Houston’s concert scene brings plenty of action, but we want you to know about the under-the-radar shows as well as the monster acts. PaperCity’s Matthew Ramirez cuts through the noise to find the best things to see around town.
After having hit Houston last year for their big reunion tour, it was surprising to find the post-grunge Shirley Manson-led band return to town so quickly. But instead of a nostalgia-infused victory lap, Garbage is making the rounds in 2016 touring behind its surprisingly vital-sounding reunion record released this year, Strange Little Birds. Far from a cash-in, the record is definitely a summer highlight and the work of a band that 20 years into its career still only know how to be themselves and nothing else.
Crystal Castles launched a thousand blog posts and regrettable dorm room dance parties with their iconic 2008 self-titled record, the perfect soundtrack for an Adderall-assisted all-nighter and the sleepy-eyed rager the next night while everyone who told themselves they were too cool to dance discovered their ability to two-step. What saved them from being another bloghouse joke band (“remember Uffie?” says every third person online who once owned neon-colored shuttershades) was what saves any good band or musician: a willingness and ability to evolve, displayed more than ably with 2011’s II and III in 2012, each record darker and weirder and more intimidating than the last.
Their latest album, Amnesty, is the first made without founding member Alice Glass, which has kept me away from it, but this was music always made to be shared: on the dance floor, on your Myspace page, with your friends at a house party.
Signed at 18 to Sub Pop, Avi Buffalo has spent the past seven years or so building credibility as a folk-tinged eccentric songwriter, one who waited years to follow up his 2010 self-titled debut with 2014’s At Best Cuckold. A truly enigmatic voice, Buffalo hits Houston for the first time in years (and who knows how long until next time?) touring behind no new record, just him and his voice.
Who would have guessed that one of the first bands to ever wear the “emo” tag would endure as one of the genre’s most prolific? Following 2011’s staid Codes and Keys, the Seattle band took an extended hiatus before returning with 2015’s Kintsugi, their first album without founding guitarist Chris Walla.
Having tasted primetime success (shout-out The O.C.) and even a platinum record in 2005’s Plans, Death Cab for Cutie have spent the better part of a decade easing into their roles as something of elder statesmen in a genre that most listeners have left for dead (even though every few years a music mag somewhere will insist “emo is back!”). While Kontsugi wasn’t a masterpiece, it was a tasteful throwback to the first-person story-songs of their glory years.