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Ski Mask the Slump God, Bandhunta Izzy, Danny Towers, ILL Chris
Like seemingly every young rapper of note in 2018, Ski Mask the Slump God came up through SoundCloud. But while many in that world chase trends, Ski Mask has developed a singular style. Latest mixtape Beware the Book of Eli is defiantly strange, with murky production, absurdist lyrics, and protean flows. Each track is a whirlwind of voices and cadences, referencing Greek mythology, children’s cartoons, and blowjobs with equal gusto. The Florida rapper knows his history, both old and recent—MF Doom, Wu-Tang, and Odd Future are clear forebears here—and his work is all the richer for it. ANDREW GOSPE
Scarface, Cool Nutz, King Leez, DJ Indica Jones
Few rappers can credibly claim to have influenced artists as different as Outkast, J Cole, and Insane Clown Posse, but such is the reach of the music Scarface made with Geto Boys and as a solo artist. You can see traces of the Houston rapper’s streetwise introspection all across modern hiphop, and the X-rated aspects of his Geto Boys material continue to resonate in the underground. Earlier this summer, Houston’s mayor declared June 26 “Scarface Day”—a fitting tribute to an artist who did as much as anyone to put Southern hiphop on the map. ANDREW GOSPE
Tissue, Preening, Lindseys, Stretchy
Consisting of local power couple Gabi Page-Fort (former saxophonist/vocalist with Stickers, now playing guitar) and Dean Whitmore (drummer/vocalist with Unnatural Helpers), Tissue write songs that blend both groups' stylistic traits— clamor and tunefulness playfully tussling with each other. But on their new album, A Pick of Twins with Matching Dogs, Tissue tilt more toward Stickers' side of things, deploying unusual dynamics, torqued rhythms, and Fort-Page's deep, wry, and swooping vocals to articulate a brooding, art-rock worldview. The 12 songs on Matching Dogs lightly allude to the Fall, Helium, Areski-Brigitte Fontaine, and Salem 66—all bands that take the serpentine route less traveled to reach interesting destinations. DAVE SEGAL
Smooth English singer-songwriter Ella Mai has been heard all over the world this summer since her single "Boo'd Up" hit the airwaves. She'll travel to the West Coast on her tour of the same name this month.
Alright, this one's for the capital-n Nerds of the music world. DJs Dad (Eli Anderson) and Veins (The Stranger's own Dave Segal) have dug real deep into the wild world of library music (a.k.a. production music) to present for y'all an evening of the "scariest, funkiest, catchiest, and craziest tracks you’ve never heard before... until now." Aubrey Nehring will be providing the surrealistic visuals to cap it all off.
Black Uhuru, Dub Lounge International
The largest organism on earth is apparently some mushroom system ensconced somewhere in Oregon—several miles wide. Problem is, it tries to kill everything in its path in a mindless striving for ultimate dominance. So I’m sticking with the small-fry whales and trees, to summon a metaphor for Black Uhuru and Dub Lounge International, one internationally known, the other a local act, but both committed (through the admittedly far-from-ideal doctrines of Rastafarianism) to love, peace, joy, enjoyment, and togetherness—all vibes decidedly out of style in present-second America. So put on your bark, your flippers, rise up, and abandon the creeping mushroom! ANDREW HAMLIN
Geoff Tate's 30th Anniversary of Operation: Mindcrime
Seattle’s Queensrÿche wrote the second-best metal record of all time, Operation: Mindcrime. (The number one spot has to go to Metallica’s Master of Puppets, and Slayer’s Reign in Blood probably hits third.) Operation: Mindcrime’s A-side features a nonstop juggernaut of knotty, proggy guitar ecstasy, and its B-side delivers a bounty of emotive ballads. Amazingly, it all fits snugly into a Broadway musical narrative that makes little sense. That said, the ’Rÿche’s cynical stance on money and politics seems more prescient as time has passed. Operation: Mindcrime turned 30 in May, and original singer Geoff Tate will celebrate the record’s passage into midlife with his new band—also named Operation: Mindcrime, of course. JOSEPH SCHAFER
Moon Dial, Cloud Person, Carina Lewis
The musings of Jonathan Atkins flow into a melodic state known as Moon Dial, once described by Emily Nokes as "a laid-back, indie journal-pop kind of band." KIM SELLING
Haunted Horses, Clarko, DJ Bela Lugosi's Dad
With their grave post-punk, Haunted Horses’ Colin Dawson and Myke Pelly are headless horsemen who have come back from their 2016 disbanded dead to rapture us with their droning, dark souls once again. Fresh from the crypt, Haunted Horses released their five-song EP COME, which exhumed their first recording since 2013 and the ghostly thread of driving, monochrome dissonance that ties them together. ZACH FRIMMEL
Brace Yourself for PAX with Kero Kero Bonito
Brace Yourself Games invites you to get ready for PAX West with live music from NecroDancer artists and Kero Kero Bonito (a British Japanese band described by Stranger contributor Andrew Hamlin as "J-pop meets Britpop meets 8-bit meets dancehall"), plus special swag, game trailers, and more. Voice actor, composer, and gamer Elspeth Eastman will host.
Den Tapes Third Anniversary Party
Seattle’s music-label game is still strong. Sub Pop celebrated its 30th anniversary earlier this month, and Barsuk celebrates its 20th this year. Adjacent with other local labels like Hush Hush, Freakout!, and Killroom, Den Tapes (run by Mama Kay) is keeping us raptured with pop punk, slacker rock, and angular tuneage while we float around in space making trips around the sun. This jubilee, in particular, is held to welcome Built to Spill–worshippers Fluung to their roster, and joining them will be labelmates Happy Times Sad Times and the stormy singer-songwriter pipes of Mike Sampson from Dusty. ZACH FRIMMEL
Hot Tuna Electric, Steve Kimock
Hot Tuna started as a Jefferson Airplane side project, formed by bassist Jack Casady and guitarist/vocalist Jorma Kaukonen, though it became their full-time band once Jefferson Airplane dissolved in ’72. The duo has been collaborating for more than five decades, and they’ve got the stage banter and chatter down pat, plus instrumentals that find the two venerable musicians trading riffs and solos; Kaukonen’s a preeminent picker who complements Casady’s low-end prowess. They tread blues- and folk-rock territories with ease and much solid melodic input from mandolin player Barry Mitterhoff. Plugged in, they’re joined by Grammy-winning drummer Justin Guip, who spent many years supporting Levon Helm. LEILANI POLK
Grace Love, Kylie Nelson, Katie Kuffel
Our city is SO lucky to have Ms. Grace Love. In just the last few years, her name AND full-throttle singing, both with the True Loves and solo, has excited casual listeners and dance floors across the globe. First, the True Loves’ records blew up (“Fire” is still in heavy rotation), and now her two post–True Loves 45s on Europe’s Cannonball label (especially her first Cannonball side, the string-laced dancer “Higher”) are a bumping testimony that, yes, Seattle does have soul. Don't miss this stellar event tonight—go fall in love with Love, again. MIKE NIPPER
Michete, The Fabulous Downey Bros., Guayaba
Triple threat Michete queers up her scene with a sense of whip-cracking glam that adds an upper level of power to her work as a rapper, producer, and underground pop star.
The conspicuous charm of Jane Monheit’s latest tribute to Ella Fitzgerald is that is does not sound conspicuously like Ella Fitzgerald. That’s conspicuously charming. You’ll find plenty of other stuff to love, I’m sure. Willie Nelson earns praise for sounding like he’s singing in his car. Jane Monheit sounds like she took the persona of an opera diva (not a diva diva) and assumed the diva’s point of view, but toned it down just a few notches, singing in, let’s say, her bathroom, alone, just her and the sink and the shower and the toilet and maybe some ikebana. Private joy. Private sadness. But a diva, being a diva (even a diva diva), can’t help projecting. Can’t help putting it over. ANDREW HAMLIN
Zac Brown Band, OneRepublic
Singer and bandleader Zac Brown is pretty much on perma-tour, sharing his roughly hewn sound around the country with his backing band. He'll take over Seattle for an evening, playing tracks from his three platinum-certified studio albums as well as his latest, Welcome Home.
SLAY: A Hip Hop Party for LGBTQ, POC, and Allies
Save your most killer looks for this summertime edition of SLAY, a hiphop dance party for queer folks and POC. Guests can snap photos in the "Booth of Bass," dance to DJ Automaton and Ronin Roc, and more. A portion of proceeds will benefit Planned Parenthood and a local charity.
An Evening with Chicago
The famed rock band, allegedly "the first to chart Top40 albums in six consecutive decades," will perform what's estimated to be their "longest show ever." They'll play their seminal album Chicago II in its entirety before dishing out a second set of their greatest hits.
Northwest Psych Fest
Now in its fifth year, Peter Koslik and Nick Arthur’s Northwest Psych Fest does an excellent job showcasing local and international talent on a small budget. Their connections with the Mexican psych-rock underground again pay dividends with Dorotheo, Neptuna, and UAY bringing their transportive, melodious songs to the Sunset. Jack Endino’s kosmische trippers Beyond Captain Orca!, reliable power quartet Kinski, tempestuous Portland instrumental trio Máscaras, a new unit called the Slaughter Guarantee featuring doomsday guitarist/synthesist Nordra and versatile sax demon Skerik, and others should keep minds expanding exponentially over this two-night fest. DAVE SEGAL
Dave Matthews Band
Birkenstock-rock legend and #1 dad bod Dave Matthews performs all three days of Labor Day Weekend for the 27th anniversary of his band and in promotion of his latest studio album.
Bumbershoot, Seattle's biggest music, comedy, and arts festival, will take over Seattle Center for Labor Day Weekend 2018 for the 48th year. Musically, this year's fest will be helmed by the likes of J. Cole, the Chainsmokers, Fleet Foxes, Lil Wayne, Portugal. The Man, Ludacris, and Blondie. Plan your Bumbershoot weekend by checking out the full festival schedule here.
Pink Party X
This is it: the boss fight of queer geek parties, and one of the main reasons we look forward to PAX every year. Relax in the "Gayming Lounge" with geek-themed drink specials, participate in a massive cosplay contest with serious cash prizes, and dance all night long to music from DJ Krot and DJ Nome Goldie.
Khalid Robinson had a Top 20 hit when he was still in high school, and the 20-year-old’s music remains grounded in modern teenage concerns: friends growing apart, relationships mediated through technology, hiding weed from your parents. Despite this thematic focus, what stands out after multiple listens is the maturity of his sound and songwriting. He has a gravelly, lived-in voice and he cites influences like Fleetwood Mac, Bill Withers, and Aaliyah, who are well outside the typical young person cultural milieu. You get the sense we’ll be hearing Khalid’s name (pronounced “Kuh-leed,” for all you DJ Khalid fans who read The Stranger) for a long while. ANDREW GOSPE
Brandi Carlile, Courtney Marie Andrews
Ask the average music fan anywhere in the world to name the biggest and best musical artists coming out of Seattle in 2018, and the answer is still likely to be Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, or some other boom-years band, active or not. This has now been true for more than 25 years, much to the frustration of many worthy Northwest artists. Consider Brandi Carlile, the folk/country/ pop artist from Ravensdale, Washington, who just released her seventh album in 13 years, the stately and assured By the Way, I Forgive You. Carlile’s career has been a steady progression of professional accolades, noteworthy collaborations, and artistic advancement—all of it off the traditional path of what one expects from Seattle artists. She has worked with legendary producers T-Bone Burnett and Rick Rubin, had songs in major commercials and Hollywood films, and heard them sung by contestants on American Idol and The Voice. Barack Obama declared his fandom for Carlile in 2015 when he added her song “Wherever Is Your Heart” to the first of his presidential Spotify playlists. All of which is a long way around saying that regardless of what measurement you apply— art, commerce, conscience, or craft—any list of Seattle music’s biggest and brightest talents that doesn’t include Brandi Carlile’s name belongs to the past. SEAN NELSON
Like a growing number of locals in our city, Dave Grohl isn’t actually from Seattle. He relocated here from Virginia in 1990 to drum in Nirvana, recorded his first Foo Fighters demo at Robert Lang Studios (that recording would later become Foo Fighters’ eponymous debut), and spent some time here before moving his base back to Virginia (and LA). But this show feels like a homecoming, with Grohl returning with the band that he took to arena-level heights of mainstream fame while generally maintaining the quality of his music—alt-rock with pop catchiness and vague prog- and hard-rock tendencies. Also, Grohl is a badass showman, an expert at spurring 20,000 people to sing and fist-pump along to those ol’ Foo songs. LEILANI POLK
Killing Joke, PIG
Original British post-punk thanatoptics Killing Joke may be 40 years into their career, but they’re still a pretty blazing proposition. When they came through five years ago, Jaz Coleman and company still had fire in their bellies and massive power in their apocalyptic rock muscles. The first two Killing Joke LPs represent the group at their peak—all fiery, foreboding rock and depopulated dub—and it’s pretty certain they’ll lean heavily on those masterpieces tonight. It’s rare for rock nostalgia to pack such a potent punch, but the Joke’s visionary pessimism is as timely as ever. DAVE SEGAL
Rod Stewart, Cyndi Lauper
When I was a kid, I remember my mom swooning over UK rock god Rod Stewart performing on a late-night talk show. Now I understand why. Since the 1960s, this man has been recklessly touring in some shape or form, including fronting Faces and drumming up hits that steal your heart (“Maggie May”) or bring out your secret wild side (“Da Ya Think I’m Sexy”). Speaking of wild, Cyndi Lauper has been rebelling since 1983’s She’s So Unusual. In our current political climate, belting Lauper’s anthemic “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” feels like the perfect release. ABBIE GOBELI