The 10 Best Concerts of the Week: Future Islands, Modest Mouse, Ben Folds and More
Modest Mouse plays South Side Ballroom on Thursday.
This week's music lineup is the most impressive we've seen in a few months, spanning everything from Dallas-bred alt-country to experimental music and bubblegum pop.
The former Dallasites of Dark Rooms return to town for a show at Club Dada on Monday, former '90s boy band Hanson proves it's still got what it takes to fill House of Blues on Tuesday night and Janet Jackson finally plays her rescheduled American Airlines Center show Thursday night.
with Fitz & the Tantrums, 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 11, Starplex Pavilion, 3839 S. Fitzhugh Ave., ticketmaster.com, $20 and up
OneRepublic’s last album damn near sent lead singer Ryan Tedder into a tailspin. The “Undercover King of Pop” found himself floundering under pressure to feed the so-called beast that’s sucked many creatives dry. Instead of letting the business drag him down, Tedder has decided to adapt his process to the attention-deficient world of social media by releasing songs when they’re finished, as opposed to waiting for an album’s worth of material. Singles like “Rich Love,” “No Vacancy” and a cover of Oasis’ “Champagne Supernova” have been released with this new approach. Supporting OneRepublic for this show is the complementary neo-soul sextet Fitz and the Tantrums. Fresh off an eponymous third album, FATT gives a greater sense of energy to the set with a more uplifting and traditionally poppy sound, compared with the more irregular style of OneRepublic. Nicholas Bostick
with Midnight Opera and Francine Thirteen, 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 11, Club Dada, 2720 Elm St., 214-742-3400 or dadadallas.com, $10
Earlier this year, experimental act Dark Rooms left Dallas to settle back into its former homestead in L.A., and last week, the band released a new album, Distraction Sickness. Headed by Daniel Hart, film composer and frontman for The Physics of Meaning, Dark Rooms sits comfortably under the radar with its ghostly and celestial sounds. Hart's recent film scores include Ain't Them Bodies Saints, Pete's Dragon, A Ghost Story and next year's The Old Man and the Gun. The band is touring worldwide. Diamond Victoria
with Lawrence Rothman, 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 12, Club Dada, 2720 Elm St., dadadallas.com, $15-$18
Thick, blubbery synths, a remarkably versatile voice and a heady pop sensibility form the bedrock of Tei Shi’s ambitious take on R&B. The last few years have seen the Brooklyn-based, Buenos Aires-born singer and producer mine the smoky textures of the '80s to find a path forward in her songwriting. Yet while dream pop and shoe gaze still inform her work, Tei Shi’s recent LP, Crawl Space, finds the artist in more confident and genuine territory. Lyrics on the cruel march of time and young love might point to Tei Shi’s worldview as an artist, but the effecting vulnerability of her music hammers the point across. Lost in the swirl of Tei Shi's sultry ballads, the listener doesn’t so much understand her feelings as experience them firsthand. Gorgeous sound design and moody, late-night vibes might be its nuts and bolts, but when it comes to Tei Shi’s art, it’s really all about empathy. Jonathan Patrick
7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 12, House of Blues, 2200 N. Lamar St., 214-978-2583 or houseofblues.com, $46-$126
This year, Issac, Taylor, Zachary and the rest of the world celebrate 20 years since the release of Hanson's catchy-as-hell single "MMMBop" from the bestselling album Middle of Nowhere. Whether you want to admit playing the CD a hundred times or not, the summer of '97 wouldn't have had a such a fun soundtrack if it weren't for the blond trio. These days, Hanson's growth into bonafide adulthood, and all the facial hair and talent that comes with two decades, is undeniable. The band's latest release is a celebration of its 25-year career with a collection of its greatest hits titled Middle of Everywhere: The Greatest Hits. DV
8 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 13, Bomb Factory, 2713 Canton St., thebombfactory.com, $25
Samuel T. Herring may not look or sound like the typical frontman of a synth-pop act, but he’s a captivating, expressive performer with an impressive vocal range and one of the most distinctive voices in the world of indie pop. That's why Future Islands’ sound is so memorable. Herring’s unique vocals sound gravelly, guttural and raspy, like some musical lovechild of Tom Waits, Tom Jones and Bruce Springsteen turned to synth-driven pop paired with confessional lyrics. (In interviews, Herring says he laughs when people compare his vocals to a “drunken Muppet” or Dracula.) Future Islands launched into popularity after the release of its fourth album, Singles, by British indie label 4AD, which also released the band’s fifth album, The Far Field, in April. Earlier this year, a Consequence of Sound writer described Future Islands as "one of the best live bands around," and the synth-pop trio from Baltimore continues to attract fans impressed by its live performances. Daniel Rodrigue
8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 14, South Side Ballroom, 1135 S. Lamar St., livenation.com, $39.50
The concept of the Great American Frontier haunts Modest Mouse’s music — even if it’s a twisted version of it. Panoramas of vast, dusty deserts, both brutal and beautiful, streak across each of the indie rock group's records, like blurred landscapes glimpsed through a car window. The indifferent evils of consumerism, the mystical fantasies of religion and the pessimism those engender made Modest Mouse one of the most fascinating bands to survive the indie rock bubble of the mid '90s. While it’s not the act it was back then, Modest Mouse has enjoyed a career arc remarkably invulnerable to the march of time: The band’s fallen some, sure, but it has yet to careen off any cliffs. Inside Modest Mouse’s songs, the bubbly rhythms of dance music are rendered crazed and anxious; the rock structures are filtered through hardcore, influenced by twee pop, and move like an updated, hookier version of post-punk; the themes are distinctly literary, sharply fatalistic and frighteningly prophetic. This is why the band still sounds relevant, even modern. Pain, oppression and greed don’t have expiration dates. Jonathan Patrick
8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 14, American Airlines Center, 2500 Victory Ave., 214-222-3687 or americanairlinescenter.com, $31 and up
Janet Jackson's State of the World tour, originally the Unbreakable tour, started in 2015 but suffered some rescheduling throughout because of her health issues. This year, Jackson's back at it after two pregnancies and vocal-chord therapy. She plays American Airlines Center this week, hopefully without another Dallas postponement. Her latest and 11th studio album, Unbreakable, came out two years ago to much critical and commercial acclaim. DV
7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 15, House of Blues, 2200 N. Lamar St., 214-978-2583 or ticketmaster.com, $37-$132
For the first time in years, Ben Folds is touring by himself. There’s no backing band, no Ben Folds Five or orchestra — for this tour, it’s just Ben Folds and a piano. Half of his set will be preselected, but the second half is when things get really interesting. Folds is asking for requests, but he's asked each fan, instead of constantly yelling for "Rock This Bitch," to write a song title down on paper, fold it like an airplane and throw it onto the stage. He will make a list and try to perform all the songs requested. Eric Grubbs
Zac Brown Band
with Darrell Scott and Caroline Jones, 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 15, Starplex Pavilion, 3839 S. Fitzhugh Ave., 214-421-1111 or livenation.com, $29 and up
Zac Brown has a story fit for a country ballad. The 11th of 12 children, Brown was singing before he could talk. The "Chicken Fried" singer was raised in a music-loving family, and by age 7, he was plucking a classical guitar. The three-time Grammy-winning Zac Brown Band, which combines bluegrass with a hint of reggae soul, is the culmination of a lifetime of practice. The band just released its sixth studio album, its most personal to date, Welcome Home. Tracks like “My Old Man,” “Family Table” and “Roots” are clear cuts to Brown’s past and the lessons he learned around the campfire with his father. Critics say the lyrics sound forced on repeat listens, but fans like Welcome Home a lot: It debuted at No. 2 on Billboard’s 200 and No. 1 on the Top Country Albums chart. NB
8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 16, The Bomb Factory, 2713 Canton St., 214-932-6501 or thebombfactory.com, $52 and up
Dallas darlings Old 97's are as near and dear to us as cold beer on a hot day. They pioneered the alt-country movement in the early 1990s, and since their conception in '93, have released 11 studio albums, including this year's Graveyard Whistling, an album packed with their usual tenacious melodies rooted in all the right country tropes. While freshening their approach to each album, Old 97's still carry a sense of familiarity in their songwriting and music making. DV
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