The usually vibrant fall concert season hasn't even started, and already we have a couple of high-profile cancellations.
First up, controversial South African rap group Die Antwoord postponed its September 25 appearance at Revention Music Center, following the release of a video that allegedly shows an assault on Hercules and Love Affair member Andy Butler.
No word why the 2012 video is just surfacing now, but it led two major festivals — Louder than Life in Louisville, Kentucky, and Life is Beautiful in Las Vegas — to drop them from the bill. Now Die Antwoord's entire U.S. tour is postponed. It's a pretty shaky video, but come to your own conclusions.
Second, revered indie act Beirut announced the cancellation of all 2019 shows due to lead singer Zach Condon coming down with acute laryngitis. This includes its November 22 show at White Oak Music Hall. Speedy recovery to Zach.
The shows that are still on are some doozies. The bigger touring acts — with the exception of one — take a break and let the indie acts take center stage this week.
Here are CultureMap's biggest, best and most notable shows of the week:
CultureMap recommends: The National at White Oak Music Hall
One of the most revered acts of the last 15 years returns to Houston for their first show in what seems like ages. The National has been a strong going concern since the mid-aughts starting with a string of excellent albums with 2005's Alligator, even having a song ("Fake Empire") used by the Obama campaign in 2012.
In the last few years, the Brooklyn-based band has been elevated to festival headline status and reasonably so. Like Springsteen or Radiohead before them, The National traffic in serious rock music, capturing the anxiety of modern society set to an earnest and oftentimes beautiful soundtrack, delivered by a fantastic frontman in Matt Berninger. Expect an almost sold-out lawn at White Oak for this one as the group hits town to promote its latest, I Am Easy to Find.
The National headlines the White Oak Music Hall lawn, located at 2915 N. Main St., on Wednesday, September 11. Alvvays opens. Tickets start at $52.50, plus fees. Gates open at 5:30 pm.
Phantogram at WOMH
Easily one of the better sets at the last edition of now defunct Day for Night Festival, upstate New York duo Phantogram return to a sold-out audience at White Oak this week. Starting off as modern version of trip-hop, Sarah Barthel and Josh Carter have since expanded its sound to be something much bigger, as evidenced on the uneven 2016 album, Three.
But where it lacks in consistency, it makes up for in a huge live presence, fast becoming one of the most sought-after live shows in the alt-rock world. It doesn't hurt that the duo is friends with one-half of OutKast (see their side project Big Grams with Big Boi). This one might be worth the cost of a resale ticket as it appears the group is on the verge of releasing a new record.
Phantogram is at White Oak Music Hall, located at 2915 N. Main St., on Thursday, September 12. Bob Moses opens. Tickets are sold out but a wait list is available. Doors open at 7 pm.
Matthew Sweet at Heights Theater
One of the leaders of the '90s power pop movement that gave way to acts like Weezer, Matthew Sweet has always been an underrated performer and a top-notch tunesmith. The Nebraska native made his name in the early-to-mid '90s, entrenching himself as an influential songwriter with 1991's Girlfriend (and it's fantastic anime video for its lead single).
The follow-ups, Altered Beast and 100% Fun found a home on the more alternative corners of MTV, including the great song "Sick of Myself." He's spent recent years working with The Bangles' Susanna Hoffs and releasing great solo records, including 2018's Tomorrow's Daughter. His prolific release schedule should make for one helluva setlist.
Matthew Sweet headlines Heights Theater, located at 339 W. 19th St., on Friday, September 13. Venessa Peters also opens. Tickets start at $22, plus fees. Doors open at 7 pm.
Flying Lotus 3D at Warehouse Live
We're not sure what's happening with this show, but we like the sounds of it. Cutting-edge, electronic hip-hop artist Flying Lotus, well known for thinking outside the box, is bringing his pioneering, award winning, 3D Live Technology to Houston.
We'll let the concert description take it from here: "The aptly named 'Ghost Tile' or 3D LED augments Flying Lotus' live stage show with virtual worlds of pulsing color and texture that dance off the screen surrounding performers and flying over audiences heads." Sounds like a trip.
Flying Lotus plays Warehouse Live, located at 813 Saint Emanuel St., on Friday, September 13. Brandon Coleman Spacetalker, Salami Rose Joe Louis, and PDBY open. Tickets start at $27.50, plus fees. Doors open at 8 pm.
CultureMap show of the week: Lenny Kravitz at Smart Financial
One of the coolest guys in music, Lenny Kravitz is back on the road with 2018's Raise Vibration. The son of actress Roxie Roker of The Jeffersons fame, the New York-raised musician became one of the most recognizable rock stars on the planet, thanks to the fantastic debut Let Love Rule and its follow-up, Mama Said.
But it was 1993's, Are You Gonna Go My Way, and it's cannon shot of a lead single that really launched Kravitz into the stratosphere. While his output has been spotty since then, he's been more than capable of releasing decent radio singles and staying in the headlines. And while rock music doesn't get nearly as much play on radio, Kravitz always puts on a killer live show and is more than worth the price of admission.
Lenny Kravitz goes the way of Smart Financial Centre at Sugar Land, located at 18111 Lexington Blvd. in Sugar Land on Sunday, September 15. Tickets start at $45, plus fees. The show starts at 7:30 pm.
Whitney at Satellite Bar
One of the fastest rising indie acts on the touring circuit, Chicago duo Whitney has been making waves on the festival circuit this summer with their feel-good vibes, incorporating pop, rock, and country sounds. Arising from the ashes of the much hyped Smith Westerns, Julien Ehrlich and Max Kakacek released the critically acclaimed Light Upon the Lake in 2016, which quickly earned them new fans around the world.
The just-released Forever Turned Around might be even better and this feels like a band that will be playing much bigger venues in the next few years. They are also one of those rare bands in which the drummer is the lead vocalist, so like it or not, there are some serious Eagles vibes going on with this group.
Whitney plays Satellite Bar, located at 6922 Harrisburg Blvd., on Sunday, September 15. Hand Habits open. Tickets start at $25, plus fees. Doors open at 6 pm.