Music & Concerts

10 Tips for Catching Live Music in Dallas

Make it easy for yourself when it's time to rock.

Kelly Dearmore
Posted on Apr 3, 2019

This story was provided to VisitDallas by the Dallas Observer. Visit the Observer online for full coverage of Dallas' music scene and a complete calendar of upcoming concerts.


There's no debate as to whether Dallas is a prime live music destination. With dozens of clubs, theaters, arenas, coffee shops and all sorts of venues in between, every weekend is a big concert weekend in the Big D. With such riches comes the strong possibility of being overwhelmed by the number of choices that can take an ambitious type from one corner of DFW to the other. The daily concert listings in the Dallas Observer are certainly a dependable starting point for your concert planning, but here are some more keys to keep in mind for when it's time to rock.


1. Cover Deep Ellum's No-Cover Spots

Deep Ellum has historically been Dallas' top live music neighborhood for plenty of reasons. Chief among those is that the neighborhood east of Downtown offers plenty of options, and many of those choices regularly feature concerts you can hit without paying a cover charge. Hot spots including Adair's Saloon, Free Man Jazz Cafe, Off the Record, the Blue Light Live, Deep Ellum Brewery and Mama Tried are excellent options for ditching a cover charge while not having to sacrifice the quality of the tunes.


2. Plan Your Weekends with Festivals

Festival season is pretty much a year-round deal around here, thanks to a number of beloved annual fests mixed in with a consistent array of exciting newcomer events. Country fans can count on the KHYI Texas Music Revolution, while hip-hop heads religiously await JMBLYA in Fair Park each spring. For folks who like a little bit of everything, multi-stage events such as Fortress Festival and Homegrown Fest cover plenty of bases, as does the annual Old 97's County Fair. 2019 welcomes possibly the largest multi-day, multi-stage music festival the Dallas area has ever hosted with KAABOO Texas at AT&T Stadium in May. With arena-fillers including Kid Rock, the Killers, Sting, Pitbull and many more, this area's already packed calendar becomes even more so.

JMBLYA 2018 performer at the Fair Park festival. Credit is Roderick Pullum/Dallas Observer
JMBLYA 2018 performer at the Fair Park festival. Credit is Roderick Pullum/Dallas Observer


3. Stay and Listen at the Statler

Along with being one of the city's most popular hotels, the recently reopened Statler Hotel in Downtown hosts big ticket shows from the likes of Mavis Staples in its historic Ballroom, as well as regularly scheduled free shows in it's entertaining sports bar Scout. With a number of eating and drinking options on property, you merely have to hop on an elevator to take in a weekend's worth of entertainment.


4. Give Tribute Bands a Chance

For when your all-time favorite band isn't coming through town, or has stopped touring, Dallas is flush with top-notch tribute bands each weekend in the best venues in town, such as the House of Blues and Trees. Green Dazed (Green Day), Petty Theft (Tom Petty), The Rich Girls (Hall and Oates) and Swan Song (Led Zeppelin) are only a few of the fun examples of groups ready to fully commit to the looks and sounds of your favorite bands.


5. Dinner, Drinks, Show, After party…. in One Spot

The Granada Theater is a true historical jewel with an impeccable concert calendar year-in, year-out. Offering everything from electronic to rock to soul to country, the theater hosts legends and insurgent newcomers alike. A few years ago, owners Mike Schoeder bought the space adjoined to the theater and opened Sundown at Granada, a full-service chef-driven restaurant that capably serves as preshow meeting spot as well as a night-cap locale, especially on nights when live music or a DJ takes over following a sold-out show from the theater next door.


6. Take in Different Art Forms Together

Combine your cultural experiences at two of the best museums Texas has to offer. The Late-Night series at the Dallas Museum of Art is a monthly program featuring performances from a number of notable regional acts. Located just steps away from the DMA, the Nasher Sculpture Center also welcomes patrons for late night musical fun with its 'Til Midnight at the Nasher series. Both series allow tours of their respective collections as well as additional attractions such as video presentations and movie screenings.


7. See What's In-Store

Over the past few years, independent record stores have popped up all over town, and thankfully, they've been busy enough to stay open. One of the ways Good Records, Josey Records and Spinster Records keep their doors swinging is by regularly hosting free in-store live music. Each spot typically throws a giant party at least twice a year; one on its birthday, and the other each April on Record Store Day. On that vinyl plated holiday, you can show up as early as 8 a.m. for beer, bands and limited edition releases from your favorite bands.


Record Day event in 2018. Credit Hannah Ridings/Dallas Observer
Record Day event in 2018. Credit Hannah Ridings/Dallas Observer

10. Two Clubs You Can't Miss

The Doublewide, on Deep Ellum's eastern edge, and Three Links in the heart of Deep Ellum serve as communal gathering places for locals as much as they do excellent music venues for local and touring bands. Whether you're sipping one of the funky frozen cocktails while hanging in the Doublewide's courtyard or sampling one of the craft beers from Three Links' expansive selection on its covered back patio, you're getting to experience the true spirit of the Dallas live music experience.


Header photo Credit: Credit Roderick Pullum/Dallas Observer