Because We’re Masochists, We Decided To Look Back At The Best Touring Concerts That The Pandemic Kept From Coming To North Texas In 2020.
As 2020 draws to its close, we’re reminded that we haven’t been able to ride our beloved White Claw-fueled, post-concert highs in nearly a year now thanks to the still-ongoing pandemic.
Yes, COVID-19 has imposed its toll on just about every facet of life, but perhaps its most forceful decimation has been afflicted on the live-entertainment industry, both locally and nationally. From the debilitation of stagehand and promoter work to the mere existence of venues themselves, the hole has only grown deeper and deeper this year where an escape once offered solace in dark times like this.
Here at home, we’ve lost venues like the iconic The Lizard Lounge and even newer players like Blue Light Dallas. With no shows to book, the Texas-based indie promoter Margin Walker also succumbed to the gravely fractured touring industry. Meanwhile, all across the country, small and independent venues are shuttering as live entertainment is well-understood to be the last industry that will be able to operate at full capacity again.
Granted, some of our fears for the future of live music could be quelled with the news of Congress’ embarrassingly long-overdue agreement on the latest stimulus package. If passed on Monday, the bill will include $15 billion in relief for live music venues as part of the Save Our Stages Act, which comes thanks in large part to the National Independent Venue Association’s efforts.
As this sliver of optimism has us cautiously excited about the return of live music in 2021, we thought we’d take a look back at some of the concerts we were most looking forward to, but were never able to experience, in 2020.
Please join us in manifesting that they’ll all be able to reschedule once it’s safe again — although we’d take almost any shows at this point if it meant concerts could come back sooner.
Well, except for Trapt — fuck Trapt.
Rolling Stones at The Cotton Bowl (May 29)
Listen, have The Rolling Stones toured Dallas umpteen times? Yes. But what made this stop on their “No Filter Tour” particularly rousing was the location: The motherfucking Cotton Bowl! This show’s announcement came as a bit of a pleasant surprise, as Dallas’ largest venue seemed to have finally been dusted off for more than just TX/OU Weekend and the State Fair of Texas. Also, the last time the Stones came to Dallas was 2015, and our inner pragmatist can’t help but wonder how many tours they even have left in them.
BTS at The Cotton Bowl (May 9 and 10)
Believe it or not, The Stones weren’t even the biggest show set to take place at the Cotton Bowl this year. Alas, it seems as if K-pop stans, formidable a foe as they are, finally met their match in the coronavirus. Prior to the pandemic, the behemoth K-pop boy band BTS’ omnipresence afforded them what was supposed to be a two-night stay at the iconic stadium in Fair Park. Regardless of if the infectiously saccharine genre has won you over by now, this would have been an objectively fascinating spectacle. Or would it have been? What’s a 100,000-person capacity to one of the biggest international acts in the world at the moment, anyway?
Janet Jackson at American Airlines Center (August 3)
Because Janet Jackson, despite her massive star, is still somehow extremely underrated, we were thrilled at the announcement of not only a Dallas stop on her “Black Diamond Tour,” but the promise of a new album of the same name arriving along with it. The release would have marked the pop icon’s first album in five years since 2015’s Unbreakable. With less than a month left in this hellish year, though, it doesn’t look like we’re getting that new album or its tour at this point. Perhaps that’s for the best; 2020 doesn’t deserve Janet, anyway.
Bauhaus at The Bomb Factory (July 23)
After a 13-year hiatus, a new tour was lined up for the widely influential goth-rock band — and its announcement immediately and expectedly sent all black-clothes-only devotees into a flurry. The band’s Dallas-area fans had reason to be especially excited, though: The only tour date set for Texas was scheduled for right here at The Bomb Factory in Deep Ellum. In retrospect, maybe we were also a little too eager to tell our friends in Houston and Austin we’d send them a T-shirt with a smirk.
My Chemical Romance at American Airlines Center (September 3)
Our still-lingering inner emo kids should have known better than to let nostalgia trick us into thinking this announcement wasn’t too good to be true. Still, MCR’s North American reunion tour sold out in less than six hours, so the devastation of not seeing them probably set in for many of us long before the pandemic cancelled everything ever. We’ll be OK, though — trust us. Much like the rest of the concerts listed here, this one has been rescheduled. The emo legends are currently slated to return to Dallas in September 2021, which is just around the time when experts expect we will be back to somewhat of a sense of normalcy.
Steely Dan at Dickies Arena (June 13)
Like The Beach Boys and The Talking Heads before them, the ‘70s jazz rock band is having a kings-of-influence moment right now. Seriously: You’d be hard pressed not to hear them mentioned among your coolest music friends’ favorites these days. We think Phoebe Bridgers summarized this sentiment best in an interview earlier this year, when she said, “Steely Dan, oh my god, that’s the most straight-man thing I’ve ever heard.” If nothing else, we’ve included this missed show for the “vinyl just sounds how the artist meant for you to hear it” crowd. Then again, the still-new Dickies Arena out in Fort Worth, which had opened just a few months before the pandemic hit, would have been a great venue for this one.
The Weeknd at American Airlines Center (July 25) and Dickies Arena (August 20)
At the earliest onset of the pandemic, The Weeknd released After Hours — arguably his greatest work to date, as is evidenced by its appearance on a laundry list of year-end “Best Ofs” from Complex, Rolling Stone, The Atlantic and more. Is anyone surprised that we wanted to experience one of the best acts in modern pop/R&B music in his prime? Here’s hoping we’re good to go by the rescheduled Dallas date of his “After Hours Tour” set for July of 2021 — plenty of time for us to seethe about him being snubbed for the 20201 Grammys nominations.
Caroline Rose at Club Dada (April 24)
Caroline Rose doesn’t have the name recognition of some of the other artists on this list — but, hey, neither did Lizzo, Courtney Barnett or many others who played Club Dada in recent years before their ascent to supreme visibility. Rose’s third LP, Superstar, was released a mere two weeks before the shutdowns, and she’s already considered a rising star in indie-pop by publications like Pitchfork and Rolling Stone, so a stop by the iconic Deep Ellum spot seemed like an exciting rite of passage for her. Instead, we’re getting bummed about this year all over again just thinking about the could-have-been bopping along to her infectious “Feel The Way I Want To” in the venue’s intimate space.
Thundercat at House of Blues (April 6)
This Grammy winner is a favorite of the likes of Kendrick Lamar, hometown hero Erykah Badu and us — we brought him to town for his first-ever headlining Dallas show, after all! Between his touches on Lamar’s critically-acclaimed To Pimp A Butterfly to his time as bassist with Suicidal Tendencies, there doesn’t seem to be much this guy can’t do. Meanwhile, his latest album, It Is What It Is, has been lauded as one of the best albums of 2020 by everywhere from Billboard to NPR to Paste. We’re gonna need y’all to get that damn vaccine so this one can be rescheduled ASAP.
Harry Styles at American Airlines Center (August 13)
Harry Styles’ late 2019-released sophomore album, Fine Line, marks a pivotal moment in his career, proving he’s to be taken seriously as a solo artist after already having dealt with super-stardom alongside his One Direction crew throughout much of the last decade. While we were more than ready to bask in the greatness of his best work — which the legendary Stevie Nicks referred to as Styles’ own Rumours — to date with his “Love On Tour” run, we’re just going to have to let earworms like “Adore You” and “Watermelon Sugar” live rent-free in our heads until September of next year when this one gets replayed. Hopefully Harry will have added a dress or two to his performance wardrobe by then.
Hayley Williams at The HiFi (June 5)
Perhaps more than ever, this year reminded us that, no, it’s actually not fun living in the real world. Not only was this going to be the Paramore frontwoman’s debut tour as a solo artist, but it would have been one of the first shows to take place at the Design District’s new 1000-capacity venue called The HiFi. Williams’ debut solo record dropped in May, and although it was a bit of a departure from the emphatic anthems we spent the last decade queuing up from her, her darker sound was generally praised. And it would have been fascinating to watch the birth of her first outing without her band in this setting. Plus, the fantastic British up-and-comer Arlo Parks was slated to open. Sigh.
Chris Stapleton at Globe Life Field (March 14)
We were all elated for the opening of the brand new home of The Texas Rangers — and thus practically obligated to be excited that the five-time Grammy Award winner was set to anchor one of the very first concerts at the massive, Home Depot-esque stadium. What’s more, Texas country legend Willie Nelson was also slated to perform on the bill! With Stapleton’s “All-American Roadshow” tour now rescheduled for August of next year, the triple-feature of Fall Out Boy, Green Day and Weezer on the “Hella Mega Tour” is looking as if it will be the inaugural show at the 40,000-capacity venue when its reschedule comes next July. While still a very promising tour to usher in a the new venue, it just feels a little less Texan, is all.
Cover photo courtesy of Big Hit Entertainment.