This Week’s Best Concerts | Houston Press

Cinephiles were saddened to learn this week of Jean-Luc Godard’s passing. The groundbreaking filmmaker was a leader in La Nouvelle Vague (aka the French New Wave) movement, along with François Truffaut, Alain Resnais, and Claude Chabrol. Godard was keenly aware of the effect that music has when combined with visual images and vice versa.

His 1960 film Breathless drew inspiration from the Jerry Lee Lewis song of the same name, and his 1968 effort Sympathy for the Devil chronicled the Rolling Stones’ recording sessions, interspersing footage of Black Panthers reading from revolutionary texts while strolling around a junkyard. If you watch Sympathy, be sure that you have fresh batteries in your remote, as you will probably be pressing the fast forward button frequently when the Stones are not onscreen. During shooting, Godard almost managed to immolate the recording studio and the Stones themselves when too many hot lights were clustered near a flammable ceiling. Fortunately, the fire was quickly contained, resulting only in a modest-sized hole in the roof. Thank you, Monsieur Godard, for your films, and for not turning Mick Jagger into a crispy critter.

Third time’s the charm? Houston was supposed to be treated to a performance by Earth, Wind & Fire twice within the past couple of years, in both cases slated to open for Carlos Santana. COVID put the kibosh on the first concert date, and Santana’s health problems nixed the second gig in July. Fingers are crossed that tonight’s show at the Smart Financial Centre goes off without a hitch. Fun fact: Earth, Wind & Fire performed the soundtrack for Melvin Van Peebles’ landmark 1971 film Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song, but I doubt that it will be on the setlist this evening.

The word “angst” comes up frequently when the topic turns to Twenty One Pilots. Not a surprise, really, considering that the band is named after a line from Arthur Miller’s chuckle-fest All My Sons. And the duo’s habit of wearing ski masks onstage gives the proceedings a vaguely creepy ambience. A couple of weeks ago, vocalist Tyler Joseph tripped on a drumstick (dropped by bandmate Josh Dun) as he dashed across the stage. Joseph’s knee may still smart just a bit, but he has promised fans that his injury will not significantly impact the band’s shows. Get ready to emote as the Icy tour hits Toyota Center tonight.

Many Houstonians first became familiar with Rufus Wainwright when he opened for Tori Amos some years ago. Since then, he has crafted a repertoire that recalls the best songs of Cole Porter and the Gershwin brothers. He has also written two operas (Prima Donna and Hadrian), plus a song cycle based on the sonnets of William Shakespeare. And did we mention his courageous (foolhardy, some said at the time) recreation of Judy Garland’s 1961 concert at Carnegie Hall? Most recently, Wainwright has returned to his pop roots with the album Unfollow the Rules. The many faces of Rufus will be onstage Saturday at the Heights Theater.

Along with Nirvana, the Pixies, and Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr. has been called one of the “Four Horsemen of Grunge Apocalypse,” and it’s no wonder. The band made its name with a monumentally distorted sound played at volumes approaching – and sometimes exceeding – the pain threshold. Most of the credit / blame goes to guitarist J Mascis, who remains the high priest of the fuzz box. Grab your earplugs (or throw caution to the wind and don’t) and check out one of the most influential (and certainly among the loudest) bands in rock and roll Saturday at the White Oak Music Hall.

Credit must be given to Scorpions (the band eschews the definite article), who have been around since 1965. The heavy metal Teutonic troubadours, always clad in black leather, still lay waste to concert halls around the world, making them one of the longest-running touring bands, ranking behind only the Stones, the Beach Boys, and The Who. Despite their many years on the road, the geriatric Germans are not lacking for energy, particularly in the case of founder and guitarist Rudolf Schenker, whose stage manner might be properly and politely characterized as “manic.” But it’s hard to argue with the charms of hard-rocking hits such as “Rock You Like a Hurricane” and “The Zoo.” Nevertheless, sometimes you just want to say, “Settle down, Beavis!”  Scorpions’ nonstop tour rolls into Toyota Center on Saturday.

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