Dallas has plenty of places for kids to see concerts. Sure, you probably won’t be getting a bracelet because you are too young to drink and may even have to suffer X’s from a black marker on the back of your hand. But going to shows is crucial for aspiring musicians and music fans alike. So when you're looking for all-ages shows in North Texas, these 10 places are your best bets to find them.
10. Granada Theater
The sound at Granada is huge and standing right in front of that tall stage looking up at a band is a thrilling experience, for music fans of all ages. They've been hosting a lots of movies in the past year, but over the weekend Charley Crockett reminded everyone how wonderful this venue can be. His album release was an exciting local showcase with the Texas Gentlemen, Larry g(EE), Kirk Thurmond and Vincent Neil Emerson. Kurt Vile recently sold the place out, too, and both shows were all ages.
Kessler Theater is the best listening room in Dallas. The bar is separate from the stage, the lights go out, and everyone pays attention to the music in a gorgeous historical venue in Oak Cliff. Artistic director Jeff Liles regularly puts legends on that stage and he has an eye for the best local artists. If he books an up-and-comer, it’s going to be something you will never see in a small room again. Either way, it's a hell of a place to start a musical education, and it's always all ages.
The Prophet Bar is on this list for exactly one reason: Wednesday nights. For over a decade, RC & the Gritz have had one of the best weekly jam sessions in the city with Grammy winning musicians on the stage. When Prince and Phife Dawg passed away earlier this year, this is where the proper tributes in Dallas took place. And you never know who is going to show up: Erykah Badu, Snoop Dogg, Bilal, Mos Def, and Talib Kweli have all shocked crowds over the years. And every week, it's all ages.
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Leon Bridges has a burger named after him on the menu here. He also lives nearby, so don’t be surprised if he just happens to wonder in. This is a gorgeous venue with a state of the art listening room separate from the restaurant and bar. At Live Oak, you can hear virtually any kind of music. They have plenty of shows that are cheap or even free as well as pricier intimate gigs with high profile artists like John Mayall (which, of course, will be all ages). And who could forget the Johnette Napolitano show there earlier this year?
If you haven’t seen the Coathangers play at Dada, well, you’re lame. And not being old enough to drink is no excuse, because you can see them there all-ages. This is another vital Deep Ellum institution and a place to see incredible shows for cheap. Expect recent hire Moody Fuqua to have the best local showcases setup here quick. Dada has the best patio in Deep Ellum and it is being renovated. But more than anything, this is where some of the best promoters book bands that are hitting their stride. A band you see here for 10 or 15 bucks at the door may play a larger room and command a hefty ticket price next time around.
2720 Elm St., Dallas, dadadallas.com
Trees is an essential Deep Ellum venue. Without it, the entertainment district as we know it today probably wouldn’t exist. Trees is really firing on all cylinders lately and it has its heart in the right place. You check the schedule knowing that anything goes. It could be a benefit show, a touring hip-hop or indie rock band, perhaps a local showcase or tribute band — and many of them are open to all-ages crowds. You may see the loudest punk or metal band imaginable or find yourself wondering how in the hell some ancient, obscure metal band no one has ever heard of is playing Trees.
Dan Mojica is the man. This is a singer-songwriter’s paradise. Overseas, a collaboration between David Bazan and Will Johnson, played its first show here. Johnson’s incredible band, Centro-Matic, played their last shows here — historical shows both that happened to be all ages. Mercury Rev had an incredible performance at Dan’s Silverleaf recently. Concerts here are not always all ages, but this is usually a true listening room where people have gathered specifically to focus on what is happening on stage.
The Bomb Factory is state of the art, but the other end of the spectrum is pretty great too. The old dirty basement in this pizza place has been known to put on some pretty wild shows. If your first concert story is that you went to buy a slice of pizza and ended up seeing Fishboy or New Science Projects, that’s pretty cool. You are likely to see something crazy here; just the names of some of the bands they book are enough to make you curious. But J&J’s also brings in huge talents like Daniel Markham and Claire Morales.
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Entry to Three Links shows is not always all ages, but the shows are always incredible. People don’t just stop and take a listen here because the music spills into the sidewalk and the street; there are plenty of places where you can hear the show outside. They stop at Three Links because what they hear usually sounds good and unfamiliar. And sure, there is punk rock here but make no mistake: The best local bands and promoters all have shows at Three Links. It’s a place to hear every type of music, usually for all ages of music fans.
This is the total package. Can you imagine how lucky someone would be to see their first concert at The Bomb Factory? Think back to where you saw your first show. Now imagine if your parents had dropped you off in Deep Ellum as it exists today on a Friday night. The architecture, sound and lights at Bomb Factory are amazing to people who have seen thousands of concerts. But it must be mind-blowing for a teen. The shows here are consistently great and there is often an effort to add local artists to the bill. The Bomb Factory could change your life.
2713 Canton St., Dallas, thebombfactory.com