Our 40 Favorite Concerts of 2015.

In 2015, Dallas music fans were spoiled with some great live performances.

From Erykah Badu's christening of the resurrected Bomb Factory and Courtney Barnett's explosive performance at Dada to Kendrick Lamar's sermon at South Side and Sleater-Kinney's electric show at the Granada, we've seen plenty of amazing concerts this year.

See Also:
Locals On Lists. // Every Year-End List That Featured A Dallas-Based Artist.
Show Stoppers. // Our Favorite Concert Shots of 2015.
Best Albums of 2015. // Our Staff Picks For Top International Releases.
The Year In Leon Bridges. // 45 Ways Leon Bridges Had A Way Better 2015 Than You Did.

We've had many favorites throughout this run — say, 40 or so. Yeah, 40. To that end, here are our 40 favorite live shows from 2015, presented in chronological order, because picking an order this year proved just a little too difficult. — H. Drew Blackburn

Thundercat photo by Karlo X. Ramos

Thundercat, -topic, Roger Sellers at Three Links
Friday, January 23

Review Excerpt: Playing his six-string bass more like a guitar — or hell, maybe even a piano? — than a typical four-string bass, Thundercat created a sonic palate that kind of defied description. Joined by just a keyboard player and drummer, the trio dabbled in pop, soul and R&B as filtered through some pretty avant jazz influences. If we had to put it into words, we'd say his material sounded like if Victor Wooten musically masturbated over the coolest, unreleased Hall & Oates b-side of all time — and then Squarepusher came along and remixed the whole thing. — Cory Graves

PartyNextDoor at South Side Music Hall
Friday, February 13

Review Excerpt: This show turned out to be a nice little feather in the performer's cap after a week that saw him catching a substantial amount of added buzz. Already still riding high on the wake of last July's PartyNextDoor Two LP wherein the performer fully established himself as a syrupy, sensual vocalist, he also appeared on Drake's surprise If You're Reading This, It's Too Late release from this past Thursday, capably setting the tone of “Preach,” one of that album's more immediately gripping tracks. — Pete Freedman

Sarah Jaffe, Blue, the Misfit, Sam Lao at Trees
Friday, February 13

Review Excerpt: In total, it was eight musicians performing 30 songs in two hours, with nary a break, save for a quickly fixed technical difficulty or two. Not bad considering that Jaffe's management says there was no formal rehearsal for the event, just a 30-minute run-through discussion on how it'd all go down the day before. — PF

Trash Talk, Ratking, Lee Bannon at Club Dada
Tuesday, February 17

Review Excerpt: More than a few shirts were ripped, at least a handful of direct mid-mosh punches to the face landed on their targets and one young fan somehow got so messed up during a particularly violent circle pit that she stumbled out of it with blood rushing from her head. But these people also got a good time: Aside from a single fan who was somewhat forcibly removed from the venue for being too angry in his response to the music, the jaws that weren't on the floor were tightly clenched into smiles. — PF

Trash Talk photo by Karlo X. Ramos

Raury, Blue, the Misfit and Sam Lao at Club Dada
Saturday, March 21

Review Excerpt: Raury, thanks in large part to the humility with which he presented himself on stage, comes off as the rare young performer who seems to know that he doesn't yet have it all figured out and that there's still plenty to be learned — even if, at this point, he appears light-years ahead of his peers. — PF

Spillover Music Festival at Deep Ellum venues
Sunday, March 22

Review Excerpt: Back out on Three Links' patio, a friend and I end up talking with White Mystery drummer Francis White, who's not only a) still here, but b) rocking a shirt for another Spillover band, Dirty Fences. He's a big fan of Spillover, he says. Considering how many he's played — at least three by my count — I'm not surprised. Still, I ask him to explain: “You get partied-out at South by Southwest,” he says. “I like Spillover. We've done a few of them now, and this one's been really good. The bands are all great. I think it's pretty easily my favorite Spillover ever. [Parade of Flesh head] John [Iskander] is really killing it, man.” He is. This Spillover was another great time. But after 12.5 hours of it, I'm a little partied out myself. Till next year, Spillover. Have an awesome summer and stay cool forever. — PF

Erykah Badu and the Cannabinoids and Sarah Jaffe at the Bomb Factory
Thursday, March 26

Review Excerpt: To say that the Bomb Factory's addition to the landscape is a welcome one is an understatement. It's far more than that — just as any of the Deep Ellum regulars marveling at and jawing about the building all Thursday night long could more than attest. There are expectations for this building. It made for an exciting scene, to be sure. Really, last night felt like a climax. And yet, once more, it bears repeating: This is only the start of the story. — PF

Spillover photo by Pete Freedman

Sleater-Kinney at the Granada Theater
Thursday, April 16

Review Excerpt: And with that, the band blasted into a stirring five-song encore, highlighted by the stripped down, harmonica-laden “Modern Girl” and a briskly crisp take on 1997's “Dig Me Out,” the biggest and, arguably, most important track the band ever released. The lyrics of the latter, of course, famously center around a dominant and empowered female figure. It made for a fitting ending, and once again showed this band's own dominance, all these years later. At last night's show, Sleater-Kinney made it clear: We need this band more now than we maybe ever have. — CG

Lee Fields & The Expressions and The Tontons at Club Dada
Friday, April 24

Review Excerpt: On this night, Fields embodied the heart of soul. Better yet, the sexagenarian dance and sang the night away, looking and sounding a man 40 years his junior. There was just so much passion, so much authenticity and so much conviction behind his each and every move that every chord of his performance felt vital. He showed no signs of wear, whatsoever. Rather, he just kept the energy high all night, unrelentingly wooing his crowd as he did. — Brandon Mikeal

Saul Williams at Club Dada
Thursday, April 30

Review Excerpt: “This is not a show. It's a workshop.” Those were the first words to come out of Saul Williams' mouth as he began his set at Club Dada last night. And it didn't take him long to prove it. What followed that missive was a night of intense drum beats and spoken-word breaks that reflected on current hot-button issues such as the rioting in Baltimore and the greater issue of racism in America. — Karlo X. Ramos

Father, Maxo Kream, Crit Life, Team Next and KeithCharles Spacebar at the Prophet Bar
Friday, May 8

Review Excerpt: Then, as unexpectedly as Father took the stage, he left just as abruptly, leaving fans in puddles of perspiration and confusion when he did. Still, he exited on something of a euphoric note. His was a quick performance, but a satisfying one. And despite whatever complaints were made about the blistering temperatures, all that mattered was that the music lived up to standards. Yup. It was lit, indeed. — Porttia Portis

Saul Williams photo by Karlo X. Ramos

Purity Ring at the Bomb Factory
Friday, May 22

Review Excerpt: And Purity Ring wouldn't disappoint this set, either. The Canadian electro-pop duo's music is an undoubtedly pleasing collection, if maybe not the most innovative output of all time, but their live show is something to marvel at, for sure — a display well worthy of the night's massive turnout. The band's confident stage presence, coupled with the Bomb Factory's powerful sound system and its full house, made Friday's show one of the most memorable yet in the new venue. — BM

-topic and Joonbug's Cake Jam at Three Links
Saturday, May 23 and Sunday, May 24

Review Excerpt: Even in this extended-to-two-nights form, the Cake Jam once again stood as a thrilling and appropriately welcoming affair. There's been chatter in recent weeks that -topic could possibly follow Joonbug's lead and leave town sooner than later for California. That said, here's openly hoping that, no matter their year-round home, these two keep the Cake Jam going. In its second go, the Cake Jam firmly established itself as one of the more enjoyable offerings on the annual Dallas music calendar. — KXR

Hiatus Kaiyote at Trees
Wednesday, May 27

Review Excerpt: Then, within moments of that encore's completion, the spotlights dimmed, the house lights came on, and the crowd dismissed itself back into the serenity of Deep Ellum's weeknight calm. Inside Trees, all was quiet, save for the lingering ghosts of the soul that had, only moments prior, filled the space — memories that, for those in attendance on this night, aren't likely to be exercised for some time. — PP

Cake Jam photo by Karlo X. Ramos

Post Malone, Devy Stonez, BeMyFriend and more
Friday, May 30

Review Excerpt: Was it the Dallas hip-hop milestone of a concert that some in attendance 100 percent wanted it to be? I mean, it might've been; it really was pretty cool. And it was a thrill for Post, as he acknowledged after the show, that his first-ever sold-out performance happened here in his hometown, with his family there to watch on. On the flip side, was it an absolutely over-the-top display of the hype machine at work? Yes, for sure, almost hilariously so. — PF

Courtney Barnett and Chastity Belt at Club Dada
Saturday, June 8

Review Excerpt: But, far more than a simple emcee, she also confirmed what all the hype surrounding her wordy-in-more-ways-than-one debut LP, this year's Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit, is about — that, beyond its lyrical fun, there's a real pop-rock melody songwriting know-how and rather appealing just-this-side-of-wheels-off musicianship on display, continuing the trend first seen last year's stateside-released The Double EP: A Sea of Split Pea comp. — PF

D'Angelo and Meg Mac at the Bomb Factory
Tuesday, June 16

Review Excerpt: To be sure, by the time the lights in the space went down to signal his arrival, the anticipation built up by D'Angelo's 14-year absence from touring through town was palpable. And, following an impressive opening set from Australia's Meg Mac, D'Angelo would indeed live up to that hype. — KXR

Local Education Fest at Three Links
Saturday, June 20

Review Excerpt: The fest, an extension of the local promotions and booking company's recurring Local Education series of shows at the same venue, saw 12 acts performing across two stages — the usual indoor one, as well as a second, pop-up space out on the back patio — over the course of the day. It was an excitingly varied offering, too, with hip-hop acts (Fab Duece, The Outfit, TX and Blue, The Misfit), pop acts (Sudie and Rat Rios), rock acts (The Black Dotz, Dead Mockingbirds and Animal Spirit), metal acts (FOGG and Mountain of Smoke), electronic acts (Teen Slut) and even folk-rock acts (Jake Paleschic) sharing the bill. — PF

D'Angelo photo by Karlo X. Ramos

J. Cole at the House of Blues
Sunday, June 21

Review Excerpt: For all of the pre-show excitement and mystery, Sunday night's $1 pop-up J. Cole show at the House of Blues in Dallas managed to live up to its considerable hype.
It kinda had to, or else: Long ahead of the location of the venue being announced via Cole's Twitter at just a shade after 4 p.m., fans started advantageously lining up at the Victory Park facility well before noon, hoping that rumors of this location ending up the right one panned out. Their guess would prove right, but the 1,200 or so attendees who made it inside for this first stop on Cole's four-city “Dollar and a Dream” tour would have to endure a substantial wait even once they were let into the music hall. The show itself wouldn't start until 8.
— BM

Ishi, Sealion, Blue, the Misfit, and Wrestlers at Trees
Friday, July 10

Review Excerpt: Lines were blurred, and folks seemed just as happy to watch the always charismatic rapper Blue, the Misfit jump off the stage and finish off his set by doing the last verse of “All Systems Go,” amid his adoring fans, as they were to dance along with Wrestlers or mosh around wildly to Sealion. And this phenomenon was only taking a step further when Blue joined Sealion at the end of its set to cover The Gorillaz' “Clint Eastwood.” It was one of the coolest things we've seen all year. Really, the only local that could have reasonably closed out such a spectacle was Ishi and its exceedingly complex array of lasers, lights, costumes, flying burlesque dancers, scenery and other projected visuals. — PF

Mad Decent Block Party below the Woodall Rodgers overpasses
Saturday, August 22

Review Excerpt: In the end, I suppose it doesn't matter, as the crowds raged on for seven hours in the unforgiving Texas heat either way. Honestly, it's a wonder that people were still standing by the time Skrillex got his set going on Saturday night, let alone still willing to give in to the performer's requests that the crowd jump around like they were appearing in a workout video. These people are animals. — Mikel Galicia

J. Cole photo by Brandon Mikeal

Sealion, Bludded Head and Def Rain at Aqua Lab Studios
Saturday, August 29

Review Excerpt: “This is going to be in the Dallas Public Library, you know,” [Sealion frontman Hunter Moehring] said at one point during his band's remarkably house show- feeling set. Bodies couldn’t help but slam back and forth into one another. Playing songs both new and old, the band roared through its set much to the delight of those on-hand, but probably to the detriment of those who might one day hear this performance in the future. No matter: Vice Palace's tape series was conceived with the idea of capturing an energy more than a sound. On this night, we're sure that it did. — Evan Henry

Prayers, iill at Club Dada
Tuesday, September 1

Review Excerpt: Prayers, in essence, has managed to turn negativity into something truly and deeply positive. Vocally opposing the potential presidency of Donald Trump, the duo spoke out at one point about its own political indifference, bringing its near-capacity crowd great joy. For fleeting moments here and there, you could even see that exuberance sneak into the band's own, otherwise tough and menacing expressions.
— EH

Chelsea Wolfe at the Kessler Theater
Sunday, September 20

Review Excerpt: Powerful and enchanting, Wolfe and her band left room for interpretation within their sea of sound. Reveling in the buzz of Abyss and the occult nature that surrounds Wolfe and her haunting vocals, the crowd was left in a trance — a state of awe, if you will — as Wolfe performed for well more than an hour, including a two-song encore. — EH

Sealion by Karlo X. Ramos

Destroyer at Trees
Thursday, September 24

Review Excerpt: As Destroyer's sound has evolved over the years, the music has gone from a poetic indie-folk to something that leans much more heavily into jazz. The latest record, Poison Season, amps up the rock 'n' roll in the mix — but if you aren't into sax in your rock music, it's likely going to seem really strange. Fortunately, Bejar's spoken-word, poetic, free-flowing lyrics pair really well with the improvisational jazz rock happening around him. — Jeremy Hughes

Alice Cooper Band at Good Records
Tuesday, October 6

Review Excerpt: That's right: Before heading off to Downtown Dallas drinking spot Midnight Rambler to catch up with his old buddies, Cooper played with his old friends for about an hour at the store. And with his old band behind him (plus touring Alice Cooper guitarist Ryan Roxie filling in for the late Glen Buxton), Cooper led the room through hits such as “School's Out” and “No More Mr. Nice Guy,” and even an encore of “Elected.” — KXR

Borns at Club Dada
Thursday, October 8

Review Excerpt: Alas, at this show, Borns proved that remarkable vocal ability to be all his own, indeed. And, really, that confirmation alone was worth the effort of seeing this performance. On the surface, Borns is what Borns is — just the latest indie pop act in a long line of indie pop acts who've burst out the gate with a couple damn-catchy singles. But where Borns, abetted on this night by four backing players, sets himself apart is with the clear vocal talent he boasts. Other up-and-coming acts of this ilk might rely on a certain bombast to carry its early touring shows; with Borns, there's no such need. In other words: Last night's performance, as antics go at least, was a fairly timid, inoffensive one. — PF

Alice Cooper photo by Karlo X. Ramos

Fidlar, Dune Rats at Club Dada
Friday, October 9

Review Excerpt: At one point, frontman, Zac Carper, took a moment to dedicate the song “West Coast” to a fan that passed away earlier this year. It was a touching moment, albeit one that was short-lived. Not long after, a young female fan was thrown through a rowdy swath of bodies, grinding the band's set to a halt. Stopping things down, Carper reminded folks once again to take care of one another and be cool to each other and so on. From there, the appearance of R. Kelly mannequins that apparently were first used on one of Kelly's tours fueled the evening's remainder, which got grimier and further out of hand. — EH

A$AP Rocky, Vince Staples, Tyler the Creator, Danny Brown at South Side Ballroom
Friday, October 9

Review Excerpt: Instead, the night ended with Rocky and his hypemen jumping around to Chief Keef's masterpiece in American songwriting, “Faneto,” which is probably the coolest and most fun way anybody can end their concert — well, without an encore, at least. Still, it was well played by Pretty Flacko. The late great, Yams, would've been proud. — H. Drew Blackburn

Weezer, Fitz and the Tantrums and more at Reunion Park
Friday, October 9

Review Excerpt: Perhaps the funniest moment of the night, however, came when the Dallas Morning News' Robert Wilonsky, serving as host of the night, introduced an enthusiastic Mayor Mike Rawlings to the stage: Following his intro, Rawlings took a big shot of Jameson, handed the glass to Wilonsky and then proceeded to go on an impassioned speech about the greatness and prospects of Dallas. Many in the crowd were taken aback — but also excited for the future of Dallas as Mayor Rawlings zealously described his goals. — BM

The Internet, St. Beauty, Moonchild at Trees
Thursday, October 15

Review Excerpt: One of neo-soul's stipulations is that one must “stay woke,” as they say. And The Internet even delivered there, too. To a sea of lit up phones and sky high-lighters, Syd the Kyd at one point led her band in “Penthouse Cloud,” a song that begins as follows: “Did you see the news last night? They shot another one down. Does it even matter why? Or is it all for nothing?” Syd's voice cracked and went slightly horse at parts in this song. Here, her flaws blossomed into strengths. Through the rawness, the crowd couldn't help but too feel the pain and the sense of numbness as she kept on singing: “Rather watch the world burn down from a penthouse cloud, real talk.” Real talk indeed. — HDB

Kendrick Lamar at South Side Ballroom
Thursday, October 29

Review Excerpt: Have you ever had a religious experience? Felt touched by an angel, apostle or God himself? When it happens, electricity and The Spirit course through your bones. You may squeal or raise your hands to the sky or perhaps dance around uncontrollably while screaming “Yes, Lord!” You're most likely to experience this in an actual church — probably some run down house of worship deep in the southern states, one that rattles when the choir sings. But Dallas experienced it last night at South Side Ballroom, too, at Kendrick Lamar's sold-out show that came as part of his “1st Annual Kunta's Groove Sessions.” — HDB

The Internet photo by Jeremy Biggers

Future's set at Rageville at the Bomb Factory
Friday, October 30

Review Excerpt: Future's set — wild and fun, a barrage of hit after hit — was like popping all the pills he grimly raps about and finally letting euphoria set in after all the pain.The medication was needed for nearly the same reason Future takes it — to hide the demons and to wash away the pain. This audience's pain came at the hands of a torrential downpour of rain outside and a long, exhaustive bill of openers. Thinking back, leading up to Future's set was like spending 56 nights in a Dubai jail: You stand for hours and hours on end in damp (at best) or soaked (at worst) clothing, listening to mostly EDM DJs spin what coalesces into basically three hours of the same damn computer warblings. Suffer through that, and you too might need some OxyContin and Xanax to stay sane. But, hey, a high dosage of Future works just as well. — HDB

Parquet Courts, Party Static at Rubber Gloves
Thursday, November 5

Review Excerpt: But it was more than just a night filled with nostalgia. No, this night was plenty fresh. Bodies were bruised and sweat was exchanged — everything you'd expect from such an exhilarating show from such a majorly hyped band in such a dingy little dive like Gloves. It was like the band knew it was just the right time to his the refresh button on its Denton legacy. For, last night in Denton, Parquet Courts' legacy seemed to start again anew. — EH

Leon Bridges, the Texas Gentlemen at the Majestic Theatre
Saturday, November 14

Review Excerpt: As this stage of his career as a rookie begins to come to a halt, it'll be exciting to see what he does next. There were on this night a few glimpses into the future, like the new number he performed to start off his encore, “Pussy' Footin'.” The song is an electrifying number that you just cannot help but dance to. Bridges was fantastic and triumphant and near perfect as he performed it. My only true objection? With all that moving and shaking and contorting with the rhythm, he did not dab. Leon Bridges should have dabbed. — HDB

Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats at Trees
Wednesday, November 18

Review Excerpt: The Night Sweats are a hot ticket at the moment and, man, did the band ever live up to expectation last night, playing an hour of nearly album-perfect renditions of its tunes with a six-piece backing band that included organ and a horn section. To use the old there-was-never-a-dull-moment cliché would be apt here as well, as the music never stopped, with organ interludes and the like to transition between numbers. Even in the few spots Rateliff stopped to briefly address the packed house, a bed of soft organ underscored him like a good gospel sermon. — CG

Future photo by Karlo X. Ramos

Sam Outlaw at Twilite Lounge
Tuesday, November 24

Review Excerpt: It was, indeed, a special showing. Everyone in attendance — a lot that included a few dozen local country and Americana musicians, a Hall of Fame Texas Rangers broadcaster and a whole bunch of folks with good taste — watched reverently as Outlaw rolled through his complete catalog of laid back, gentle country. (He calls it “soft rock with pedal steel.”) Making it even more special was the fact that his Gram Parsons-recalling California-bred country was being pulled off by a bunch of Texas boys: Outlaw's backing band for this current Texas swing is members of Houston native Robert Ellis' band — including Mr. Ellis himself on keys and rhythm guitar. — CG

Mac Miller and Tory Lanez at the Bomb Factory
Wednesday, November 25

Review Excerpt: Go to enough rap shows and you'll hear artists talking over and over again about how they're going to “go big” during their performances. That's a cool notion, for sure. But, oftentimes, it's just talk. Inside the Bomb Factory's massive confines, it's an actually realistic proposition. Certainly was on this night, at least. — Breanna Loose

Bobby Sessions album release at Trees
Friday, November 27

Review Excerpt: Bobby Sessions was the marquee name on the bill, as the event was the official release show for his outstandingly good album, LOA (Law of Attraction). On paper, the event was all about Bobby. But in its essence, it was a fast-paced display of Dallas' immense rap talent — and only a fraction of it too. — HDB

Cover photo of Father by Kathy Tran


















































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