcast over the airwaves. He's on the road to support his latest collection of folk-influenced tunes, Laysongs, released last year.

Tickets start at $35 plus fees. Show starts at 6:30 p.m.

Joss Stone and Corinne Bailey Rae
Tuesday, February 8
713 Music Hall, 401 Franklin St., Ste. 1600

Two of the most successful female British singers over the last two decades not named Adele team up on this fantastic bill of exceptionally talented vocalists. Joss Stone and Corinne Bailey Rae each made waves with hits on both sides of the pond.

The former made No. 2 on the Billboard charts for her 2007 album, Introducing Joss Stone, and garnered notice for gender-bending the White Stripes classic, "Fell in Love With a Girl," into a sultry, bluesy "Fell in Love With a Boy.

Corinne Bailey Rae made it as high as No. 4 for her 2006 self-titled debut, which would go on to sell almost two million copies in the U.S. behind the strength of songs, "Like a Star," and "Put Your Records On."

Tickets start at $29.50 plus fees. Show starts at 8 p.m.

CultureMap Recommends: Caribou
Thursday, February 10
White Oak Music Hall, 2915 N Main St.

One of the smartest and most exciting indie dance producers today, Canadian wunderkind Dan Snaith is back after a few COVID-aborted tours with his Caribou project, touring behind 2020's full-length, Suddenly.

A real-life PhD-level mathematician, Snaith brings that extremely logical brain into his songcraft. But whereas other genius-level intellects would veer their music towards the inaccessible, the Snaith smartly pulls the best beats and melodies from the history of pop, rock, R&B, and soul, and places them against a canvas of exquisite psyched out electro that carries its fair share of emotion.

A full-size touring band makes Caribou a must-see show this month.

Tickets start at $26 plus fees. Doors open at 7 p.m.

The Wombats
Thursday, February 10
House of Blues, 1204 Caroline St.

What a story: U.K. trio The Wombats debuted at the tail-end of what was a high-water mark for British indie-guitar music that produced the likes of Arctic Monkeys, Franz Ferdinand, The Libertines, and countless of B-level imitators.

At first, it seems as though The Wombats would be part of the latter group, but the band stuck it out and found continued success based on wry, humorous lyrics ("Let's Dance to Joy Division") and high-energy Brit-pop influenced hooks and synths.

A recent return of guitar-based bands culminated in a run to the top of the charts in their native country with their latest album, Fix Yourself, Not the World, hitting No. 1. No small feat for a little band that could.

Tickets start at $25 plus fees. Show starts at 7 p.m.

Patti LaBelle with Stephanie Mills, and After 7
Saturday, February 12
Smart Financial Centre in Sugar Land, 18111 Lexington Blvd.

Old school R&B-soul-disco fans are in for a treat when the legend Patti LaBelle returns to town. Her career has lasted 60 years, her first hit coming in 1962 with "I Sold My Heart to the Junkman." That kicked off decades of hits across multiple genres, including "You'll Never Walk Alone," "Lady Marmalade," "On My Own," and "Stir It Up" from the Beverly Hills Cop soundtrack. Expect wall-to-wall hits at this gig.

Tickets start at $52.75 plus fees. Show starts at 8 p.m.

CultureMap Show of the Month: Bad Bunny
Wednesday, February 16 and Thursday, February 17
Toyota Center, 1510 Polk St.

Bad Bunny is a bad dude. He'll play four shows in Houston this year, which is almost never heard of for any artist, let alone a pop-reggaeton-trap star from Puerto Rico. The first two come at Toyota Center this month.

The other two are the just-announced performances at the much bigger Minute Maid Park this summer as part of his El Último Tour Del Mundo Tour (The Last World Tour). It's a crazy rise for the Latin performer who hit No. 1 guesting on the Cardi B track, "I Like It", and seemingly everywhere else, even beer commercials with Snoop Dogg

Tickets start at $51 plus fees. Doors open at 7:00 p.m.

Mardi Gras Galveston
Friday, February 18 through Tuesday, March 1
The Historic Strand, Galveston

The biggest Mardi Gras celebration west of the Mississippi returns to Galveston this month. Yes, Galveston isn't a part of Houston — we wouldn't want to start World War III with any BOIs — but Mardi Gras Galveston draws thousands of Bayou City natives to the island for multiple parades, parties, and concerts. The best part of the whole enterprise is it's cheap to get in and is always guaranteed fun with ample amounts of revelry, beads, gumbo and king cake.

This year's performers run the gamut of rock, country, Latin, and DJs: headliners include alt-rockers 3 Doors Down (February 19), country singer Matt Stell (February 25), and Tejano band Siggno ( February 20). Most shows take place at the main stage, located at 23rd and Strand in Saengerfest Park but plenty more will take place in various locations. 

Tickets start at $11.50 plus fees. Gates open at 5 p.m.

Houndmouth with Buffalo Nichols
Sunday, February 20
Heights Theater, 339 W 19th St.

Festival mainstays Houndmouth perform a much more intimate show at Heights Theater this month, bringing their brand of heart-on-sleeve, folk-inspired rock. Think of them as the kid brothers to Band of Horses and you're close.

Epic Americana-inflected songs such as "Sedona" put them closer to acts like The Lumineers and The Head and the Heart. The Indiana trio is touring new songs in advance of their fourth album. Get a first listen before they inevitably return to larger audiences.

Tickets start at $28 plus fees. Doors open at 7 p.m.

Action Bronson and Earl Sweatshirt with The Alchemist X Boldy James
Friday, February 25
House of Blues, 1204 Caroline St.

Underground cult hero Action Bronson has made a name for himself, first as an MC, and secondly as a cable television star, appearing on a number of shows with the hilarious F**k, That's Delicious on Viceland perhaps being the most notable.

His larger than life palette and personality often overshadows the fact that he's a talented rapper who draws on New York rap greats Wu Tang Clan and Kool G Rap. He'll be joined by Earl Sweatshirt, who has also enjoyed fame on the underground rap circuit, initially as part of the oddball horrorcore collective, Odd Future.

Tickets start at $45 plus fees. Show starts at 7 p.m.