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Iced Earth, Sanctuary, Kill Ritual
It’s been a little over two months since Warrel Dane, vocalist of Nevermore and Sanctuary, passed away at the age of 56 while working on a solo album in São Paulo. He toured the world throughout the late '80s and '90s as the singer of two highly regarded bands, proudly waving the flag of Seattle metal while the music industry was much more fixated on “grunge.” This tour, alongside Florida’s Iced Earth, will be the last for Sanctuary. After Dane's death, the band tapped Witherfall vocalist Joseph Michael to fill his spot as one final tribute to the late vocalist. KEVIN DIERS
Electro-pop party rockers PVRIS are anchored by the sense of powerful urgency ushered in by singer Lynn Gunn, who was recently awarded "Best Vocalist" by the 2017 Alternative Press Music Awards.
Walk Off The Earth, The Darenots
Platinum-certified, Juno Award-winning Canadian quintet Walk Off The Earth are currently on the first leg of their 2018 World Tour, spreading their optimistic stadium pop far and wide. They'll be joined by the Darenots on this tour stop.
Capitol Hill Block Party's 2018 Announce Shindig
The line-up for our big, local summer fest Capitol Hill Block Party will be announced in the morning (with KEXP DJ John in the Morning, natch), to great fanfare, with live sets from hiphop talent Sol and soul group the Dip, free food from various restaurants, and a record market.
Enslaved, Wolves in the Throne Room, Myrkur, Khemmis
Over the past several years, the Decibel Magazine tour has managed to be one of the only package metal tours to put together four bands of significant metal-songwriting forces onstage. These types of tours tend to roll through in the summer; that this year’s tour is rolling through in the winter makes poetic sense, since most of its bands evoke Scandinavia's chilly climes in lyric and aesthetic. Enslaved sound like King Crimson now, but were one of Norway's first black-metal bands. Olympia's Wolves in the Throne Room may be the best black-metal group that the US has produced. Myrkur ruffle some feathers on account of singer Amalie Bruun being a woman (Satan cannot save you from institutional sexism), but her songs meld Loreena McKennitt and Mayhem with aplomb. Don’t miss openers Khemmis, either; they have some of the same spark as '80s-era Iron Maiden. JOSEPH SCHAFER
Rachael Yamagata, Hemming
Rachael Yamagata covered the Muppets! And she turned the Muppet song into the Beach Boys in the bargain! It’s all true. Check out “I’m Going to Go Back There Someday,” with its strings, its dum-diddey-dums, almost-whispered vocals. Her latest album, 2016’s Tightrope Walker, dials up the strings a few notches, and dallies with just slightly more direct singing. I can’t say how all this delicacy translates to the live setting, with overdubs out of the question and sound levels tilting toward brute-force-or-drowned-out. But it should be enthralling to hear for oneself. ANDREW HAMLIN
Dee Dee Bridgewater
Michigan-born jazz singer Dee Dee Bridgewater boasts an agile, dulcet voice that’s charmed its way onto sessions with some of the genre’s most interesting artists, including Roy Ayers, Stanley Clarke, Cecil McBee, Norman Connors, and Carlos Garnett. Bridgewater’s at home in spiritual-jazz settings that allow her to improvise with serene poise and silky ebullience. Now 67, she’s one of the most revered vocalists in jazz and a key ambassador for the music thanks to her 23-year stint hosting NPR’s JazzSet with Dee Dee Bridgewater. DAVE SEGAL
The trilingual Catalan MC has made waves for her lo-fi, earnestly confessional take on dancehall and reggaetón. Her higher profile has also forced the white Spaniard to confront cultural appropriation charges for rocking Caribbean music styles and a patois-derived stage name after admitting that until asked the question, she didn't know what cultural appropriation was. Those debates aside, her soul-bearing Español blends brilliantly with the restrained beats of Colombia's DJ Florentino on her most recent mixtape, and co-signs by the likes of Mixpak Records and Dubbel Dutch signify an underground star on the rise. Now if only Barboza could book some dancehall and reggaetón artists actually from the Caribbean, I'd be happy to supply some names. GREG SCRUGGS
They Might Be Giants
The creative and sometimes absurd humor of a couple of Johns (Flansburgh and Linnell) has fueled the alt-rock and weirdo pop of They Might Be Giants for going on 36 years and 20 albums now (the most recent, I Like Fun, dropped in January). Seriously, that’s a lot of time to be making original music together, and even more impressive, making it “funny,” or cheekily educational, or simply quirky as fuck. If you’ve not been charmed and uplifted by TMBG, start with their “hits”—“Birdhouse in Your Soul” and “Istanbul” (not Constantinople—“Why’d they change it, I can’t say? People just liked it better that way!”)—then move on to 1992’s Apollo 18. “I Palindrome I,” “Mammal,” and “Dinner Bell” are all wonderful, but if you’re pressed for time, skim the “Fingertips” shorts, each of which last between five and 28 seconds. If you’re not a fan by then, it’s probably a good thing, as this show is sold out. LEILANI POLK
Action Potential: Kassem Mosse, Simic, Raica
Kassem Mosse (aka Gunnar Wendell) is a German producer excelling at minimal techno and bleepy electro that can go weird or whimsical—not a common attribute among German producers, so respect is due. His releases for respected labels such as Honest Jon's, Mikrodisko, FXHE, and Sounds of the Universe abound with strange percussive timbres and ruptures to the obligatory 4/4 rhythms, making for strange revelations on the dance floor. Support comes from Simic (Ben Block) and Raica (Chloe Harris), two of the region's most adventurous DJs and producers in the techno and experimental-electronic realms. DAVE SEGAL
Bell Witch, Eye Of Solitude, Marche Funèbre, Un
It isn’t unusual for a metal band to fixate on death, but local metal duo Bell Witch go a step further on third album Mirror Reaper. Over the course of a single monolithic 83-minute track, bassist Dylan Desmond and drummer Jesse Shreibman transmute the death of founding band member Adrian Guerra into bleak, but often beautiful, black metal. For non-metalheads like me, the attention to detail and sonic texture, particularly in the quiet passages, is comparable to ambient music. Bell Witch thrive on dynamics, so the contrast between these foreboding atmospheres and funereal intensity of the band’s heaviest moments should be as revelatory live as it is on record. ANDREW GOSPE
Hibou, NAVVI, Joe Waine
At the time of its 2015 debut, Hibou had much in common with groups like DIIV, Wild Nothing, or Real Estate, crafting professional indie-pop laced with reverb and sprightly guitar arpeggios—the ideal soundtrack for languid head-bobbing during an afternoon set at a summer music festival. Seattle songwriter Peter Michel’s music was the product of solo bedroom recording sessions, lending it a homespun air of indeterminate nostalgia. For new album Something Familiar, Michel enlisted a band and a recording studio, resulting in a more substantial-sounding if less whimsical record. There are also a lot more synths, which makes NAVVI’s icy electro-pop less jarring a fit than one might think for this record-release show. ANDREW GOSPE
Party Jail: DYED, The Carols, Novopain, Tissue, DJ Ian Barnett
My favorite on the bill, the Carols, just released their Honestly, It’s the Carols EP, which is full of nuggets of Modern Lovers–esque power-pop nostalgia, shivering shrieks of satisfaction, and a rising feeling of sharp-elbowed and black-eyed rebellion. KIM SELLING
Billy Cobham's Crosswinds Project
Prolific drummer Billy Cobham will perform with his new percussion ensemble, the Crosswinds Project, an effort designed to reflect upon his second recording on Atlantic Records in 1974. He'll be joined by Ernie Watts on sax, Scott Tibbs on keys, Fareed Haque on guitar, and Tim Landers on bass.
Awolnation, Nothing But Thieves
Boom-clap electro-rock project Awolnation will bring their all-American ad spot jams to Seattle on their Here Come The Runts Tour with Nothing But Thieves.
Cut Chemist, El Dusty, DJ Shortkut
Just as many actors want to be directors, lots of DJs aspire to be producers. Cut Chemist (aka Lucas MacFadden) is one of history’s greatest hiphop/funk disc jockeys, and he’s also proved his mettle with fun-loving, throwback rap group Jurassic 5 and Latin-fusion ensemble Ozomatli. But like his bud DJ Shadow, Chemist harbors grand ambitions to alchemize his world-class record collection into new compositions that move the crowd with a singular vision. Cut’s 2006 debut LP, The Audience’s Listening, showed that MacFadden could conjure a diverse full-length that spans bossa nova, indie rap, psychedelia, spacey funk, and krautrock; it’s no Endtroducing, but it’s engaging. His new album, Die Cut, zig-zags in a similar eclectic mode, with cameos by Biz Markie, Tune-Yards, Edan, the Mars Volta’s Deantoni Parks, and others. Boasting more live playing than his past efforts, Die Cut is anything but predictable—a rarity these days. DAVE SEGAL
Donavon Frankenreiter, John Craigie
With his last album The Heart, singer-songwriter Donavon Frankenreiter has entered his second decade as a solo recording artist, and will be joined by John Craigie.
Gaz Coombes, Piney Gir
Since his days as front man for Brit-pop sensations Supergrass, Gaz Coombes has followed in the designer footsteps of Brit sophisticates from David Bowie to Bryan Ferry. On 2015's Matador, Coombes's second solo album, he folded heavy-lidded vocals, glittery synths, and gospel-tinged backing vocals into an appealing, if slightly too-polished package. "Deep Pockets," the first single off his full-length follow-up, World's Strongest Man (out in May), sees him roughing up his formula to fine effect as the Oxford musician melds his love for the more accessible end of krautrock with his ear for an irresistible hook. KATHY FENNESSY
Jason McCue, Tomo Nakayama, Falon Sierra
Fun fact: Jason McCue and I both used to write for Seattle U’s radio station blog, and when I met him in 2015 his music project was solely out of his dorm-room closet. Now he’s won SoundOff! and has played Bumbershoot. All for good reason, though, as McCue’s storytelling within his songs is unlike anything else. It’s just McCue and an acoustic on stage, but his performances are totally mesmerizing. ANNA KAPLAN
Lorde, Run The Jewels
Less than a year after her headlining Bumbershoot slot, New Zealand pop wunderkind Lorde is returning to Seattle, this time with hiphop anarchists Run the Jewels in tow. Lorde’s sophomore LP, Melodrama, sent critics head over heels, but failed to light up the charts, even though its producer Jack Antonoff is also one of Taylor Swift’s chevaliers. Even so, Melodrama is a sophisticated window into Lorde’s mind, and a signpost of how emotionally compelling and texturally adventurous mainstream pop can be if singers dare to be a little more vulnerable and creative. Which isn’t to say it’s all sap and no song: “Homemade Dynamite” and “Perfect Places” both deserved to go to No. 1. JOSEPH SCHAFER
Ponga (Slight Return)
In 2016, inventive jazz drummer Bobby Previte, keyboardist Wayne Horvitz, and violinist Alex Guy performed an improv experimental-electronic set that blew my mind. No matter that it was in front of a couple dozen people on a Monday night; the trio flexed the sort of virtuosic chops and shock-tactic moves that make for a singular listening experience, a rare feat in any genre. Since that night, I’ve made a mental note not to miss any Previte gigs. He’s an exceptionally adaptable player who’s worked with a wide range of upper-echelon musicians such as John Zorn, Elliott Sharp, Butch Morris, and Iggy Pop, and also formed the Voodoo Orchestra to interpret Miles Davis’s Bitches Brew. Previte excels at taking compositions or improvisations to fascinating places most drummers wouldn’t conceive of. DAVE SEGAL
Town Music: Roomful of Teeth
Roomful of Teeth draw on an eclectic mix of sounds that include "yodeling, Broadway belting, Inuit throat singing, Georgian, Persian, Hindustani music, Korean P’ansori and Death Metal," but mostly yodeling and opera, though that be not a mark upon their name. Their mix is mesmerizing and energizing all at the same time. They come to Seattle a lot, but seeing them in the intimate setting of Seattle First Baptist Church will be a treat, so long as you don't melt upon entering. RICH SMITH
What the El! A Benefit for El Sanchez
Excellent local comedian El Sanchez just had a baby, so our queer community is rallying around them for this new-parent-fundraiser with live music and comedy performances by CarLarans, Da Qween, Nick Sahoyah, Londyn Bradshaw, Monisa Brown, and Val Nigro. All proceeds will go straight to El and their new family.
Northwest Metal Fest
The original Northwest Metal Fests were held in the '80s, and were the maypoles around which this region’s vibrant but often-overlooked old-school heavy-metal scene danced. Sponsored by NW Metalworx, this is first iteration of the fest in over 20 years. It unites those older acts with their youthful successors. Headliners Coven (not the '60s hard-rock band) and Q5 represent the old school, but newcomers like Substratum keep their fantastic flames alive right now. This symbolic passing of the torch also aims to become a regular celebration of the region’s musical history. JOSEPH SCHAFER
Blue Oyster Cult
Hooboy, how to explain Blue Öyster Cult if you don’t already know ’em? A thinking person’s heavy-metal band? A thinking person’s stoner-rock? Dedicated devotees of Lovecraft, Stephen King, John Shirley, and Michael Moorcock, the latter two of whom wrote lyrics for ’em? “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” made the charts, made the soundtrack for the original Halloween, and it’s still good for scaring yourself in the basement, especially on really potent da kine. I like their recent (well, 2001) stuff better than most people, but fear not: This is a casino gig, so the hits will be happening. Beware of contact highs. Unless you seek them out. ANDREW HAMLIN
Clinton Fearon & the Boogie Brown Band, Two Story Zori
A former member of the classic Jamaican reggae band the Gladiators, Clinton Fearon is the only real roots rocker in the Pacific Northwest. His first Seattle band, the Defenders, was beloved by all black immigrants, who were moved by his sense of authority, his command of important issues, and his determination that Africa would one day rise again and destroy monolithic Babylon. The Defenders' "Chant Down Babylon" even became a local hit. The Jamaican expat is still alive and well, performing now with the Boogie Brown Band, which does a competent job of backing this reggae master. CHARLES MUDEDE
Gygax, Glitter Wizard, R.I.P., T-Rox
Equating the nerdy escapism of Dungeons & Dragons to the appeal of heavy metal was once a supreme put-down for the fans of the latter, right up there with accusations of Hot Topic patronage. But that’s all changed in the eight-sided-die-gripping hands of California throwback hard rockers Gygax, whose debut, Critical Hits, is an album-long ode to the fantasy game in question. Think Deep Purple embroiled in a wizard fight. Here’s another novelty: When Gygax hit town, they’ll be joined by a trio of regional ragers, among them “butt glam” trailblazers T-Rox, who promise “Death by Dildo” among other delights. JASON BRACELIN
Alterbeast, Grindmother, INFERI, Aethere, Aethereus, Alignment
Take a second to imagine your grandmother screaming her face off to the buzzsaw guitar riffage and brutally fast blastbeats of a grindcore band like Nasum or Napalm Death. Seems like a pretty funny image, huh? Well Grindmother is no joke. What seemingly started as a meme has evolved into a well-oiled, gnarly-ass touring hardcore metal band. This three-piece is comprised of the 69-year-old Canadian Grindmother herself, drummer Tyson Apex, and her son, who goes by RainForest. Their YouTube videos have millions of views and their Age of Destruction EP proved that they’re more than just a hyped-up gimmick. This ain’t no knitting circle. KEVIN DIERS