The 15 Best Dallas Concerts of 2016, So Far

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It's already been a year of blockbuster shows in Dallas. The past six months have seen North Texas arenas host a seemingly endless series of bucket list shows — artists like AC/DC, the Cure and Duran Duran among them. But the great music hasn't been limited to the big rooms. From Deep Ellum to Oak Cliff to Denton, there have been plenty of club highlights. Whittling the list down to just the 15 best Dallas concerts of the year so far was tough; topping them over the course of the next six months might be even tougher.
15. JMBLYA at Fair Park

In its fourth year, Scoremore’s JMBLYA is continually growing bigger and better. This year’s edition brought over 20,000 people to Fair Park and boasted a lineup of hip-hop’s biggest names including Future, Rae Sremmurd, Post Malone, Kevin Gates and more. As the cajun-inspired acronym suggests, the bill mixed in prominent EDM acts DJ Carnage and Noodles as well as the full festival experience including food trucks and water slides. In a city full of festivals, JMBLYA is carving its own lane as one of the highlights of the year. Mikel Galicia

14. Mavis Staples at The Kessler

Mavis Staples is showing no signs of slowing down. With 66 years into a legendary career, the gospel and soul icon celebrated the release of her first-ever feature length documentary and 15th solo album with a sold-out, two-night stand at The Kessler Theater over the weekend. But Staples didn't need to lean on her accolades, or even her incredible backing band. Her voice is just as strong as ever. Jeremy Hallock

13. Bruce Springsteen at American Airlines Center

The songs on The River, which Springsteen played in its entirety, sounded bigger and more triumphant than they do on record. With an eight-piece band backing him up, perhaps that was inevitable; saxophonist Jake Clemons was a particular joy to watch, basking in every note he played in place of his late uncle, Clarence. But it was the Boss' enthusiasm that drove it along, barely even pausing to take breaks between songs. Jeff Gage

12. Four Tet at Club Dada

In mid May, Four Tet and Hessler Audio label boss Ben UFO rolled into Deep Ellum on a Tuesday night and dropped the best dance party of the year. They dropped original tunes, unreleased tunes, ultra deep cuts and edits for six hours. The general vibe of the set was house music, but crossed paths with electro, Afrobeat, techno and Latin funk. This left many in the packed out Club Dada with tired feet after dancing through the marathon set. Wanz Dover

11. Rihanna at American Airlines Center

After singing the first two songs a cappella, Rihanna climbed into a rectangular, see-through glass case that whisked her from the small stage to the larger one — but not before she performed “Woo” and “Sex with Me” while suspended over the middle of the arena. Badgalriri broke it down, grinding and working every inch of that glass case, giving floor seated attendees, in particular, a real show. Sara Button

10. AC/DC at American Airlines Center

For AC/DC, it's always about rock. There may be some lyrics about women thrown in along the way, and plenty of odes to drinking as well, but it always comes back to saluting rock, getting some rock, letting there be rock. And for two hours in Dallas, guitarist Angus Young and singer Brian Johnson effectively put on a two-man show, never slowing down. JG

9. Duran Duran at American Airlines Center

Duran Duran rose organically from both the glam and punk scenes of London. For many, they provided an introduction to new wave and the possibilities available to musicians with a coherent sense of visuals and style to complement their music. How many of today's teeny bop, boy band idols will be able to stay this relevant three decades from now? Yvonne Cruz

8. Justin Bieber at American Airlines Center

For all the spectacle — and this was easily the best concert production that's come through Dallas in the past 12 months, better even than Taylor Swift's at AT&T Stadium — Bieber's Purpose Tour was really all about the details. He had heart to hearts with the crowd, introduced the child dancers, gave praise to Jesus and even wore a personalized Cowboys jersey. All likely scripted, of course, but they were thoughtful touches whether you'd like to Belieb it or not. JG

7. Florence + the Machine at American Airlines Center

Throughout the show, Welch bid her fans to stand up, to jump with her, or to embrace the person sitting next to them. At the end of the day, live music is done best when it makes the audience feel something, which is not lost on Florence + The Machine. You walk away from their show knowing that these are performers who 'get it' in a big-picture sense, and you leave feeling like the band was performing directly to you the whole time. Matt Martinez

6. Rubber Gloves' Farewell at Rubber Gloves

The energy all weekend was raw, rough and powerful. Hell, people even tailgated outside on Saturday and Sunday. It was a marathon, too: Friday and Saturday programming ran for 13 hours straight, starting at 12:30 p.m. each day. But above all, this was the best weekend of programming Denton has seen in years. The local music festivals aren’t programming local music this well anymore. The only lineups that really rivaled this one were the legendary early days of the Fry Street Fair. SB

5. M83 at The Bomb Factory

Denton singer Kaela Sinclair's vocals took center stage on two tracks, "We Own the Night" and the roaring "Oblivian." Sinclair nailed it both times, sparking the crowd to attention and nearly melting the room with her commanding presence. Elsewhere, her harmonies were channeled nicely, her keys were prominent in the mix and she stood tall and confident, positioned at the front of the stage just to the right of Gonzalez. She fit right in, holding her own as though she’d been there since day one. Jeff Strowe

4. Sturgill Simpson at The Bomb Factory
The result was quite musically stunning. With his seven-piece band, including three killer horn players, a funky new bassist and Estonian guitar prodigy Laur Joamets, Simpson blazed through every song on Sailor’s Guide, ranging from the gorgeous, melodic cover of Nirvana’s “In Bloom” to “Keep It Between the Lines,” a relentlessly funky ear worm that is indicative of how brilliantly Simpson balances sonic breadth and depth on this album. Amy McCarthy

3. Robert Plant at The Bomb Factory

Except for his now completely covered chest, Plant appears virtually unchanged. But the legend has matured, proving his brilliance as musician and vocalist, and less as a stage meteor. No doubt the idolization of Plant had little to do with his antics, and a lot to do with his musical legacy. Not even the atheists among us could dare question his rock god status. Eva Raggio

2. The Cure at American Airlines Center

If anyone could make 19,000 people feel dejectedly jolly, it would be Robert Smith. The Sussex man synonymous with sadness gave Dallas four encores Sunday as the Cure firmly planted their feet in alternative roots during a nearly three-hour show at American Airlines Center. This was the band's first North American tour in eight years, so maybe the extended show was overdue. If you came for the hits, you got your fix. MM

1. Beyoncé at AT&T Stadium

Beyond all the costumes and the visual elements and the dance moves, there is raw artistry behind Beyoncé’s work. There’s story, there’s poetry, there’s a consistent, visually stunning aesthetic. There are plenty of artists who are capable of putting on a good show, but many lack the depth to leave nearly 50,000 people feeling empowered one moment and on the verge of tears the next. Beyoncé wields that power, and is capable of creating true magic because of it. AM

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