The Dallas-Fort Worth area is certainly not lacking in music venues, from dingy clubs in Deep Ellum to the musician-swallowing Cowboys Stadium in Arlington. But if you truly want to appreciate all a band has to offer, the list of places you should go gets significantly smaller.
There are many traits an ideal music venue should have, but there are also the ineffable details that make it rise above others. Although the places on this list arguably have individual faults, each has that certain something that keeps crowds coming back time and again
Bass Performance Hall
This downtown Fort Worth treasure is known more for the arts than anything else, but that doesn't take away from its ability to host a concert. Bass Hall is equally as good at presenting the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra as it is popular acts like Lyle Lovett or Robert Earl Keen, because it is an engineering miracle.
No matter where you sit, its amazing acoustics ensure you hear the same thing, which helps keep the 2,000-plus-seat venue relatively intimate. Plus, it also has the attached McDavid Studio, which is good for smaller, acoustic performances. Locals owe it to themselves to attend a concert here at least once.
Gexa Energy Pavilion
This venue has had no less than five names in its 25-year existence, and you can generally tell what generation someone belongs to by how they refer to this Fair Park spot. (For the record, it will always be Coca-Cola Starplex to me.) But that factoid tends to overshadow what a fun place the
Starplex Amphitheatre Smirnoff Music Centre Superpages.com Center Gexa Energy Pavilion can be to attend a concert.
As an outdoor venue, the acoustics and sight lines can vary depending on your location, but that's also part of its charm. Even more charming is its verdant lawn and outdoor setting, with picnic tables and trees for shade. If nothing else, it deserves points for bringing a steady stream of big-name acts — like the country-heavy lineup in 2013 — to Dallas.
Granada Theater / The Kessler
The Granada and the Kessler share a spot on this list because if you'd never been to either one, you could easily mistake one for the other. Both are former theaters that have been converted to music venues. Both put on multiple concerts every week that range from local up-and-comers to established bands who haven't quite graduated to arena shows. And both serve up an intimate experience that allows fans to almost feel like they're part of the band.
Arguments can — and have been — made for the supremacy of one over the other, but the real winners are anybody who wants to experience the true thrill of live music.
The Gilley's complex has three main music venues, but the Palladium Ballroom provides by far the most bang for your buck. It hosts one big-name band after another who want an intimate venue that can still handle a semi-large number of people. Three thousand or so hearty souls can fit in one of the space's four areas, with three bars available to lubricate the masses.
One downside is the lack of seating for most concerts, leaving those of short stature to jostle for good viewing positions. But if standing shoulder-to-shoulder is the price to pay to get up close to the likes of Alabama Shakes, Ed Sheeran and Morrissey, we'll gladly pony up.
Verizon Theatre at Grand Prairie
There are many venues that claim flexibility when it comes to hosting different acts, but Verizon Theatre truly delivers on that promise. It has a variety of panels that can be dropped down to accommodate smaller acts and make the room more intimate.
But its top capacity of 6,300 fills a great niche for the region, attracting different acts who might not otherwise include Dallas on their tours. From a fan perspective, the sight lines are second-to-none, with the amphitheater-style seating ensuring a great view no matter where you sit.