Best Karen Venue 2021 | The Haltom Theater | Best of Dallas® 2020 | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Dallas | Dallas Observer
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The majority of 2021 may have been spent indoors but that didn't prevent the Karens of the world from making venues feel cornered by their petty problems and complaints about nothing. The Haltom theater in Haltom City faced just such a situation over a song performed by Auntie AJ, who was opening for rapper Mike Jones. AJ's set included his song "Fuck White People," an obvious jokey jab. (On SoundCloud, AJ urgess the viewer, "Don't take this song to heart.") Of course, that didn't stop someone in the crowd from just posting a video of AJ chanting the song's chorus in a TikTok style video with the caption tagging FOX 4 and asking, "Why don't y'all report on this. [sic] #racism". The venue's owner issued a statement apologizing to any offended patrons, promising them a refund and a permanent ban for Auntie AJ. The owner also vowed to "act faster to cut the audio if an act crosses the line." Good to know, especially for adults who'd rather not have a theater owner acting as nanny at a hip-hop show. They can go elsewhere.

Zoie Shepard

It takes work to have great hair. Even something as frowned-upon as the classic mullet requires dedication to maintain the business in the front and the party in the back. Jaxon "Hot Rod" Crossland of Celeste is so dedicated to maintaining his Camaro accessory that he won the 2020 USA Kids Mullet Championship and $500 in cash. The 8-year-old's 'do was so stunning it made him an Internet and social media celebrity and even scored him some recognition in the real world.

Alan Westman

After the pandemic hit North Texas, everything ground to a halt. But with his keyboard and loop machine, Marc Rebillet helped lighten the mood with a gargantuan dose of absurdist comedy. The Dallas native produces the ultimate one-man livestream show often while wearing nothing but boxers and a robe. We don't know how anyone can write a song — on the spot — that's both catchy and gut-achingly funny. Rebillet's gift may be one of life's great mysteries, but his singular showmanship keeps us afloat during dark times.

Alan Botting, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Yoda is spotted at White Rock Lake. A guy goes to Texas Roadhouse and takes a scale to make sure his steak is actually 6 ounces. A few couches are for lease in Oak Cliff. Ross Street floods and a few ill-begotten Dallasites go tubing in the turbid — and indubitably bacteria-infested — water. Eighty-one people are arrested at takeover events across the city. Northwest Highway floods. A Dallas Police Department officer makes a TikTok. A fight breaks out at Auntie Anne's Pretzels in Fort Worth. You'll read — or, rather, watch — all this and more on Dallas Texas TV, whose primary mediums are Instagram and Twitter. So smash those follow buttons and stay alert for the weirdest shit that's going down in Big D.

Melissa Hennings

It's hard to sit out a festival when tacos are the main attraction. Merging bold flavors with brash lucha libre wrestling, Dallas' Taco Libre Festival is the most fun you'll have all year. With a wide array of offerings from the best taquerias around, festival-goers can expect to stuff their gourds with savory food. And to sweeten the deal, Taco Libre hosts top-notch live music. Unfortunately, the festival had to be postponed because of the pandemic, but it's great to know they're taking attendees' health seriously. We'll be dreaming of masked wrestlers and tasty tacos until we meet again, Taco Libre.

Courtesy Freeform/Frank Ockenfels

If you grew up in North Texas in the '90s, watching Cruel Summer probably smacked you with a heavy hit of deja vu. The excellent Freeform series was filmed in several North Texas institutions, including AllGood Cafe, One Nostalgia Tavern and Lewisville's Music City Mall (formerly Vista Ridge). Produced by actress Jessica Biel, Cruel Summer boasts stunning sets and a suspenseful script packed with twists. Each episode keeps the viewer on the edge of their seats, leaving them guessing until the very last scene. If you haven't already seen Cruel Summer, stop what you're doing and turn on the dang TV.

Linda Stogner

For a little slice of New York right in the middle of Richardson, visit Backdoor Comedy Club. They offer three shows on weekends, a Thursday night open mic, and a workshop if you want to try your hand at this iconic American art form. Once you pay the $15 cover, you'll enter an intimate room with small, circular two-tops arranged around the stage. There's a two-item minimum, and food, drink and service are provided by the neighboring bar and grill. The food isn't anything to write home about, but it's good enough, and the pours are strong and they keep coming. Thankfully, we didn't need to be wasted to have a good time at a recent Friday night showcase. Of the 10-plus comics we heard — a mixture of local and touring ones — a majority earned guffaws from the audience. They worked the crowd like pros and the intimate setting created a sense of camaraderie. It's an entertaining, two-hour escape that more Dallasites should have in their back pocket.

Chad Kelco

The end of the world never sounded so good. Dallas death metal deities Creeping Death are set to unleash their latest release in October, but in the meantime, they've graced us mortals with a most excellent music video. The perfect soundtrack to a dying, plague-ridden planet, title track "The Edge of Existence" looks like it was filmed after the fall of humankind. Viewers will unlock a vortex to hell while headbanging to this punishing single, which is packed with uber-heavy, technical riffs executed with machinelike precision. Buckle up, y'all: Creeping Death are hurtling headlong into the metal hall of fame.

Dallas Hope Charities is a godsend. Many LGBTQIA+ youths come from less-than-accepting families, forcing them to leave home and/or driving up their risk of self-harm. Through its programs and support, Dallas Hope Charities provides a safe space for the city's most vulnerable. Its Meals of Hope program serves food to hard-hit North Texans, and Dallas Hope's Transitional Living Center provides shelter to at-risk LGBTQIA+ youth. Collective Hope Coalition is another invaluable effort geared toward ending the hopelessness that leads LGBTQIA+ people to suicide. If you're in need, know that Dallas Hope Charities is there to help.

Christopher Durbin

When the neon moon rises and the work week is over, The Rustic is open and ready to boogie. This spot isn't your typical rough 'n' rowdy honky-tonk, but it's the perfect place for an urban cowboy to sport his finest alligator boots. Live music lovers are sure to catch some of their favorite country acts gracing The Rustic's incredible outdoor stage. To top it all off, the spot boasts an upscale American-style food menu and an impressive selection of beers on tap brewed in the Lone Star State.

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