The Best Dallas Concerts of 2014

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As 2014 draws to a close, there's one thing that seems pretty clear: It's been a hell of a year for Dallas music. Tonight, in fact, we here at the Dallas Observer will be celebrating some of the best music to come out of North Texas over the past 12 months with our 26th annual Dallas Observer Music Awards, which take place at Granada Theater. In the coming weeks, we'll try and take stock of everything that's happened locally, but to help get the ball rolling we've pulled together our picks for the best concerts that came through Dallas this year. Did you favorites make our list? Click through to find out.

See also: The Dallas Observer Music Awards Ceremony Will Be Prom-Themed and Also Ridiculous The 20 Best Songs Ever Written About Dallas

20. Deafheaven at Spillover

"[George] Clarke, a cordial and friendly person when he isn't fronting the band, always unleashes a radically different side when he opens his mouth in front of a microphone. He sounds like a witch from Suspiria and sharply dresses like Pink from The Wall, all while making facial expressions like the titular cold-blooded lead in Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. No other frontman out there does this the way Clarke does." -- Eric Grubbs

19. Aerosmith at American Airlines Center

"Right from the beginning, [Steven] Tyler proved he has the kind of coveted energy that can't be bought at any health store. Each sprightly skip and posed move of his hands is exactly on beat, turning the most mundane detail into an excuse for entertainment, like exaggerating the urge to cough at the end of a song to the point of absurdity. And for the duration of the night, Tyler made the show his own." -- Eva Raggio

18. Swans at Trees

"[Michael] Gira advances, looking like he's fresh off a homicide. His hair is spindly and wet. His face, which he wears like a mask, is pinched and screwed, as if animated by a mix of rage and ecstasy. The effect of his entrance is like having a lion walk through your front door. The air pressure drops, hairs become needles and there's this fierce split struck right through the center of your everything. Cue the prickly strings: 'Heeere's Johnny!'" -- Jonathan Patrick

17. Black Lips at Granada Theater

"The typically tame Granada audience broke loose as well, with even two wayward souls daring to crowd surf on the decently sized mosh pit. Although Black Lips might feel a bit more at home at a venue in Deep Ellum, where the lower stage and closer proximity to the band would lend to their type of show, the devout Lips following made the Granada into the perfect stage." -- Matt Wood

16. Angel Olsen at Three Links

"Closing the show with a solo performance on electric guitar, Olsen extended 'Enemy' into a twelve minute trance by slowing the tempo and cycling through the chord changes elliptically. Singing about loss and release -- 'I'm lighter on my feet when I've left some things behind' -- Olsen relinquished the crowd to the night, leaving them dazed and murmuring with wonder." -- Walton Muyumba

15. Drake Vs. Lil Wayne at Gexa Energy Pavilion

"Cards on the table, I think Lil Wayne is a genius (any hip hop head who dismisses Tha Carter III is not to be trusted). Apart from Eminem and possibly André 3000, he's to my mind (arguably) the most technically gifted MC in the history of the genre. Sure, there's a free-associative stream-of-consciousness to his craft that often renders his output awkward, at the very least highly inconsistent. But that's the crux of his brilliance." -- JP

14. Paul McCartney at American Airlines Center

"Rag on McCartney all you like for his pop sensibilities, his schlocky tendencies or his unabashed domesticity, but he knows how to write an uplifting anthem. Hell, 'Hey Jude' and 'Let It Be' were stadium-rock power ballads before stadium rock was even a thing. They thrive on broad strokes and a certain kind of profundity in simplicity that makes their messages seem universal." -- Jeff Gage

13. Benjamin Booker at Three Links

"To close out the set, Booker plays 'Spoon Out My Eyeballs,' a song that builds and builds from a slow and serene number into an aggressive fireball. Here is the only overtly indulgent part of the show, but it's well earned. Booker channels the spirit of all the giants before him, ever so slightly: Such folks as Jimi Hendrix, Jack White and John Mayer when he cared about the electric blues." -- H. Drew Blackburn

12. FKA twigs at Trees

"To a deafening blare of cheers, from behind a haze of blue, FKA twigs emerges. Bathed in a machinery of soft, inhuman light, she begins a performance that validates her inclusion in all discussions of important contemporary musicians. With her wormy contortions, Twigs exploits each angle of the Trees' stage, looking every bit the surreal projection she embodies on video. Her demeanor is unblinking, seamless. She moves like she has oil for blood, joints of rubber." -- JP

11. Dan Deacon at Index Festival

"It wasn't what you would call a perfect performance, but that hardly matters. Deacon dealt with various technical issues during his late-afternoon performance on the final day of Index Festival, the hot September sun wrecking havoc on his computer software. But when he got it going the results were unforgettable: A massive dance-off with audience members tag-teaming to lead one another in the most joyous, out-of-control party. There was no better party in 2014." -- JG

10. Charli XCX at Trees

"After 'Fancy,' Charli XCX brought a man named Andy on stage to propose to his girlfriend, Meagan. The buzz in the room rose to a fever pitch as the sold-out crowd realized just what was happening. Meagan said yes. Everyone cheered. A few people might have cried. It was an awesome moment and was a total surprise. Congrats to those two lucky lovebirds. You've got a helluva story for your kids." -- HDB

9. ...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead at Homegrown Festival

"Booking Austin's ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead to play their 2002 cult classic Source Tags & Codes in its entirety preceding the Toadies' Rubberneck 20th anniversary set was an undeniably brilliant move by festival organizers... Twenty-somethings lost their minds slam dancing to Trail of Dead's stirring and uproarious finale of fan favorite 'A Perfect Teenhood' with an added interpolation of Patti Smith's 'Gloria.'" -- Vanessa Quilantan

8. The Melvins at Trees

"You might think, given that every single dial on all of their amplifiers is clearly set to "everything" that they take themselves seriously. Then they'll bust out a cover of the Butthole Surfers' 'Going To Florida,' a song which is less a song and more a rant about gators and Jews set to a goofy bass line. Also, the lead singer is wearing a muumuu with sequins sown into it." -- Gavin Cleaver

7. Cut Copy at Granada Theater

"From the very first pulsation of bass during Cut Copy's opener, 'We Are Explorers,' to the last refrain on 'Need You Now,' the last song of the encore, the Granada Theater turned into an '80s dance party, lit from top to bottom--in the British sense and the literal sense. Neon lights enveloped the congregation, which looked like figurines on a vibrating table. It was like Doc Brown, frantic and all, put each and every one of them into his DeLorean for a quick trip into the past." -- HDB

6. Erykah Badu at The Door

"If you haven't noticed by now, Erykah Badu does what ever the hell she wants. Sometimes that means performing for two and a half hours as the night bleeds into Thanksgiving day. It was home after all, and she got a welcome as warm as a fresh plate of collard greens. The energy got bounced back straight to the Dallasites in attendance; the powerful voice and effortless stylings of her band, RC and the Gritz. It's not at all confounding that she went on for so long, she's a treasure with a robust catalog and immense talent. That's something we'll always be thankful for. " -- HDB

5. Future Islands at Three Links

"Samuel T. Herring is a man who puts a lot of thought and careful consideration into this seduction. The roll of his hips, every strain of his voice for emotional emphasis, even the 'Alas, poor Yorick' style pantomime he dramatized in performance; this is all the calculated workings of a true showman. And the crowd was lapping it up like a pack of hungry dogs. Herring had that room in the palm of his hand" -- VQ

4. Charles Bradley at Trees

"After almost two hours, three costume changes, and a whole lot of dirty dancing, Bradley gave a tearful and gripping sign-off: 'When I was homeless, during the hardest times,' Bradley said, 'I found a reason to keep going -- and that reason is right here in front of me.' Then he jumping into the crowd to embrace those that he refuses to refer to as fans, but rather as brothers and sisters. And those brothers and sisters wept in his arms, thankful that they had just found a reason to keep going as well." -- VQ

3. Sturgill Simpson at Club Dada

"In the end, the fans at Club Dada got to see Sturgill Simpson in his purest form. If it had been just Simpson and his beat up acoustic guitar, that would have been fine too. That's how you know all the critics weren't wrong, that the hype wasn't bullshit, and that Sturgill Simpson may actually be the man who can save country music. This all may sound like hyperbole, but only if you weren't there." -- Amy McCarthy

2. Bruce Springsteen at Reunion Tower

"By the time the E Street Band took the stage, the growing audience roared with delight. The Boss appeared, basketball in tow, and took part in an endearingly cheesy mock tip-off with guitarist Nils Lofgren. Then, in one of the night's biggest surprises, he opened with a cover of Van Halen's 'Jump' before playing right into 'Badlands,' the opening track of his seminal 1978 album, Darkness On the Edge of Town. It was joyful, exuberant and emotionally charged." -- VQ

1. George Strait at AT&T Stadium

"When Strait walked down a red carpet to take the stage, the entire stadium was on its feet. The noise from the crowd was deafening, but a deep reverence hung thick in the air, the kind of respect only a true icon could command. It became immediately clear that this show was more than just a concert; it was a cultural event. We were all at the church of country music, and King George was leading worship." -- AM


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