The Best Concerts in Dallas This Week: Alabama Shakes, Death and More

What's it take to get music fans out to concerts in the dead of Texas summer? Based on the lineup of bands hitting the Dallas area this week, the resounding answer would appear to be "throwbacks." Those throwbacks come in all shapes and sizes, too: They could have a retro feel (Sam Smith), an old-school soul (Alabama Shakes) or, well, just be old. (Not gonna name names on that one.) They could even be a band like Death, who were basically brought back from the dead and are playing Dallas for the first time after a 40-year wait. Don't say throwbacks never did anything for you.

Sam Smith
With Gavin James, 8 p.m. Monday, August 17, at Verizon Theatre, 1001 Performance Place, Grand Prairie, 972-854-5111 or verizontheatre.com, $45-$89.50

If this generation longs for a return of icons such as Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra, we might be getting close. It seems we’ve found a little of both in Sam Smith, whose solid vocals and chic style (he’s usually seen rocking a fancy tuxedo or stylish sport coat) have the feel of a classic throwback. Over the past three years, the 23-year-old has built a lane of his own, but just two years before releasing his chart-topping debut album In the Lonely Hour, Smith was scrubbing floors and toilets in a local pub near his hometown of London. Five months after the album’s release, it had become the second best-selling album of 2014 (right behind Taylor Swift’s 1989). Known now as an openly gay artist, most of his music is credited to a tough break-up with his former boyfriend. Break-ups just might prove to be good for something, because that break-up won him four Grammys earlier this year, including Record of the Year for the international, chart-topping success “Stay With Me.” Devin Papillion

Alabama Shakes
With Drive-By Truckers, 8 p.m. Tuesday, August 18, at Verizon Theatre, 1001 Performance Place, Grand Prairie, 972-854-5111 or verizontheatre.com, $35-$59.50

If you haven’t heard the distinctive, bluesy tunes of Alabama Shakes, you’re missing out on one of the best indie-rock bands of this generation. Fronted by lead singer and guitarist Brittany Howard, an immensely impressive vocalist with a range in both timbre and emotion that is unsurpassed by her contemporaries, Alabama Shakes’ 2015 release Sound & Color is quickly proving to be one of the best records of the year, and might be one of the most impressive sophomore albums of all time. At Tuesday night’s show at the Verizon Theatre, expect to be shaken to your bones by Howard’s vocals and the equally excellent band that backs her. Speaking of the band, their playing is tight, their interplay is charismatic and, most important, they don’t overshadow Howard, the true star. Recorded, Alabama Shakes sound plenty great, but live, the experience is totally different in the most awesome way possible. Amy McCarthy

Michael McDonald
8:30 p.m. Wednesday, August 19, at House of Blues, 2200 N. Lamar St., 214-978-2583 or houseofblues.com/dallas, $75-$120

When he's not posing for pictures in turtlenecks and convincing photographers to use their mastery of Photoshop to make his blue eyes seem even more piercing, Michael McDonald is a purveyor of, well, blue-eyed soul. And that means that he's a white dude who croons "R&B-tinged" songs that are frequent players on Muzak and chart-toppers on adult contemporary stations. A long-time touring member of Steely Dan and an occasional player in the Doobie Brothers, McDonald has made a career out of being the soulful white guy, often belting out his Diane Warren-penned numbers from behind a piano and then making Motown-tribute records in an attempt to balance the blue-eyed with the soul. The House of Blues will lend a soaring backdrop to the husky voice of the man who melts the hearts of soccer moms everywhere. Jennifer-Elaine Davis

With Deftone and Death from Above 1979, 6:30 p.m. Thursday, August 20, at Gexa Energy Pavilion, 1818 1 Ave., 214-421-1111 or gexaenergypavilion.net, $25-$109.50

With a career longer than the likely age of most of its concert attendees, Incubus returns to Dallas with fellow '90s alt-metal veterans the Deftones. The last time these Californians passed through town was the summer of 2012 with the Honda Civic Tour, and plenty has changed since then. At the time, Brandon Boyd and his band mates were reaching the end of a 20-year deal with Epic Records ended. It's been four years since they released their last record, but they returned to recording this May when they released a 4-track EP, Trust Fall (Side A) and plan on releasing the B side later this year. The new EP is reminiscent of their less than critically acclaimed 2004 release, A Crow Left of the Murderer.  Seeing Incubus play here with Deftones is probably a doubble-nostalgia trip for fans who were into alt-metal in 2000, as they played with Taproot at Gexa back when it was still called Starplex – but you don't have to have been there (or even been born) to catch them this time around. Sara Button

Def Leppard
With Tesla and Styx, 7 p.m. Friday, August 21, at Gexa Energy Pavilion, 1818 1 Ave., 214-421-1111 or gexaenergypavilion.net, $25-$145

Everyone's favorite stripper pole band struck my teenage self as pretty edgy upon ear-entry (via a friend's burned Hysteria CD), with their unsubtle sex-similes and tastefully carnal delivery from the vocals on down. My current incarnation will happily defend a good album's worth of Def Leppard as rock classic, for roughly the same reasons. What age did change in the reveal is how often they reach for durability in the romance department and fail in favor of durability between the sheets — in their case, love is a moment and sex is forever. If middle-aged couples resurrecting the passion for an evening with assistance from "Pour Some Sugar on Me" rubs you the wrong way, their live show might be a bit too PG-13 for your dad-rock comfort. I think you should open your mind, though, and take a forgiving look at a version of your future: It's never wrong to try and empathize a little more with your old man. Life is short, even when the pole is long. Brian Peterson

Devin the Dude
7 p.m. Friday, August 21, at Trees, 2709 Elm St., 214-741-1122 or treesdallas.com, $20-$25

Devin the Dude's been playing the underdog game for far too long. The H-Town MC has put out eight albums over 17 years, and his baritone flow and oddball beats have indirectly laid the groundwork for modern hip-hop. Devin's name isn't exactly a secret, but he's never quite gotten recognition outside the die-hard hip-hop scene. So if you catch him live, expect a crowd of dedicated Devin-ites with encyclopedic knowledge of the underground kings. Matt Wood

Quiet Riot
With Lynch Mob and Blackout, 7 p.m. Friday, August 21 at Gas Monkey Live!, 10110 Technology Blvd. E., 214-325-5261 or gasmonkeybarngrill.com, $20-$200

The brave, hair-spray filled world of Glam Metal will never die. Or at least they're not going down easy. Between Quiet Riot and Def Leppard playing this week, maybe there's some solace in remembering a simpler time when wall-of-sound guitar riffs and singalong choruses were everything necessary for a good time. And Quiet Riot's monstrous hit (and grammarian nightmare) "Cum On Feel the Noize" embodies that ideology perfectly, even if the song was technically grifted from Slade in the '70s. (Just don't tell that to any Quiet Riot fans.) MW

Weird Al
8 p.m. Friday, August 21, at Verizon Theatre, 1001 Performance Place, Grand Prairie, 972-854-5111 or verizontheatre.com $39.50-$59.50

In the era of Weird Internet and endless parody videos, Weird Al's job could've easily become obsolete. But last year out of nowhere he released a series of music videos covering Lorde, Iggy Azalea and Pharrell Williams and immediately became a trend-worthy name with a No. 1 album. As per his new album's name, there's only one rule at a Weird Al show: fun isn't a suggestion, it's a mandate. MW

Florida Georgia Line
With Thomas Rhett and Frankie Ballard, 7:30 p.m. Saturday, August 22, at Gexa Energy Pavilion, 1818 1 Ave., 214-421-1111 or gexaenergypavilion.net, $32-$66.75

I give up. The battle is lost; the bros have won. No matter how much digital ink is spilled, no matter how many radio segments are spent trying to tell you all that Florida Georgia Line are the literal worst thing to ever happen to music, people still willfully and gleefully part ways with their money in support of these bro-country kingpins. What’s worse is they’ve managed to cross so far over into mainstream culture you can’t watch a series on Hulu without hearing one of their songs sneaking into a 30 second ad. The battle has been lost; Florida Georgia Line and their Nashville overlords have won. Bro country might be going the way of the dinosaur, but these particular bros are so ingrained into the world of popular American culture that they’ll never go away. Raise the white flag and pour one out for good taste. Jaime-Paul Falcon

With Street Arabs, 9 p.m. Saturday, August 22, at Club Dada, 2720 Elm St., dadadallas.com, $18/$20 at the door

The story of Detroit proto-punk pioneers Death is the happy ending every obscure rock band relegated to the cracks of history dreams of. Death’s brand of proto-punk was being forged in Detroit at the same time the Ramones were giving life to punk in New York. They were completely unaware of each others' existence but largely driven by the same “getting back to basics” ethics of what would become known as punk rock. Unlike their New York counterparts, an all-black hard rock power trio with a morbid name like Death was a bit of a hard sell in the early '70s. The band was too much of an odd fit for the industry and disbanded in 1976. Fast forward to 2012 and the long-lost Death album is welcomed into the arms of modern indie rock 38 years after its conception. This led to a well-received documentary of their story and a busy touring schedule for the reformed band. The Club Dada gig will be Death’s first-ever live appearance in Dallas. Wanz Dover

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