The Best Five Dallas Venues to See a Show for Free

In these economic times, the live music budget in many households is one of the first to go. When things get tight you either need superior finagling skills or a place to see free shows.

Of course, there are tons of free shows in town. In fact, if you head over to Potbelly right now you'll catch a guy playing 3rd Eye Blind covers for the lunch rush. I'm not talking about those. I mean places where you can catch real, legitimate concerts -- sometimes featuring national touring acts -- for free. To help you and your low-budget, summer concert-going ways, here are five places that regularly feature good, free shows.

AT&T Performing Arts Center's Patio Sessions
First off, some disclosure: The Observer sponsors Patio Sessions, which happens every Thursday at 5:30 p.m. in the venue's front courtyard. I go to this thing every week, not for work but because it's a relaxed way to see some of the area's best acts. Last night was Ryan Thomas Becker (who was incredible) followed by a great performance from Telegraph Canyon's Chris Johnson. Also, there are food trucks nearby for face-stuffing.

The Common Table
The Common Table is still sort of finding its identity. It's one of the best beer bars in town, a decent restaurant, and now a live music venue. They've enlisted Spune Productions to do all of the booking, so you end up with a great blend of local, sometimes internationally known music. Last week it was British shoegaze act The Telescopes and before that you had avant-jazz family Yells At Eels. There are several shows a week here at The Common Table, and they're always free.

The Foundry
One of The Foundry's owners, Chris Jeffers, will be the focus of a story in next week's Observer The Foundry, one of the best new music venues Dallas has had in some time, is the reason why. Jeffers has brought on Kris Youmans at Tactics Productions to handle all the booking. Mostly it's been local bands like The Black Dotz and Dove Hunter. Jeffers hopes to get some national acts in there soon, but it's difficult to pull off when the shows are free.

Dan's Silverleaf
The shows at Denton Venue Dan's Silverleaf aren't always free. In fact, most of the time they're not. But at least twice a week, you can see a good show from a local or regional act at no cover charge. Every Sunday, Hares On The Mountain, featuring Ryan Thomas Becker and George Neal, perform for free at 5 p.m. There are also free shows on the regular from Paul Slavens, Boxcar Bandits and a handful of other acts.

Good Records
I've said this many times before: not only is Good Records a fantastic record store, it's one of the best places to see a show in town. Didn't get tickets to (insert big touring show here)? A lot of the time Good Records has the band on their astro-turf stage a few hours before their actual show for free. Not to mention, sometimes record labels spring for a keg of beer or two at these in-store performances, so you get free beer too.

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Daniel Hopkins
Contact: Daniel Hopkins