There are plenty of top-dollar shows this week, but about half of them on this list are free. The "Spontaneous Song Generator" Paul Slavens will be doing his thing in Denton on Monday. On Tuesday, you can hop over to The Free Man Cajun Cafe & Lounge to see the small-band rendition of the big band The Free Loaders. Then, you can venture into Uptown to see local funk legend Bobby Sparks at The Common Table. Last on this list of free shows is a set (or two) by the Revelers Hall Band on Saturday and Sunday. Now, if you've got some money to spend, you can also go see heavy-hitters like Wiz Khalifa, Quiet Company and many others.
Paul Slavens & Friends
9 p.m. Monday, July 29, at Dan's Silverleaf, 103 Industrial St., Denton, free
Like on most Mondays, the spontaneous song generator, DJ and Ten Hands frontman Paul Slavens will take the stage at Dan’s Silverleaf. Slavens writes and performs songs on the spot, improvising about whatever comes to mind. Song title suggestions get thrown at him from the crowd and he just runs with it. Attendees might hear songs about escaping the spiraling vortex of Ikea, robot children or whatever else they can think of. If this isn’t part of your Monday music routine by now, it should be. Jacob Vaughn
8 p.m. Tuesday, July 30, at Deep Ellum Art Co., 3200 Commerce St., $14 at eventbrite.com
Drab Majesty’s third full-length record Modern Mirror seems destined to land on many critics’ year-end lists this winter, expanding their already cult-like following. Just released July 12, on Dias Records, Modern Mirror finds Drab Majesty seamlessly genre-bending and blending classic new wave sounds with a darker influence from early-’80s 4AD bands to create an addictive album that feels nostalgic yet fresh and innovative. The Los Angeles-based duo, founded and led by singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Deb DeMure (the stage name for Andrew Clinco, who plays drums for Marriages and Black Mare) and joined on keyboards by Mona D (Alex Nicolaou), is as well-known for its dreamy sound as its memorable live performances and costuming, which makes the duo appear as living Greco-Roman statues. The mannequin-like ice goths’ sound defies easy labeling, garnering them fans from shoegaze bloggers and college radio DJs to goth kids and metalheads alike. Equally memorable openers Body of Light and HIDE are sure to energize the crowd. Daniel Rodrigue
The Free Loaders
7 p.m. Tuesday, July 30, at The Free Man Cajun Cafe & Lounge, 2626-2630 Commerce St., free
If a movie was made about The Free Man, a Deep Ellum Cajun restaurant and live music venue, the soundtrack would consist of songs by one band: The Free Loaders. Luckily, a three-piece variation of the band plays at the venue every Tuesday, so there, you don’t have to wait for the movie to come out to hear its killer soundtrack. Just hop over to The Free Man on a Tuesday evening, order a po' boy and listen to frontman and venue owner John Jay Myers slam on his drums and bark into the microphone with keys and stand-up bass behind him. Jacob Vaughn
10 p.m. Friday, Aug. 2, at Stereo Live, 2711 Storey Lane, $50 at eventbrite.com
Best known for whitewashed world music club bangers and EDM adjacent ephemera, America’s favorite bro-approved electronic producer Diplo has had a remarkably fascinating year by his standards. It started in March when his label Mad Decent dropped what’s surely the most unexpected and abstract record in their catalog: an EP titled ODOODO by Japanese experimentalist Foodman. Its thrillingly bizarre colors and outlandish beat programming feel far too off-world for Diplo’s typically middle-of-the-road imprint. Another left-field move came in May when Diplo joined forces with pop futuristic Charli XCX for a skeletal rework of the Spice Girls’ 1996 hit “Wannabe.” It shouldn’t have worked but it did. First, the original is seemingly far too canonical for a successful remix. Second, there’s essentially no chorus or hook. The music video features the two artists dancing with neon dolphins amid glowing seagrass, while the tune’s digitally smeared vocals and tropical baselines rival the source material’s imaginative spark. It’s silly, slyly risky and arguably the greatest single of
the year all time. We see you, Diplo. We see you. Jonathan Patrick
Acid Koolaid: Electric Orchid II
6 p.m. Friday-Sunday, Aug. 2-4, at BackYard On Bell, 410 N. Bell Ave., Denton, $10 at eventbrite.com
As summer sequels tend to do, one cool Denton event returns bigger and bolder and sure to leave fans wanting more. The Acid Koolaid Festival: Electric Orchid Showcase, which was merely a one-day showcase hosting a handful of performances in 2018, returns this summer as the three-day Acid Koolaid: Electric Orchid II featuring more artists and vendors, as well as boasting a remarkable lineup of 30 bands, including a performance by ‘60s Texas psychedelic rocker Johndavid Bartlett. Bartlett used to run in the same circles as the experimental pioneers of psychedelia known as 13th Floor Elevators (led by the legendary Roky Erickson) and The Red Krayola, and he was briefly signed to Houston-based International Artists label. Electric Orchid II’s stellar lineup for Friday boasts Felt & Fur, Def Rain, Vogue Machine and New Fumes. Saturday’s performance highlights include Johndavid Bartlett and Acid Carousel, Sunbuzzed and Claire Morales. And Sunday’s bill features Daikaiju, Wooden Earth and Mother Tongues, to name just a few. Daniel Rodrigue
Bobby Sparks II
10 p.m. Friday, Aug. 2, at The Common Table, 2917 Fairmount St., free
Shows at The Common Table are kind of a free-for-all. That's why legendary funk, R&B and soul artists like Bobby Sparks play there so much. Acts like Sparks want to do what they want to do, and given the amazing tunes they play, it's not a lot to ask. Sparks began playing the organ at the early age of 3 and kept pursuing music through high school. Eventually, he found himself playing in the Dallas area with Kirk Franklin's band. Sparks was even the band's musical director for over a decade. He's also played with people like Herbie Hancock, St. Vincent and Ray Charles. His latest album is called Schizophrenia: The Yang Project, which was released this year. Jacob Vaughn
8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 3, at The Granada Theater, 3524 Greenville Ave.
Every so often, one of the area's most prominent Grateful Dead tribute acts takes over The Granada Theater. With a history rooted deeply in the fabric of Dallas' music scene, Forgotten Space can bring a sense of local knowledge and fanfare to their set lists and performances, a skill that in the grand scheme of tribute band performances proves essential. They also stress the importance of improvisation and can take things in lengthier directions than even some of the original source material dares to go. In all, it's a fine evening of ace musicianship, interpretative meditations and a general good time to be had by all. All hallmarks of an original Grateful Dead show. Jeff Strowe
Quiet Company with The Deathray Davies and Sealion
7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 3, at Club Dada, 2720 Elm St, $14 at eventbrite.com
Taylor Muse has become somewhat of an institution in the greater Texas indie music scene. His band, Quiet Company, has released three EPs since 2017, and their most recent release On Corners & Shapes is yet another bold step into the harder-edged sound they’ve come to adopt. Originally envisioned as Taylor’s debut solo album, the EP was recorded in 2016 with players from outside the band not long after Taylor’s divorce to former band member, Leah Muse. Pockmarked with deep chasms of reverb and a fair bit more screaming than usual by Taylor, On Corners & Shapes is equal parts clear and cacophonous. The tracks “All Things New” and “The Alone, Together” are of particular note for expressing Taylor’s smoky sadness and spasmodic self-defeatism, respectively. Two local favorites will be joining the Austin-based indie rockers, namely the surf-punk quartet, Sealion, as well as John Dufilho’s The Deathray Davies. Nicholas Bostick
6 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 3, at Dos Equis Pavilion, 3839 S. Fitzhugh Ave., $30-$90 at livenation.com
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Since releasing his debut album Show and Prove in 2006 and being signed to Warner Bros. Records the following year, Wiz Khalifa has made a name for himself as a top-of-the-charts rapper, singer-songwriter and actor. Khalifa, whose real name is Cameron Jibril Thomaz, later signed on with Atlantic Records, putting out his single "Black And Yellow," which climbed to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 2011. About four years later, Khalifa's song "See You Again" for the movie Furious 7 was No. 1 on Billboard Hot 100 for 12 weeks. For his The Decent Exposure Tour, Khalifa will be rolling through the U.S., only taking a day or two off between shows. After a four-day stretch of shows, the seasoned rapper may be a little tired, but that won't stop Khalifa from turning up for Dallasites at his show this Saturday. Jacob Vaughn
Revelers Hall Band
2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 3, at Revelers Hall, 412 N. Bishop Ave., free
Every Saturday and Sunday from 2 to 5 p.m., the Revelers Hall Band makes a not-so-subtle stop at their home venue. The six-piece brass band packs a punch that is near impossible to stand still against. The band embodies what Revelers Hall co-owner Jason Roberts and music director Kevin Butler want to get out of all the performers at the venue. It's acoustic, and they play real pianos and upright basses, instead of electric. Even if the power goes out, the Revelers Hall Band will keep the show going. The band can also be heard accompanying other acts booked at the venue throughout the week. Jacob Vaughn