What if they gave out awards to music venues in Houston?
It's been a huge summer concert season for the city with dozens of high-caliber and highly attended shows. But if they gave out season MVP awards to music establishments (and they should), for our money, we would have to single out White Oak Music Hall for its killer programming over the last three months.
Located on North Main in The Heights with a beautiful city skyline backdrop, White Oak is wrapping up its first full summer of lawn shows following the resolution of a lawsuit brought forward from neighbors over noise concerns.
Ironically, that resolution helped make it one of the better places to go see a show. The lawn gatherings are always finished early enough to get a full night's sleep — great for we older rockers — and rarely is there a big show on a weeknight now that school's back in session. After a few early cancellations due to weather (MGMT) and inner band conflicts (Turnpike Troubadours), White Oak's lawn has seen an extremely strong, diverse set of acts, including the recently well-attended Vampire Weekend show.
This summer's MVP will look to continue that streak this week. CultureMap's biggest, best, and most notable shows of the week are as follows:
Raphael Saadiq at Warehouse Live
Fans of '90s R&B, be warned! After a successful run in the late-'80s/early-'90s act, Tony! Toni! Toné!, Raphael Saadiq found new life as a solo artist and producer, working with a who's-who roster of musicians, including Whitney Houston, Erykah Badu, D'Angelo, En Vogue, TLC, Mary J. Blige, John Legend, and even Houston's Solange.
The Oakland native has been one of the busiest musicians in the game, not only producing solo work, but work for film, including the Oscar-nominated "Mighty River" from the Netflix drama Mudbound. The truth is, Saadiq hasn't put out a bad album, including this year's critically acclaimed Jimmy Lee. If you want to see the man behind some of the biggest R&B hits of the last three decades, this is the show to see this week.
Raphael Saadiq plays Warehouse Live, located at 813 Saint Emanuel St., on Thursday, September 5. Madeline Edwards opens. Tickets start at $30, plus fees. Doors open at 7 pm.
CultureMap recommends: Megan Thee Stallion at Revention
Talk about a triumphant hometown return. Along with Lizzo, Megan Thee Stallion, aka Megan Pete, is one of the most talked about hip-hop artists of summer with 2019, and her hit "Hot Girl Summer," which she recently performed at the MTV Video Awards, picked up the award for Best Power Anthem.
Graduating from Pearland High School, Pete honed her skills at rap battles at Prairie View A&M, before transferring to Texas Southern University. She earned some recognition with the Tina Snow EP under the locally owned 1501 Certified Ent. indie label owned by former Astro Carl Crawford before signing a national deal with 300 Entertainment. It paid almost immediate dividends, and she is riding the fame train with her Top Ten mixtape Fever, which features Nicki Minaj. She'll play a sold-out show at Revention Music Center this week with a few tickets left on the resale market in what will be one of the hottest concerts of the year.
Megan Thee Stallion returns home to perform at Revention Music Center, located at 520 Texas Ave., on Friday, September 6. Doja Cat opens. Tickets start at $64, plus fees on the resale market. Doors open at 7 pm.
Tiffany at the Hobby Center
Anyone who grew up in the '80s will remember when Tiffany Darwish rose to fame as a fiery redhead chart-topper. Wisely dropping her last name, Tiffany scored two No. 1 hits, "I Think We're Alone Now" and "Could've Been," making her the youngest female artist to hit the top of the chart. Because this was the '80s, Tiffany took to regularly playing shopping malls, creating a pandemonium that would spread to other '80s heartthrobs, such as New Kids on the Block and Debbie Gibson.
She is back in the city after performing with both of those acts earlier this year on the NKTOB Mixtape Tour, so bust out those jean jackets and the hairspray for this one. Her latest is the album Pieces of Me.
Tiffany takes the spotlight at Zilkha Hall at the Hobby Center, located at 800 Bagby St., on Friday, September 6. Tickets start at $54, plus fees. Doors open at 7 pm.
Mark Knopfler at Smart Financial
One of the best guitarists in the history of rock music, British-born Mark Knopfler cut his teeth fronting the hugely popular band Dire Straits, producing some of the highest-selling albums of the '80s. He scored a massive hit with the still-great single "Sultans of Swing" that showcased his fingerstyle guitar playing.
However, he's best known for the 1985 blockbuster album, Brothers in Arms, which produced a number of high-charting singles, including the No. 1 "Money for Nothing," with it's Sting-sung intro "I want my MTV." Not surprisingly, the animated video was huge on the then-popular music channel. Brothers in Arms would go on to sell 30 million copies worldwide, before the band would implode and Knopfler would go onto a respectable solo career. Expect to hear his many Dire Straits and solo hits at the Smart Financial Centre at Sugar Land this week.
Mark Knopfler plays Smart Financial Centre at Sugar Land, located at 18111 Lexington Blvd. in Sugar Land on Friday, September 6. Tickets start at $55.50, plus fees. The show starts at 8 pm.
Chris Young at Cynthia Woods
In a battle of country bands playing on Saturday night, only one features a reality competition star. After a triumphant debut at RodeoHouston in 2018, country star Chris Young returns to the Bayou City. The former Nashville Star competition winner has built a solid following on the back of numerous country hits. It's been a storybook career for the Tennessean as he turned his winning run on the CMT show into several No. 1 hits, including "Voices," "Getting You Home (The Black Dress Song)," and "The Man I Want to Be." His last album was 2017's Losing Sleep, but he's set to release a new album this year with a trio of singles being released ahead of its launch, including "Raised on Country."
Chris Young plays the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, located at 2005 Lake Robbins Dr. in The Woodlands, on Saturday, September 7. Chris Janson and LOCASH open. Tickets start at $24, plus fees. Gates open at 6 pm.
The Randy Rogers Band at WOMH
The Houston beloved Randy Rogers Band will serve up an encore performance on the White Oak Music Hall lawn after a well-received show back in April. The popular regional country band might be the proof that there is a home for up-and-coming country acts at the traditionally alternative-leaning venue. After making waves with 2015's Hold My Beer, Vol. 1 and 2016's Nothing Shines Like Neon, the group is back with this year's Hellbent. Call this lawn show a step up for the Randy Rogers Band as it plays to bigger and bigger audiences each time it's in town.
The Randy Rogers Band headlines the White Oak Music Hall lawn, located at 2915 N. Main St., on Saturday, September 7. Tickets start at $35, plus fees. Gates open at 6 pm.
CultureMap show of the week: John Mayer at Toyota Center
The slayer of guitars and pop stars, John Mayer is hot and he knows it, with out-sized talent and a rock star personality to match. Mayer first made it with 2001's Room for Squares and the hit "Your Body is a Wonderland," showcasing an already fully formed voice and sound and perhaps paving the way toward relationships with pop stars including Jessica Simpson, Taylor Swift, and Katy Perry.
While he's a much better guitarist than anyone gives hims credit for, that may be due to the fact his biggest songs are often the most schmaltzy, including the 2004 hit "Daughters." But it seems like Mayer has put the pop hooks aside lately to really concentrate on the bluesier, rock performances he is capable of, which is a good thing for those being roped into seeing him due to his heartthrob status. In order to deliver more of the goods, Mayer declined to book an opening act for these string of shows, in order to play two sets for crowds on this North American run.
John Mayer is at Toyota Center, located at 1510 Polk St., on Sunday, September 8. Tickets start at $49.50, plus service fees. Doors open at 6:30 pm.
Final KISS at Toyota Center
One may want to rock and roll every night and party every day, but eventually, the body says it time to wipe off the make-up and fake blood, and call it a day. That seems to be the case with KISS, w claiming to be on its last tour ever. KISS was never known as a great producer of music, but one thing it could do was put on a rock show, taking Alice Cooper's shock rock schtick to absurd levels of glam and ham with costumes, pyro, and excellent stage production.
Of course, there will be the hits, including "Rock and Roll All Nite," "Lick It Up," and "Detroit Rock City." Everyone knows about Gene Simmons and company's brilliant marketing schemes, and that includes $1,000 tickets for this show should you really want to get up close and personal.
KISS is at the end of the road at Toyota Center, located at 1510 Polk St., on Monday, September 9. Tickets start at $39.50, plus service fees. Professional painter David Garibaldi opens. Doors open at 6:30 pm.