Under 21? Fear not. You have lots of options for seeing music. Many traditional venues (Neumos, Crocodile, the Showbox, etc.) open their doors to all ages, because they realize the young have an abundance of enthusiasm and energy for their offerings—even if y'all can't guzzle booze. Also scrutinize The Stranger's online calendar, and if you're on Facebook, join the Seattle DIY Shows! group. Record stores like Everyday Music, Spin Cycle, and Silver Platters host live performances. And the following establishments are all dedicated to non-drinking-age folks.
The epitome of underage culture in Seattle, Vera Project is a magnanimous organization that hosts music shows and art exhibits while also holding workshops and classes involving audio engineering, live and studio recording, event production, silk-screen printing, and more. It also books several high-quality shows a month featuring a diverse array of local and touring acts, such as Speedy Ortiz, Joan of Arc, and Shopping. Volunteering and/or interning at Vera will expose you to hands-on music-biz training and crucial connections.
Hollow Earth Radio
Seattle's weirdest radio station—both online at hollowearthradio.org and on the air at 104.9 FM, KHUH—is a reliable conduit for the deepest subterranean sonic journeys, so tune in and freak out. Blessedly, its DJs double as show promoters, and they use their vast knowledge to book some of the most fascinating savants inhabiting culture's fringes. HER's minuscule real estate punches way above its weight in memorable live experiences. All this and low cover fees, too.
An artists' studio near the Sodo/Georgetown border, Photon Factory sporadically puts on excellent events that spotlight some of the city and country's most interesting purveyors of unconventional sounds. Acts such as Zen Mother, somesurprises, Benoît Pioulard, and Dolphin Midwives have weirded up this intimate, arty space. Follow it on Facebook for updates.
This University District bar/cafe holds the venerable Racer Sessions every Sunday. The concept: You bring your instrument(s) and your wildest ideas and create spontaneously with others. If all goes right, magic ensues and you form lasting musical partnerships that will enrich you for years. You will leave Cafe Race ecstatic... or dejected, depending on your temperament and skill level. But you will definitely not leave unchanged. This charming spot also has interesting DJ nights like Exquisite Corpse, where patrons are encouraged to collaborate on drawings while selectors spin an eclectic mix of music.
A modest, utilitarian rectangle with a grand piano in it, Gallery 1412 occasionally showcases highbrow music for people blessed with long attention spans. Its organizers' promotion game is somewhat lax, but if you read The Stranger's music calendar, you can catch some incredible, obscure acts like experimental-electronic maverick Lichens, minimal-techno great WNDFRM, guitar subversives Paul Metzger and Bill Horist, and ambient-music superstar Norm Chambers.
The old Josephine DIY venue got renovated and now holds a recording studio (Weird Signals), a record store (Jigsaw), and a performance space. You need to venture to Seattle's somewhat inaccessible northwest to get to this nonprofit complex, but you'll be rewarded with exceptional off-center bills. Recent bookings have included Sir Richard Bishop, Tashi Dorji, Michael Hurley, and Chastity Belt.