Justin Timberlake | May 27 & 28, 7:30 pm | American Airlines Center
During the rollout for Man of the Woods—his fifth solo album and first in five years—Justin Timberlake leaned hard on his Southern roots. Along with catalog-rustic imagery of him walking dramatically through cornfields and so on, the Memphis-born singer described the songs he was about to release as “modern Americana with 808s.” His hallmarks remain: the twangy-yet-classic pop croon; the countrified, sweaty beats that have defined him as a solo artist. The difference is in the reckless extremes he takes them to. His Super Bowl halftime show was a bit of a mess, with Prince’s image questioning his ambition from a video screen during the performance. It didn’t matter to his fans, who testify to Timberlake’s staying power: he has sold 32 million records and counting. And his unabashed sincerity, however clumsy, still endears new ones.
Wyclef Jean with the Dallas POPS | May 2, 8 pm | Winspear Opera House
One of the highlights of Wyclef Jean’s almost 30-year career was a 2001 Carnegie Hall concert with an orchestra. The former Fugees leader is re-creating that collaboration on four dates on his Carnival tour, ending with this Dallas show.
Built to Spill & The Afghan Whigs | May 3, 7 pm | House of Blues Dallas
This pairing is a dream for everyone who stayed up late for 120 Minutes in the ’90s. Doug Martsch’s tender vocals contrast with Built to Spill’s raucous guitar sound, and The Afghan Whigs’ perpetual reunions keep fans praying for another round.
Charly Bliss | May 9, 7 p.m. | Three Links
Brooklyn power-pop quartet Charly Bliss keeps it simple. Garbage echoes in their big, metallic sound, yet Eva Hendricks is more matter-of-fact: “Passed out on the subway with blood in my hair / I guess I need a ride,” she sings on “Ruby.”
Primus, Mastodon | May 10, 7 p.m. | South Side Ballroom
The San Francisco rock band has moved on from zany snack-themed album titles to this year’s The Desaturating Seven, based on an anti-greed children’s book called The Rainbow Goblins. The members of Mastodon trade vocals –duties over heavy metal.
Patty Griffin | May 15, 7 p.m. | Dallas Arboretum
Amid the vistas of White Rock Lake, this acoustic set by the Grammy-winning songwriter will be a family-friendly standout of the season. After releasing Servant of Love in 2015, Griffin worked with League of Women Voters and the Jesuit Refugee Service for tours.
Kenny Chesney | May 19, 5 pm | AT&T Stadium
The Wall Street Journal christened this soulful country star “King of the Road.” Chesney continues to sell out stadium tours by somehow making arena shows feel intimate, moving listeners with subtle yet exuberant songwriting his radio country peers can’t touch.
Peter Hook & The Light | May 22, 8 pm | Granada Theater
Peter Hook’s melodic bass playing was arguably the most foundational element of a sound that defined an era, via Joy Division and then New Order. With his new group, he keeps the catalogs of both acts alive by playing songs from their influential albums.
Steely Dan, The Doobie Brothers | May 25, 7:30 p.m. | Toyota Music Factory
In the first wide-range tour since Steely Dan co-founder, guitarist-bassist Walter Becker, died in September, the beloved group finds their ‘70s roots with dad-rocker cousins The Doobie Brothers on a jaunt they’re calling “The Summer of Living Dangerously.”
Kimbra, Son Lux | May 17, 7:30 p.m. | Trees
You might know New Zealand singer-songwriter Kimbra Lee Johnson from her guest vocals on Gotye’s desperate hit “Somebody That I Used to Know.” She might be upstaged by Son Lux, an eccentric trio of musician-producers known for improv.
King Tuff | May 9 | Club Dada
Vermont singer and guitarist Kyle Thomas (King Tuff) heads in a more expansive direction with The Other, a maturing of his garage/glam/psych-rock project released by Sub Pop Records in April.
A Tradition of Revolution | Nasher Sculpture Center | May 12 – Aug. 19
Medardo Rosso’s experimental casts, Pablo Picasso’s influence on Cubism, and the evolution of Minimalism in sculpture are all subjects explored in a contextual summer exhibition which pulls from the museum’s permanent collection and includes recent acquisitions.
Dallas International Film Festival | Magnolia Theatre | May 3-10
DIFF is all in one place for its 12th year, making the weeklong-plus stretch at the beginning of May even more attractive. Don’t miss the Dallas-made 1985, Yen Tan’s drama set in a small Texas town at the surge of the AIDS crisis, and Paul Schrader’s First Reformed, which follows Reverend Ernst Toller (Ethan Hawke), a lonely, middle-aged parish pastor at a small 250-year-old Dutch Reform church in upstate New York.
The Freedmans | May 2 -13 | Studio Theatre
Soul Rep Theater Company debuted this work in 1998 when Dallas’ Freedman’s Cemetery opened. The families and workers who lived in Dallas’ Freedman’s Town community, and their gripping stories, are conjured in layers of history and memory.
The Alexa Dialogues | May 8-20 | Winspear Opera House
The newest production from Dean Terry’s multimedia theater project Therefore defies categorization, but flaunts many: theater, visual art, audio art, and performance among them. Terry’s previous work with emergent technology and AI informs his statement on the platforms. You can read more about that here.
Celebrity Autobiography | May 25-26 | Moody Performance Hall
Ever wonder how Vanna White flips her panels? Let “her” show you. The most overplayed (adored?) American stars from Britney to Elvis are impersonated in this award-winning Broadway show, which becomes an embarrassingly thorough parody of fan obsession.
Cry Havoc | May 11-27 | Amphibian Stage Productions
This one-person play written by U.S. Army veteran Stephan Wolfert in a period of post-traumatic stress brings to life the soldiers in Shakespeare’s time, whose concerns weren’t so different from his own — and ours. Pay what you can.
TITAS: Command Performance | May 5, 7 p.m. | Winspear Opera House
Works by legendary choreographers like Twyla Tharp and Mia Michaels, commissioned by TITAS presets exclusively for this night, give audiences a rare survey of top-tier work. The pieces are served by twelve dancers from leading companies.
Self Injurious Behavior | May 19 – June 10 | Theatre Too
Self Injurious Behavior brings humor and grief together with Jessica Cavanagh’s account of parenting an autistic child as a divorced mom. The protagonist goes on a trip to a renaissance faire with family in Portland to find respite, but she returns with much more.