Best Live Music Venue
RicoDeleon

Jeffrey Brown has made magic at Armoury D.E. this year with his free Saturday night series, Locked and Loaded. Under the name King Camel, Brown has booked many shows at venues like Crown & Harp and Three Links over the past few years, but he's the first person to helm Armoury's new music program, and he's really made it his baby. Under his guidance, the bar/restaurant has also become a place where up-and-coming local bands like Polystarra and buzzy national acts like A Giant Dog get often promised but rarely delivered exposure. The well-heeled patrons who come for the food and drink are a distinct group from the bohemian music-lovers who show up for what's on the patio. The beauty is that the two groups spontaneously and peacefully mingle. Lots of people now leave Armoury having experienced something they otherwise wouldn't have — and that's pretty cool.

Readers' Pick: The Bomb Factory

Best New Venue
Cal Quinn & Aly Faye

Last year, Independent Bar & Kitchen blended into the landscape of Deep Ellum. The bar and restaurant, opened by the owners of Club Dada and Off the Record in spring 2016, fit right in with the evolving neighborhood's penchant for upscale comfort food, but until this year it had failed to truly differentiate itself. That's when former Dada talent buyer Moody Fuqua was given reign over the back room, renamed Regal Room, on Wednesday nights. Each week, Fuqua curates a free lineup of some of the best new bands in town, from Starfruit to Talkie Walkie to Mother 2. Since Regal Room got off the ground, IBK has been attracting a noticeably more diverse clientele that no doubt appreciates the opportunity to hear some free music midweek, the only time parking in Deep Ellum isn't an Olympic sport.

Best Phoenix
Kathy Tran

There hasn't been any boot-scooting at the Longhorn Ballroom, built in 1950, in nearly a decade. In the '50s and '60s, it was a regular stop for country stars such as Bob Wills and R&B singers Otis Redding and Al Green; in the '70s it went on to host more rowdy shows by punk acts such as the Sex Pistols. But after it was sold in '86, the Longhorn Ballroom lost its luster — and its draw. In recent years, it has been an event space primarily used for quinceañeras. But this year, entrepreneur Jay LaFrance bought the property, and he's dead set on restoring this piece of Dallas history to its former glory. Another bidder was going to tear down the Longhorn Ballroom for an apartment complex, but LaFrance is fixing up the Western murals, hanging the original lighted sign.With the help of his music publicist daughter, Amber, LaFrance is planning retail space, a restaurant and an outdoor space that will open onto the Trinity River this month.

Best Dive Bar
Google Earth

The first handful of times we passed King's X, in a shopping center near Forest Lane and Greenville Avenue, we were fairly certain it was a strip club. The windows are mirrored, so it's impossible to see in. One day, after visiting the excellent Ethiopian restaurant next door, our curiosity compelled us to go in. It's not a gentleman's club at all, but one of the most inviting bars in all of Dallas. King's X is a '70s paradise: The walls are wood-paneled, the ceilings are covered with Budweiser lamps, there's shuffleboard and pool, there are dishes of snacks on the bar and the lighting is low, low, low. On our visit there were five or six other patrons, and the charming bartender was amusing everyone with a story of an affair she'd had in Jamaica. On our way out, we received the traditional "Y'all come back now," but this time it was everyone in the bar in unison. At King's X, you're a regular after one visit.

Readers' Pick: Lakewood Landing

On the spectrum of karaoke experiences, a night out at Barb's in Oak Cliff, which has karaoke Thursdays and Saturdays, falls somewhere between getting onstage in front of hundreds at Sherlock's and booking a private room in Korea Town. The former is too much pressure, and there's not much point in intentionally embarrassing yourself in front of friends who are already bound to love you. Barb's is technically a gay bar, but the only universal descriptors for its karaoke clientele are laid back and supportive. The drinks are strong and there are bags of chips hanging behind the bar if singing Adele, Fleetwood Mac and the Beatles makes you a bit peckish. Speaking of which, the song choices tend to be pretty inoffensive here. Your ears might bleed a bit, as they should at any karaoke night, but it won't be due to a cover of Papa Roach.

Readers' Pick: Twilite Lounge

Best Bar That Said Goodbye
Roderick Pullum

In the last decade, Greenville Avenue has sacrificed its reputation as a live music strip to cater to the brunch and artisanal Popsicle crowd. That's well and good, but we were still sad to see the street's last great music venue, Crown & Harp, hand over its keys in May. The two-story bar venue got its start in '97 as The Cavern and rebranded as The Crown & Harp in 2011, when it further embraced its British pub aesthetic. Throughout its two-decade tenure, the upstairs was one of the best spots in Dallas to dance during DJ nights and the downstairs was an equally great spot to see a rock show. The small stage, booth area and even the fish tank in back created a cozy house party feel. If even 10 people showed up to see a band, the layout made it feel like a rager.

Best Save
Cal Quinn

There are only a few acceptable reasons to end a show early, but your keyboard catching on fire is definitely one of them. In May, Medicine Man Revival proved it has a crazy work ethic when that happened mid-song at Independent Bar & Kitchen, and the group finished out the show. The 1974 Rhodes had been in storage and unplayed for 30 years, which resulted in some undetected loose ground wiring. During the climax of the band's set, "Bittersweet," the keyboard began smoking and then went up in flames. A nearby photographer unplugged the equipment while also capturing the event on video, making room for the band's manager to come in and douse the keyboard with a fire extinguisher. Many attendees evacuated because of the smoke filling up the room, but just as many kept right on dancing — the keyboardist included. He kept playing the Rhodes until someone carted it off and brought him a new instrument.

Best Pool Table
Hannah Ridings

Lakewood Landing doesn't have the largest pool table or the most well-cared-for pool table. But it has the best pool table. The Landing is a pit stop for anyone east of Central Expressway who feels like a nightcap, so you're never short of partners, whether friends you've run into or ones you haven't met yet. Booths are arranged around the table, ideal for spectating and commentary. And during the game, you're an arm's length away from the killer jukebox, where you can play everything from Bowie to Hank Williams. When Hank starts singing "what you got cookin'?" check your watch. If it's after midnight, you might think about ordering one of the bar's famous jalapeño cornbread-battered dogs. They're off the menu.

Best Surprise
Christian Bertrand/Shutterstock

A Morrissey show isn't a Morrissey show until he's canceled and rescheduled. But when the English singer and songwriter, best known for his time as the frontman of the Smiths, did this three times with his November 2016 Dallas date, we were skeptical the show would happen at all. We even went so far as to prepare a list of Morrissey-inspired events to attend when it fell through. So color us surprised when Morrissey showed up to the Majestic Theatre on April 15 and gave what was by all accounts one of his best shows in years. Wearing "Fuck Trump" shirts, Morrissey and his band played through a 70-minute set list of songs from his solo career, as well as a few Smiths covers like "Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me" and "How Soon Is Now?" That will do for an apology, Morrissey.

Best Dance Club
Kathy Tran

It's not hard to declare It'll Do the best dance club in Dallas because it's leagues beyond all the others. Those who value exclusivity, expensive bottle service and waitresses in short dresses on their nights out dancing may disagree. But for those who just want an unpretentious and fun place to let loose to good music and maybe meet a new dance partner, it doesn't get better than Brooke Humphries' Old East Dallas establishment. For a cover that usually falls between $10 and $20, you can hear some of the best DJs in the world, like Kevin Saunderson and Danny Tenaglia, who make It'll Do their stopping point when they come through Dallas. And the multicolored, light-up dance floor is the perfect stage for your peacock courtship display.

Readers' Pick: Station 4

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