Ten of the Best Concerts of 2012

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Mike Brooks
Erykah Badu's yankin' ice-skate boots, January 2012
There were too many great performances this year, in venues big and small, by acts local and national, to thoroughly cover within the confines of a blog post. This year's DOMA showcase (self-indulgence alert!) provided some transcendent local sets, we had a wealth of great festival acts to consider, and we were graced with some bucket-list-type touring shows as well. Here are a few that stuck with us.

See also:
- The ten best local country songs of the year
- Five great 2012 concerts in non-traditional venues
- More photos from this year's most memorable shows

Erykah Badu & the Cannabinoids, January 20, Granada Theater
The year started with one of the only full-band Dallas appearances (outside of the Prophet Bar) by Badu, who would spend parts of 2012 embroiled in scandals in Malaysia and Twitter feuds with Wayne Coyne. But back in January, she was in fine form, performing for nearly two hours in a modified pair of ice skates, and teasing us with material that will hopefully end up on an album soon. Right? -- Audra Schroeder

At the Drive-In, April 10, Trees
Who did you love the most during your rebellious, embarrassing teenage years? Was it your parents? A teacher? Siblings? Or was it music that you still hold dear, despite any aural progress you might have made since then? For me, it was At the Drive-In, and specifically the seminal Relationship of Command, still my favorite album to stick on in the car after a long, quiet day. Seeing ATDI's second gig back after a long absence was an impossible dream, and the Trees crowd seemed to all feel the same, as absolute chaos abound across the entire venue. The frantic, intense insanity of seeing one of my most dearly-beloved bands of the last 15 years make a triumphant return to the stage in a venue they could have sold out 20 times over means this gig will stay with me for a long, long time. -- Gavin Cleaver

Father John Misty, May 25, Sons of Hermann Hall
It's still on the walls at Sons of Hermann Hall. It's coming up through the cracks, like the slime in Ghostbusters 2. I'm talking about Father John Misty, aka J. Tillman aka sex panther, and the mojo he left all over the place that night. Together, with opener Har Mar Superstar, it was the sexiest dance party of the year, and it began with the promise of being fully-clothed. That ended quickly as FJM thundered "I'm Writing a Novel" and "Only Son of the Ladiesman" under the ocean blue lights. Key note: the show was barely over an hour. Perfection. -- Nick Rallo

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Melissa Davis Hennings
Ronald Shannon Jackson
Ronald Shannon Jackson, July 7, the Kessler Theater
Ken Shimamoto's summer interview with DFW jazz drummer Ronald Shannon Jackson put a name to a regional history, pinpointing why his influence was more than surface for a generation of free-jazz greats. Seeing him at the Kessler with his crew felt like being transported to another time and place. There was reverent silence while they played, as if we were all joining in the psychic prayer. If you were there that night, you know what I mean. -- Audra Schroeder

Reggie Watts, September 1, North Texas Fairgrounds
Hot Wet Mess ushered in a handful of amazing performances this past September, but chief among them was Reggie Watts. The improv beatboxer put on a dizzying show as he meandered from subject to subject, and spoke in various accents. During an impromptu poetry session, Reggie told the tale of a small village named Denton, which was at one point defeated in battle after summoning an evil force called Grevlar. The whole village was laid to waste, although its maps and blueprints were stored safely on a cloud server, so it was easy to rebuild. During his hour-long set, Watts even gave a shout out to Denton's Atomic Tanlines and Deep Throat. -- Rachel Watts

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Austin Staubus
Action Bronson
Action Bronson, September 23, Dada
It's a great feeling when a show sneaks up on you and crushes both your expectations and your entire year's worth of show-going experiences. I walked into the Action Bronson show at Dada in September expecting a great night. Bronson is not scared of lyrical heavy-lifting, and his smart verse and biting humor have helped cultivate a character I want to eat dinner and snuggle with. But some kind of magic beyond even Bronson's immense talent was at work that Sunday in Deep Ellum. A clear gathering of engaged fans and a lyricist willing to get in my face with a message made the night a memorable one. Being twirled under his arm as he walked through the crowd made me blush. Watching him order a drink from the bar, on the mic mid-set, made me laugh. Listening to him rip through Riff Raff's guest verse on "Bird on a Wire" delighted me. And watching Bronson walk out the front door of the club, rapping his last words as he disappeared down Elm Street, made it all feel like an apparition. Three months later, I am still haunted. -- Deb Doing Dallas

Christeene, September 28, Double Wide
I can't remember the last time I attended a sold-out show at Double Wide, but Austin performer Christeene made it happen one night in late September. We were all willing hostages that night, packed into the small space, as she threw onions and sex toys into the crowd, and terrorized us with her scraped-knee electro-trash. Note to bookers: She needs to come back to a bigger venue. -- Audra Schroeder

New Order, October 12, Palladium Ballroom
When one of the most influential bands of all time announces they're doing a North American tour and that your town is one of the seven stops, you do everything you can to get there. When I reviewed New Order's show back in October, I opened with a note about how, despite a list of naysayers snarking about how it wasn't the true New Order, this was an opportunity for so many of us to catch one of the greats. Honestly, I don't think that says it all; I never thought I'd get to see New Order live and I'm still in shock that it happened. I'll always remember the crowd losing its mind and dancing, as a group of 50-somethings played music they had mastered over 30 years of being together. Was it the best New Order show to ever happen in Dallas? No, but it was the best one I'll ever have chance to see. -- Jaime-Paul Falcon

Kendrick Lamar, October 31, South Side Music Hall
Kendrick Lamar's Dallas outing this Halloween arrived just a week after the release of his major label debut, Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City. But this show wasn't one of Dallas' best of the year because of the headliner alone. What really set this show apart was how well it illustrated the strong love Dallas rap fans have for the culture. -topic was added on the bill as opener in a truly democratic move. Texas rap promotion powerhouse Scoremore was barraged by Dallas rap fans on Twitter, insisting that -topic would best represent the local scene. Alongside Dallas dream-rap staple Dustin Cavazos, the warm-up acts did just that. Kendrick Lamar fed the crowd's energy level, as they sang every lyric in near perfect time, holding up newly purchased copies of GKMC. -- Vanessa Quilantan

Public Image Ltd, November 1, Granada Theater
John Lydon wailed, cajoled and grimaced his way through all of Public Image's "hits," beginning with "This is Not a Love Song," and after that the band took hold of the (surprisingly not sold out) crowd and pummeled it into post-punk goo. Lydon's vocals were just OK, as reverb (somewhat) compensated for his lack of range, but vocals were never his strong suit. Lydon is still all about presence. -- Darryl Smyers

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18 comments
kevan.irsch
kevan.irsch

M83 at the Granada and Florence + the Machine at the Palladium were utter perfection. Galactic also put on a great show. Honorable mention goes to Coldplay.

iwearblack
iwearblack

High On Fire at Trees... Of Montreal at Granada... PiL... Rammstein at AAC... Johnny Winter... The list's kung fu is no good...

G_David
G_David

This list is either a joke, or you guys just didn't get out much this year.

txmuzik
txmuzik

Pegi Young (wife of Neil) & The Survivors (including Wurlitzer Legend Spooner Oldham) was one of the best shows of the year, and only 15 - 20 people saw it. Oh, and it was upstairs in the Cambridge Room at the HOB, the same night of the Memphis Observer Music Awards. Definitely the best band of the night.

choderus
choderus

No mention of the GWAR show last month?  Flawed list.

rkm200
rkm200

Really? You know sometimes reaching for the obscure reference for the sake of coolness kind of misses the point. So every show not in a small venue with an act that has more than twelve fans sucked?And with your omnipresent coverage of now irrelevant Erykah, maybe a name change to the Dallas Observer of Badu!

commiebiker
commiebiker

I only saw half of them...I'm slipping

rkm200
rkm200

@DOCensors @rkm200 

Edie, Badu, Poly Spree, Toadies, Rhett Miller/97's…et al,  blah blah blah.

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