January can sometimes seem like a bit of a dead zone for social activity after the full-force windstorm of the holidays, but there are definitely still some great events to take in around town. Expend your newfound 2018 energy with musicians and artists like a funk-folk-rock fusion group using their performance to give back to the community (Little Big Show #20: Pickwick), a free festival of varied local rock talents (Fifth Annual Big Ass Boom Box Festival), and a Stranger Things dance night (The Hawkins Snow Ball). Follow the links below for ticket links and music clips for all of our critics' picks, and find even more shows on our music calendar.
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Neil Young: The Tribute, Wasted Along the Way
There are so many entry points into Neil Young's vast catalog, giving anyone attempting to pay tribute to the great Canadian singer-songwriter, guitarist, and Pono propragandist a rich array of options. His 1960s and ’70s output—with sporadic help from Crazy Horse—offers a cornucopia of folk-rock splendors and hard-rock benders; from 1968 (Neil Young) to 1979 (Rust Never Sleeps), the creaky-voiced sorcerer of indelible melodies and memorable, craggy guitar solos had one of the best runs in rock. Further, Young's 1980s and ’90s records bestow some high points (Ragged Glory, Dead Man) and rewarding surprises (Trans, Arc), too. Bonus: Wasted Along the Way will homage Crosby, Stills & Nash's lovable folk-rock, for more sonic comfort food during the year's most depressing week. DAVE SEGAL
Pearl Django with Neil Andersson
Strongly influenced by their chosen namesake, guitarist Django Reinhardt, Pearl Django play Hot Club-style g*psy jazz with intricate finger-picking and a global repertoire. They'll be joined by Neil Andersson on guitar.
Weep Wave, Baywitch, Vomitface
This show's charitable beneficiary is the Downtown Emergency Service Center, which provides services for the city's homeless population. So kudos to all three bands for giving a rip, though my tip of the musical hat goes to Vomitface. Not just for the name, though the name is aces. For the way the bass seems to be sinking to the center of the Earth. For the way the drummer bashes away at one thing and the singer chalkboard-squawks away at one other thing, for as long as they damn well please. Like early Can—but squawkier. ANDREW HAMLIN
DoNormaal, Nordra, Nightspace, Raven, Astro King Phoenix
Third Daughter, DoNormaal’s sophomore LP, was easily one of 2017’s best albums. The up-and-coming hometown MC has a knack for adroitly advertising her slurred wordsmithing over cosmic beats, which are crafted by about a dozen different producers. Adding to her divine, weirdo vibes will be noise-gaze by Nordra (Monika Khot of Zen Mother) and the hiphop stylings of Raven and Astro King Phoenix—all from Seattle. Out from New York, Nightspace’s vaporwave noise-pop will act as the perfect filling in the middle of these localist treats. One drink’s worth for this much talent is hard to come by these days. ZACH FRIMMEL
Mozart Symphony No. 39
After having been seemingly lost to the ravages of time, the phantom-like "Funeral Song" will triumphantly arrive in Seattle, after being rediscovered in Russia, as the cornerstone of this program, featuring Mozart's innovative 39th Symphony and Ligeti's Violin Concerto, illustrated by acclaimed violinist Augustin Hadelich.
New Belgium's Voodoo Ranger Juicy Haze IPA Launch Party
Celebrate New Belgium's latest release, the bright and tropical Voodoo Ranger Juicy Haze IPA, with free live music from Sandrider, Spinning Whips, and Glose.
Breaks and Swells, James Anaya, Florence Wiley
Seven-piece Seattle band Breaks & Swells have been described by us as "soulful, classy, expressive, percussive"—for this performance, they'll be showing their softer, acoustic side, with support from James Anaya and Florence Wiley.
dreamcatchr, SHARKLEGS, Killer Workout, FLRT
Led by guitarist Raven MacDaniels and vocalist Shannon Clark, Seattle quintet dreamcatchr play accessible, tuneful indie-pop that sounds professional and ambitious right out of the gate. While the melodies are cuddly and endearing, they're not overly sugarcoated, as dreamcatchr balance warmth with mystery. If by late next year, they're not opening for groups like Beach House, Luna, or Chastity Belt, I'll slowly shake my head in disbelief. DAVE SEGAL
Fates Warning, Coven, the People Now, Killian Mahaffey
When it comes to the hyper-insular world of progressive heavy metal, bands don’t come as rarefied as New England’s Fates Warning. According to Jeff Wagner’s must-read book Mean Deviation, Fates Warning constitute one third of a holy trinity of bands in this genre alongside Queensrÿche and Dream Theater. Thing is, while Fates Warning never sold as much as the other two, they also never had the embarrassing membership drama and legions of watered-down imitators that hang around the other two’s necks like albatrosses. On balance, long live Fates Warning, and here’s hoping they play a track or two from Awaken the Guardian. Please? JOSEPH SCHAFER
The Hawkins Snow Ball
Immerse yourself in the finale set of your favorite TV show with this '80s-themed prom decked out with a photo booth, balloons, classic dance tracks, a disco ball, and more. Dress up in your best retro prom outfit (or best Stranger Things costume) and come dance all night, or at least until the Mind-Flayer comes for us all.
Scott Kelly, Me Infecto, Stoned Evergreen Travelers
In 1992, Neurosis released Souls at Zero, an album that altered the scope of punk and metal. The Bay Area band melded two genres that strove for extremes, whether they be in speed, dexterity, or outright voraciousness, but subverted those aims. They slowed their pace, reveled in repetition, and, most importantly, thrived on tension. Over subsequent albums, they pushed dynamics even further, embracing volume fluctuations and exploring open space within their music. Neurosis vocalist/guitarist Scott Kelly veers toward the restrained components of his band’s arsenal in his solo work—there is no vestige of his band’s cataclysmic roar in Kelly’s countrified endeavors. But his past collaborative tours with experimental saxophonist Bruce Lamont proves that Kelly is still determined to defy expectations and toy with aural possibilities. BRIAN COOK
Sundries, SassyBlack, Moon Palace, DJ Toya B
Seattle four-piece Sundries play "soul-laced punk rock for break ups and triumphs." Dance along to their tender tunes at this live set supported by SassyBlack, Moon Palace, and DJ Toya B.
Visions 001: Pezzner
Dance to noises from local techno artist PEZZNER (Hunt & Gather, Dirtybird, Get Physical) on a "dark and laser cut foggy dance floor."
Arrington de Dionyso & Ben Bennet, Bad Luck, Zen Mother, Peg
Olympia’s Arrington de Dionyso is a gamelan séance and guttural trance [who] could soundtrack scenes from a David Lynch or Jim Jarmusch film with their eyes closed and their hands tied behind their backs. ZACH FRIMMEL
Jeff Witscher, die Reihe, Kaori Suzuki, RM Francis
Hear experimental electronic music from Jeff Witscher, die Reihe, and RM Francis, plus a "multichannel" presentation by Kaori Suzuki.
Little Big Show #20: Pickwick, Porter Ray
The 20th edition of the “little show with a big effect” features one of my new favorite Seattle-area outfits, Pickwick, who push a super-heady blend of rock, garage, and R&B. Produced by Erik Blood, their 2017 sophomore full-length, Lovejoys, gets a 1970s vintage Shuggie Otis–flavored groove treatment, opening with the slinky bass lines and velvety, high-hitting vocals of “Turncoat.” Things turn even more greasy and gritty with the chugging, brass-farting funk of “Ascension,” and get into more straightforward trippy, organ-driven cuts like “Lying Awake in the Dark,” while Pickwick amp up the psychedelic soul on set-closer “Ammonia.” This is a benefit show for Urban ArtWorks, a nonprofit that provides underserved youth and modern artists with opportunities to create public works of art. LEILANI POLK
The Rainiers, Shoe Aquarium, Jake's Meadow
Seattle’s most Northwesterly named blues-metal band will celebrate the release of their sophomore album, House of the Devil, tonight. Taking a classical blues approach to Kyuss-style stoner rock, the Rainiers stack combustible riffs until each song is comfortably ablaze, creeping track-by-track with the predictable destructiveness of a warehouse fire. Additionally peppered with haunted-house gag imagery and casual Satan-praising à la Tenacious D, the band spreads horror-movie shtick over tight, hard-rock musicianship, with fret-tickling guitar solos and throat-clearing vocals that keep their live show thoroughly enjoyable. TODD HAMM
Fifth Annual Big Ass Boom Box Festival
Early January is the live-music doldrums, so this free mini-festival of local bands, now in its fifth year, is a welcome respite from Top-40 DJ nights and other calendar-filling fluff. The lineup isn’t particularly diverse (stylistically or otherwise), but it’s sure to please those seeking local rock music, with an emphasis on psych, punk, and surf. Selections from the fest’s two days include costumed new-wave eccentrics the Fabulous Downey Brothers, gothic electro-pop duo Golden Gardens, jammy “livetronica” five-piece Theoretics, and electronic transcendentalist Vox Mod. ANDREW GOSPE
Steely Dan were one of the smartest bands to consistently rack up platinum records. They got away with singing blisteringly acerbic lyrics and executing complex key changes and tricky time signatures while accruing crazy air time on commercial radio, back when that meant something. So a band dedicated to paying tribute to Steely Dan has to be sharper than your typical homage outfit. Nearly Dan’s 12 members (who’ve played with Ray Charles, the Four Tops, the Temptations, Gladys Knight, and, most importantly, Huey Lewis) are up to the task, interpreting the hits and deep cuts with a professionalism that would impress Donald Fagen and the late Walter Becker’s accountants. DAVE SEGAL
Sink into decades of lush soul and jazz music history with this theatrical evening tribute to "Dark Divas," the black women who changed the industry with their art, including Billie Holiday, Eartha Kitt, and Nina Simone.