The 10 Best Concerts in Dallas This Week: Chicago, Rick Ross & More

T'was the week before Christmas when all through Dallas, not a venue was stirring, not even a house. That might sound like exaggeration for dramatic effect, but it's not too far from the reality of sparse shows leading up to the holidays. But luckily, once all the trees have been abandoned out back and gifts returned to stores, Dallas music will strike back with Chicago and a visit from Rick Ross at The Bomb Factory. And if we were to take a guess, it'll probably get both venues stirring something fierce.

Paul Slavens
10 p.m. Monday, December 21, at Dan's Silver Leaf, 103 Industrial St., Denton, Free

Paul Slavens is a local legend. He was the frontman of the late '80s and early '90s outfit, Ten Hands. He’s a renowned radio host at KXT 91.7 FM as well. He also does this kooky little thing at Dan’s Silver Leaf in Denton every Monday. He takes song title suggestions from people and makes up a song right there. It’s like a freestyle. Whatever you do, don’t be the dick who tries to make him rhyme orange. H. Drew Blackburn

The Funky Knuckles
10 p.m. Monday, December 21, at The Free Man, 2626 Commerce St., Free

The Dallas-based Funky Knuckles are virtuosos, through and through. They seamlessly jump between jazz and funk while maintaining perfect rhythm throughout complex time signatures. Their arrangements are dense, but that doesn't exclude people who aren't technical musicians themselves. Even if they're playing in an almost made-up melodic key, there's still a huge amount of soul thrown into the mix. Matt Wood

Josh Groban
7:30 p.m. Tuesday, December 22, at Music Hall at Fair Park, 909 1st Ave., 214-565-1116 or, Sold out

Josh Groban’s endearing voice will grace us with its presence in Dallas this week after his original show in October was postponed due to illness. As someone with a passion for and background in theatre arts, Groban has an extraordinary ability to really wow a crowd. He is a four-time-over, multi-platinum-selling recording artist and released his newest album, Stages, late last April. Stages consists of songs from classic Broadway musicals such as The Wizard of Oz, Carousel, Les Miserables, A Chorus Line and more. We can already tell the crowd at the Music Hall at Fair Park will be entranced by the two-hour sing-along — and right before the holidays, no less. If you’re a sucker for acoustic renditions of classic songs, Groban, backed by a full orchestra, should lull you into the holiday spirit as he belts out hits from Broadway as well as his other best-selling songs. Sara Button

Same Veins
10 p.m. Wednesday, December 23, at Sundown at Granada, 3520 Greenville Ave., 214-823-8305, Free
Garage rock out of Austin, you say? Who'd ever dream of such a thing? Same Vein's tambourine-filled tunes like to pretend that Big Indie never succumbed to electronic influence (don't even mention The Black Keys) and that real music comes from a six string. And they make a damn convincing case, keeping things simple while singing about mild cases of misanthropy and indifference. They even throw an unexpectedly perfect saxophone riff into one song that makes you wonder why there isn't saxophone in everything. MW

Blue, the Misfit and BIYDIY
10 p.m. Friday, December 25, at RBC, 2617 Commerce St., Free

Loner child Brandon Blue, who once barricaded himself from the outside world with anime, Linkin Park and System of a Down, has grown into a pre-eminent talent in Dallas' rap scene and his confidence onstage has played a large part in making it happen. When performing, Blue, the Misfit has the ability to make strangers adamant believers. He has the magnetism and charisma of a cult leader. It's led to him becoming arguably the hottest musician in North Texas, culminating in five nominations (more than anyone else) at last year's Dallas Observer Music Awards. Now is the time for Blue, the Misfit, and he knows it. H. Drew Blackburn

Charlie Robison
6 p.m. Friday, December 25, at Billy Bob's Texas, 2520 Rodeo Plaza, Fort Worth, $12-18

Bandera's Charlie Robison hasn't been terribly prolific over the past few years, but his 2013 record, High Times, is yet another seamlessly crafted record of revved-up troublemaking and storytelling numbers that demand your full attention. Better than most, Robison can be an authoritative badass in one tune and a repentant soul-searcher in the next. Kelly Dearmore

Casey Donahew Band
6 p.m. Saturday, December 26, at Billy Bob's Texas, 2520 Rodeo Plaza, Fort Worth, $16-22

Over the past 13 years, the Casey Donahew Band has become a staple of the Texas bar circuit. And despite garnering plenty of attention, the group has stuck to its roots and kept it about the music. Burleson-based Donahew and crew manage to write true country music, influenced by the likes of Garth Brooks and even the Rolling Stones, with enough satirical lyricism to keep listeners' attention and force a few smiles from even the most cynical concertgoers. Chris Gray and Matthew Keever

With Earth, Wind & Fire, 7:30 p.m. Saturday, December 26, at Gexa Energy Pavilion, 1818 1st Ave., 214-421-1111 or, $25-$120.50

Chicago is best known for their string of top 40 hits in the late '70s and early '80s, but well over a decade before their mainstream success — when they were still known as Chicago Transit Authority — they were first and foremost a pop band with heavy jazz/funk roots. Those musical roots are still on full display more than four decades later in the band's vibrant live show, which features a 13-plus-member lineup. They still play all the hits like “If You Leave Me Now,” “Hard to Say I'm Sorry” and “Saturday in the Park,” but they include the instrumental-heavy workouts from when the late Terry Kath was on guitar duty. The vocals are a little different as they have new singers filling in for singer Peter Cetera, who left the band back in the '80s, but Chicago still delivers a full set (sometimes two sets) of material covering almost five decades of being a band. Wanz Dover

Rick Ross
7 p.m. Saturday, December 26, at The Bomb Factory, 2713 Canton St., 214-932-6501, $53-303

Rick Ross has been caught in the trap of "always the bridesmaid, never the bride." Though he's undoubtedly been a crucial fixture in hip-hop for a long time, a lot of his recognition stems from his guest verses on major albums. On his verse for Drake's Take Care track "Lord Knows" he declares his hustling an art form and coins the immortal portmanteau "Murder-cedes Benz." He opens up Kanye's "Monster" by snarling the line, "Bitch, I'm a monster, no-good blood-sucker" before the hook comes in. But Ross deserves better than being treated as a side piece. His 2015 release Black Market exemplifies Ross' character — it's aggressive, it's gruff and it's unexpectedly sharp. MW

Robert Earl Keen
8 p.m. Sunday, December 27, at House of Blues, 2200 N. Lamar St., 214-978-2583 or, $45-$97.50

If you haven’t drunkenly sung along to Robert Earl Keen’s classic holiday ode “Merry Christmas From the Family,” then you haven't properly experienced a trashy Christmas in Texas. But that song is only one of Keen's many must-hears, which he rolls out for each show. Songs such as “The Road Goes on Forever,” “Corpus Christi Bay” and “Gringo Honeymoon” are cited as influences by most decent Texas country artists, who can perform them during encores at the drop of a hollered request. Keen has stayed relevant and avoided becoming a stale legacy act by continuing to produce one killer record after another. Indeed, it seems Keen's musical road will go on forever, and for his fans that's a holiday gift that keeps on giving. Kelly Dearmore

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Matt Wood
Contact: Matt Wood