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Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift
Mike Brooks

Observer's Picks for the 10 Best Concerts of the Year

What is there to say about Taylor Swift that hasn't been said before? She's the princess of pop, the queen of open letters to streaming services, the goddess of breakup and beef songs. There's nothing she can't or won't do at this point. But even with all she's accomplished, it was still a spectacular moment to see her face light up when she told the October crowd at AT&T Stadium that she was the first artist to perform back-to-back concerts in the history of AT&T Stadium. Fans screamed, Swift danced and everyone had the best night of their lives. Paige Skinner

Charley Crockett
Charley Crockett
Jacob Vaughn

Charley Crockett showed his love for Dallas, more specifically Deep Ellum, during his dynamic performance at the fully packed Majestic Theater on April 20. He said Dallas is the most important city in the world in regard to Deep Ellum’s contributions to music. Crockett was touring on his latest album Lonesome as a Shadow, but no one was lonesome at the theater that night. His heavy, heartfelt performance gave fans a chance to slow dance and stomp their feet together. There were some hiccups, but nothing could stop Crockett from swinging his hips, dancing more intensely than members of the audience at times. The highlight of the night was when Crockett played “Trinity River” during his four-song encore. When the show was over, a longtime fan was hanging around the front of the stage, trying to get the attention of one of the roadies to give her a copy of the set list Crockett and his band were using that night. She said it was the seventh one she had taken away from Crockett’s shows. Jacob Vaughn

Drake
Drake
Mike Brooks

When Drake came to the American Airlines Center with a stage show of Spinal Tap-levels of extravagance, he proved he had enough showmanship in him for three rappers. On a basketball court-sized video-stage that damn near swallowed all three members of the opening act, Migos, Drake unironically danced under a floating, inflatable, yellow Ferrari. He broodily sang as thunderclouds, lightning and his own face were projected, swirling, around the stage. He put on a show that only Drake could, blurring the lines between performance art and music while reaching out to every corner of the arena. Nicholas Bostick

Sloan
Sloan
Corbin Smith

Sloan had plenty of reasons to skip Dallas for years. It was too far away from their native Canada to come play to a small crowd. Can't blame them, but when they came through Deep Ellum in September, it was two glorious sets of well-known tunes and deep cuts for the Sloan faithful. Bringing spotlights and a killer sound mix, the band sounded like they do when they play large theaters back home. It was a reward for those who have kept up with the band, and a chance to remind people how great their songs still are. Eric Grubbs

Beck
Beck
Mike Brooks

For artists whose careers have endured across decades, weathering changing tastes and times, fulfilling the faithful while not alienating newcomers is often a high-wire act. Beck’s spring showcase in Irving, his first local gig in four years, deftly folded the familiar and the fresh into a 100-minute set that found the remarkably ageless singer-songwriter nimbly traversing the breadth of his eclectic catalog. Nostalgia has a way of clouding perceptions, but watching Beck work the stage at the Toyota Music Factory was nothing less than clarifying. While the evening didn’t quite recapture fleeting, youthful glories, it came damn close. Preston Jones

Nick Cave
Nick Cave
Mike Brooks

Musicians interact with their audiences at their shows all the time, but when Nick Cave does it, he makes sure to leave a memorable impression on every person in attendance. Condensing more than 30 years of music into an 18-song set at the Bomb Factory, the Bad Seeds demonstrated that they still possess the ability to translate studio songs into a live environment accurately. Cave held on to many fans’ hands that night, and some lucky ones were able to stand and dance by him onstage around the end of the show. Yet even if Cave did not go near you at any time during the concert, like when he jumped down to the crowd and moseyed up to a platform at the left center side of the venue, his presence and energy were intense enough to be felt at all times. Bryan Yalta

Sylvan Esso
Sylvan Esso
Jeff Strowe

Dallas turns out hard for Sylvan Esso. This past March, just six months removed from their raucous appearance at the Granada Theater, the indie duo from North Carolina returned to a packed house at The Bomb Factory, a venue that is a steep step up in terms of capacity. “Wow, there are 3,000 of you here on a Tuesday night,” the beats man behind the operation, Nick Sanborn, gushed during a pause in the electric set. Alongside his counterpart, singer Amelia Meath, the pair pushed through tracks like “Coffee,” “H.S.K.T.” and “Radio” with aplomb. The collective energy in the house was pulsating, and as the coordinated dance breakouts that carried on even after the show proved, tough to let go of, as well. Jeff Strowe

Panic! At The Disco
Panic! At The Disco
Brad LaCour

Flames, backflips and puppets were only a few of the eclectic puzzle pieces that harmoniously connected when Panic! At the Disco played American Airlines Center. You didn’t need to be a fan of the band, or even music in general, to appreciate the showmanship and pageantry the rock band presented Dallas at their arena concert. When the shirtless frontman Brendon Urie played piano on a suspended platform hanging a dizzying distance above screaming fans, you were a convert to Panic’s particular brand of rock — even if for just that night. Brad LaCour

Haim
Haim
Hannah Hansen

The Haim women are pure talent, and there’s no denying it. They’ve opened for Taylor Swift and Beyoncé at Coachella, but their Sister Sister Sister tour is a stunning display of woman power. Whether it’s Alana on her synth, Este on her bass or Danielle shredding on guitar, these girls proved their skill. Oozing cool factor, the girls performed songs like “The Wire,” “My Song 5” and “Want You Back” to a lively South Side Ballroom crowd. The energy in the room was constant and the women’s quirky personalities, dark humor and musicianship had jaws dropping all night. Simply put, it’s easy to be impressed by the Haim sisters. Isabel Arcellana

MC50
MC50
Wanz Dover

MC50 was more than just a nostalgic tribute to the legendary proto-punk band MC5 on the 50th anniversary of Kick Out the Jams. Led by MC5’s original lead guitarist Wayne Kramer, MC50 brought Soundgarden guitarist Kim Thayil, Faith No More bassist Billy Gould, Fugazi drummer Brendan Canty and Zen Guerrilla frontman Marcus Durant together as perhaps the only supergroup worthy of MC5’s stature. Even at 70 years old, Kramer absolutely stole the show, leading off with his signature song “Ramblin’ Rose” and carrying the band through a choice selection of songs from all three of their hallmarked albums. By the end of the night, the jams had most assuredly been kicked out. David Fletcher

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