In early 2019 the Fort Worth electronic duo Vogue Machine released an instrumental single called "Kardio" for a bump during Adult Swim's smash hit Rick and Morty, garnering well-deserved local attention. Clayton Norris and Dylan Rice have been performing together since 2013, beginning as a synth pop group in Denton then moving to Fort Worth. Vogue Machine has since evolved into what the duo describes as "coldwave/postwave," but all that means to the average listener is that there is a higher chance of dancing and possibly taking off pants.

Best Instruments That Look Like They Belong in a Mad Scientist's Lab

Schmekelhead

While he's known in Dallas as a visual artist and curator of Tradewind's avant-garde noise cabaret Running With Scissors, Jim Branstetter can also be caught performing in the darkest corners of the city as Schmekelhead, a project that is either an evil scientist's experiment or a one-man show of hair-raising soundscapes created by homemade theremins and spring boxes to score black-and-white silent films. Branstetter scores with such precision that it is easy to fall into a story of one's own making no matter how abstract. Is it performance art or just something refreshing on the bill? We're not sure, but Schmekelhead is something straight out of science fiction.

The Whippersnapper

Skip Tinder and chat up a hotty at The Whippersnapper. It's the perfect mix of sports and art and therefore pulls a diverse clientele. Muster up some confidence, walk up to that fine guy or gal and bring them onto the dance floor for some bump-and-grind action. Or, take things slow, sit at the bar, and talk things over with some killer cocktails. Either way, the eye candy at The Whippersnapper is some of the finest in Dallas, so go over and get on with your fine self. Just don't be a creep.

Double Wide
Matt Nager

If you don't know about ironically trashy trailer-theme bar Double Wide by now, maybe it's not the right place for you. The indie band haven is deliberately tacky, and patrons are too cool to take pictures sitting on the patio's row of toilets or in front of the Dolly Parton mural. But nobody is above the effects of its bar's concoctions. One drink in particular stands out in its stealthy knockout powers: the Yoo-hoo Yehaw. The frosted, cherry-topped delicacy's alcohol content is so hidden in between the flashback flavor of the childhood-favorite chocolate drink that it's like getting drunk by eating dessert. For bonus points, the winter version of the bar's staple is served hot and is seemingly twice as potent.

Texas Floyd stormed onto the Dallas tribute-band circuit in Summer 2017. They mostly mined the Pink Floyd classic catalog but also dipped into deeper cuts from the discography like "Obscured by Clouds" and "Meddle." In their brief existence, they've been decorated with numerous accolades, taking top honors at the MXD Rock and Metal Awards for best Pink Floyd tribute band in Texas along with landing in the top three for best overall Texas Tribute. Pink Floyd officially bowed out with their final album, but thankfully there is still a place for old- and new-school fans to get their fix without having to leave town.

Three Links
Kathy Tran
Three Links

Venues showcasing local talent in Deep Ellum have decreased in recent years. Three Links has been crucial in keeping the pulse of local music alive. With a schedule that features plenty of touring indie and punk acts, Three Links still hosts local acts of all stripes. From hardcore to synth, pretty much all forms of music beating with an independent heart have a place here. Although the stage is modest in size, it boasts enough quality sound reinforcement to create the illusion of a much bigger venue.

2704 Elm St., 214-484-6011

Paul Slavens is a fixture in local music. The Dentonite who sings and plays keys for the long-running, Dallas-based alt-rock band Ten Hands is truly a virtuoso in his field, and his almost-weekly gig at Dan's Silverleaf in Denton on Mondays is a perfect example of his musical genius. Great for a date night, taking the kids out or just sipping beer, Slavens' Spontaneous Song Generator night gives the audience control. Simply hand Slavens a piece of paper or bar napkin with a made-up song title and a few bucks for a tip, and listen as he makes up a song inspired by your input on the spot. Using his keyboard and beats he's composed and recorded, it's pure fun all around. If you can't grab cash first, Slavens usually offers payment through Venmo.

Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studio
Ed Steele
Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studio

No other music venue in North Texas has undergone quite as many changes over the past year as Denton's new and improved Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studios. The once-grimy DIY venue that's positioned mere feet from the train tracks that run through Denton's industrial district reopened earlier this year after shuttering in 2016 — booting the filthy toilets and sticky floors for a shinier, polished version of itself. The venue has hosted some of North Texas' rowdiest punk shows for a couple of decades, so it was high time for a little spring cleaning. Longtime fans will remember the many stickered and graffitied walls, the bathroom horror stories and possibly the legend about a scorpion falling from the ceiling and stinging a guitar player onstage. Today, under new ownership and staff, Gloves can thrive again as a cleaner arts venue welcoming anyone with a creative itch to its updated and spacious digs.

This year, the Denton Main Street Association presents the 26th annual Twilight Tunes concert series on the lawn of the Denton County Courthouse-on-the-Square Museum. The free, family-friendly eclectic series features a mix of rock, big band, Motown, Americana, bluegrass and country performers. As long as the weather is nice, it's worth the drive to check out the performance while picnicking on the lawn with sandwiches or a cheese plate from home or a to-go order from a restaurant on the Square. The spring and summer series usually runs from mid-April to the end of June with concerts on Thursdays from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Twilight Tunes is scheduled to return for a fall series on Thursdays Oct. 3 through Oct. 24. The concerts take place rain or shine with an updated indoor location posted on social media.

Beauty Bar

It's now easier than ever to get to Dallas' best place to dance. After closing its original Knox-Henderson location, Beauty Bar opened shop in a bigger, better location, with a huge dance floor and flashier, more vibrant bar. Getting an Uber or a Lyft in Deep Ellum is a bitch-and-a-half, especially with the new designated drop-off and pick-up areas. So skip those surged fees and hop on the green line to Deep Ellum station. After a quick, 10-minute walk to Beauty Bar, you and your squad will be at the hottest spot in town, ready to get your groove on. Sip on some bomb cocktails and back that thang up on the dance floor to everything from throwback favorites to current bangers.

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