San Antonio’s music history is vibrant and diverse, from the conjunto and Chicano soul bands that helped forge indigenous genres to the wild metal scene of the ‘80s to the blues and jazz that flourished on the East Side. But don’t get the impression the city’s musical history is all in the past. We boast an ever-evolving kaleidoscope of musical talent including this sampling of artists who simply must be experienced live.
Combining echoey post-hardcore guitars with powerful and melodic vocals, Nothing More has harnessed a huge sound. Appropriately, it’s constructed an epic stage show to go along with it — one that’s drawn comparisons to Nine Inch Nails. Making use of enormous stage props, the band puts on performances that are hard to forget. Since Nothing More doesn’t perform frequently in its hometown, best jump on tickets fast. nothingmore.net.
Many folks just aren’t ready for the spectacle of a Bitforce show. The band take the stage in glowing outfits that appear influenced by the video game Mortal Kombat and exude a manic energy while they play. As if the visual element isn’t wild enough, the music is unlike any other act in town, consisting — get this — of metal-tinged covers of songs from video game titles including Zelda, Sonic the Hedgehog and Street Fighter. Super (Nintendo) impressive. bitforceband.com.
Most rappers these days are only joined onstage by a DJ, maybe a hype man if we’re lucky. The end result is the shows can be boring to watch, even when the music is good. Brownsville transplant emcee Carlton Zeus kicks things up by bringing a kick-ass full band to every show. Expect the kind of jumping energy only multiple live percussionists can bring. carltonzeus.com.
Santiago Jiménez Jr.
If you’ve never seen someone shred on accordion, hometown hero Santiago Jimenez Jr.’s got you covered. His father, Santiago Jiménez Sr., was a conjunto music pioneer and his brother Flaco is one of the undisputed heavyweights of the genre. Santiago’s career hasn’t included as many swerves into the mainstream as his brother’s, but the authenticity of his approach is a key selling point. Laid back and nonchalant while he plays, Jiménez operates his instrument with a grace and dexterity honed through decades in the game.
House of Lepore
Influenced by elements of the early-’90s Harlem ballroom scene, San Antonio’s House of Lepore brings an exciting take on club culture to the stage. The group’s show incorporates vogueing, rapping and burlesque while a DJ spins original club compositions. House of Lepore shows are loud and lively and designed to be a safe haven for self-expression for LGBTQ+ individuals. instagram.com/houseoflepore.
If you thought the challenging clamor of industrial music died sometime in the ’80s, Mutant begs to differ. The act uses vintage synths and drum machines to create slamming, mechanistic hellscapes. Often-shirtless frontman Joseph Anger crawls across the floor, belting out life-is-pain screams. Not everyone’s cup of hemlock, but some of us just need to imbibe. mvtant.bandcamp.com.