The 21 Best Things to Do in Dallas, Sept. 23-29

Margaret Atwood talks about her new novel, The Testaments, at SMU.EXPAND
Margaret Atwood talks about her new novel, The Testaments, at SMU.
Emma McInttyre/Getty Images
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Monday, September 23

Margaret Atwood
Margaret Atwood didn’t need a Handmaid’s Tale TV series to stay relevant. The Canadian writer has enough brilliant novels (see Cat’s Eye and The Blind Assassin), short stories and poems to keep a lit professor agog for an entire semester without even mentioning her dystopian classic. But such is the zeitgeist: The tale of subjugated and deeply angry women struck a nerve upon its Hulu release in 2017, and Atwood has recently published a sequel that continues the narrative. She’ll be discussing that new novel, The Testaments, in a conversation with KERA’s Krys Boyd at 7:30 p.m. as part of the Dallas Museum of Art’s Arts and Letters Live Series. Tickets to the event, which will be held at the McFarlin Auditorium, 6405 Boaz Lane, are $15-$30 at dma.org/programs/event/margaret-atwood. Jennifer Davis-Lamm

Tuesday, September 24

Carrie Underwood
Seven-time Grammy Award-winning country artist Carrie Underwood has come a long way since rising to fame in 2005. After winning America's collective heart on American Idol, the Oklahoma native released her debut studio album Some Hearts to critical and commercial acclaim. Since then, the singer-songwriter has released six albums, most recently last year's Cry Pretty. Fans can see her at American Airlines Center this Tuesday for as little as $44. The show starts at 7 p.m. at AAC, 2500 Victory Ave. Tickets are $44 at ticketmaster.com. Matthew Keever
Jason Bucklin Trio
When Jason Bucklin isn’t teaching guitar and bass lessons, like he’s done for most of his life, he’s usually onstage with his jazz trio at The Balcony Club. In teaching guitar and bass, including master classes at the University of North Texas, Bucklin has grown an appreciation and passion for all kinds of music. But jazz was his first love. Bucklin used to play with Café Noir, the Dallas-based sextet, but every Tuesday, at least from now until sometime in December, Bucklin hits The Balcony Club stage with his trio for a night of jazz. And, it’s free. Go see the Jason Bucklin Trio while you still can, at 9:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 24, at The Balcony Club, 1825 Abrams Road. Jacob Vaughn

Deutschen Fest
You and your friends are sitting around having a couple of beers when one of them says, "You know, it can't get any better than this." Then there's that awkward silence when you're hoping the Swedish Bikini Team comes running up to party with y'all just like in the commercial, but of course, it doesn't. So you punch your friend and continue drinking. Avoid these awkward moments and potential misdemeanors with the Meddlesome Moth's Deutschen Fest, Sept. 23-30 at the Design District gastropub located at 1621 Oak Lawn Ave. Guests can enjoy 30 different beers brewed by beer director Matt Quenette. The kitchen will also serve homemade bratwurst, pork schnitzel and pretzel Samoas with all the traditional sides and toppings. Admission is free. The gastropub is open 11 a.m.-midnight on Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-1 a.m. Friday and Saturday, and 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday. Visit mothinthe.net for more information. Danny Gallagher

Wednesday, September 25

Frank Caliendo
Comedian and impressionist Frank Caliendo has many voices, and he's used them to make an impressive career in comedy and on stage and screen. He'll be at the Addison Improv on Wednesday, Sept. 25. Caliendo first found fame from the 11 memorable years he spent on the Fox late-night sketch show MadTV, where he got the chance to show off some of his most memorable impressions of people like former presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, Hall of Fame coach and football analyst John Madden, comedian Robin Williams and noted TV blowhard Dr. Phil. He later hosted his own comedy sketch show on TBS and used his talent and interest in sports personalities to take over Jimmy Kimmel's segment on the Fox NFL Sunday Pregame show for 10 years before moving to ESPN to join the dais of its Sunday NFL Countdown and also appearing at Oakland Raiders training camp on HBO's Hard Knocks. Caliendo's show starts at 8 p.m. and tickets are $35-$45. Find them at improvtx.com/addison. Danny Gallagher

Thursday, September 26

Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience
The series has ended, but that doesn’t mean Game of Thrones can’t continue throwing new surprises at fans. Emmy-winning theme music composer Ramin Djawadi is taking a full orchestra, choir and projections of show footage on the road for the Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience. Commence binge-watching, if you haven’t already finished the series and plan to go, as all eight seasons will be featured in the visuals. Djawadi did a 2017 tour, which included surprise appearances by — possible spoiler alert, if they do it again? — Matt Berninger of the National and Serj Tankian of System of a Down to sing “The Rains of Castamere.” Who knows? Perhaps he’ll keep it local and invite Erykah Badu or the Polyphonic Spree’s choir to sit in. The concert is at 8 p.m. Thursday at The Pavilion at Toyota Music Factory, 300 W. Las Colinas Blvd., Irving. Tickets range from $18 to $89.50. Visit gameofthronesconcert.com for tickets and more information. Jesse Hughey

Michelle Obama returns to Dallas.EXPAND
Michelle Obama returns to Dallas.
Official White House photo by Sonya N. Hebert

Michelle Obama
Former first lady (or should we say our last lady?) Michelle Obama, known for her athleticism, her crusades for better childhood nutrition and a marriage devoid of sexual misconduct allegations, will appear at the Winspear Opera House for An Evening with Former First Lady Michelle Obama. The Princeton and Harvard law graduate and 2018’s best-selling author (with her memoir Becoming) will discuss her pre-Barack life as a young Chicago attorney, as well as her time in public service — including her global efforts to educate underprivileged young women. The event takes place at 7.30 p.m. at 2403 Flora St. Available tickets start at $125 at attpac.org. Eva Raggio

North Texas Film Festival
When weeklong film festivals feel overwhelming, or it’s time for boo’s first film fest, the North Texas Film Festival is a just-right-sized experience. The three-day weekend filled with screenings takes place at Cinemark West Plano, 3800 Dallas Parkway, from Friday through Sunday, Sept. 27-29. An opening night gala kicks off the 20-plus film event on Thursday night, with screenings of Steven Soderbergh’s The Laundromat, starring Meryl Streep, James Cromwell, Antonio Banderas and many other laudable names, about the corrupt financial world exposed by the Panama papers. Other film highlights include Now or Never: A Tony Romo Story, Re-Animator (presented on the big screen by Fangoria), Poltergeist, Friday Night Lights and A New Leash on Life: The K9s for Warriors Story. Individual tickets start at $10, through Atom Tickets (trust and download the mobile app for the fest). Visit ntxff.com for film synopses and schedule details. Merritt Martin

Friday, September 27

This weekend, celebrate Polaroid photography with PolaCon, the first instant-film photography convention of its kind, then head to the after-party to watch Wanz Dover and Felt & Fur.EXPAND
This weekend, celebrate Polaroid photography with PolaCon, the first instant-film photography convention of its kind, then head to the after-party to watch Wanz Dover and Felt & Fur.

PolaCon4: An Instant Film Convention
For the fourth year in a row, photographers, film photo geeks and cool creatives from across the U.S. will gather in Dallas and Denton for PolaCon, which is the world’s first annual three-day instant film photography convention and conference. Hosted by members of the Instant Film Society, Day I of PolaCon4: An Instant Film Convention offers analogue photography and instant film enthusiasts the opportunity to gather for meet-ups, an "Instant Film 101" demo, PolaWalks and more in Deep Ellum and Fair Park in Dallas, while Day II and Day III’s events in downtown Denton include more advanced camera-specific workshops and demonstrations by featured photographers, covering run-of-the-mill Polaroid and Instax cameras, as well as cyanotypes, tintypes and large-format instant cameras in action (4x5s and 8x10s). The weekend’s more than 20 free demos, workshops, events, panel discussions and meet-ups really kick off with the 8th Annual Rain-or-Shine #PolaWalk at the State Fair of Texas from 4 to 9 p.m. Friday at the State Fair of Texas, 3921 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Saturday and Sunday’s events run all day, and are centered in and around Denton’s Historic Downtown Square. To RSVP, or for event times and locations, up-to-date information and links to RSVP for workshops, visit instantfilmsociety.com. Daniel Rodrigue

The Peter Max Retrospective
The tremendous commercial success that’s defined the career of German American painter Peter Max challenges the trite notion of the starving artist. The pop artist’s work has been included on U.S. postal service stamps, album covers (Aretha Franklin, Yes) and Coca-Cola commercials. The longtime celebrity favorite has painted everyone from six U.S. presidents to Taylor Swift and is known for his studies of Lady Liberty. This year The New York Times reported that the artist suffered from advanced dementia and has been a victim of fraud as a result of his deteriorating memory. A retrospective celebrating his nearly 60 years of blindingly bold colored paintings of pop culture iconography will take place from Friday, Sept 27, until Sunday, Oct. 6, at the International Design Center, 150 Turtle Creek Blvd. Entrance to the gallery is free but RSVP is requested, by calling 214-872-1917. For more information visit roadshow company.com. Eva Raggio

State Fair of Texas
We don’t have to tell you that it’s State Fair of Texas time. That message is already in the ether. We’ve felt the spirit of Big Tex rustling about for weeks now; smelled the phantom corn dogs in the air; and felt the lurch of the Ferris wheel in our bones. Collectively, we’ve been waiting for the moment that those gates swing open wide at 10 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 27, allowing us all back into the sweet, sweet embrace of Big Tex and charming us into dropping so, so much cash on novelty fried potatoes, slippery sweet corn and dizzying midway rides. Check out the official State Fair website at bigtex.com for the full schedule of musical acts (including Billy Ray Cyrus, 98 Degrees and Rick Springfield), pig races, parades and so much more. The State Fair marches on daily at Fair Park from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays, and from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays through Oct. 20. General admission is $18, and $14 for seniors and children ages 3 to 12. Jennifer Davis-Lamm

That Scottish play — you know, that one we're never allowed to say the title aloud in a theater — will be the next Shakespeare in the Park production Friday through Sept. 28 at Samuell Grand Amphitheatre, 1500 Tenison Parkway. Pack the picnic basket and cancel the babysitter. The kids will love the witches and the mayhem that follows. Taking the Macbeth (oops!) and Lady Macbeth roles are Timothy Thomas Brown and Nicole Berastequi. Trampas Thompson directs. Tickets run $10-$15 with discounts for students and seniors and free admission for military families. And there's fee-free parking. For more info, shakespearedallas.org or call 214-559-2778. Reba Liner

The Bralettes 
The Oak Cliff-bred girl power punk-rock trio The Bralettes make people move at all their shows. The band's simple but catchy licks on guitar and bass, played by Paulina Costilla and Molly Hernandez, respectively, enhance the frontwomen's crisp, powerful vocals as Andy Cantu drives the songs forward with heavy drum beats. To date, the band has put out 16 streamable songs, 10 of which are from their debut full-length album Cheers! that was released at the beginning of the year. The Bralettes will be hitting the Denton stage at Andy's Bar on Friday night, sharing it with Sur Duda and Ray Toaster. The show starts at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 27. Andy's Bar is at 122 N. Locust St., Denton. Tickets are $5 at eventbrite.com. Jacob Vaughn

Big K.R.I.T.
The South has produced a long line of culture-shifting acts like UGK, Outkast, Young Jeezy and Three 6 Mafia, but few who followed in the lineage of these greats have borne reputations resembling Big K.R.I.T.’s. Since the release in 2011 of his seminal project, K.R.I.T. Wuz Here, which earned the Mississippi rapper a record deal from Def Jam, K.R.I.T. has been the leader of country rap tunes, an unofficial hip-hop subgenre that is unabashedly Southern, heavy on the bass, unique to the region and often attributed to the stylings of the late great Pimp C. NPR’s Randy Carmichael aptly describes Big K.R.I.T.’s body of work as “balanced between strip club rituals and Sunday morning salvation.” The show starts at 8 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 27, at The Pavilion at Toyota Music Factory, 300 W. Las Colinas Blvd., Irving. Tickets start at $27.50 at livenation.com. Mikel Galicia

Avant-popstress Lorelei K is opening for Of Antigua this Friday.EXPAND
Avant-popstress Lorelei K is opening for Of Antigua this Friday.
Clayton Browning

Of Antigua
A stacked bill of four memorable Denton acts forms a showcase of sorts Friday — as well as the release show for post-punk shoegaze act Of Antigua as they commemorate the band’s latest self-titled 6-song EP, which is a follow-up to their And Others 3-track EP debut released last summer. The new eponymously titled EP will be available at area record stores on cassette tape thanks to Gloom Club, a Denton-based cassette label that also dabbles in lathe-cut 7-inch singles. Openers include avant-pop artist Lorelei K, whose captivating vocals and emotionally raw delivery recently garnered a Dallas Observer Music Awards nomination for Best Pop Act. And what happens when a couple of classically trained guitarists join an already remarkable experimental psych and shoegaze group? Mother Tongues' latest lineup is worth catching even if you’ve heard the band’s previous incarnations performing around North Texas. And Us Presidents bring the act’s brand of catchy, melancholic pop rock. The show starts at 8 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 27, at Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studio, 411 E. Sycamore St., Denton. Tickets are $10 at the door. Daniel Rodrigue

Atlantis Aquarius
The psychedelic rock quintet Atlantis Aquarius released its latest album Leo’s Rising in April. It’s jam-packed with gritty vocals, catchy hooks and foot-stomping drum beats. It’s hard to believe the band released its debut EP just two years ago and has already toured the country. But they’ve got the chops to prove it. About a year later, the band underwent a lineup change, adding guitarist Hutton Ferrell, bassist Max Smith and drummer Oliver Smith. The band's McKinney show this Friday is the last one on their concert calendar, so you won't want to miss it. It starts at 8 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 27, at The Sanctuary Music & Events Center, 6633 Virginia Parkway, Suite 102, McKinney. Tickets are $10 at showclix.com. Jacob Vaughn

Atlantis Aquarius will psych your brains out at their Friday show in McKinney.EXPAND
Atlantis Aquarius will psych your brains out at their Friday show in McKinney.
Audrey Rodriguez

The Who
Ahead of the release of their first album in 13 years, Who, the legendary rock band The Who is bringing the second leg of their Moving On! Tour on Friday night to American Airlines Center. The tour's name represents exactly what the band intends to do. They will be playing new music and their classics in a brand new way. What is most exciting about this tour is the addition of an orchestra, which is sure to be a welcome shift when the band plays songs from their rock operas Tommy and Quadrophenia. Aside from the orchestra, singer Roger Daltry and guitarist Pete Townshend will be joined by Townshend's baby brother Simon on guitar, Ringo Starr's son Zak Starkey on drums, Loren Gold on keyboards and University of North Texas alumnus Jon Button on bass. The concert will also feature more intimate moments during which the focus will be entirely on the band's two original members. The Who have been known for their live performances since 1965, when Paul McCartney called them "the most exciting thing around." You won't get fooled at this one. The show starts at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 27, at American Airlines Center, 2500 Victory Ave. Tickets range from $31-$2,812 at ticketmaster.com. David Fletcher

Saturday, September 28

Autumn at the Arboretum
Fall is coming, and that means the air will soon be sprinkled with clichés, like basic women with jeans tucked into their boots ordering pumpkin spice lattes and white people referring to the season as either “sweater” or “hoodie weather.” The Dallas Arboretum will present Autumn at the Arboretum for the 14th year with its Pumpkin Village, displaying more than 90,000 variations of the gourd in picture-worthy arrangements. This year’s theme is “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown,” which will include beloved characters like Snoopy and Woodstock. It runs through Oct. 31 at 8525 Garland Road. General admission tickets for adults are $12, with discounts for children and seniors, at dallasarboretum.org. Eva Raggio

Joe Ely
Amarillo-born singer-songwriter Joe Ely is still running strong after close to 50 years on the road, with no end in sight. From his early days playing with the likes of Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Butch Hancock as part of The Flatlanders, Ely has been a fixture in Texas’ progressive country scene. Soon after beginning his career and touring through Texas and Mexico with famed British punk group The Clash, Ely helped blur the lines between country music and rock 'n' roll even further. Ely's set at Dan's Silverleaf this Saturday is one you won't want to miss. The show starts at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 28, at Dan's Silverleaf, 103 Industrial St., Denton. Tickets are $20 at danssilverleaf.com. Nicholas Bostick 

Sunday, September 29

Southwestern Invitational Dancesport Challenge
These days, everything is a competition. We've got competitions for chasing a wheel of cheese down a hill, seeing who can keep a live ferret in their pants the longest and playing air guitar. A dancing competition like the Southwestern Invitational Dancesport Challenge is probably the most normal spectator sport you could watch during the weekend of Friday-Sunday, Sept. 27-29. The regional wing of this global dance competition will bring some of the most graceful rhythm, country and western and nightclub dancers in the region to the Sheraton DFW Airport Hotel for a chance to win up to $7,000 for the top prize. Tickets are $20 for the Friday matinee, $30 for the evening, $25 for the Saturday and Sunday matinees, and $50 for both evenings. Kids under 12 can get into the matinee matches for $10 each day, $15 for the Friday evening matches and $25 for the Saturday and Sunday evening matches. Visit southwesterninvitational.com to purchase tickets or learn more about the event. Danny Gallagher

Mind Spiders 
Mind Spiders' latest release, 2018's Furies, shows the band honing and polishing its synth-punk sound, this time as a trio after longtime member Daniel Fried left the band. Eight tracks long and clocking in at just over a half-hour, the album, released on Portland's Dirtnap Records, landed on year-end lists and may be their most successful so far. Fronted by Mark Ryan (formerly of The Marked Men), the trio layers synths on top of garage punk riffs and ear-catching melodies. With support from two Arizona-based psych-rock bands, The Resonars and Lenguas Largas, Sunday's early show at Dan's Silverleaf sees Mind Spiders in their home base of Denton. The show starts at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 29, at Dan's Silverleaf, 103 Industrial St., Denton. Tickets run from $5 to $7. Diamond Rodrigue

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