It's tiiiime! Seattle's summer months are a nonstop music explosion with festivals and shows of all sizes happening left and right, from Central District Punk House Basement™ to the Tacoma Dome. This year's Capitol Hill Block Party boasts a nice dose of local bands, plus great second-tier support from outta-towners like Shannon and the Clams, Girlpool, and Protomartyr. But if your bank account can't swing CHBP this year or you're simply looking for options that include less underbutt, you've come to the right place. I've compiled a list of other shows happening this weekend, just for you.
Cock Block Party (Fri—Sun, 8:30 pm, Unicorn/Narwhal, 1118 E Pike St, free, 21+)
Happening so close to the actual Block Party you can practically taste the vape pens, Cock Block Party brings you three days of free, air-conditioned music! Cumulus, dræmhouse, Sir Coyler & His Asthmatic Band, the Boss Martians, Black Wizard, and more will keep you company in the hyper carnival of the Unicorn (upstairs) and the Narwhal (basement). PSA: They have a menu section specifically for drop shots.
West Seattle Rock Party (Fri—Sat, 7 pm, Skylark Cafe, 3803 Delridge Way SW, $10 per day, 21+)
I applaud the West Seattle Rock Party for their take on the CHBP poster branding—teal photo blobs and golden squiggles! Their tagline is "No Block, Just Rock," and the lineup includes Suction (melodic hard rock, inspired by the likes of Bob Mould and Killing Joke), Mind Vice (hard-edged funk), Echo Ravine (sweetly melancholic pop, the only band of this two-day fest to include a female), and more.
Not Block Party (Fri—Sat, 9 pm, Lo-Fi, 429 Eastlake Ave E, $6 Fri/$7 Sat, 21+)
This subtly named mini-fest features music in the pop/psych/rock realm from Black Nite Crash, Radar, Solvents, Kay Odyssey, and other guests. As Things to Do's music editor, Kyle Fleck, puts it: "There's a bit of pop-culture apocrypha that Huey Lewis once claimed all pop/rock records in the '80s sounded the same because they were ripping off the production on his band's record Sports, down to the last keyboard effect and over-compressed drum. Something similar is afoot these days, seemingly, though its origin remains a mystery: Seattle is inundated with bands in thrall to the reverb and gauze of shoegaze, cut with a bit of grungy non-fuck-giving crunch. It's near inescapable. Point being, Black Nite Crash have it pretty much mastered, and some of their stuff aims for the pomp of vintage Oasis, which is intriguing on an intellectual level, if nothing else. Other bands on the block for the Not Block Party do things a bit differently, with Solvents rocking a K Records–influenced DIY folk-punk sound and Austin's Kay Odyssey taking you on a honey-sweetened trip through girl-group pop and psych. All of which is a long of way of saying you have solid local choices this weekend, if Capitol Hill Block Party's not your cup of iced tea."
Spock Party (Fri, 9 pm, Black Lodge, ask a punk for the address, all ages; Victory Lounge, 433 Eastlake Ave E, donation, 21+)
Dress as your fave Starfleet officer (Dr. Leonard McCoy or Dr. Beverly Crusher, if you're taking suggestions) and beam down to this double-whammy show. Bands include X SUNS, Heavy Petting, the Ditch and the Delta (Salt Lake), Post/Boredom, Noyes (LA), Audrey Horne, and a few surprise additions.
Music Under the Stars (Fri, 7:15 pm, Freeway Park, 700 Seneca St, free, all ages)
Bring a blanket, snacks, white wine La Croix sparkling water cans, and a date you can tolerate to this evening of outdoor music at Freeway Park! Tonight's programming begins with chamber music performed by a student ensemble and continues with a live broadcast direct from Benaroya Hall. Two shows in one that cost exactly nothing!
Nail Polish, Twat Trap, Old Man, Mordant (Fri, 8 pm, Hollow Earth Radio, 2018 E Union St, $10 suggested donation, all ages)
Hollow Earth's live shows are intimate and interesting, and never include harassment from Red Bull girls (stop enabling me!). Tonight, Twat Trap bring you queer feminist hardcore from Idaho with Bellevue-based whippersnapper noisemakers Old Man, the intense wailing hardcore of Mordant, and Nail Polish (members of Smiling)—a new local band that makes dissonant, angular, melodic punk ideal for future-alien dance moves and your best lavender lipstick.
Out to Lunch: Craft Spells (Fri, noon, Westlake Park, 401 Pine St, free, all ages)
The Out to Lunch concert series returns for its 37th year, bringing live music to your lunch break (or your getting-out-of-bed-now break if you're over the whole "job" thing right now). Today's band is the subdued and sweet Craft Spells, playing floral-print introvert-pop at Westlake Park—which is less of a park and more of an extended walkway, lined with a fountain and the city's best bucket drummers. Bonus: It's dangerously close to See's Candies (who'll give you a sample if only you'd ask).
Afrocop, Jerry Zimmerman (Sat, 6 pm, Vito's, 927 Ninth Ave, free, 21+)
Afrocop's self-described "improvised soundscapes of soul, Afrobeat, breakbeat, sci-fi, and jazz" and Jerry Zimmerman's excellent piano skills can be experienced up close and personal at Vito's, my favorite hidden old-school bar/lounge (check that gold-flecked mirror).
Barenaked Ladies, Violent Femmes, Colin Hay (Sun, 6:30 pm, Marymoor Park, 6046 West Lake Sammamish Pkwy NE, Redmond, $44.50—$54.50, all ages)
Okay, okay, this isn't necessarily the CHEAPEST thing (compared to free), but if you're looking to weird-splurge, this Last Summer on Earth tour contains the curious lineup of Colin Hay (he was the lead singer of Men at Work, his solo stuff is acoustic folkie, his Wikipedia photo is hilarious), Violent Femmes (remember when they sold "Blister in the Sun" to a Wendy's commercial?), and Barenaked Ladies ("Hold it now and watch the hoodwink"). All three of these acts have new music out this year, so come prepared for literally anything.
Around the Block Party (Kill the Keg) (Sun, 4 pm, Chop Suey, 1325 E Madison St, free, 21+)
Not only free and early, but with drink specials (for when you just want to pass out by 10 p.m.)! Chop Suey continues its "Around the Block Party" tradition, offering a Capitol Hill–based show with no wristbands necessary. Enjoy local boy talent: Sayonara (putting the two extra 6s in 206 hardcore), Big Trughk (sludgy roghck), Trash Fire (pop/punk charred to perfection), and Boyfriends (sorry, they're taken).
Honorable mentions: Fri 7/24, For the 99 and the 2000s at Columbia City Theater; Sat 7/25, Stiff Little Fingers at El Corazon; Sun 7/26, Mavis Staples at Woodland Park Zoo; Every day of the year, Buskers Trying to Get Back to Olympia at Pike Place Market.