Let me just stipulate this fact: I have been to fewer local shows in 2017 than any year since probably 1999. This started out as a rough year for The Ghost, and as a result, there are many excellent shows that I’ve missed out on. I cannot claim that this a thorough and comprehensive look at local shows for 2017. I can say that of the performances I witnessed, these are the seven that I will most likely remember the year for. I’m choosing performances as opposed to lineups, and I’m selecting only one act per lineup.
So, since everyone else is doing a best concerts list, why not The Ghost?
- Atlantis Aquarius (November 11th, Double Wide)
First off, congrats to Double-Wide for fourteen years in the business. They celebrated their anniversary in style with a killer lineup that featured Silas Nello and The Bright Light Social Hour, to name a few acts. Much as I love Silas Nello, it was Atlantis Aquarius that stole the show in my book. The band’s soulful southern styles had me totally loving their set. It’s also worth noting that during that set, The Ghost was regretting not nominating Austin Morgan for Best Guitarist in The Ghosty Awards. Hey, there’s always next year.
- The Texas Gentlemen (September 30th, The Kessler Theater)
It’s as if the local music universe converged on The Kessler’s stage for The Texas Gentlemen’s album release show. That statement may seem like hyperbole, but I’m not sure I’ve seen as many guest performers during the course of an evening as that night. I’ll just drop a few names: Keite Young (Medicine Man Revival), Kirby Brown, Matthew Logan Vasquez (Houston, but close enough, right?), Charley Crockett… and I know I’m still missing tons of cool guests. As for The Texas Gentlemen, the band sounded tight as possible.
- Sub-Sahara (August 2nd, Three Links)
I’d seen the name Sub-Sahara on a lot of bills, but it wasn’t until this August I discovered why the band gets invited on so many bills. The band’s post-punk style (think Three Imaginary Boys era Cure) not only sounds amazing, but the group performs their set with a sense of urgency that is rare to find. The band also knows how to work a crowd, with their set evolving (or devolving) into a mosh pit. Sadly, it was my only Sub-Sahara show of the year. Perhaps I should resolve to see the band more in 2018.
- Emmeline (December 17th, The Ballet Burn)
The Ghost has been a long time supporter of Emmeline’s, so it may be surprising to note that her performance at The Ballet Burn (featured above) is the only show of hers I saw all year. This set was a particularly intimate one, with Emmeline performing all the tracks for upcoming album Rise, plus discussing the stories behind the songs. Emmeline is a masterful storyteller, whether singing her tales or conversing with her audience. The night left me even more anxious to get my hands on her upcoming album.
- Old 97’s (Setpember 16, The Bomb Factory)
It should be no surprise that an Old 97’s show made the list. If anything, it should be surprising that the band didn’t take the top spot. Perhaps it was the fact that I attended the show as I began to come down with an illness. Either way, it was still an amazing show. One particular treat was that the band delved a little deeper into their catalog, playing tracks like “Niteclub”, “Oppenheimer”, and “Drowning in the Days.” Plus, it’s kinda mind-blowing to think that Edie Brickell and New Bohemians were the OPENING act.
- Acid Carousel (June 3rd, Club Dada)
2017 marked the inaugural year of Paisley Maze, a psych rock festival put on by Olan Mijana of Monoculture. It was a truly great lineup, but the winner of the hand hands down was Acid Carousel. When the band plays live, the mild 1960’s vibe they present on record gets kicked into overdrive. It was a performance that had the band sweating and the crowd grooving. The psychedelic backdrop helped facilitate the mood, but make no mistake, this is a band that needs to gimmicks. Solid musicianship and tons of youthful energy are more than enough to make Acid Carousel arguably the best live act in Dallas (after all, they DID win my Ghosty Award for Best Live Act).
- Bobby Sessions (December 2, Three Links)
There are performances, and then there are spiritual experiences. When Bobby Sessions takes the mic, you sense that he’s ready to bare every ounce of honesty he has inside of them. Bobby took the audience on a ride, talking about police brutality (“Black America”), dreams (“Bitter”), as well as his own beliefs on the “Law of Attraction”.
It was a performance that left me energized, wanting to do and be more. I saw the fans who spoke to Bobby after the set, and it became clear to me that I was not the only person moved by his message. Bobby delivers his verses in a style that feels more poet slam than traditional MC, and that’s alright. His unique style makes him all the more compelling onstage. If you have never seen Bobby Sessions, give yourself this gift. Consider it nourishment for anyone’s soul that is starving.
Tomorrow, I’m going to share my 17 favorite releases of 2017. I know what you’re thinking. What about the Top 40 songs in the year end countdown? Patience, grasshopper. The wait for the answer will be worth the reward.