Legendary Todd Rundgren Rocked Austin- Photos

Concert Review: Thirty Seconds to Mars – Houston

by Jason Bollenbacher

In support of Monolith, the duo of Shannon and Jared Leto stopped in Houston for their 2018 tour. A giant black box. Lights began to dance through the cracks as Thirty Seconds to Mars show began at Houston’s Cynthia Woodlands Pavilion.  Slowly rising, you could make out silhouettes of Jared Leto standing and his brother Shannon at the drums on stage.  CgLfVy6AA blank canvas and a drum set, is how you would describe the stage for the Thirty Seconds to Mars show.  No microphones. No guitarists. No bass players.  Just a drum kit on a stage, drowned within a box of light as a monolith instrumental played.  A scene you would expect to see as a display for an art museum set the stage. See our full photo gallery.

l17Fk49AJared stopped, frozen, for what seemed like an eternity, to the crowds deafening cheers.  Leto exploded into dance as the first beat of Up in the Air hit.  Jared wore a flamboyant, orange kimono-like ensemble with sunglasses, hair pulled back, red track pants & shoes, and dark beard as he bounded across the stage.  Every song added to the Broadway-type production as lighted balls were brought out to be tossed through the audience.  Ending his performance he invited some of the attendees on stage while he performed.  Lucky them! Then confetti filled the air.

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The show is a must see for any Leto or 30STM fans. It’s an incredible experience.

Set list

  1. Up in the Air
  2. Kings and Queens
  3. This Is War
  4. Dangerous Night
  5. Do or Die
  6. Hail to the Victor
  7. Great Wide Open
  8. Rescue Me
  9. Pyres of Varanasi
  10. Remedy
  11. The Kill (Bury Me)
  12. Walk on Water
  13. Closer to the Edge

Justin Timberlake

It’s been a long time since Justin Timberlake has done a major tour (although he performed at this year’s Superbowl in Minneapolis). This tour, Man of the Woods, named after his latest album, was inspired by his family history and love of the outdoors. His band is appropriately named, the “Tennessee Kids.” Right away when taking the stage you see the tree silhouettes and floor length stage – reminiscent of a trail in the woods. final-4486

The stage was an incredible size with a main stage with the 12-person band had 2 drum sets, keyboards, brass, bongos, singers and more. The winding path then led to a circular center stage, followed by another path that led to a large stage area that would later be the campfire scene.

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Justin opens the show with his logo image shining down on him, light beams and the strong beats of “Filthy.” Shortly after, the stage is completely transformed into a dense forest through impressive projections and screens for “Midnight Summer Jam”. You can catch glimpses of forest creatures and hear forest sounds that add to the ambiance. This portion of the projections was by far the most creative and fun. This opening set included a lot of new songs but also some fan favorites like “Sexy Back,” “Suit & Tie,” and “Mirrors.”

See the complete photo gallery.

Later in the show Justin adds to the woodsy feel by recreating a campfire setting on the far end of the stage. Complete with growing grass, a live campfire and friends in flannel – this scene transports you to simpler and relaxing times. The images of the moon and stars and dancers joined with Justin playing guitar by the fire. The campfire songs included a tribute to the Santa Fe H.S. School shooting victims and survivors. He emotionally added “let them hear your voices” to his remarks. Justin poignantly donned a “Santa Fe Strong” t-shirt under his button down shirt for the rest of the show.

final-4235Other memorable Houston moments included a shout out to the Houston Rockets and an introduction of his dancer, Nicole, a Houston native. The whole crew also took a moment to share jello shots from the perfectly placed circle bar below the center part of the stage. A small floor space near the bar turned into a disco floor later in the show. Lucky (and wealthy) concert-goers could snag a bar stool at the working bar for a cool $1200 a spot. Justin pointed out to the crowd that he had this show on the 23rd, then he would watch the Houston Rockets play on the 24th, then he would be back to perform on the 25th. Which meant the stage had to be torn down and rebuilt.

A good portion of the ‘campfire set’ got a little sleepy with more ballads and a slower pace. The songs were mostly covers (John Denver, The Beatles, and more) and a chance for a little more conversation and selfies with the fans. I’m sure it was a well deserved slow down for Justin after such an action packed first half of cardio. He also needed to build up the energy for a back-to-back no-nonsense delivery of eight songs to close the show. Many of the songs in the closing set were well-known with much crowd participation. Some highlights were, “What Goes Around…Comes Around,”Say Something,” and the most magnificent “Can’t Stop the Feeling!” – which was the final song.

The dancing was consistent and top-notch by both Justin and his dancers. He had 4-6 dancers dancing with him regularly. The band was incredible and Justin’s personality shown through during many parts of the performance. At one point he let out a nice belly laugh! He finished the show with a crowd on their feet and dancing! Overall a strong performance with imaginative sets, stellar projections and of course JT himself.

Setlist:
Opening Set:
1. Filthy
2. Midnight Summer Jam
3. LoveStoned
4. SexyBack
5. Man of the Woods
6. Higher Higher
7. Senorita
8. Suit & Tie
9. My Love
10. Cry Me a River
11. Mirrors
12. Drink you Away (Shot glasses appeared on stage)

Campfire Set:
13. Flannel
14. Until the End of Time
15. Dreams (Fleetwood Mac cover)
16. Ex-Factor (Lauryn Hill cover)
17. Come Together (The Beatles cover)
18. Thank God I’m a Country Boy (John Denver cover)
19. Morning Light

Closing Set:
20. What Goes Around…Comes Around
21. Say Something
22. Montana
23. Summer Love
24. Rock Your Body
25. Supplies
26. Like I Love You
27. Can’t Stop the Feeling!

Review: Music Legend Garth Brooks Opened & Closed Houston Rodeo 2018

The last time Garth Brooks played the Houston Rodeo was in 1993, then held at the Alamodome. Fast forward 25 years, he’s the Houston Rodeo opening and closing act – both sold out performances at Houston’s NRG Stadium and debuting on a brand new “spinning star” stage. We were invited to his press conference prior to his February 27th show on opening night where he graciously answered questions about his favorite song to perform live – “Callin’ Baton Rouge” and gave his enthusiastic approval of a visiting middle school journalism class. He also eluded to possible show “surprises” to which the room full of reporters quickly followed up with questions about Trisha Yearwood’s presence. Garth talked details about the new mega stage (Stars over Texas) that was built for the rodeo and is shaped like a star (it’s Texas y’all) and spins. He was the first to try it and had great compliments for the designers and crew. We chatted with Garth about his SXSW 2017 involvement and the cool free concert he performed on the mega outdoor stage. Watch our interview on Austin 101.final-5213

Brooks brought a huge band with him (10 total) including amazing pickers The show itself was jam-packed with all of his trademark hits, his signature over-the-top energy reverberated through the arena. He works up a serious sweat running all over and making sure to engage with each section of the arena. Highlights were when he walked out to the stage singing the almost mandatory hit, “Rodeo”, when he sang “The River” to a stadium lit up with cell phone screens, when he ran around that star demonstrating how much he loved performing “Callin’ Baton Rouge” and last but not least – when he paid tribute to one of his greatest musical influences, George Strait, and sang the hit “The Fireman”. One of the highlights was “Two Pina Coladas” with full on neon palm trees, the ‘Oasis’ beach theme that turned it into a fun Jimmy Buffet style party. In Austin, we think he must be talking about our famous Oasis restaurant/bar that overlooks Lake Travis.

final-5206Almost three weeks after his opening night show, Garth returned to close out the rodeo. He wanted this show to be different so he said he would “play more songs” and he brought out surprise guest, wife Trish Yearwood for a couple of songs including mega hit ‘”In Another’s Eyes” and her “She’s in Love with the Boy”. They were so dang cute performing together and we love how he always bows to her. He’s got great manners. We love how he started each show with his hit “Rodeo” (well, duh). Highlights included a huge sing along finale of  “Friends in Low Places” and “The Dance”. The songs that included Texas lyrics got the loudest roars. He talked about songs that he or songwriter’s wrote while in Texas so there’s a special personal bond with our state. Brooks proved that despite a long hiatus, he’s still the epic performer that puts 200% into his shows and why he’s one of the most popular musicians of all time. Garth’s success is unprecedented as the top solo artist in the U.S. even above Elvis, selling 148 million copies and only outdone by The Beatles. In addition he was named CMA Entertainer of the Year 2017 for the 6th time.

Both shows were sold out and the closing show set an attendance record (75,577 paid fans) and the place was packed to the rafters! Another surprise was his running off stage near the end of the set to greet fans and take selfies in the stands.

Garth said he was having so much fun that he wanted to return to play the rodeo in the future. Let’s hope it’s not so long. If you haven’t seen a Garth show, this a must-do bucket list item y’all!

See our best Garth photos from opening night at Austin 101

Opening Night Set List:

Rodeo
Two of a Kind, Workin’ on a Full House
The River
Papa Loved Mama
Two Pina Coladas
That Summer
The Thunder Rolls
The Fireman
Ask Me How I Know
Callin’ Baton Rouge
Shameless
Friends in Low Places
The Dance

Closing Night Set List

Rodeo
Two of a Kind, Workin’ on a Full House
The River
Two Piña Coladas
That Summer
The Thunder Rolls
Ain’t Goin’ Down (‘Til the Sun Comes Up)
In Another’s Eyes (with Trisha Yearwood)
She’s In Love With The Boy (with Trisha Yearwood)
Amarillo By Morning (George Strait cover)
Callin’ Baton Rouge
(The Oak Ridge Boys cover) (Garth introduces the band)
Ask Me How I Know
Friends in Low Places
The Dance