And just like that, spring is upon us.
The live music calendar is practically bursting at the seams with gotta-see shows — everyone from Beyonce to Sturgill Simpson to Jimmy Buffett is breezing through North Texas over the next few weeks — and, unless you happen to be independently wealthy, there is no way your wallet could possibly absorb the cost of seeing every high-profile show passing through town between now and Labor Day.
So, in the interest of helping separate the worthwhile from the why bother, we’ve assembled a list, divvied up by venue size, of can’t miss concerts set to take place as the weather gets warmer. We start with the major arena and stadium acts, move on to festivals, and wrap-up with club and small-hall shows.
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(Dates, venues and ticket prices correct as of the time of publication, but all are subject to change.)
Arena and stadium acts
Rihanna at American Airlines Center
Rihanna is remaking pop superstardom in her own image — “I got to do things my own way, darling,” she purrs on Consideration, the opening track of her latest studio effort, Anti — and in doing so, is making a bid to transition from headline-grabbing pop star to Artist of Consequence. If the defiant, bracing Anti is any indication, she just might get there. (This stop is rescheduled from March 6, and tickets for the original date will be honored.) With Travis Scott. 7:30 p.m. May 13. American Airlines Center, Dallas. $39-$164.
Dave Matthews Band at Gexa Energy Pavilion
The eternal summer road warriors return again to North Texas, once more serving as their own opening act for an evening split between acoustic and electric sets. This year marks 20 years since the release of Dave Matthews Band’s sophomore album, Crash, but instead of pulling heavily from that record, Matthews and company might air out the handful of unreleased tracks they’ve been honing live over the last year. 7 p.m. May 14. Gexa Energy Pavilion, Dallas. $40.50-$85.
Florence + the Machine at American Airlines Center
So much of pop and rock music is fixated on the aesthetic that it’s surprising when an act like Florence + the Machine comes along, putting as much emphasis on the content as the presentation. Florence Welch is one of the best vocalists around, and her latest album, How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful, provides plenty of breathtaking displays of her prowess. With Grimes. 7:30 p.m. May 18. American Airlines Center, Dallas. $40.50-$89.
Kenny Chesney at AT&T Stadium
Last year, Kenny Chesney swept into AT&T Stadium and delivered confident spectacle — he descended from the EnormoTron at midfield and floated over the audience to be deposited onto the sprawling stage to begin the show — grounded with his relatable, rock-tinged country songs. Expect more of the same when he returns, about a month before his new studio album, Some Town Somewhere, arrives in stores. With Miranda Lambert, Jake Owen and Old Dominion. 5 p.m. June 4. AT&T Stadium, Arlington. $45-$250.
Selena Gomez at American Airlines Center
Having had a pretty freewheeling weekend at Fort Worth’s Reata a few weeks back, Grand Prairie native Selena Gomez is gearing up for a summer spent on the road, promoting her latest studio album, Revival. She’ll undoubtedly bring her A game for this hometown-ish gig. With DNCE. 7:30 p.m. June 18. American Airlines Center, Dallas. $35.50-$125.50.
Weezer & Panic! at the Disco at Gexa Energy Pavilion
Two rock bands, working different sides of the emo divide and each with new albums to promote — Weezer’s 10th studio release, the self-titled “White Album”, is just out, and Panic! at the Disco dropped Death of a Bachelor in January — should make for an evening of effervescent, if incredibly sweaty, fun. 7 p.m. July 15. Gexa Energy Pavilion, Dallas. $25-$75.
Janet Jackson at American Airlines Center
What was meant to be a commanding return to form for Janet Jackson — a new album, complete with an arena tour to support it — hit snags in the early part of 2016, when unspecified health issues forced Jackson to postpone several U.S. dates, and effectively scrap a European leg of her Unbreakable world tour. Still, Jackson is persevering, delivering what critics are generally describing as a can’t miss concert. (This stop is rescheduled from Jan. 24, and tickets for the original date will be honored.) 8 p.m. July 15. American Airlines Center, Dallas. $35.50-$150.
Guns N’ Roses at AT&T Stadium
Two full decades have passed since Axl Rose and Slash last shared a stage, but whatever personal issues kept the pair from performing together have been, at long last, smoothed over, paving the way for the wryly titled “Not In This Lifetime ...” tour. The reception to Guns N’ Roses’ long-delayed Chinese Democracy was, put mildly, underwhelming, but let’s face it: no one’s aching to hear those tracks live. Those coughing up cash to be in the building are doing so to hear Rose and Slash rip into Paradise City or Welcome to the Jungle. 8 p.m. Aug. 3. AT&T Stadium, Arlington. $45-$250.
Zac Brown Band at Gexa Energy Pavilion
Another road warrior act with a fanatically devoted fan base, 21st century Southern rockers the Zac Brown Band is spending yet another summer touring, with last year’s long-player Jekyll + Hyde to pull from. With Drake White and the Big Fire. 7 p.m. Aug. 14. Gexa Energy Pavilion, Dallas. $32.50-$77.50.
Rock Hall Three for All: Heart, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts & Cheap Trick at Gexa Energy Pavilion
Classic rock package tours are as de rigeur as it gets on the summer concert circuit, and while most of them can be a hit-or-miss proposition, it’s hard to imagine anyone leaving this trifecta of bands — from Heart’s full-tilt classics to Joan Jett’s still-feral snarl to Cheap Trick’s eternally youthful power pop — feeling disappointed. 6:30 p.m. Aug. 18. Gexa Energy Pavilion, Dallas. $25.25-$115.50.
Other arena shows of note
Mumford & Sons Monday. Gexa Energy Pavilion, Dallas. $34.50-$59.50.
Duran Duran April 19. American Airlines Center, Dallas. $29.95-$144.
Bad Company & Joe Walsh May 12. Gexa Energy Pavilion, Dallas. $25-$150.
Hall & Oates May 13. Gexa Energy Pavilion, Dallas. $25-$125.
Journey & the Doobie Brothers May 20. Gexa Energy Pavilion, Dallas. $36-$145.
Jason Aldean May 21. Gexa Energy Pavilion, Dallas. $32.50-$72.50.
Jimmy Buffett & ZZ Top May 27. Toyota Stadium, Frisco. $44.50-$126.
The Avett Brothers June 18. Gexa Energy Pavilion, Dallas. $35-$45.
Steely Dan & Steve Winwood June 22. American Airlines Center, Dallas. $29.50-$139.50.
Slipknot & Marilyn Manson June 25. Gexa Energy Pavilion, Dallas. $30-$89.95.
Rascal Flatts July 30. Gexa Energy Pavilion, Dallas. $32.50-$62.25.
Korn & Rob Zombie Aug. 4. Gexa Energy Pavilion, Dallas. $25-$69.50.
311 & Sublime with Rome Aug. 6. Gexa Energy Pavilion, Dallas. $25-$65.
Disturbed & Breaking Benjamin Aug. 12. Gexa Energy Pavilion, Dallas. $29.95-$79.95.
Dierks Bentley Aug. 20. Gexa Energy Pavilion, Dallas. $34-$58.75.
Def Leppard Aug. 24. Gexa Energy Pavilion, Dallas. $25-$125.
Brad Paisley Aug. 27. Gexa Energy Pavilion, Dallas. Tickets TBA.
Sold out, but still noteworthy
Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band Tuesday. American Airlines Center, Dallas. Sold out.
M83 April 8. The Bomb Factory, Dallas. Sold out.
Justin Bieber April 10. American Airlines Center, Dallas. Sold out.
Lucinda Williams April 17-19. Kessler Theater, Dallas. Sold out.
Bonnie Raitt April 26. Winspear Opera House, Dallas. Sold out.
Sturgill Simpson May 7. The Bomb Factory, Dallas. Sold out.
Paul Simon May 8. Winspear Opera House, Dallas. Sold out.
Beyonce May 9. AT&T Stadium, Arlington. Sold out.
The Cure May 15. American Airlines Center, Dallas. Sold out.
Dixie Chicks Aug. 5. Gexa Energy Pavilion, Dallas. Sold out.
Coldplay Aug. 27. AT&T Stadium, Arlington. Sold out.
It’s an interesting moment for music festivals.
Among music writers, who wonder aloud about navel-gazing phrases like “peak festival” and deploy hashtags like #FestSoHard, the New York Times’ decision last month to forgo covering the marquee multi-day gatherings like Coachella and Bonnaroo — “Their bookings used to be somewhat exciting, if exciting means special and special means rare and rare means meaningful; they aren’t anymore,” wrote critic Ben Ratliff — was tantamount to a line in the sand.
It wasn’t enough for a festival to exist — it needed to have a meaningful reason for doing so, beyond simply piling a few thousand people into a contained space to drink, socialize and occasionally pay attention to the bands.
The NYT’s principled declaration notwithstanding, North Texas does not seem to have gotten the same memo, as the 2016 concert calendar is as packed as ever, with all manner of multi-day musical events stretching from here to Labor Day.
Some of them are mainstays, markers of time’s passage — is it really summer in Fort Worth if you haven’t listened to music under the stars in the Botanic Garden? — and some of them are pure marketing (Edgefest and its radio station-sponsored ilk), but there is no denying that, this year at least, there is a festival or outdoor concert series for just about any kind of music you could think of.
Here’s a look at what’s on tap this spring and summer.
Old 97’s County Fair at Main Street Garden
Hometown heroes Old 97’s are throwing an old-fashioned hootenanny in the heart of downtown Dallas, enlisting fellow musicians like Drive By Truckers, Lucero, Justin Townes Earle and Nikki Lane to perform, against a backdrop that includes a 40-foot Ferris wheel and midway games. 1 p.m. April 16. Main Street Garden, Dallas. $35-$100. old97scf.com
Fort Worth 420 at Lola’s Trailer Park
This pro-pot concert is a coup for the brand new Trailer Park, adjacent to long-time local hangout Lola’s Saloon. The line-up is the equivalent of a potent strain: Shooter Jennings, Lukas Nelson, Green Light Pistol, Taylor Craig Mills and Vincent Neil Emerson are scheduled to perform. 6 p.m. April 20. Lola’s Trailer Park, Fort Worth. $26-$245. ticketfly.com
Something Wonderful at Texas Motor Speedway
Instead of the thrum of race car engines, the Texas Motor Speedway will throb with the skull-rattling bass and optic nerve-sizzling light shows accompanying this EDM (electronic dance music)-centric gathering, headlined by Tiesto and Dada Life. 3 p.m. April 23. Texas Motor Speedway, Fort Worth. $99-$159. somethingwonderful.com
Off the Rails at Toyota Stadium
This two-day country music festival is making its debut with a splashy line-up: Blake Shelton, Chris Young, Ashley Monroe, Sam Hunt, Eric Church and Jana Kramer are among the headliners scheduled to appear in Frisco. 11 a.m. April 23-24. Toyota Stadium, Frisco. $55-$100 single-day; $69-$360 two-day pass. offtherailsfest.com
Edgefest 26 at Toyota Stadium
The annual day-long array of alt-rock acts once again descends upon far north Texas, with performances scheduled from Cage the Elephant, Silversun Pickups, Chvrches, the Joy Formidable, Good Charlotte, X Ambassadors and the Strumbellas. Noon April 30. Toyota Stadium, Frisco. $10.21-$225. kdge.com
Boom Music Festival at Fair Park
Billed as “The Evolution of Hip-Hop,” this Boom 94.5 FM-sponsored shindig features a who’s who of rap: Master P, Mystikal, Da Brat, Kurtis Blow, Big Daddy Kane, Ed Lover and Mike Jones are among the artists scheduled to appear. 2 p.m. April 30. Fair Park, Dallas. $25. boom945.com/events/boom-94-5-music-festival
Bugs and Brews at Granada Theater
The Granada Theater parking lot will get a healthy dose of New Orleans charm, with performances from Rebirth Brass Band, Chubby Carrier and the Bayou Swamp Band, Roxy Roca and Oil Boom, among others, and plenty of crawfish to devour. Noon May 1. Granada Theater, Dallas. $15-$39. granadatheater.com
Homegrown Music and Arts Festival at Main Street Garden
One of the reliable high points of every festival season, the seventh installment of Homegrown will feature its usual mix of Texas-tied talent, with Neon Indian, Kaela Sinclair, Charley Crockett, Bobby Sessions, Will Johnson and Pageantry among the scheduled performers. Noon May 14. Main Street Garden, Dallas. $35-$100. homegrownfest.com
Toyota Texas Fest at Toyota Stadium
Moreso than in previous years, Frisco’s Toyota Stadium is a hotbed of music festivals in 2016. The second high-profile country music event spreads big names over three days: Big & Rich, Lee Brice and Kip Moore are among the scheduled headliners for the Toyota Texas Fest. 5:30 p.m. May 20; 1:30 p.m. May 21; 2 p.m. May 22. Toyota Stadium, Frisco. $10 single-day; $20 three-day pass. toyotatexasfest.com
Rockin’ the River at Panther Island Pavilion
This annual summer concert series, down by the Trinity River, kicks off June 16 with Mike and the Moonpies (the full line-up will be revealed soon), and will continue each week on Thursdays. 5 p.m. June 16. Panther Island Pavilion, Fort Worth. Free. pantherislandpavilion.com/rockintheriver
More festivals/concert series of note
Main St. Fort Worth Arts Festival. April 14-17. Various venues, Fort Worth. Free. mainstreetartsfest.org
Mayfest at Trinity Park. April 28-May 1. Trinity Park, Fort Worth. $5-$8. mayfest.org
Wildflower! Art & Music Festival May 20-22. Galatyn Park, Richardson. $5-$40. wildflowerfestival.com
Elm Street Music & Tattoo Fest May 20-21. Various venues, Dallas. $33 single-day pass; $53 two-day pass. elmstreettattoomusicfest.com
Levitt Pavilion summer concert series May 27-July 17. Levitt Pavilion, Arlington. Free. levittpavilionarlington.org
KEGL’s 91.7 FM’s BFD May 29. Gexa Energy Pavilion, Dallas. $9.71-$72.95. ticketmaster.com
Concerts in the Garden June 3-July 4. Fort Worth Botanic Garden, Fort Worth. $22-$55 (prices vary by concert). fwsymphony.org
Bulladora Music Experience June 3-5. Reverchon Park, Dallas. $56-$200. bulladora.com
Untapped Fort Worth June 11. Panther Island Pavilion, Fort Worth. $35-$119. untapped-festival.com/ftw
Vans Warped Tour June 24. Gexa Energy Pavilion, Dallas. $41.50. ticketmaster.com
These days, live music, particularly in larger settings, is infatuated with importance.
Everywhere you turn, the opportunity to spend more and reap a whirlwind of perks — Private bathrooms! A bar unsullied by peons! Unobstructed views just feet from the amplifiers! — abounds, often turning the prospect of purchasing tickets to a concert into something resembling the experience of purchasing a car and suffering through endless sales pitches about add-ons.
Rather than jump through hoops to see a supersized show, why not take a chance on something smaller?
While summer often turns thoughts to big concerts and mammoth festivals, there is just as much to experience at the club level. (Additional pluses: Shows are often indoors and feature air conditioning!)
You could shell out for a gold-plated VIP festival pass, or spread that cash around, and see a mixture of rising stars and established acts performing in more intimate — and, during the searing Texas summer, more temperate — environments.
Here are some of the best smaller-scale, but no less important, concerts on the North Texas calendar.
Kirk Franklin at Majestic Theatre
The Fort Worth-born gospel superstar is having quite the high profile 2016, thanks to his collaborations with Kanye West (Franklin contributes a prayer to Ultralight Beam, the lead-off track on West’s The Life of Pablo) and this valedictory tour, billed as “Twenty Years in One Night,” a survey of Franklin’s Grammy-bedecked career. 7:30 p.m. Sunday. Majestic Theatre, Dallas. $40-$75.
Sarah Jarosz at Kessler Theater
Singer-songwriter Sarah Jarosz hangs her hat in New York City these days, but the Austin-born musician has maintained strong ties to her Lone Star home, evident in almost every note she sings and plays. Her showcase at South by Southwest, pulling from her forthcoming album, Undercurrent, was breathtaking in its subtle skill. With Nicholas Altobelli. 8 p.m. April 14. Kessler Theater, Dallas. $22.
Aubrie Sellers at Lola’s Saloon
The daughter of Lee Ann Womack and Jason Sellers, this Nashville-born singer-songwriter is fast making a name for herself, on the strength of scorching neo-country singles like Light of Day, from her debut album, New City Blues, released earlier this year. It’s only a matter of time before Sellers is headlining venues twice this size, so seize the opportunity to see her up close and personal. 9 p.m. April 17. Lola’s Saloon, Fort Worth. $10.
Three Women & the Truth: Mary Gauthier, Eliza Gilkyson and Gretchen Peters at the Live Oak
You’d be hard pressed to find a more impressive line-up of troubadours — between them, Mary Gauthier, Eliza Gilkyson and Gretchen Peters have crafted some of the most indelible folk music of the last 25 years — and this all-star song swap is further sweetened by transpiring in one of the finest listening rooms in North Texas. 9 p.m. April 22. The Live Oak Music Hall & Lounge, Fort Worth. $20-$160.
Brian Wilson at Verizon Theatre
To mark the 50th anniversary of the Beach Boys’ landmark Pet Sounds, the brilliant mind behind that LP’s groundbreaking pop music, Brian Wilson, is hitting the road to perform Sounds in full. He’ll have long-time collaborators Al Jardine and Blondie Chaplin in tow, helping Wilson render anew his timeless “teenage symphony to God.” 7 p.m. May 1. Verizon Theatre, Grand Prairie. $35-$89.75.
Lauryn Hill at Bomb Factory
Lauryn Hill is becoming better known for taking the stage extremely late (or not at all), rather than being lauded as one of R&B’s enduring game-changers. It has been nearly 20 years since Hill’s solo debut, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill — it’s still her only full-length solo release to date — but time hasn’t dimmed her talent. Provided she makes it to the Bomb Factory, it should be an evening to remember. 9 p.m. May 4. Bomb Factory, Dallas. $55-$80.
Robert Ellis at Kessler Theater
At this year’s South by Southwest, the Houston-born singer-songwriter Robert Ellis previewed material from his forthcoming self-titled album, which will be released two days prior to this intimate North Texas gig. On tracks like Elephant and Perfect Strangers, Ellis displays his customary blend of arresting melody and lacerating lyrics. 8 p.m. June 5. Kessler Theater, Dallas. $18-$26.
Eagles of Death Metal at House of Blues
Rather than retreat from touring and succumb to the trauma of surviving the horrific violence that marred their now-infamous show at Paris’ Bataclan last fall, rockers Eagles of Death Metal are defiantly hitting the road, touring behind their most recent LP, 2015’s Zipper Down. With Thelma and the Sleaze. 8 p.m. June 22. House of Blues, Dallas. $25-$35.
Halsey at Allen Event Center
This stop marks Halsey’s second performance in North Texas in less than a year (after a sold-out October turn at South Side Ballroom). The New Jersey-born electropop songstress continues to tour behind her 2015 major label debut, Badlands, which spawned the hit single New Americana. 8 p.m. July 10. Allen Event Center, Allen. $29.50-$39.50.
Fitz & the Tantrums at House of Blues
Los Angeles soul-pop outfit Fitz & the Tantrums is one of the most reliably entertaining bands in the business at the moment. Fueled by the charisma and chemistry of Michael Fitzpatrick and Noelle Scaggs, the sextet is hitting the road in support of its self-titled third album, which arrives June 10. 8:30 p.m. July 23. House of Blues, Dallas. $30-$45.
More club/theater shows of note
Ashanti & Ja Rule Saturday. Gas Monkey Live, Dallas. $45.
Beach House Saturday. Bomb Factory, Dallas. $30.
Bryan Adams Saturday. Verizon Theatre, Grand Prairie. $29.95-$89.95.
Parker Millsap Saturday. Kessler Theater, Dallas. Sold out.
Hayes Carll (two shows) April 16. Kessler Theater, Dallas. $20.
Kurt Vile and the Violators April 16. Granada Theater, Dallas. $24 advance, $28 day of show.
Ellie Goulding April 18. Verizon Theatre, Grand Prairie. $29.50-$59.50.
Smashing Pumpkins April 18. Majestic Theatre, Dallas. $45-$65.
Gin Wigmore April 20. Trees, Dallas. $15.
George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic April 22. House of Blues, Dallas. $29.50-$49.50.
ABC’s Nashville in Concert April 23. Verizon Theatre, Grand Prairie. $39.50-$150.
Lee “Scratch” Perry April 30. Trees, Dallas. $25.
John Fullbright May 13. Live Oak Music Hall & Lounge, Fort Worth. $16-$160.
Ray Wylie Hubbard & Jonathan Tyler May 13. Billy Bob’s Texas, Fort Worth. $16-$22.
The Sonics May 13. Trees, Dallas. $30.
Jeezy May 15. Gas Monkey Live, Dallas. $70-$5,000.
Bebel Gilberto May 18. Kessler Theater, Dallas. $24-$36.
Leigh Nash May 20. Live Oak Music Hall & Lounge, Fort Worth. $12-$18.
Lucius May 20. Trees, Dallas. $17.
Charlie Mars May 21. Live Oak Music Hall & Lounge, Fort Worth. $15-$20.
We Are Scientists May 21. Lola’s Trailer Park, Fort Worth. $15 advance, $17 day of show.
Sam Beam and Jesca Hoop May 28. Kessler Theater, Dallas. $30.
Chris Robinson Brotherhood June 10. Gas Monkey Live, Dallas. $20-$500.
Leon Russell June 18. Granada Theater, Dallas. $30-$53.
Night of the Proms June 25. Verizon Theatre, Grand Prairie. $43.75-$103.75.
Sam Riggs July 15. Billy Bob’s Texas, Fort Worth. $12-$16.
Ted Nugent July 16. Billy Bob’s Texas, Fort Worth. $20-$45.
“Weird Al” Yankovic July 16. Winspear Opera House, Dallas. $49.50-$69.50.
Shawn Mendes July 20. Verizon Theatre, Grand Prairie. Sold out.
Brand New & Modest Mouse July 22. The Field at Verizon Theatre, Grand Prairie. $47.99.
Rhye July 22. Trees, Dallas. $25.