Best Out-of-Town Band That Calls Dallas a Second Home

North by North

Nate Girard and Kendra Blank must have someone in Dallas who's doing their laundry. That's the only sensible explanation for why the Chicago-based crunch rock duo known as North by North stops by so frequently. They play Dallas venues more often than many genuinely local bands — and we're not complaining. Guitarist Girard and drummer Blank have an electric presence that makes stages large and small feel gigantic. And it looks like we're destined to continue hearing from them for a long time. Even after playing more than 650 shows, North by North are sticking by the ethos emblazoned on their home page: "Tour until we die."

There are many reasons to love the Oak Cliff hangout: its views, pool parties, outdoor concerts and art moderne architecture. When the hotel changed hands a few years back, its new investors' dream was simple: to build not simply a business, but a myth. And while a lot of this vision has yet to materialize — into something between the Beverly Hills Hotel's boutique legend, the Chateau Marmont's decadence and Hotel Chelsey's massive counter-cultural significance — the inspiration holds up. And so far, it remains the ultimate spot in Dallas to attract the artsy elite: Alejandro Escovedo (a Chelsey figure) even took up residency there. But on any night, you'll find photographers shooting partygoers dancing with regulars Leon Bridges, Jonathan Tyler and Sarah Jaffe.

The Prof. Fuzz 63 is a family punk band consisting of husband and wife of 30 years Mike and Maren Farmer and their 24-year-old son Brooks. The band became a true family band after releasing their Chinese Folk Songs album in 2016, when their original drummer left and Brooks was asked to join. An art-punk band in the style of Devo or The Fall, The Prof. Fuzz 63 plays guitar-driven, organ-backed ditties about hip replacements, panda attacks and nudist women. The band plays frequently in and around Dallas, and spectators can expect to see a stage filled with red — red amps, red keyboard, red guitars and Mike's signature red telephone receiver-turned-microphone. As an actual professor of Chinese studies at UTD, Mike is completely comfortable telling awkward dad-jokes onstage. Their latest release, Kirvin Streetman's Sugar Bride Blues, is available digitally and on vinyl through Dreamy Life Records.

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.

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