Houston had a surprise guest DJ this past weekend, when Win Butler, aka DJ Windows 98, aka lead singer of one of the biggest bands in the world, Arcade Fire, announced a last-minute show at the relatively small and unassuming bar, The Flat, in Montrose.
The Album of the Year Grammy winner, who grew up in The Woodlands, must have been in town to visit the folks. Like anyone visiting family, he probably needed to get out of the house and let his hair down. DJ Windows 98 spun a mix of house and old school tunes, there was no cover at the door, drinks were cheap, and the one-off appearance overshadowed what was an otherwise really strong week in live music. Your move, Beyoncé or ZZ Top.
Barring any surprises, these are CultureMap's biggest, best, and most notable shows of the week:
Jim James at Heights Theater
A strong week at Heights Theater is highlighted by Jim James, the frontman for one of the most revered rock bands, My Morning Jacket. He's back on the road promoting his latest solo works, Uniform Distortion and Uniform Clarity, both released last year. James' solo work is more experimental and wider ranging than his regular day job.
The former album delves into lo-fi and classic rock, the latter being the same songs but done acoustically. Due to popular demand, a second show was added to his appearance at the intimate Heights Theater, but tickets are selling quick for this electric live performer, so jump on this one.
Jim James performs at Heights Theater, located at 339 W 19th St., on Tuesday, May 7 and Wednesday, May 8. Amo Amo opens. Tickets start at $36 plus an $8 service fee. Wednesday’s show is sold out. Doors open at 7 pm.
CultureMap show of the week: MGMT at White Oak
A rare weeknight lawn show at White Oak, Brooklyn art-rock duo MGMT will headline, bringing their eclectic vision to the Bayou City. The group, comprised of Ben Goldwasser and Andrew Van Wyngarden, built up a tremendous amount of clout after releasing its 2008 debut, Oracular Spectacular, with the still-regularly-played hits, "Kids" and "Electric Feel."
While their profile subdued somewhat since then, their output has always been stellar with their latest, Little Dark Age, delving into post-punk influences like The Cure and Echo and the Bunnymen, bringing back the poppier sounds of that classic first album. Better yet, the fantastic L.A. band, Warpaint, will open. Warning: Due to neighborhood noise ordinances, this show will start early, so be sure to get there on time.
MGMT plays at White Oak Music Hall, located at 2915 N. Main St., on Tuesday, May 7. Warpaint open. Tickets start at $40 plus fees. Gates open at 6 pm.
The Struts at HOB
If Greta Van Fleet is known for aping Led Zeppelin, UK act The Struts take a cue straight from Freddie Mercury's playbook, producing bombastically catchy singles that have made inwards with American audiences. Glam rock hooks and monstrous vocals from frontman Luke Spiller equate to a killer show, evidence summed up in their biggest U.S. single, "Could Have Been Me."
Their latest, Young & Dangerous is more of the same (excellent radio single "Body Talk" features Keisha), which for those that like their shows raw and huge, will do just fine.
The Struts perform at House of Blues, located at 1204 Caroline St., on Tuesday, May 7. Des Rock opens. Tickets start at $25 plus fees. Doors open at 7 pm.
One of the more popular bands on the Texas touring circuit, Dallas act Old '97's built a loyal following with a prolific road schedule and an equally prolific record releases. Fronted by the charismatic and handsome Rhett Miller, the '97s always draw a crowd of devotees that singalong to a majority of the group's better known songs.
They haven't released any new material in a while, rare for the band, the latest release being a Miller children's book. But a high energy live presence always makes it worth spending time with this Texas quartet.
The Old 97’s are at House of Blues, located at 1204 Caroline St., on Wednesday, May 8. Tickets start at $25 plus fees. Doors open at 7 pm.
Lauryn Hill at Smart Financial
While we definitely recommend the sold-out Anita Baker show at Smart Financial Centre at Sugar Land later this week, tickets are still available to take in the Lauryn Hill show, a make-up for a cancelled appearance last fall. This is what we had to say at the time:
"Ticket buyers beware. Lauryn Hill is celebrating the 20th anniversary of the seminal album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, winner of boatloads of Grammys and any accolade that can possibly be bestowed on a musician. However, her latest tour has been dogged by late start times, booted openers, and angry audiences. When she's on point, there's no denying that Hill is a star, despite the fact she hasn't released any new music in ages."
Let's hope the show will go on this time. Based on her spotty track record, be prepared to wait for her to appear, which for those headed out on a work night, might not be worth it.
Lauryn Hill tries to play again at the Smart Financial Centre, located at 18111 Lexington Blvd. in Sugar Land, on Thursday, May 9. Tickets start at $19.50 plus fees. Doors open at 8 pm.
Violent Femmes and X
After a fantastic set opening for Echo and the Bunnymen last summer, Violent Femmes come back around, this time with classic punk act X. Fans of the stranger sounds from the '80s will want to be there for the classic songs from the masterpieces both bands produced early in their career, tunes that would go on to influence countless groups.
The Femmes are known for their nearly perfect, self-titled debut with the timeless hits "Blister in the Sun" and "Gone Daddy Gone." X's debut, Los Angeles, became a high-water mark for West Coast punk, quality never duplicated by other, harder punk acts on the scene. Lead singer Exene Cervenka is a legend.
Violent Femmes and X are at House of Blues, located at 1204 Caroline St., on Friday, May 10. Tickets start at $42.50 plus fees. Doors open at 7 pm.
Kali Uchis brings the buzz
Fast-rising Kali Uchis is on her way to a sold-out show at Revention on the back of her hot debut album, Isolation, which stormed its way to a Top Five placement on the R&B charts. But success for the Virginia-raised artist didn't come overnight.
First appearing back in 2014, she gained industry buzz for a series of singles and collaboration with world-famous acts like Gorillaz, Snoop Dogg, Major Lazer, and Tyler, The Creator. That led to her first collection of melting pot pop and R&B, mixing funk, dancehall, and Latin rhythms, as heard on single "After the Storm." Catch her before she explodes into the wider mainstream.
Kali Uchis plays the Revention Music Center, located at 520 Texas Ave, on Friday, May 10. Jorja Smith also appears. Tickets start at $39.95 plus fees. Doors open at 7 pm.
CultureMap recommends: Chromatics at White Oak
Fans of Ryan Gosling crime flick Drive will know the gorgeously atmospheric electropop sounds of Chromatics. Founded by guitarist Adam Miller and joined by mysterious multi-instrumentalist Johnny Jewel, the group has some famous fans, invited by surrealist filmmaker David Lynch to perform at the Bang Bang Club in the cult classic TV series Twin Peaks.
Chromatics singles and albums are gorgeous, including 2007's Night Drive and 2012's year-end best Kill for Love. Lead singer Ruth Radelet is a vision of Niko and Bridget Bardot, breathy, sexy vocals fitting perfectly with the icy-cool synths and melodic guitar lines. Fans of dark, future sounds will thank themselves for venturing out on a Sunday night to see this superb band that doesn't tour often.
Chromatics appear at White Oak Music Hall, located at 2915 N. Main St., on Sunday, May 12. Desire and In Mirrors open. Tickets start at $30.50 plus fees. Doors open at 7 pm.