SZA Spoke to and For the Sold Out House of Blues

SZA’s first national tour seemed to catch everybody but her fans by surprise. At venue after venue, bookers realized too late that they could have charged more after fans snapped up the tickets in minutes. At the House of Blues last Thursday night, the line for the show left the venue’s alley, turned on to Decatur Street, then wrapped around the corner on to Iberville. When SZA took the stage to open with “Supermodel,” the audience drowned her out as it sang along.

Arcade Fire Gets Serious

Going into the Arcade Fire show Tuesday night at the UNO Lakefront Arena, the story was that the show didn’t sell particularly well. Two hours later by the end of “Wake Up,” I felt for the people who didn’t buy tickets because they missed a show as compelling as U2’s in the Superdome without the wind of nostalgia at its back. I ended up glad that their absence left room for so many people to dance with abandon at a rock ’n’ roll show.

The Melvins Induce Whiplash and Hearing Loss

Thrashing drums, thumping bass, crazy eyes, bubble-bath hair. The Melvins surely lived up to their reputation Wednesday night at One Eyed Jacks. Although they released their first album in the late '80s, The Melvins charisma and innovated sound has not rusted in the slightest. The performance was energized and raw, selling out the small venue to a generationally diverse crowd clad in band T-shirts and black jeans.

U2 Shows the Limits of "Joshua Tree" and the Strength of the Band at Superdome

[Updated] Let’s clear the basics out of the way first. U2 were really good and at times thrilling at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome Thursday night. Musically, they’re a machine that at times sounds like one instrument behind Bono, which means they always seem in step with each other. And Bono is a genuine rock star. When he stood alone on the stage located about 20 feet into the audience, he seemed most at home. The space and an audience close enough to touch clearly energized him.

Downtown Boys Played to the Room

The context for Downtown Boys reasserts itself weekly if not daily. The band formed in 2014, two years before Donald Trump was elected president, but the Trump Administration gives the political punk band a reason to exist almost every time he or his Cabinet members open their mouths. Team Trump didn’t invent racism, sexism, transphobia, colonialism and toxic masculinity, but it uses these tools to assert the preeminent position of wealthy straight white men in the culture daily. 

The Drive-By Truckers Lighten Up at Tipitina's

The permission the Drive-By Truckers gave themselves to broaden their focus and work more intuitively on American Band extended to the current tour, where they’ve finally allowed themselves to pick up acoustic guitars. At Tipitina’s Saturday night, the Truckers knew how to back off as well as step on the gas, and they knew when to say when.

JoJo Gave and Got Mad Love at Republic

JoJo’s career started in the early 2000s when MTV’s TRL and the teen pop era it escorted into America’s malls and living rooms were starting their decline. She received acclaim in 2004 for the single “Leave (Get Out),” which she recorded when she was 12. The single went gold and earned her MTV Music Award, Billboard Music Award and Radio Disney Music Award nominations (she won the RD for “Best Video That Rocks”). 

Isaiah Rashad Stays Hydrated in a Steamy Parish

When Isaiah Rashad’s Lil Sunny Tour came to the House of Blues' Parish Tuesday night, the room became a sauna. The heat that simmered off the crowd rose, got trapped in the haze of weed smoke hovering overhead and then rained sweaty drops down on our heads. Rashad did his best to accommodate his moist audience, passing out water bottles and shaking others up to spray them into the crowd, although the splash radius only reached 10 or 15 rows back.

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