The pros and cons of Dallas-Fort Worth's big music venues

Dallas-Fort Worth attracts all of music's biggest touring acts, partly because of its population -- 7 million and growing — but also because it has concert venues of every shape, size and stripe.

Next year, the market will get even more crowded with the opening of the Music Factory, a $173 million complex in Irving anchored by an 8,000-capacity indoor-outdoor theater. Until then, here's an insider's guide to the pros and cons of our area's big and medium-size concert venues.

American Airlines Center was filled with the light of cell phones during a concert performance by Kanye West.

American Airlines Center

Giant sports arenas rarely make good concert venues, and the 21,000-capacity AAC is no exception. If you do go, stick to the lower bowl. Sound quality in the upper level is iffy at best.

2500 Victory Ave., Dallas. Check out our list of upcoming shows.

Fans watched the closing numbers as George Strait plays the last show of his final tour at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. The acts are inevitably better than the acoustics.

AT&T Stadium

Like the Allen Event Center and Toyota Stadium in Frisco, AT&T Stadium in Arlington is a part-time music venue, hosting just a handful of concerts a year. That's a good thing, because the acoustics at the Dallas Cowboys' massive "Echodome" are worse than you'd find at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Another drawback: A parking spot alone will cost you as much as most concert tickets do at other venues.

1 AT&T Way, Arlington. Check out our list of upcoming events.

Angels decorate the exterior of Bass Performance Hall.

Bass Performance Hall

Classical music and dance concerts dominate the calendar at this 2,000-seat, horseshoe-shaped European-style concert hall in Fort Worth's Sundance Square. But its excellent acoustics make it perfect for jazz, country and pop shows, too.

525 Commerce St., Fort Worth. Check out our list of upcoming events.

Billy Bob's Texas is billed as the world's largest honky-tonk.

Billy Bob's Texas

Thirty-five years after it opened, the world's largest honky-tonk finally left the Stone Age and banned smoking in May. Standing-room tickets are reasonably priced -- usually $12 to $20, even for big-name acts -- but plan to pony up for reserved seats if you want a clear view of the stage in this sprawling 6,000-capacity room.

2520 Rodeo Plaza, Fort Worth. Check out our list of upcoming events.

Concert goers lined up along the sidewalk in Deep Ellum to see Sarah Jaffe and Erykah Badu perform at the Bomb Factory's 2015 grand opening show in Dallas.

Bomb Factory

When it reopened in 2015, this spiffed-up, mega-size version of the 1990s-era Bomb Factory put Deep Ellum back on the map for big rock shows. If you hate to stand, consider paying extra for one of the 200-or-so reserved seats available in the balcony at many of the shows.

2713 Canton St., Dallas. Check out our list of upcoming events.

Josh Groban performed at the Music Hall at Fair Park.

Fair Park Music Hall

Despite updates over the years, the building's 1920s Spanish baroque architecture is still largely intact. The 3,400-seat theater is used infrequently as a concert venue these days, but when it is, the acoustics are decent - after all, the Dallas Opera called it home for years.

909 First Ave., Dallas. Check out our list of upcoming events.

A Pantera cover band played a set at Gas Monkey Live.

Gas Monkey Live

With a capacity of 2,500, the latest venue from reality TV star Richard Rawlings (Fast N' Loud) has snagged lots of big-name bands since opening in 2014 in what used to be Toby Keith's I Love This Bar & Grill. As a concert space, it's less than ideal, with a huge guitar-shaped bar smack-dab in the middle of the room.

10110 Technology Blvd., Dallas. Check out our list of upcoming events.

Like to stretch out at concerts? You might want to try the lawn seating at Gexa Energy Pavilion.

Gexa Energy Pavilion

Nearly 30 years old, the former Starplex at Fair Park is still a well-functioning outdoor venue, as long as you don't set foot inside the oft-steamy and grimy bathrooms (they're scheduled for remodeling, including air-conditioning, in upcoming updates to Gexa, though). The roofed 7,000-seat reserved section offers the best views and sound, but the 13,000-capacity lawn can feel 10 degrees cooler at night -- a major consideration during much of the concert season.

3839 S. Fitzhugh Ave., Dallas. Get more info here.

Ricky Skaggs, Sharon White and Ry Cooder perform at Granada Theater in Dallas.

Granada Theater

There's not a bad seat in the house at this versatile, 1,000-capacity former movie theater built in 1946. The friendly staff, modest ticket prices and free street parking make it one of Dallas' best midsize concert halls.

3524 Greenville Ave., Dallas. Check out our list of upcoming events.

Fans took advantage of the good sight lines in front of the stage during a performance by Mexican singer-songwriter Julieta Venegas at the House of Blues.

House of Blues

Tickets can be pricey at this upscale chain venue, and the security is a bit too tight. (Must patrons be frisked or wanded at every show?) But HOB's charming 1,600-capacity music hall offers good acoustics and sight lines, especially from the front of the stage and the reserved-seat balcony.

2200 N. Lamar St., Dallas. Check out our list of upcoming events.

It used to be a vaudeville hall, but now the Majestic Theatre hosts performers like Kirk Franklin.

Majestic Theatre

Built in 1921 as a grand vaudeville hall, this baroque gem downtown is the prettiest theater in Dallas to see a concert. With 1,700 seats, it's large enough to host major touring acts, yet even the nosebleed seats in the balcony offer decent sound and a clear bird's-eye view.

1925 Elm St., Dallas. Check out our list of upcoming events.

The Avett Brothers performed at South Side Ballroom in Dallas.

South Side Ballroom and Music Hall

A multifaceted workhorse since it opened in 2003, the 3,800-capacity ballroom is the largest space in the Gilley's Dallas complex and also the most challenging for concertgoers, with poor sight lines, a bland warehouse vibe and usually no seats except for a VIP area. The adjoining, 1,500-capacity South Side Music Hall is a slightly better bet.

1135 S. Lamar St., Dallas. Check out our list of upcoming events.

Fans danced to the music before a Fifth Harmony concert at Verizon Theatre in Grand Prairie.

Verizon Theatre

Comfortable seats and perfect sight lines are the main appeal of this flexible 14-year-old venue, which can be configured to hold as many as 6,000 or as few as 2,000. The downsides: The place is as sterile as a shopping mall Cineplex, and the lack of street parking or public transportation nearby means you have to pay $15 to $40 to park.

1001 Performance Place, Grand Prairie. Check out our list of upcoming events.

Fans filled the opera house before Rodrigo y Gabriela took the stage.

Winspear Opera House

Built in 2009 especially for opera, the 2,200-seat Winspear has also become a regular pop music venue. Its posh atmosphere makes it ill-suited for some rock and R&B shows -- fans rarely get up and dance here --but it's become an all-encompassing cornerstone of downtown's AT&T Performing Arts Center. Although used infrequently, the adjoining Strauss Square is a pleasant, compact amphitheater that can hold several thousand fans in seats or on the lawn.

2403 Flora St., Dallas. Check out our list of upcoming events.

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