Seattle has always marched to its own beat when it comes to producing exciting new styles and blowing the music world’s collective mind by introducing artists such as Jimi Hendrix, Nirvana, Fleet Foxes, Shabazz Palaces, Odesza, Macklemore, and many, many others. Music is so ingrained into this city that you can catch a live act even while waiting for your flight at the airport!
Emerald City’s nightlife scene is varied and fairly laid-back.
Located far from Los Angeles and New York, Seattle was historically unencumbered by current music industry trends, and instead felt free to do its own thing. This D. I. Y. independent spirit can still be felt at many legendary venues as well as newer vibrant places. We took a closer look at 6 venues, 3 of them mid-sized (0–500 people) and 3 larger ones (500–1,200 people), and analyzed which music genres you’re most likely to catch there.
First, the mid-sized venues.
The Crocodile is one of the most iconic and recognized venues for live acts on the Rock, Indie Pop, and Alternative side of the spectrum. Since the 1990s, this intimate venue has famously hosted a long list of promising talents that later made music history, including Pearl Jam, Mudhoney, alt-J, and Beastie Boys. Today, it continues the tradition of seeking out popping new beats and hosting renowned bands. If you want to catch a live show, be sure to secure your ticket in advance (ranging anywhere from $5 to $25, depending on who’s performing), as the place is small and can sell out quickly.
When craving some local flair in the likes of KEXP features, head out to Tractor Tavern or Nectar Lounge. Anything from Indie Rock, Country and Bluegrass to Funk can rock it out there, with Nectar also often hosting Contemporary Hip Hop, House and Electronic events. Gigs range from aspiring local acts to famous names and respected Seattle songwriters such as Damien Jurado or Jenn Champion. At both venues the admission varies depending on the event, so check out their program beforehand.
What about the bigger venues?
Neumos speaks to those who seek concert venues with a clubby feel. It prides itself in an outstanding sound system and carefully curated gig list, drawing in a variety of local and international names like The Raconteurs, MGMT, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Muse, and more recently, Ross From Friends, Jay Som, and Travis Thompson.
If EDM is your jam, check out Q Nightclub. Catering to House and Future Bass enthusiasts on Thursdays, Q Nightclub hosts DJ nights and fan-favorite acts such as jackLNDN, as well as breakthrough names like JVNA, Bijou, and others. Up-and-coming local Hip Hop talent is featured on Saturdays, occasionally also picking up high-rollers such as Biz Markie. The cover charge is usually around $10.
In Seattle, you can catch a live act even while waiting for your flight at the airport!
The Showbox is another local favorite. Its attractive art deco style makes this concert venue very instagrammable, and a different live act on pretty much any night of the week – some of them high-tier like Jay Park, Death Cab for Cutie, and Oliver Tree – will surely impress. Since it’s a larger venue, it caters to fans of very different genres (from Mainstream Pop to Ska Punk), but our analysis suggests a slightly better chance of randomly catching a gig on the Rock spectrum.
Lovers of all things quirk will definitely dig Café Racer. Doubling as The Official Bad Art Museum of Art, a.k.a. the OBAMA, this spot fosters creativity by hosting improv comedy, Avant-Garde Jazz, open-mic storytelling, and more. Racer is closed on Mondays, but on any other day offers ample opportunity to catch a glimpse of some famed illustrator, writer or musician casually hanging out.
Do you know another Seattle place that would absolutely deserve attention? Be sure to contribute to our venue list and help spread the word!
Cover photo: Tijs van Leur (Unsplash)
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