The 10 Best Concerts in Dallas This Week: Willie Nelson, Mac Miller & More

Mac Miller plays The Bomb Factory on Thanksgiving Eve.
Mac Miller plays The Bomb Factory on Thanksgiving Eve.
Timothy Norris

Thanksgiving: It's bad. Sure, if you surgically remove the singular element of "having a big family dinner and being thankful," it's perfectly fine. But by now, you should know better than to put faith into the possibility of a peaceful Thanksgiving. Remember last year? When Grandma wouldn't stop asking you why you're still single? And your dad ruined the turkey and blamed Obama, and Mom drank all the wine while thumbing through Black Friday coupons? Instead, try doing literally anything else, such as escaping to one of these shows. But, if your Thanksgiving Fate has already been sealed, well, we salute you. 

James Bay
8 p.m. Monday, November 23, at House of Blues, 2200 N. Lamar St., houseofblues.com/dallas, $28-38

Listening to James Bay, you can't tell if he's nervous or confident. He'll shift between a warbling, timid voice and a booming, rich tone within the same verse. By manipulating the dynamics of his voice, he leaves you hanging on the whispers only to blow you back with the chorus. He's the kind of vocalist who could go a cappella and bring you to tears in an instant, and you wouldn't even be sure if they were happy or sad tears. Matt Wood

Blind Guardian
With Grave Digger, 8 p.m. Tuesday, November 24, at Gas Monkey Live!, 10110 Technology Blvd. E., 214-350-1904 or gasmonkeybarngrill.com, $25-$250

Germans plus metal tend to lead to things like people shouting “Du hast” at the top of their lungs, unknowingly spouting off lyrics that could mean literally anything, but that doesn’t matter because “it’s fucking metal.” In this grand tradition, Gas Monkey Live! will be the place for metal heads and teutophiles to gather two days before Thanksgiving, as German speed-metal legends Blind Guardian are coming to town to melt your faces off with their powerful riffs. Formed 31 years ago in Krefeld, Germany, Blind Guardian have been crafting intricate riffs and lyrics that have earned the band the nickname “The Bards” for their storytelling prowess. It’s not rare for a metal band to have a dedicated fanbase; it is, however, rare for a metal group with interests that swing so wildly into the whimsical. Guess wizards and head banging really do make for a perfect match. Jaime-Paul Falcon

Mac Miller
With Tory Lanez, Michael Christmas and Njomza, 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, November 25, at The Bomb Factory, 2713 Canton St., 214-932-6507 or thebombfactory.com, $30-$35

Mac Miller’s latest release, GO:OD AM, which also serves as this tour’s namesake, is literally a sobering recollection of the Pittsburgh-born rapper’s past two years of numbness, which he encountered as he dove deeper and deeper into severe drug abuse that he was sure would lead him to join the infamous 27 Club. A drunk dial to iconic record producer Rick Rubin led Miller back to the path of success the 23-year-old has walked since he was a 19-year-old independent legend with a No. 1 debut studio album under his belt. Miller’s tours are one of the most complete show experiences around, too. He has been known to experiment with his music in a live setting with the help of a backing band, and his past tours have included once-unknowns such as YG, Chance the Rapper, Vince Staples and Casey Veggies, so get there early.Mikel Galicia

Luke Wade
5 p.m. Thursday, November 26, at Billy Bob's Texas, 2500 Rodeo Plaza, Fort Worth, 817-624-7117 or billybobstexas.com, $10

Luke Wade had his moment in 2014 on The Voice, when he was one of the very few people who piqued the interest of all four judges. He did so within 15 seconds, singing Otis Redding's "How Strong My Love Is" almost perfectly. He ended up picking Pharrell as his coach, and made it all the way to the quarterfinals before being sent home in the bottom four contestants. Wade comes from Dublin, Texas, so do your state proud and go out and see him spill out his sweet Texas soul music. MW

Blue October
8:30 p.m. Friday, November 27, at South Side Ballroom, 1135 S. Lamar St., 214-421-2021 or southsideballroomdallas.com, $35

After Blue October independently released their debut album, The Answers, in 1998, they caught the eye of Universal records. Since then, the band has supplied fans with a stream of somber rock tunes to be melancholy to. Be forewarned that this isn't the English synthpop band of the same exact name. In that case, you'd probably show up disappointed, and maybe leave pleased. H. Drew Blackburn

Big K.R.I.T.
With BJ the Chicago Kid, 7 p.m. Friday, November 27, at The Bomb Factory, 2713 Canton St., 214-932-6507 or thebombfactory.com, $25-$100

Big K.R.I.T. has always succeeded in mixing cerebral bars and country slang with a Southern aesthetic and drawl oh so reminiscent of influences like Pimp C, T.I. and 8Ball. His brand of hip-hop appeals to fans of old-school Atlanta and Houston rap as well as so-called hip-hop purists. K.R.I.T.’s personal style on his many mixtapes and two studio albums have earned him critical acclaim and a loyal following, but the rapper feels like he’s been pigeonholed. This frustration spurred one of his best tracks to date, “Mt. Olympus,” on which the rapper accuses the masses of not knowing what they want or appreciating it when they get it. K.R.I.T.’s latest mixtape, released last month, continues in the same vein. Mikel Galicia

Willie Nelson
6 p.m. Saturday, November 28, at Billy Bob's Texas, 2500 Rodeo Plaza, Fort Worth, 817-624-7117 or billybobstexas.com, $20-$80
In the opening seconds of a fan’s touching video ­— a tribute to Willie Nelson entitled “Willie Nelson and His Special Bond With His Fans,” set to “I Wish I Didn’t Love You So” ­— Nelson lights up, puffs as a harmonica sizzles in the background, and then you hear his warm voice: “One, two, three, four.” Then, it’s the world of Willie: His fans around the world and his hands on that trusty guitar, Trigger. It’s a tribute to the American icon, one that stops you in your tracks. In 2009, Matthew Houck, aka Phosphorescent, achieved something similar with his remarkably beautiful album To Willie. Dallas-Fort Worth fans can continue the celebration of the icon at Billy Bob’s in Fort Worth, about an hour from where he recorded the masterpiece that is Red Headed Stranger. Stranger, by the way, turned 40 this summer, and there’s not a track on the album that doesn’t stir the soul. (I dare you not to daydream of hot summers and whiskey during “Can I Sleep in Your Arms Tonight”.) So, there will be plenty to be thankful for on Saturday: Red Headed Stranger, Willie’s dedicated fans and the sound of a true American legend. Nick Rallo

Reba McEntire
8 p.m. Saturday, November 28, at Winstar World Casino and Resort, 777 Casino Ave., Thackerville, Oklahoma, 580-276-4229 or winstarworldcasino.com, $85-150
There’s something refreshing about Reba McEntire – or just plain Reba, as she bills herself these days — releasing her 27th album. She’s one of the originators of big-budget country music, frying the genre to wholesome perfection for over 30 years. Her media presence is ubiquitous, morphing from singer to sitcom star to Broadway star, displaying a disarming warmth and optimism all the while. So it’s no surprise that this year’s Love Somebody, her ode to her divorce from television producer Narvel Blackstock, warms the blood with an assertiveness that belies any hint of a dreary breakup album. McEntire’s contemporary country style cast her as the fluorescent counterpart to Dolly Parton’s Day-Glo aesthetic. She knows how to galvanize her audience, sharing her jubilation with tangy vocal belts and jumping rhythms. If you have birthday money to spend, avoid trouble and attend her show at the WinStar. Join longtime fans, eat expensive food and vibe out. Watch an episode of Reba if you don’t believe she’s special. Caleb Wossen

These Machines Are Winning
7 p.m. Saturday, November 28, at Granada Theater, 3524 Greenville Ave., 214-824-9933 or granadatheater.com, $10-20

Dallas may have its first band to ever officially count a photographer/cinematographer as a member. These Machines Are Winning, a new music and art hybrid performance project conceived and fronted by former [DARYL] frontman Dylan Silvers, started as an enthralling, ambitious idea that has now become a living, breathing entity of the Dallas music landscape. Kelly Dearmore

D.R.I.
7 p.m. Sunday, November 29, at Trees, 2709 Elm St., 214-741-1122 or treesdallas.com, $13

Houston's Dirty Rotten Imbeciles nearly invented the "crossover thrash" genre, mixing parts of hardcore punk with thrash metal to create a sound that inspired acts to follow. Suicidal Tendencies in particular were influenced by the group's combination of genres, and though the band themselves never had commercial success, their ideas live on in their progeny. MW

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