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9 coolest concerts to ring in the new year in Houston this January

9 coolest concerts to ring in the new year in Houston this January

Elton John - Houston Toyota Center - Farewell Yellow Brick
The legendary Elton John is back at the Toyota Center on Friday, January 21 and Saturday, January 22. Photo by Jacob Power
Houston musicians playlist Clay Melton
Houston blues-rock artist Clay Melton will be recording a live album at The Big Barn at Dosey Doe on Thursday, January 6. Photo by Trish Badger
BowiElvis Fest
BowiElvis Fest returns to The Continental Club on Saturday, January 8. Courtesy BowiElvis Fest
High energy Canadian electro-psych act TWRP is at White Oak Music Hall on Sunday, January 9. Courtesy Facebook/TWRP
Washed Out
Washed Out brings his blissed out sound to Warehouse Live on Thursday, January 13. Washed Out/Facebook
Maze featuring Frankie Beverly
Maze featuring Frankie Beverly takes over the Toyota Center on Saturday, January 15. Maze featuring Frankie Beverly/Facebook
Shawn Colvin
Grammy Award-winner Shawn Colvin is at Heights Theater on Friday, January 21. Shawn Colvin/Facebook
The War On Drugs
The War on Drugs performs at White Oak Music Hall on Saturday, January 22. The War On Drugs/Facebook
Cat Power
Cat Power, fresh off a tour with Alanis Morissette, plays House o of Blues on Thursday, January 27.  Mario Sorrenti
Elton John - Houston Toyota Center - Farewell Yellow Brick
Houston musicians playlist Clay Melton
BowiElvis Fest
Washed Out
Maze featuring Frankie Beverly
Shawn Colvin
The War On Drugs
Cat Power

A sense of déjà vu has descended all across concert venues in Houston and the culprit is omicron. 

The fast-moving strain of the COVID-19 virus has been wreaking havoc on the live music scene, leading to a handful of cancellations. It was likely the cause behind the postponement of the much anticipated New Year's Eve homecoming show for Houston-based world-beaters, Khruangbin, at the 713 Music Hall.

The seemingly exponential rise in cases leaves any early-2022 show a crapshoot, raising concerns over future concerts whether it's due to staffing issues or bands rescheduling shows out of an abundance of caution.

That leaves it up to ticketholders to check the latest status of gigs, not only to make sure they are still a go, but whether COVID safety measures are in place at the venues. In other words, have those vaccination cards and 72-hour COVID test results handy before heading out.

Hopefully, the following January shows will still happen as we have a full slate ahead. CultureMap's best shows of the month are as follows:

Clay Melton
Thursday, January 6
The Big Barn at Dosey Doe

Equally influenced by Stevie Ray Vaughan and John Mayer, Houston-based Clay Melton is establishing himself as one of the hottest blues-rock acts in the Lone Star State. Simply put, the talented young guitarist-vocalist can shred and is an extremely fun watch, backed by a rock-solid unit in his longtime drummer, Zach Grindle, and bassist Zach Cox.

He’ll be recording a live album from the unique confines of The Big Barn at Dosey Doe in Spring alongside a who’s-who in the local music scene, including Sir Earl Toon of Kool & the Gang, Evelyn Rubio, and Sarah Grace. That follows the well-received 2021 EP, Back to Blue.

Tickets start at $15 plus fees. Doors open at 6:30 pm.

CultureMap Local Show of the Month: BowiElvis Festival
Saturday, January 8
The Continental Club and Big Top Lounge

January 8 holds a special place in the hearts of music fans across the globe as the day produced two of the greatest pop icons in modern musical history: David Bowie and Elvis Presley. Those two cultural forces will meet at the return of BowiElvis Festival.

The 13th edition is back after a one-year hiatus and will feature a number of acts celebrating the late-singers, including Graveltooth, Johnny Falstaff, India Tigers in Texas, Sara Van Buskirk, Elise Morrison, Yaupon, and a burlesque performance by Dem Damn Dames.

Bands will play Bowie and Elvis cover songs in addition to original tunes, and guests can participate in face painting and a costume contest alongside catering that features "The King" — Elvis's favorite banana and peanut butter sandwich and "The Bowie," a croque madame with Gruyère, ham, and a fried egg.

Tickets start at $20 plus fees in advance, $35 at the door. Doors open at 7 p.m.

CultureMap Recommends: TWRP with Rich Aucoin
Sunday, January 9
White Oak Music Hall (Upstairs)

Hailing from the frosty hinterlands of Canada, fans of high-energy weirdness are in for a real treat when TWRP (formerly Tupperware Remix Party) and Rich Aucoin take over White Oak Music Hall. Both hail from the creative Halifax, Nova Scotia scene and are getting huge accolades not only for their synth-driven indie sounds, but their insane live performances. TWRP's concert gear recalls Power Rangers mixed with Devo, Daft Punk, and manga comic books.

The secret weapon on this bill is Aucoin, a genius-level multi-instrumentalist whose exuberant intellect is expressed in award-winning videos and movie-synched live shows that include actual surfing on crowds and crazy-fun dance parties underneath a elementary school parachute. His latest album, United States, is a amazing listen as well, an ultimately uplifting treatise on modern America. This show is sold out but is worth every penny on the resale market.

Tickets are sold out but there is a waitlist. Doors open at 8 pm.

Washed Out
Thursday, January 13
Warehouse Live

One of the leaders of the late-2000s chillwave movement alongside luminaries such as Toro Y Moi, Neon Indian, Small Black and others, Ernest Greene’s Washed Out project is a vibe unto itself.

Combining dream pop with ’80s synths and gentle vocals, Washed Out first garnered major notice with his 2009 EP Life of Leisure, lead single “Feel It All Around” becoming the title credits song for the hit comedy show, Portlandia.

The song is seemingly now ensconced on the playlist at any and every upscale eatery. His latest is 2020’s Paracosm.

Tickets start at $25 plus fees. Doors open at 8 pm.

Maze featuring Frankie Beverly with The Isley Brothers and LeVelle
Saturday, January 15
Toyota Center

Classic soul and funk gets a major spotlight with a Toyota Center bill that includes Maze, led by Frankie Beverly. Originally from Philadelphia, Maze first made waves when they hooked up with Marvin Gaye in the '70s, scoring hit songs such as "Joy and Pain," "Before I Let Go," and "Happy Feelin's" [sic].

They'll be joined by the timeless, former Motown act, The Isley Brothers, who are instantly recognizable with the hits "This Old Heart of Mine (Is Weak for You)," "Shout," and "Twist and Shout," famously covered by The Beatles.   

Tickets start at $69.50 plus fees. Doors open at 6:30 pm.

CultureMap Show of the Month: Sir Elton John
Friday, January 21 and Saturday, January 22
Toyota Center

The last time Sir Elton John rolled through town with his Goodbye Yellow Brick Road tour to perform to a sold-out Toyota Center crowd, it was under the guise of being his last tour before setting off into the sunset. That show included a roll-call of greatest hits that would be a wonderful bookend to a storied career (read the CultureMap review here).

But alas, the icon had second thoughts and is back for a two-show encore, perhaps bolstered by the fantastic hit Dua Lipa/PNAU collaboration, "Cold Heart," that resulted in John's biggest hit song in years, reaching No. 1 in the U.K. and No. 11 in the U.S.

Expect a look back on his biggest hits, a stellar live band, and eye-popping visuals — for John fans, or music fans in general, this show is a must-see.

Tickets start at $69.50 plus fees. Doors open at 7 pm.

Shawn Colvin
Friday, January 21
Heights Theater

We were set to recommend the Lucinda Williams concert at Heights Theater this month but that one is sold out. For those looking for a fantastic singer-songwriter, Shawn Colvin will also appear in the intimate venue.

Colvin got her start in the Midwest and quickly garnered attention when she joined the famed Greenwich Village folk circuit in New York. A tour with Susanne Vega led to a recording contract and since then, she became a fixture at the Lilith Fair tours and racked up three Grammy Award wins, including two for her hit song, "Sunny Came Home," which picked up Record of the Year and Song of the Year.

Her latest is The Starlighter, a collection inspired by the children's music book, Lullabies and Night Songs

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

The War on Drugs with Lo Moon
White Oak Music Hall (Lawn)

Finding that sweet spot between Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan juxtaposed with layered indie guitars, The War on Drugs developed a distinctly American rock sound that recalls vast landscapes and gritty stories of the everyman, set to a sonic palette made for today's audiences.

Led by Adam Granduciel, the band initially started after he struck up a friendship with psych-rocker Kurt Vile. But it wasn't until Vile departed that the band truly took off with 2014's Lost in the Dream achieving modern classic status and catapulting the act to festival headliners.

The 2017 release A Deeper Understanding and last year's I Don't Live Here Anymore were critical smashes, solidifying The War on Drugs as a touring force.

Tickets start at $46 plus fees. Doors open at 8 pm.

Cat Power
Thursday, January 27
House of Blues

Cat Power's Chan Marshall has had a strange career. Starting off as an unassuming indie darling most noteworthy for the excellent 1998 full-length Moon Pix, the demands of the road proved at times too much for the Atlanta-based singer-songwriter. Show performances were erratic and oftentimes awkward with her deeply personal lyrics at odds with rowdy crowds.

Thankfully, with her social anxiety issues behind her, Marshall has gained new confidence not only as a frontwoman but also as a recording artist, producing excellent albums over the last decade and touring with the likes of Alanis Morissette. She'll be releasing a covers album this year.

Tickets start at $35 plus fees. Show starts at 7 pm.