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Donny McCaslin, Kneebody
You could pour everything I know about jazz into an airplane-size liquor bottle and still have room for enough bourbon to get a buzz going. And yet even my ignorant ass knows enough to know that Donny McCaslin coming to Seattle is an event. McCaslin and company were handpicked by David Bowie to help him create the sound of his triumphant final album, Blackstar—the majesty of which continues to deepen with age. And lest it seem gauche not to let more than two sentences of a McCaslin preview go by without mentioning the late great Mr. Jones, the band seems to have no qualms about embracing the association—their most recent album, Beyond Now, was dedicated to and inspired by Bowie. SEAN NELSON
Rise Against, AFI, Anti-Flag
Throw your body around to thrash-rock and hardcore punk tracks from Rise Against, AFI, and Anti-Flag on their 2018 Mourning in Amerika Tour.
"Creatively complex girl next door" Amy Shark, who hails from Gold Coast, Australia, will celebrate her debut album, Love Monster, on this tour stop.
Natalie Prass, Stella Donnelly
Swoon to indie love songs by singer-songwriter Natalie Press, who will be joined by Australian folk pop artist Stella Donnelly.
Carol City, Florida, rapper Denzel Curry has been touring like a maniac as of late (this is his fifth trip through town in the last two years), but it’d be misguided to say he’s flooding the market. Curry’s amped style makes tracks from 2016’s Imperial beg to be heard live, and going ham in a room full of revelers might be the most authentic DC experience you can get. In addition, he’s a profound societal reporter on the mic, and a couple of his recent deep cuts actually play with a slightly West Coast stoner sound, both of which should make a room full of blunt-chugging West Coasters even happier. TODD HAMM
The Mattson 2; Astronauts, Etc.
There’s a ton of music around now that sounds like Oakland’s Astronauts, Etc.: smooth, hazy yacht-rock with subtle chillwave elements that sends a medium-cool frisson through you. This stuff triggers neither ecstatic highs nor grim lows, and that’s fine. A good chunk of your day, you just want some songs that console you with lightly sweetened melodies, mellow, sensitive-guy vox, and ambling beats that inspire a discreet head nod. And Astronauts, Etc.’s Living in Symbol album delivers those goods as nicely as anyone recording in a bedroom today, as you would expect from Toro y Moi’s former keyboardist. The Mattson 2 have the chutzpah to cover John Coltrane’s 1965 jazz pinnacle A Love Supreme—and the creativity to turn it into a psych-rock delicacy. DAVE SEGAL
Chelsea Wolfe, Russian Circles
Ah, how glorious. Sylvia Plath–winged seraph Chelsea Wolfe will descend upon us, parting our gray clouds like a sacrilegious Moses, and rain down metallic, doom-rock manna to feed us. The Californian isn’t touring on a new album yet, because her 2017 Hiss Spun has so much dark magic to keep us mystified for another couple of her descents back to Seattle. Similarly, Chicago’s Russian Circles are still performing sonic miracles from their acclaimed 2016 LP, Guidance, where the trio continues to perfect turning light into darkness and darkness into light with their mercurial instrumentals and riff-stampeding post-metal. ZACH FRIMMEL
Japanese Breakfast, Ought
Michelle Zauner’s recently released album as Japanese Breakfast, Soft Sounds from Another Planet, is another wonderfully discordant trip from the Eugene native. Originally conceptualized as a science-fiction musical, the album is built around the sprouts of an imaginative extraterrestrial environment, but the mixture of unmistakably terrestrial influence (“Jimmy Fallon Big!” “Till Death”) suggests a curious narrator on the ground looking up. Softer and more upbeat in many ways than JB’s 2016 debut, Psychopomp, Soft Sounds still ties together blunt sexuality, humor, and lament with beautifully sung melodies like only Zauner can. TODD HAMM
Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio
Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio: Definitely old-school Hammond B-3 funk! Rediscover the world through the surprisingly varied palette offered by the grand machine itself, complete with its gently psychedelic rotating Leslie speakers. ANDREW HAMLIN
Earthless, Mad Alchemy Liquid Light Show, Headband
When you absolutely have to have that top-flight, synapse-zapping, heavy psych-rock served with no bullshit, you should seek out San Diego trio Earthless. As Stranger freelancer Brian Cook astutely observed in these pages, guitarist Isaiah Mitchell is the star here, “[blazing] with the electric soul of Hendrix, the dexterous stab of D. Boon, and the warped blues of the Groundhogs’ Tony McPhee.” Thankfully, he has a powerful, indefatigable rhythm section—drummer Mario Rubalcaba and bassist Mike Eginton—undergirding his kaleidoscopic pyrotechnics. Earthless are touring in support of their latest album, Black Heaven, a cauldron of song-based, third-ear bruisers. DAVE SEGAL
Sure, Chicago guitarist/vocalist Ryley Walker’s pensive, progressive folk-rock is nice, but have you read his Twitter account? Dude could ditch his acoustic guitar for the stand-up circuit and clean up with his niche, music-nerd humor and observations about the hilarious mundanities of touring. (Example: “If the Coen brothers do a freak folk movie please let me play the Northern California show promoter who is too high on peyote to pay them.”) You may get a taste of Walker’s wit at the Sunset tonight, but if not, his serpentine, pastoral compositions and sonorous vocals—somewhere between Pentangle’s Bert Jansch and first-album Tim Buckley—should be worth the price of admission, as they whisk you away to a greener, better world. DAVE SEGAL
He’s never had a hit on the pop charts or a sold-out arena tour, but few can say they’ve affected what rap sounds like now more than Chief Keef. The Chicago native’s direct, emotive style, met with skepticism by mainstream (i.e., white) music media when he emerged in 2012, has become the new norm. Any number of popular rappers—21 Savage, Future, Lil Yachty, Young Thug—got famous by relying on tools like cadence, timbre, and delivery rather than lyrical acuity. Keef’s most iconic work could well be behind him, but credit’s due for helping make rap be about more than just bars. ANDREW GOSPE
Bryan John Appleby, Tomten, Baby Jessica
Explore the current generation of experimental indie folk and chamber pop artists in Seattle right now with sets from Bryan John Appleby, Tomten, and Baby Jessica.
Boise musician Trevor Powers first got noticed as Youth Lagoon, a project he ended in 2016. But where Youth Lagoon was easily palatable indie rock—simple songs built around piano, guitar, and cavernous reverb—Powers’s work under his own name is an exercise in how far the human voice can be stretched, shredded, and otherwise digitally distressed. His vocals are often distorted or digitally processed beyond recognition on August’s Mulberry Violence, an album of languid piano ballads that’s far pricklier than any music he’s made before; Bon Iver’s 22, a Million is a relevant comparison. Rather than just reinvent his sound, Powers has obliterated it. ANDREW GOSPE
Morlot Conducts Ravel
Few conductors interpret the French masters as well as Seattle Symphony music director Ludovic Morlot. Is it because he's also French? Maybe. But I once spent half an hour with Morlot as he described certain notes as "sour" or "very, very greenish-blue," and so I think he's got some kind of synesthesia that allows him to see and manipulate the vivid colors in impressionistic work better than others can. Here he breathes new life into the Ravel's already lively color palette in Daphnis et Chloé, which features thrills and rushes, weird twists, sudden leaps, and intense swells of pastoral bliss. And by presenting works from Debussy and Messiaen—Ravel's forebear and fruit, respectively—Morlot helpfully places Ravel in his historical context. RICH SMITH
Tres Leches, Terror/Cactus, the Wednesdays
All three of these Washington-based bands offer post-punk respite in a distressing world. Tres Leches make knees and musical boundaries wobble with their experimental DIY rock. Sung with frank confidence, the bilingual trio’s commands—“Get Off,” “No Llores”—feel surprisingly soothing. Terror/Cactus mix classic cumbia with neuron-pleasing electronica, complete with a sense of psychedelia. Masterminded by Martín Selasco, the group exudes cross-cultural currents and minimal vocals. And the Wednesdays will help wrap up your week with social-justice messages yelled by bruised hearts atop bold chords. Get to this show for some solace from your own solicitousness. AJ DENT
Flamingosis, UNiiQU3, Guayaba
New Jersey-based electronic artist and producer Flamingosis (whose name derives from a freestyle frisbee move his father invented) cites Flying Lotus, J Dilla, and Madlib as influences on his own blend of hiphop, funk, and electronica. He'll be joined by fellow New Jerseyan UNiiQU3 and beloved local alt-hiphop artist Guayaba.
Bad Luck, Briana Marela, somesurprises, Diminished Men, Spooky Action
Lucky for us, this show will be Bad Luck’s album release for their fourth LP, Four. Lucky for us again, saxophonist Neil Welch and drummer Chris Icasiano received funding from the Office of Arts & Culture for this record to be made, so that we can enjoy its mellifluous immensity. The avant-jazz duo proficiently constructs their numbers with cymbal splashes of Zen and sax-looped echoes (Colin Stetson status) while seamlessly being able to combust into tirades of clustered cacophony. Briana Marela will bring ambient pop, and somesurprises a whimsical palate cleanser to the dirgeful Diminished Men and Spooky Action’s musings. ZACH FRIMMEL
Though she's only 22, chart-topping English singer-songwriter Dodie started releasing music on her YouTube channel, "doddleoddle," when she was 16. She'll sing about things like mental health, sexuality, and bullying on this Seattle tour stop.
The Jesus Lizard
From 1990 to 1998, the Jesus Lizard released six critically acclaimed albums—none of which could be considered an easy listen. In fact, one of the things that makes them great is the fine balance between melody and groove and loud, violent chaos. Despite dropping two albums on Capitol Records, they never quite achieved the commercial success of similar bands like Helmet and Ministry, instead growing a die-hard audience with the raw energy of their sonically crushing live performances. This is the Jesus Lizard’s second reunion tour, with their last Seattle gig being a raucous set at Capitol Hill Block Party in 2009. KEVIN DIERS
Karl Blau, Josh Clauson
Hailing from Anacortes, Karl Blau is one of Washington’s wayward gems. In his own golden spirit and style, he conjures a mercurially modern Arthur Russell or Moon Dog with his playful outsider approach to whatever genre (rock, alt-country, synth-jazz, etc.) or “Songles” he decides to bedazzle us with next. Blau recently dropped his 10th studio album, Out Her Space, and it commemorates his 20th year of making records under his eponymous solo project. ZACH FRIMMEL
Miguel, dvsn, Nonchalant Savant
Miguel is a truly smooth R&B thriller, with pop smarts, massive genre-crossover abilities, and a contagious kinetic sexual energy. His fourth studio album, War & Leisure, was dropped late last year, and will be in high demand during this set of his 2018 Ascension Tour. KIM SELLING
Richard Clayderman Piano Concert
Piano phenom Richard Clayderman brings together classical compositions and pop music for a night of programming notable for its new romantic style.
Danish singer-songwriter Agnes Obel brings a gauzy voice and lilting piano stylings to her music, but not without some PJ Harvey-inspired dissonance. Expect a range of instruments and feelings.
I'm With Her: Sara Watkins, Sarah Jarosz, Aoife O'Donovan
Folk group I’m With Her consists not of Hillary Clinton but of Sara Watkins, Sarah Jarosz, and Aoife O’Donovan. They'll sing mountain gospel tunes with support from their tour partners, fraternal harmonizers the Brother Brothers.
Jubilant Journey to the East
Let the Seattle Chinese Orchestra take you on a journey through an ethereal blend of pieces illustrated by traditional Chinese instruments and classical Western instruments, all led by Musical Director and SCO founder Warren Chang and conducted by Pacific Northwest notable Roger Nelson, with performances from the Northwest Chinese Guzheng Orchestra, the U.S.-China Music Ensemble, and many more.
Research: Palms Trax
Don’t let the Berlin address fool you. The Bristol-born Palms Trax is a cheeky Brit with a taste for funky Detroit house, African disco, and vintage soul and boogie. He rocketed to underground DJ stardom with the Equation EP in 2013, the inaugural release on London-based imprint Lobster Theremin. Then the Dutch doyens at Dekmantel, one of Europe’s premier dance-music throwdowns, scooped him up for their label/festival empire. Palms Trax’s two-hour session for BBC Radio 1’s Essential Mix series back in January is an ideal pre-game primer for what should be a rousing Saturday night. GREG SCRUGGS
Hercules & Love Affair
Currently based in Belgium, Hercules & Love Affair return to the US on this tour to get our appendages dangling. While still distinguishably the solo project of DJ/mastermind/gay icon Andy Butler, the nu-disco outfit has never been more collaborative. His fourth album, Omnion, features the vocals and vigor of Sharon Van Etten, Faris Badwan, Mashrou' Leila, and more. Butler has noted he’ll be frolicking through the past 10-plus years of his catalog, with new live visuals created specifically for this show. Donate your Saturday night to this dance-floor favorite and all five of your senses will float away satisfied. AJ DENT
Childish Gambino, Rae Sremmurd
Sure, “This Is America”—the provocative, political gut-punch of a single released in May by Childish Gambino, aka Donald Glover—sounds suspiciously similar in feel, form, and content to NYC rapper Jase Harley’s “American Pharaoh.” Even as a Glover fan, I can admit that. But as Charles Mudede pointed out, “true genius is not often about originality but the ability to copy or translate or interpret or associate.” And “This Is America” is so damn solid: a clash of delightfully bright, upbeat, quasi-serious gospel falling between sinister, growling production and head-bobbing shoulder-shrugging beats that back Glover’s dark reflections on the state of America today and the black experience within it, from mass shootings to police brutality to asinine materialism. The song was unexpected in light of his greasy-delicious, P-Funk-groove-saturated 2016 LP, Awaken My Love!, and so welcome. LEILANI POLK
(This show has been cancelled due to injury, and will not be rescheduled due to venue renovations.)
Garbage, Rituals of Mine
I interviewed Shirley Manson in 2015, and she said she can still kill a party completely by walking into it. (I’m still struggling to believe it.) She also said that their latest album had four possible titles. I don’t know who came up with the title Strange Little Birds, but it’s apparently the band’s nickname for weird fan letters. Aside from the pro forma single “Empty,” much of the album comes off a bit less sounds-in-a-vacuum and a bit more desperate, a bit more hesitant about actually interacting with the world. Just a bit. It’s not like the signature sound’s gone. But that surface slickness sounds worn away in places, like a perimeter breached, honest strong emotions deciding on fight and/or flight. ANDREW HAMLIN
Infamous Kitsap Ferry Riot Party
On an October morning in 1987, I woke up to my mom yelling at my older brother and shaking the newspaper at him. “Rock fans riot on ferry” screamed the headline. To this day, I have no idea if Andy really was asleep in his friend’s car like he told our mom or was “rioting” along with everyone else on their return trip to Seattle from a GBH show in Bremerton. While I’d only ever thought of this as a bit of family lore, the event has gone down as a critical moment in Seattle music history. This all-ages event celebrates the 31st anniversary of that night with a film screening of David Larew's Voices in the Dark, a sneak peek of The Infamous Kitsap Ferry Riot film, and music by Howling Gods and Toecutter. KATIE KURTZ
Chvrches sound like the ending credits to a bittersweet indie-teen movie. I imagine the quirky main character going through dramatic, slice-of-life highs and lows, coming of age, and learning difficult lessons, only to emerge at the end stronger, altered, and with a better understanding of life and love. Maybe the ending is a little ambiguous, but now the skies are clear and she's ready to take on the world. And then the screen flashes to black and the Glasgow electro-pop band starts to play. Frontwoman Lauren Mayberry's clear songbird voice delivers astutely emotional lyrics over sweeping, epic synths that simultaneously make your heart soar and ache. This is music for growing up, and for feeling feelings while you dance. ROBIN EDWARDS
Eleanor Friedberger’s solo output isn’t as exciting and groundbreaking as what she and her brother brewed up in Fiery Furnaces, who’ve been on indefinite hiatus since 2011. But it’s easy to enjoy with that airy indie-rock singer-songwriter appeal, the music breezy and straightforward and effortless, all bound by the one thing that makes Friedberger’s music sound slightly different than everyone else’s—that distinctive, decidedly unfeminine, low-toned vocal quality and style of talk-singing consciousness-streaming amid the serene serenades. Friedberger lands in town behind her 2018 fourth LP, Rebound. LEILANI POLK
Haley Heynderickx, Matt Dorrien
Portland songwriter Haley Heynderickx knows how to lay on big bursts of sound, even in songs structured around simple fingerpicking. She was deemed "an utterly distinct and wonderfully nervy, idiosyncratic presence" by NPR. She'll be joined by sleepy-sad folk artist Matt Dorrien.
Journey, Def Leppard
Ever-present torch-holders of the '80s, Journey and Def Leppard will bring their light-rock-less-talk vibes to the Northwest for a night of hair-swinging and piano solos reminiscent of Steve Perry's golden years.
Mudhoney, the Scientists, Tom Price Desert Classic
After starting as snappy new wave, power popsters in 1979, Australia’s Scientists gradually morphed into a seething, Down Under analogue of the Stooges and a swampier Birthday Party—albeit given to jaw-harp accompaniment. Frontman Kim Salmon and company really came into their own on the 1983 mini-album Blood Red River, which radiates a primal malevolence that’s still thrilling more than three decades later. “Set It on Fire” and “When Fate Deals Its Mortal Blow” especially plow a deep seam of evil, and their version of the Nancy Sinatra–sung Bond theme “You Only Live Twice” and Captain Beefheart’s “Clear Spot” pack punishing left hooks. A lot of Northwest fans of slashing, malevolent rock have been waiting more than 30 years to see the Scientists. Hard to believe it’s actually happening... perhaps Numero Group’s reissue, A Place Called Bad, was the key factor. DAVE SEGAL
Emerging Artist: Gabriel Royal
In recent years, Oklahoma-born, Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter and cellist Gabriel Royal has gone from busking in the subways of New York City to releasing a critically acclaimed debut album notable for what he describes as his "grown-up lullabies."
Concuss Presents Blakwizard Listening Party
Listen to collaborative mixings off of Blakwizard Album; a compilation from Northwest hiphop artists Concuss, Silas Blak, and Specswizard. While you're there, pick up art, gear, and vinyl from the artists.
Jeff Tweedy, James Elkington
The gently likable Jeff Tweedy is the former singer for '80s alt-country outfit Uncle Tupelo, the current/past singer for Wilco, and one of the more celebrated songwriters in music today. For this solo tour, he'll be juggling favored tracks from his past as well as songs from his latest solo acoustic record, Together At Last.
Red Ribbon, Great Spiders, Spesh
Sink into the surrealist pop of Red Ribbon, originally a solo project of Emma Danner that has since expanded to include local music luminaries like Pat Schowe and Veronica Dye of Rose Windows, Geoff Joynes, Monika Khot of Zen Mother and Nordra, and Natasha El-Sergany of somesurprises. KIM SELLING
Scott Yoder, Mean Jeans, SSDD, The Rare Forms
Psychedelic folk artist Scott Yoder is best known for being the former lead singer and guitarist of Seattle band the Pharmacy, yet he has made a name for himself with tender, introspective releases like 2016's Looking Back in Blue and 2017's Ways of Love. He and his backing band will be joined by local punks Mean Jeans, SSDD, and the Rare Forms.
Shonen Knife, Ichi Bichi
Shonen Knife have always been the coolest of the cool and super fun, like the MOST SUPER FUN. They started in the 1980s as a bright, pristine, contemporary underground articulation of a pop-art-inspired 1960s girl group; they were catchy and raw, yet sweet and slightly bubblegum, but earnest. They’re the band the Ramones wanted to be if the Ramones had been able to literally morph into the girl groups they worshiped. Shonen Knife are the fucking best, so go see them and buy all their records, because everyone wants a Shonen Knife to love them. MIKE NIPPER
YUNGBLUD, Arrested Youth
English rock-hiphop musician YUNGBLUD (aka Dominic Harrison) makes "genre-bending protest songs" for the suburban teen.