Photo courtesy of Le Cure.

The 5 Best Tribute Bands in Dallas

The best next-best-things: North Texas' greatest cover bands.

If you don’t see particularly well and maybe suffer from some kind of exceptional earwax buildup, you could be forgiven for wandering onto the grounds at Gexa Energy Pavilion this weekend and thinking you’ve found the greatest lineup ever assembled for a music festival. The Smiths. ZZ Top. The Beatles.

But it’s not meant to be. What is this trickery? The Smiths are never getting back together. The Beatles, as you know, are short a couple key members. The members of ZZ Top, while alive and well, would not be sporting fake beards.

The Throwback Festival boasts an all-star lineup of tribute bands, with 15 of the best next-best-things playing on three stages. It’s easy to scoff at the cover band, but forming a tribute act is a noble undertaking that gives fans all the flash of their favorite bands without kowtowing to constraints of cost or time.

This weekend’s festival has a decent share of acts from around the country, but you don’t have to go far to find ersatz rock stars. Here are five of the best tribute acts in town.

Rock and Roll Over (KISS)

KISS has probably spawned more cover bands than any other act on the planet, from all-female tributes like the wonderfully named PRISS and SLUTTER to the little people lineup of Mini Kiss. It’s easy to see why KISS Inc. has inspired such devotion. The makeup, the pyrotechnics, and the good-times tunes make it look like a lot of fun to be the world’s showiest rock band. A good KISS tribute act can also count on the support of some of music’s most rabid fans. What other band has a fanbase that, without any irony whatsoever, refers to itself as an army?

It’s hard to stand out from the teeming masses of KISS cover bands, but Dallas’ Rock and Roll Over manages to hold its own in a competitive field. The group will never match the shock and awe live spectacle of the genuine article (fireworks are expensive), but Rock and Roll Over is one of the best next-best-things you’re going to find anywhere. They’ve got the look down, they’ve got the sound down, and they’ve got a low-budget knack for the kind of theatrics that make KISS the greatest rock show on earth.

Panic (The Smiths)

A Smiths reunion in the 21st century is about as likely as airborne pigs or a lasting Israel-Palestine peace accord. You can still catch Johnny Marr live or (God help us all) a Morrissey solo concert, but your best bet for a Smiths fix in North Texas is going to be Panic, fronted by Josh Venable (formerly the voice of 102.1 The Edge’s Adventure Club) and filled out by members of Chomsky and other local bands. Venable’s basically a top-notch Smiths karaoke singer, but he nails Morrissey’s vocal tics and distinctly British affectations. The Smiths have a reputation for angst and moping about, but Panic seems to get that the band could also be a lot of fun.

Le Cure (The Cure)

A spooky good Robert Smith impersonation is the key to a Cure tribute band. Le Cure has that covered and then some with Mark Hernandez, a Robert Smith doppelganger if there ever was one. If you close your eyes, it’s easy to imagine you’re hearing the real deal, which is about the strongest compliment I can give a cover band. If you open your eyes and maybe squint a little bit, you can almost — kind of — imagine you’re even seeing the real deal.

A Hard Night’s Day (The Beatles)

You’ll find some semi-contentious online debate about how much the members of A Hard Night’s Day actually look like The Beatles (not much), but that’s mostly missing the point. The band rocks the Ed Sullivan-era suits, sure. It’s the sound that counts, though, and A Hard Night’s Day does about 200 of the most beloved songs of the 20th century justice. One of the longest-running tribute acts in North Texas, a Hard Night’s Day has gigged internationally, recorded at Abbey Road, and gotten a stamp of approval from one of the Beatles’ old managers, which gives them a nice amount of credibility in the cutthroat world of Fab Four cover bands.

Swan Song (Led Zeppelin)

Swan Song, formed in 1999, doesn’t replicate the look of Led Zeppelin as much as they pay tribute to the vibe. Zeppelin, at its best, was mysterious and epic. Those are pretty lofty words to apply to a cover band, but Swan Song sound great at replicating the musicianship that made Led Zeppelin such a powerhouse rock band.

 

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Comments

  • Milkshake Man

    Missed one. Naked Lunch. Steely Dan tribute band.

  • MusicMonkey

    You missed THE #1 tribute band in Dallas – Back in Black (AC/DC) as well as Def Leggend, Kill ‘Em All, and Blizzard of Ozz.

  • Gordon Joswiak Jr

    You Missed the Gorehounds The Cramps tribute Band! Luxx Lives again!

  • SilverSummerSun

    Naked Lunch is a stellar Steely Dan tribute band. Probably only Hard Nights Day is close in terms of the quality of musicianship.

  • Chris Edwards

    Petty Theft is so underrated.

  • BossFan

    Thunder Road does a good job with Bruce Springsteen

  • sprygrandma

    Hard Nights Day is awesome. Swan Song and Le Cure are solid. Panic would be better with a better singer. RaRO just can’t hit the notes, which kills the vibe.

    Naked Lunch is one of the best. Back in Black – awesome. But my fav is The Mumbles…though I guess they’re more cover than tribute.

  • Trevor G

    Petty Theft sucks.

  • Trevor G

    Petty Theft sucks.

  • Trevor G

    You also missed Forgotten Space

  • Leticia Gracia

    I prefer Destroyer KISS Tribute myself.

  • Strawman

    Haven’t heard the others but disagree completely with the Swan Song pick. Heard Swan Song guys behind THE best tribute band, Texas Flood, featuring the spot on SRV guitar work of Tommy Katona at the Granada last year. Texas Flood blew the crowd away! Once Swan Song took the stage with their swing and miss renditions of Led Zep, a lot of the crowd, including me and my family, walked out after about five songs. They may be a decent tribute band, but I just don’t drink that much anymore.

  • Matthew Zitney

    Your missing Texas Flood SRV tribute band starring and doppleganger like Tommy Kotona.

  • Christopher Paul

    Since you’re married to one of the guys in that band, what a shock!

  • Christopher Paul