The Week’s Best Concerts: Pet Shop Boys | Travis Scott | YG | Neil Young

Everything from electronic pop to Houston rap makes this a solid week.

Monday, April 14

Mac DeMarco/Juan Waters/Fungi Girls (Lola’s Saloon): As I mentioned on FrontBurner today, this show is very much sold out. It still seems like it warrants mentioning, however. Where will DeMarco play next time he’s in town? The Granada? I’m not sure if he’s quite there yet, but a year after his 35 Denton performance, his popularity shows little sign of wavering.

Cleburne act the Fungi Girls are opening, and while we’re on the subject, take some time to listen to band member Jacob Bruce’s side project, Vacations. It’s been out for a while now, but I didn’t get to really absorb it until recently. It nearly threatens my long-running fandom for Bruce’s main endeavor, and though I’m hesitant to admit that. It’s just that these songs are as sophisticated as they are special, and not many people can actually write pop songs. Try as they may. In any case, I will be glad to see the Fungi Girls tonight.

 Tuesday, April 15

Pet Shop Boys (Majestic Theatre): This was a big enough deal that I was going on about it back in January, if you remember, and it’s okay if you don’t. Having sold tens of millions of records, the Pet Shop Boys are something of a cultural force as opposed to a mere electronic pop band. After all, to think of how many disenfranchised and oppressed youngsters took up “It’s a Sin” as a personal anthem when it became an international hit in 1987, is still a very moving concept.

As established as the duo is now, it helps to remember not everyone was ready to accept them as immediate icons. In fact, the extremely poetic music critic Simon Reynolds summed up Neil Tennant’s singing as “measly” at the time, though he later offered that the group did, at the very least:

…occasionally deconstruct the void at the heart of the dance culture, the dreams that will never come true. I’ve surprised myself. I can see their point. I may well keep the record.

Reynolds is probably my favorite writer, but this is one of the few instances I’ve ever seen him get it wrong. The dreams did come true. I just wonder if he kept the record. See you there?

Wednesday, April 16

YG/DJ Mustard/Dorrough (House of Blues): YG is already having a big year, thanks to a hit debut record, his own clothing line, and superhero like collaborators on his various remixes and singles. He’ll be joined this evening by his producer, DJ Mustard, as well as one of Dallas’ most high-profile rappers, Dorrough. We’ll have more on this soon.

Thursday, April 17

Health/Cutter/Blackstone Rangers (Three Links): At this point, Health feels like a “classic” mid-aughts band, if we’re allowed such a thing, but I did hear their music as outro music to Marketplace the other day. Or maybe it was All Things Considered. Either way, you see where I’m going with this. One day you’re playing in a semi-legal Fort Worth warehouse and gaining a national reputation as one of the most intense live experiences in all of the touring wasteland; and just a short time later, you’re slick enough to soundtrack video games and act as return music on NPR. Truthfully, Health has always been a truly great live band and they’re pushing a decade of existence now, which is somewhat terrifying. I’m sure they still have it. Two of our best live bands are opening so I can recommend this from start to finish.

Kaytranada (Trees): By mixing RnB, trap music, and various other stylistic splinters of hip hop into one fluid sound, Kaytranada has succeeded in the same lab where so many genre scientists have failed. I don’t know if it’s my cynicism but the second I first heard this music, I thought of dollar signs more than any of the aggressively laid-back imagery I thought I was being pied-piper’d into believing. It needn’t be a negative connotation; some things are just popular for a reason.

Neil Young (Meyerson Symphony Center): Obviously a figure of Mr. Young’s stature  deserves more than a mere little blurb, but that’s what we can afford for today. He’s going to be playing solo acoustic sets over two nights, which should be a privilege to see, though you will pay for that privilege. As much as I love Crazy Horse, and others in the area even more so, I think that he’s at his best when the songs are stripped off all of this endless “jamming on E” as an artist once said.

Saturday, April 19

Travis Scott/D. Smiley/The Outfit/Crit Morris/Blue, The Misfit/Texas (The Door): This is a lot of Texas rap for a single lineup, though one has to wonder why we still don’t have musicians that break like Houston’s Travis Scott has broken. Scott had an association with Kanye West that certainly helped his career, but we have at least one producer that we can say that about as well. So that’s not entirely it, but I have one theory. It isn’t just that I don’t know if any local has produced something as genius as the impossibly catchy hook to Pusha T’s “Blocka.” It’s that I don’t know if anyone, anywhere has had a hook that impossible to forget in recent memory. He even tried his own take. But it’s probably my one or two favorite rap songs of the past couple of years, so factor that in.