Vetted Well

Every movie is better with alcohol. It makes Michael Bay's plots more plausible and it can even make Adam Sandler funny for a couple of hours. OK, minutes. There's no better place to pregame a film than the Vetted Well at the Alamo Drafthouse on South Lamar. The bar has a tasty selection of specialty drinks and every premiere promises a movie-related concoction. The fare is nice enough to merit its own visit and the theater is located just far enough from downtown to provide a scenic view from the second floor patios. Karaoke rooms are also available to rent if you need to warm up before one of the sing-along specials. Don't worry if you don't finish your beverage before show time, just close out your tab and take it with you. Halfway through a Sandler flick is no time to sober up, so you may as well order another round from your seat during the show.

Musician and local it-dude Charley Crockett has an undeniably retro, country-blues look that perfectly complements his music. The singer and Stetson model lives a life that plays out like the lyrics to Johnny Cash's "I've Been Everywhere." On his Instagram, you'll find a black-and-white Crockett in a field in California, or a brooding Crockett in the French Quarter, or anywhere in the South, looking like the Marlboro Man. Some of the area's best photographers have managed to capture his every smoldering expression, as well as documenting Crockett's era, though we're not sure which it is. The glimpses into his performances are rich in details, such as vintage marquees and endless snaps with musicians like his friend Leon Bridges. If you're not following him around every show like the rest of us, at least follow him on Instagram. Crockett plays DFW often, though, so you could just go swoon in person.

KXT is sponsored by the listeners, so you can avoid subjecting yourself to any more advertising than what's already informing your decisions. The station hand-picks a playlist made up of a variety of classics and the best local music, throwing in your guilty pleasure '90s songs, too. It's like going to a friend's house who listens to really good music and knows to follow up an obscure Bob Dylan track with Leon Bridges. On KXT, you can escape the same tired Rolling Stones tracks like "Satisfaction," which play on classic rock stations, but will hear instead that one other version of "Let It Bleed." In addition, there's The Paul Slavens Show on Sunday evenings, and he'll play whatever is requested on his blog, even if that is a cover of "I'm a Little Teapot" in French. The station is constantly sponsoring great local shows and putting on their own live music series, like Summer Cut and KXT Sun Sets (formerly Barefoot at the Belmont), kindly giving you a chance to see the bands they've made you obsess about.

Readers' Pick:

106.1 KISS FM

The Kessler Theater
Mike Brooks

January's release show for Jacob Metcalf's Fjord was just as ambitious as the album itself, which was his first as a solo artist. For starters, he had singer Kaela Sinclair open for him, shortly before she joined M83 and went on to play around the world. But the topper were the 20 musicians who filled the Kessler's stage that night, having more players than the venue's stage has ever hosted. The singer was in the company of a five-piece band, three alto singers and a 14-piece orchestra, which included violinists, unheard-of Asian instruments and a World War II-era reed organ. Metcalf's grandiose orchestra proved a tasteful accompaniment to his otherwise simple style, and they delivered melodic magic. As he played the entire album, the stage lit up with band members wearing string lights under a chandelier of colorful shredded paper. Metcalf not only had the best album release show, but easily one of the best shows Dallas hosted this year, period.

Off the Record Craft Beer & Vinyl

When the owners of Club Dada decided to turn the space formerly used as the venue's green room into a rustic little combination record store and bar called Off the Record, they miscalculated its potential popularity. In retrospect, they should've used up more of Dada's space, perhaps all of it. The space seemed plenty back when it was a mellow gathering spot for people who like to browse records while buzzed, but when they started putting on DJ nights like Blue, the Misfit's, it became the smallest dance club in America. Don't worry, there is still plenty of room on the sidewalk to wait at the door for a good 30 minutes, quietly judging the passersby and missing the days when Deep Ellum and Addison didn't have one and the same patronage. At this point, the bar may as well set up tents outside for the refugees seeking shelter inside. But once you're in, it's worth the wait. Off the Record is a cozy, friendly place to literally rub elbows with your fellow drunks.

Sue Ellen's

Technically, Sue Ellen's is known as a lesbian bar, though inside you may find every shade in the LGBTQ rainbow. If you want to dance, see lots of glowsticks, half naked men and drag queens, go to S4. If you're a woman who wants to dance and get hit on by women, go to Sue Ellen's. The Oak Lawn bar has a legit dance floor, and whether you're looking for a new girlfriend or an "I kissed a girl" short fling, you're likely to find it. It's a loungey, semi-classy place with plenty of patio space, but, most important, they stamp your hand with the word "boob" at the door (we said semi-classy), and who doesn't want to show up hungover to work with that ink the next day?

Readers' Pick:

Round-Up Saloon

Trees

We don't know what you look for in a bouncer, but some of us are comforted by a sense of protection. Dustin, aka Junior, is a Deep Ellum staple who's been throwing away our weed pipes at Trees and The Bomb Factory for the last five years. The guy is more thorough than airport security in North Korea. Simply nothing escapes him. He once thwarted a fan's attempt to gift a band with a sword, which he'd concealed in a flower box. Dustin guards the doors like they're the pearly gates and doesn't care who you think you are, even if you're on the list. He's worked doors in New York and New Jersey, so no, he's not letting you in with your "apple juice." It actually was apple juice, by the way, but he's not taking any chances. Luckily he wasn't there when Kurt Cobain got in a fight onstage at Trees, or that bit of music history would've never happened.

It'll Do Club

It'll Do Club takes the crown once again, mostly due to consistency. Every Saturday you know exactly what you are going to get from It'll Do: world-class house music (with occasional techno) bringing in some of the most respected touring DJs in the world. No VIP, no bottle service, and none of the other pretentious pitfalls far too many clubs fall into. It's all about the music, dance floor and the DJ. It's the crown jewel in Brooke Humphries' growing empire of bars, clubs and restaurants, and the vibe at It'll Do recalls '90s warehouse parties minus all the sketchiness. On the off nights that they don't have a touring show, resident DJ Red Eye holds it down bringing sets that often one-up a lot of the touring acts that come through.

Readers' Pick:

Station 4

Scottie Canfield, better known to the nightclub regulars of Dallas as DJ Red Eye, has managed to be the only DJ in town holding down multiple residencies playing classic house and techno. That's no small feat in a town with an overabundance of Top 40 clubs. His two decades of experience have seen him controlling dance-floor vibes at some of Dallas' most reputable dance spots, from Club One back in the day to It'll Do and Beauty Bar today. Red Eye brings to the table a librarian-level knowledge of classic club tracks (many of which he owns on vinyl) and a firm grasp of the latest tracks with underground buzz. He can read a crowd like few others and uses his deep knowledge and extensive technical skill behind the decks to set dance floors off every weekend.

Readers' Pick:

Lord Byron

When Erik Estornel left Dallas seven years ago, he was already on a rising tide internationally under his Maetrik alias. After relocating to Spain and reinventing himself as Maceo Plex, he quickly became one of the most-charted producers on dance industry tastemaker Resident Advisor's DJ charts. In the years since, he has consistently landed in the top five of Resident Advisor's top 100 DJ's of the year poll. This past summer has found Estornel holding a popular residency in Ibiza and headlining the biggest clubs and festivals across Europe. When Estornel left Dallas he was criminally overlooked and playing to a few friends at small parties. On the rare occasion when he comes home to play nowadays, he's guaranteed to pack any room. But Estornel also hasn't left his roots wholly behind, as he tipped his hat to Dallas by naming his record label Ellum Audio.

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