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Haunted Summer, Gold Casio, Trick Candles
These three heroic groups have decided to band their energy together to bring the heat and dance we need to keep those summer romances going. Seattle’s Trick Candles’ recent EP, Pretend We’re Alone, abounds with bouncy hooks. Gold Casio will elevate you with their spectral synths. Then the nostalgic dream-pop of Los Angeles duo Haunted Summer will cool you off during this especially dreamy evening. ABBIE GOBELI
LVL UP, Pllush, Dogbreth
Good ol’ American indie rock survives with Sub Pop’s LVL UP, who are calling it quits at the end of 2018, so this is your last chance to catch ’em in the flesh. Their scrappy, tuneful songs fall somewhere in the PBR-drenched range of Guided by Voices, Superchunk, Built to Spill, and Microphones. LVL UP understand the benefits of festooning yearning melodies in well-tempered bursts of feedback and distortion—most recently on their 2016 album, Return to Love. What could be fairly square rock songs take on an added dimension of intrigue and frisson by the accretion of grit. Farewell, LVL UP. DAVE SEGAL
Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit, Aimee Mann
Finally, a couple of 2018 Grammy-winning songwriters that actually makes substantially poetic alt-country! Aimee Mann won best folk album with her forlorn Mental Illness, where she tackles despair one crack of her ’90s croon at a time, plus Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit won best Americana album for his interpretative continuation of The Nashville Sound. What more do you want and what more of a reason do you need for a trip out to Redmond? Mann and Isbell are a power couple for those who find solace in swells of slide guitar stitched into the fabric of down-tempo, downtrodden ballads. ZACH FRIMMEL
Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience with Ramin Djawadi
The composer of the music from the popular HBO series that has executed the most amazing long-form tease in television history (surely there has never been another show in which the thing you keep wanting to happen—war, dragons, revenge—happens least) adds a choir, an orchestra, and video visuals to bring the whole kooky thing to life. My fondest wish is that the whole KeyArena audience will unite in a full-throated singalong of the lyrics I sing to the opening theme. It goes like this: “Thrones, thrones, game of thrones, thrones, game of thrones, thrones, game of thrones, thrones, game of throooones. Thrones, thrones, game of thrones, thrones, game of thrones, thrones, game of thrones, thrones, game of throooones...” and onward. Make it happen! SEAN NELSON
Many could not wait for the boom-ch-boom-chk reggaetón summer of 2004 to end (cf. “Gasolina”). Not me. The Puerto Rican–born genre’s rich history of pan-Caribbean cultural borrowing (the “reggae” is no accident, thanks to Boricuas picking up Jamaican radio broadcasts) and deft micro-changes in snare drums deserve more credit for musical innovation than reggaetón ever got after the sound broke in the mainland mainstream. A decade and a half later, young Puerto Ricans like Bad Bunny are still innovating—in this case borrowing trap to give the island’s trademark sound a fresh, youthful energy. GREG SCRUGGS
The War on Drugs, Land of Talk
Do yourself a favor and do not miss Montreal’s Land of Talk. The project of Elizabeth Powell triumphantly returned last year after a seven-year absence. Powell has a special gift of coupling pain and healing that makes for a beneficial therapy session without the necessary stink of health insurance. After signing with Atlantic Records, the War on Drugs have solidified their place as the new Bob Dylan/Bruce Springsteen situation of our time. Last year’s A Deeper Understanding holds up beautifully live with its crooning guitars and raspy, road-worn vocals paired with stories of longing. ABBIE GOBELI
Seattle Psychedelic Circus with Caela Bailey and General Mojo's
Full disclosure: I am recommending this because it sounds intriguing, not because I’ve ever seen the Seattle Psychedelic Circus (it’s brand-new and showing for one night only), or even know exactly what’s in it (the description says it features “a mishmash collaboration of Seattle-based musicians, burlesque and circus performers, and dancers”), but because of the woman who’s heading it up: Seattle chanteuse Caela Bailey. You may remember her from that “Belltown Crawl” video, which was shot in the hood of its title. Girl can sing, she’s fresh off producing her own autobiographical show, Who in the World Are You? at the Triple Door, and she’s teamed up with some pretty cool collaborators for the circus—namely, psych-pop band General Mojo’s and classy yet kinky woman-run cabaret and burlesque production company Valtesse Productions. LEILANI POLK
Rayland Baxter, Skyway Man
Nashville-born alt-country musician Rayland Baxter wrote most of the songs on his new album Wide Awake in an old Kentucky rubber band factory. Hear his soul-, Brit pop-, and rock-inspired stylings after an opening set from Skyway Man.
LUNIZ (Yukmouth & Numskull), Relevant References, County of Kings, Angelo Florez, Willie Bagz
Oakland hiphop duo Luniz (consisting of Yukmouth and Numskull) promise to perform their 1995 hit "I Got 5 On It" when they roll through Seattle with local support from Relevant References, County of Kings, Angelo Florez, and Willie Bagz.
The 2018 debut album by seasoned-to-perfection rock pros Joseph Arthur and R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck, Arthur Buck, sounds just like you’d expect it to: well-crafted, expertly produced, middle-aged American white-guy rock that touches on social and personal issues with mature acuity. Medium-level energy is expended in the service of pleasant songs that won’t get your heart rate too high and will allow you to get to bed at a reasonable hour. Arthur Buck abounds with very professional rock produced with great care, but it’s hard to muster any excitement over its predictable moves. Maybe it’ll translate better live… DAVE SEGAL
Rodrigo y Gabriela
Rodrigo Sánchez and Gabriela Quintero have been pushing out instrumental-guitar-driven duets, mostly minus a full band, for more than 18 years. They both wield acoustic axes, and employ choppy technicality and stylistic qualities that complement each other—Rodrigo is the quicksilver picker and fret-jumper, Gabriela the strummer with intense rhythmicality, and both bust out beats on the bodies of their guitars. While their sound is clearly rooted in the flamenco of their Mexico City home, both were weaned on rock, heavy metal, and jazz—and elements from all three come out in their playing and the covers that show up on their albums (like Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” off their self-titled LP) and live performances (e.g., a medley of Metallica’s “One” and Dave Brubeck’s “Take Five”). LEILANI POLK
Greta Van Fleet, Dorothy
Michigan rock band Greta Van Fleet includes three brothers—Samuel, Jacob, and John Kiszka—among its four members (the fourth is drummer Danny Wagner), who blend metal, pop, blues, and grunge influences into their rock and roll. They'll perform youthful tracks off their debut EP, Black Smoke Rising, with support from Los Angeles rockers Dorothy.
If the Strokes grew up surfing in Southern California instead of doing coke in New York, you’d probably have a band that sounds like the Growlers. The Orange County outfit makes artfully disheveled, hook-filled rock with chiming guitars, and singer Brooks Nielsen shares his cool-guy-nursing-a-hangover vocal stylings with Julian Casablancas. (It’s probably not a coincidence that the band is signed to Casablancas’s Cult Records.) The band’s most recent material leans on keyboardist Kyle Straka, whose synth textures and touches of vintage-sounding organ lend some needed variety to a familiar sound. ANDREW GOSPE
Sweet Dreams: The Music of Patsy Cline
Celebrate iconic singer Patsy Cline with an evening of "sweet dreams," covers, and originals inspired by the queen herself from local admiring musicians like Pacific Northwest singer-songwriters V. Contreras, Star Anna, Mackenzie Mercer, Jennifer Hopper, Kate Voss, and Jessica Lynne, along with musicians Rebecca Young, William Stover, Aaron O'Neil, Jason Goessl, and Country Dave Harmonson.
Dwight Yoakam, Joe Nichols
With a career every bit as unusual as his name, Dwight Yoakam remains a standout country singer-songwriter 30 years into his career. Originally an Ohioan, Yoakam played honky-tonk music in the 1980s when Nashville didn’t want anything to do with the style. After moving to Los Angeles, Yoakam honed his craft alongside the city’s bustling punk-rock and garage-revival scenes. His debut album, Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc., remains pretty much perfect from front to back, both as a stand-alone music experience and as an intro to Yoakam’s wry, deadpan sense of humor. That same personality, and penchant for great titles, is still alive and kicking on his latest, Swimmin’ Pools, Movie Stars. JOSEPH SCHAFER
Wasn’t Andrew W.K. just here? Yes, he was. The leader of the Party Party (yep) sold out Neumos on his last run through, but that was before his nine-years-in-the-making fifth album, You’re Not Alone, was released. It’s a good record, packed with the kind of bulldozing power pop for which Andrew W.K. is known. It’s not nearly as good as his debut, I Get Wet, but that’s fine because he’s still going to play the most crucial blasts from that seminal release on this iteration. Here’s hoping Showbox opts out of barricades so we can have a stage dive Saturday. JOSEPH SCHAFER
Brooklyn-by-way-of-Olympia musician Mirah sounded diffuse in the late 1990s—talented, but not quite sure where she wanted to go, hanging back. Judging by 2014’s Changing Light set, though, she’s perfected her formula: sweet vocals laced with sinister processing, growling minor chords, skeletal percussion, and lyrics taking in the pitfalls of human relationships, including romance. And she’s not afraid to adopt both sides of a troubled/failed relationship, either. ANDREW HAMLIN
Sam Smith, Beth Ditto
King of Tears Sam Smith will take over Seattle for an evening of heartbreaking soul-inflected pop music thanks to his The Thrill Of It All Tour. Fiery singer Beth Ditto will join Sam for a few tour dates, including this stop.
TERMINATor, Dragon, Bod, Butt Quack
Hands down, this show is the Saturday night, weird-core vote and place to support your DIY ecosystem while keeping up that bohemian cred. This rabble-rousing fundraiser is for Poseurs, a donation-based yoga studio, to raise money for its transition into establishing nonprofit status. TERMINATor is composed of local dissenters from Rose Windows and Dræmhouse. They’re equipped with harsh post-punk and harmonious flute escapades that you can’t get anywhere else. The rest of the bill’s support is going to keep the juices flowing. ZACH FRIMMEL
Jason Mraz, Brett Dennen
Someone's got to be the less-douchey John Mayer, and there's no better contender than Jason Mraz, a perfectly good guy making perfectly nice music that will not make you cover your ears in horror should you happen to hear it on the radio or in the supermarket. He's funny, humble, pro-gay, and he wears hats. DAVE SEGAL
What So Not
What So Not was originally the duo of Chris Emerson and Harley Streten, until the latter left to focus on Flume, his immensely successful solo project. In its current iteration, What So Not has collaborated with Skrillex and RL Grime. Those three names give a good indication of the sort of tasteful big-box bass music that Emerson produces. On debut Not All the Beautiful Things, he splits his time between atmospheric melodrama and manicured beats-and-bass stuff that recalls the game-of-telephone EDM version of dubstep popular earlier this decade. Emerson’s music isn’t bad, exactly, but rarely does it rise above Mad Decent. ANDREW GOSPE
Unleash the Archers, Striker, Helion Prime, Silver Talon
The final bastion of true-blue, 1980s-style heavy metal is… Canada? While the sounds of the ’80s—soaring vocals, searing and virtuosic guitar solos—are making a comeback in America in conjunction with a greater nostalgia for that time period (thanks, Stranger Things), bands like Unleash the Archers and Striker play classic metal as if they were grown in some secret government facility to forcibly inject the sounds of Dokken and Helloween into our ears. To be clear, each act is nearly as good at writing no-BS songs as any of their obvious influences are. Don’t miss Striker—their upcoming album, Play to Win, is just too damn good. Actually, don’t miss Helion Prime’s sci-fi fantasia, either. JOSEPH SCHAFER
Dirtface, Shitty Person, Ben Von Wildenhaus
The two leading acts on this bill trace their ancestry back to the Master Musicians of Bukkake, so if you know what bukkake is, you’re already well-warned! Shitty Person stay mired in apathy, to the point where playing behind the beat presents itself as just another aspect of why-bother (I do dig the gritty sax, though). Dirtface play it slow and sometimes grinding and often loud, but they allow for the presence of beauty, usually through the surprisingly delicate guitar interplay. Not sure if these tastes will taste great together, but not knowing is half the fascination. ANDREW HAMLIN
Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, Galactic, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, New Breed Brass Band
Immerse yourself in a brassy evening of traditional and contemporary New Orleans jazz, soul, and funk with Trombone Shorty, Orleans Avenue, Galactic, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, and New Breed Brass Band.