The weekend ahead looks a little cold and rainy. Thankfully, there is plenty of warmth to be found inside the venues hosting this week's best concerts. And, what a week for concerts, especially local shows. Six of North Texas' 10 Best Live Acts in 2021 take the stage this week across Denton, Dallas and Fort Worth, kicking off with The Wee-Beasties opening for Fea at Rubber Gloves and ending with Wooden Earth headlining a night of heavy rock in Fort Worth. Dallas will also see its own living legend Erykah Badu take the stage Saturday in Deep Ellum for her annual birthday bash. Also on Saturday, Dallas punk band Bobgoblin finally makes its long-awaited return to the stage on the other side of Deep Ellum. Aside from the local shows that fill up the week ahead, North Texas welcomes Japanese-American singer-songwriter Mitski and her legions of fans to Deep Ellum Friday night and rappers Earl Sweatshirt and Action Bronson Sunday night. Fea 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 24, at Rubber Gloves, 411 E. Sycamore St., $10 at the door
San Antonio Chicana punk band Fea is a band steeped in the riot grrrl tradition that sings fluently in English and Spanish. The band returns to Denton to play at Rubber Gloves after last year's September show at Killer's Tacos. The band released its sophomore album No Novelties on Joan Jett’s Blackheart Records in 2019. Fronted by singer Letty Martinez, Fea is backed by the rhythm section from the now-defunct Girl In A Coma — Jenn Alva on bass and Phanie Diaz on drums. Fea has also been searching for a permanent guitarist for quite some time (tell your guitarist friends in San Antonio), but Adrian Conner who plays with an all-female AC/DC tribute band Hell's Belles will be filling in Thursday night. Be sure to get there early for Fea's opening act, The Wee-Beasties. The brass punk collective will be recording crowd shots for a new music video for an unreleased song from their upcoming album. Those who are interested in being in the video should show up no later than 7 p.m. Mitski 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 25, at The Factory in Deep Ellum, 2713 Canton St., $100+ at axs.com
Japanese-American singer-songwriter Mitski may not be on your musical radar just yet, but that will likely change in the coming year as she tours her universally acclaimed new album Laurel Hell. The singer has given her live performances the highest priority. For the tour making its way through The Factory in Deep Ellum Friday night, the artist worked with performance artist and choreographer Monica Mirabile while studying various works of theater, honing her live show to perfection. All the work has paid off with her live show drawing praise from Rolling Stone, The Guardian, and New York magazine. Mitski's art-pop style and emotionally vulnerable lyrics have earned her a rabid, cult-like following of fans rivaling the intense fandom of BTS or Taylor Swift. That's probably the reason why Mitski's show has sold out while other shows at The Factory this week still have plenty of seats. You can still find tickets through AXS's official resale site, but it'll cost you. Helium Queens 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 25, at The Kessler, 1230 W. Davis St., $22+ at prekindle.com
Winner of the 2019 Dallas Observer Music Award for Best Live Act, the Helium Queens are back with their critically acclaimed live experience: Helium Queens: A Space Opera. Performing a full theatrical production Friday night at The Kessler in Oak Cliff, Helium Queens bring an immersive, illuminated spectacle around the story of a matriarchy beset by spirits that only the Helium Queens can stop. Made possible with the Arts Activate grant from the Dallas Office of Arts and Culture, A Space Opera was a truly engaging intergalactic experience for all who attended its debut at Artstillery last August. The production is set to have live music, dancers and Day-Glo colored costumes. The show's cast of characters includes a veritable who's-who in North Texas music with Chelsey Danielle of Pearl Earl, Poppy Xander of Polyphonic Spree, Sarah Ruth Alexander of the Tiger D radio show on KUZU, avant-pop singer Nicole Marxen, Brianne Sargent of Skinny Cooks and Nick Earl of The Deathray Davies. William Elliott Whitmore 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 25, at Andy's Bar, 122 N. Locust St., $15 at prekindle.com
Performing with just a banjo and a bass drum, William Elliott Whitmore approaches music with minimalistic honesty, using his powerful voice to play his own brand of roots music with the same DIY ethic he learned opening for hardcore and punk bands. Whitmore grew up on his family's farm in Lee County, Iowa, and still lives there to this day. For nearly two decades, Whitmore's music has honored the longstanding tradition of folk music, but his influences from the worlds of blues, soul and punk rock influences set him apart from your average singer-songwriter. Denton singer-songwriter Megan Storie was originally scheduled to open the show, but after having to drop the show, Storie has been replaced by Chris Welch and Holly Manning of Pinebox Serenade. This is Welch's first show playing acoustic guitar since suffering a stroke in 2019, which forced the singer to relearn how to play the guitar. Welch and Manning's set will consist of Pinebox Serenade songs from its entire catalog. FIT, Primo Danger and King Clam 9 p.m. Friday, Feb. 25, at Double Wide, 3510 Commerce St., $12 at prekindle.com
Three of North Texas' most exciting local bands share the stage this Friday night at Double Wide. Made up of Sealion's Hunter Moehring and Alex Poulos, The Birds of Night's Hunter Cannon and Slim Lemon's Joel Bradley, FIT came together with a mission to find the through-line of each member's musical tastes and began producing music that sounds a lot like Radiohead's early work with all of Arcade Fire's brooding passion. Dallas indie-punk/dance-rock five-piece Primo Danger absolutely brings the fun and excitement every time they take the stage with their high-energy performance and frontman Phill Jackson's brazen stage presence. Fronted by singer Scarlett McPherson, whose voice has drawn comparisons to Janis Joplin, King Clam plays psychedelic blues-rock from another planet. This is your chance to finally see what all the local buzz is about. Erykah Badu 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 26, at The Factory in Deep Ellum, 2713 Canton St., $59.50+ at axs.com
Dallas neo-soul queen Erykah Badu will be celebrating her birthday Saturday night at The Factory in Deep Ellum, and there are endless reasons why all of North Texas should join in the celebration. Badu changed everything in 1997 when Baduizm took the world by storm. Never had soul, jazz and hip-hop converged into something so smooth and so cerebral. The album created a new music market at the same time it created its own universe. The album would earn Badu two of the four Grammy awards she has received through her career—one for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance and the other for Best R&B Album—and that was just the start of a music career that has influenced countless others. She has even changed the English lexicon. Merriam-Webster cites Erykah Badu's 2008 song "Master Teacher" from New Amerykah Part One (4th World War) for defining the expression, "stay woke," as being "self-aware, questioning the dominant paradigm and striving for something better." Rakim Al-Jabbaar 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 26, at Trees, 2709 Elm St., Free with RSVP at axs.com
Rakim Al-Jabbaar is a force. The rapper with an imposing presence, long braids and a booming voice started making a name for himself in the Dallas hip-hop scene about five years ago, and he has since established himself as a live act to be seen and heard. In February 2021, the Duncanville hip-hop artist gained mainstream attention for his collaboration with legendary UGK rapper Bun B on "Picture Me Rollin'." With a mission to put Dallas hip-hop on the national map, Al-Jabbaar's undeniable stage presence and impeccable word flow is captivating and invigorating. Whether laying down culturally conscious rhymes or flowing about his journey upward in the hip-hop game, Al-Jabbaar's seemingly effortless command of his craft is a call for everyone to pay attention. Catch him, former A.Dd+ rapper Slim Gravy and many more local rappers at their free show Saturday night at Trees. Bobgoblin 9 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 26, at Double Wide, 3510 Commerce St., $10 at prekindle.com
All the way back in 1992, Dallas rock trio Bobgoblin took its cues from The Clash in creating a band founded on punk, new wave and glam. The band signed with MCA Records in 1996 and recorded the album 12-Point Master Plan in 1997. The band was honored in 1998 at the USA International Film Festival for the audio/visual production on the enhanced CD version (remember those?) of the album. Bobgoblin had been a guinea pig for the new technology because it was relatively unknown and had a highly conceptual bend. However, the band left the label in 1999 after delivering the rough drafts of its second album. Bobgoblin reinvented itself as The Adventures of Jet in 2000 and released two independent albums under that name before calling it quits in 2004. The band came roaring back to life in the 2010s, and now, after a long break caused by the pandemic, will play its first show since 2019 Saturday night at Double Wide after rescheduling its show last month. Earl Sweatshirt 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 27, at The Factory in Deep Ellum, 2713 Canton St., $45+ at axs.com
Co-headlining a tour with Action Bronson, Odd Future alumnus Earl Sweatshirt has been something of an enigmatic figure in the hip-hop world since his teens. The rapper was sent to a Samoan reform school after his mom found out about his involvement with the hip-hop collective, and he returned a changed musician. The rapper's debut Doris surprised many critics with its intensely introspective songwriting and gritty production, noting that his voice, more subdued than the featured guests from the Odd Future collective, stood out in its emotional density. By the time the young rapper released his second album I Don't Like Shit, I Don't Go Outside, he had completely left his past with Odd Future behind him. During the pandemic, Sweatshirt went to work on his latest album SICK!, a short, 10-song meditation on the global chaos surrounding the coronavirus. Wooden Earth 7 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 27, at Caves Lounge, 900 W. Division St., $5 at the door
Stoner metal act Wooden Earth came roaring back to life last spring playing a series of live shows through the summer to build interest for their September release, Sun City EP. In the past, the band had a reputation for not making it to shows they had booked. Wooden Earth had to shed some members, dwindling down to a two-piece in 2019 and staying that way throughout 2020 before announcing their return last year. Now with some new members who are more reliable, Wooden Earth has become a solid band with an amazing live show. Part of what makes Wooden Earth's live show so intriguing is that its lead singer Griffin Thomas is also the band's drummer. Drummer/lead singers, while rare, often have the advantage of knowing exactly how and when the vocals should pair with the beat. In the context of a heavy metal band, Thomas' dual role brings a surprising amount of melodicism to the pounding and screaming. Wooden Earth will be supported by local bands, Maestro Maya, The Infamists and Mahagonie.
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David Fletcher writes about music, arts and culture for the Dallas Observer. You can usually find him at a show in Deep Ellum whether he's writing about it or not. A punk scholar and local music enthusiast, David focuses his attention on the artists screaming in the margins of Dallas' music scene.