It's a predictable, but welcome routine.
The last few weeks of the year always means that most artists will likely stick close to home, unless they are selling the sweet sounds of the holiday (or think aliens are real — see below). Thankfully, that means Houston music fans will get to see a load of talented Texas acts as they shop for those last minute presents and get ready to deep fry that turkey.
CultureMap's best shows of the week are as follows:
Robert Earl Keen at House of Blues
Texas troubadour and Houston-born Robert Earl Keen is back again for his annual Countdown to Christmas show. Keen remains extremely popular among Texas country fans, his fame made even more apparent when he opened for George Strait at a record breaking RodeoHouston performance last year. Sure, you'll get the Christmas tunes with a country-folk bent, but he'll likely play the hits like "Corpus Christi Bay" and "Feeling Good Again."
Robert Earl Keen plays House of Blues, located at 1204 Caroline St., on Wednesday, December 18. Shinyribs open. Tickets start at $65 plus fees. Doors open at 7 pm.
CultureMap recommends: Tobe Nwigwe at Revention Music Center
Arguably, this has been the most historic year for Houston hip-hop. Yes, there's the early-to-mid-2000s that really put Bayou City rappers on the map, but it can be argued that there hasn't been a more commercially successful year for local artists on the national stage. The list includes body positive flautist Lizzo, the sexed up anthems of Megan Thee Stallion, and the ever-present shadow of Beyoncé and her sister Solange.
Add to that list Tobe Nwigwe, the Alief-raised, first generation Nigerian-American who won audiences over with his positive outlook set to production that paid homage to the homegrown chopped and screwed production of yesteryear, alongside a healthy dose of soul and R&B. He's appeared on NPR's Tiny Desk Concert, he's been written about in major music publications, and generally heralded as the future of hip-hop after the release of 2018's Might Get Slid. He'll take a victory lap with his biggest hometown show yet.
Tobe Nwigwe performs at Revention Music Center, located at 520 Texas Ave., on Saturday, December 21. Tickets start at $30 plus fees. Doors open at 8 pm.
Pentatonix at Smart Financial Centre
It's every choir or glee club's dream: become a world-famous a cappella group. Arlington quintet Pentatonix are living the dream, playing countless shows a year, taking other people's songs and filtering them through their modern vocal vision. They are on the road to promote their third Christmas album, Christmas Is Here (following That's Christmas to Me and A Pentatonix Christmas), which means there will be plenty of holiday cheer to go around. And they must be doing something right — this show is sold out with tickets going for nearly $200 on the resale market, proving that there are no bigger vocals-only groups.
Pentatonix bring the holiday cheer to Smart Financial Centre at Sugar Land, located at 18111 Lexington Blvd. in Sugar Land, on Saturday, December 21. Tickets start at $182 on the resale market. Doors open at 6 pm.
CultureMap show of the week: Trans-Siberian Orchestra at Toyota Center
Last year it this tour was called "The Ghosts of Christmas Eve," this year it's "Christmas Eve and Other Stories." But does it really matter?
Trans-Siberian Orchestra has been selling out arenas around the holidays for over two decades, converting the holiday classics into bombastic epics that could easily be the soundtrack for Santa Claus as he lead armies onto the gates of Mordor on his sleigh. Lasers, lights, dozens of giant video screens, a full-size orchestra, and a band of guitar shredders will get you more excited than the exclamation point in "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing." If only Christmas dinner with the in-laws was this awesome.
Trans-Siberian Orchestra headline Toyota Center, located at 1510 Polk St., on Sunday, December 22. Tickets start at $49.50 plus fees. Doors open at 2 and 7 pm.
Angels & Airwaves at House of Blues
Tom DeLonge has been a busy dude. Since leaving Blink-182 and starting his side-project Angels & Airwaves, he started To the Stars Academy which set out to prove UFOs were real. On some level, he was successful, with the U.S. Navy acknowledging that a few videos contained unidentified objects. We can only imagine what the chats on the tour bus are like.
But chasing aliens and studying alien technology probably doesn't pay the bills, so he and his second-most-popular band are on the road in advance of a new album, set to be released in 2020. Blink fans will find a lot to like here, with Angels coming across as a more mature version of that band with high-energy pop-punk that DeLonge has proven he does well.
Angels & Airwaves are at House of Blues, located at 1204 Caroline St., on Sunday, December 23. Tickets start at $38 plus fees. Doors open at 6:30 pm.