Friday, March 21, at The Kessler Theater
In the mid-'90s as grunge was fading in the wake of Kurt Cobain's burnout, it was safe and comforting to retreat to a simpler style of guitar-driven rock with strong pop tendencies. Some bands that fit the bill to popular effect started off as rougher punk acts (Everclear and the Goo Goo Dolls, for example). The Posies and Screaming Trees held the Pacific Northwest's musical tradition intact as well. Even local heroes the Toadies offered a menacing version of rock that drew from grunge while offering its own distinct vibe. Maybe the best songwriting band of that whole group is the Gin Blossoms. Formed in the late '80s in Arizona by the troubled-genius mind of Doug Hopkins, the group's breakout single, "Hey, Jealousy," hit radio hard in 1992 and cemented the group's spot in the pop-culture limelight for the next several years, even after their overall bite had grown softer in the aftermath of Hopkins' firing and subsequent gunshot suicide. While the group is now considered soft rock and (mistakenly) thought of as a one-hit wonder by some, the Robin Wilson-led group has a bucket worth of shiny guitar-pop gems to pour out when they play live, 25 years after forming. KELLY DEARMORE
Saturday, March 22, at House of Blues
While Flogging Molly, largely based in California, has certainly become primarily a touring act with album releases coming less often, that doesn't mean Dave King and crew have become a Jimmy Buffet-style one-trick pony. Indeed, their most recent releases, 2011's Speed of Darkness and 2008's Float, are excellent examples of punk mixed with, of course, Celtic and folk tinges. There is not a single damn thing wrong with mixing a tin whistle in with a mosh-worthy tune (listen to "Rebels of the Sacred Heart" and "What's Left of the Flag" from 2002's Drunken Lullabies for proof). There's a somewhat formulaic pattern to many of their tunes — it's not a stretch to suggest there's a "fast" Molly tune and a "somewhat slower, folkier" Molly tune, to boil it down to two primary types of songs in the beloved group's catalog — but that doesn't take from the passion and contagious joy present when the banjo and foot-stomping kick in at a live show. It's lazy to think that every Flogging Molly show is a reason to celebrate St. Paddy's Day upon their annual Dallas tour stop. It's just another show to get lost in, regardless of what flag you're waving. KELLY DEARMORE
Sunday, March 23, at South Side Music Hall
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After the success of Kendrick Lamar's good kid, m.A.A.d city, Interscope decided to pick up another one of Top Dawg Entertainment's Black Hippy crew for a major label debut. With the release of Schoolboy Q's highly anticipated Oxymoron, they have more than satisfied the West Coast rap crew's adoring fan base. Though the crowd will be young, older rap fans shouldn't be put off from watching one of the new generation's more skilled lyricists. The entire TDE roster is getting young rap fans excited about lyricism and storytelling again. If this show's going to be anything like Kendrick Lamar's first Dallas date after his major label debut, you're in for an enjoyable crowd experience. Vanessa Quilantan
Tuesday, March 25, at South Side Ballroom
Having already achieved so much in her 27 years, Ellie Goulding is still on the rise in both America and the UK. With previous hit singles "Lights" and "The Writer," Goulding released the repackaged edition album of Halcyon, retitled Halcyon Days, last August. It features more than 20 songs, including hits "Anything Could Happen" and "Burn." Goulding revealed to a radio station that her U.S. and UK hit "Lights" does not chronicle a relationship, but rather the inspiration comes from her fear of the dark. (She said she shared a bedroom with her two sisters until she went off to college because she couldn't stand to be alone.) If her success on the charts in several countries isn't enough to persuade you to check her out, then maybe the fact that Prince William and Kate Middleton asked Goulding to perform her original and cover songs at their wedding reception will. Paige Skinner