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You might not understand what Juana Molina is singing, but I can guarantee you’ll be intrigued, regardless. Molina is an actress turned experimental singer-songwriter who hails from Argentina, but she spent some time in LA in the late 1990s, where she picked up her electronic music skills. She has seven LPs to her credit; 2017’s Halo showcases the most recent iteration of her sound: off-kilter, complex, hypnotizing, and stunning folktronica laced with elements of ambient music, psychedelia, and art-pop. All of this is marked by Molina’s layering and looping of acoustic and electronic sounds and multi-tracking of her mellow-sweet vocals and (mostly) Spanish lyrics. LEILANI POLK
Father Murphy, Geist & the Sacred Ensemble, To End It All
Fuck fun—Italy’s Father Murphy want to take you lower. Members Freddie Murphy and Chiara Lee revel in stark, funereal dirges that sound like rituals for beautiful, damned souls. Their music scans as a kind of gothic folk whose sonorous drones and bleak melodies enable listeners to get seriously woebegone. Fans of Swans’ gentler side and Jarboe should get their brood on magnificently to Father Murphy, who are touring in support of their final LP, Rising. A Requiem for Father Murphy. DAVE SEGAL
Florence + the Machine, St. Vincent, Lizzo
Florence + the Machine aren’t for those who like restraint in their pop music. On their 2009 debut, Lungs, Florence Welch pours her heart into every lyric as pianist Isabella Summers and a bevy of backup singers struggle to keep pace. It’s Adele by way of a Technicolor melodrama. If Florence + the Machine tone things down on this year’s High as Hope, drama remains their stock in trade. No slouch when it comes to theatricality, St. Vincent deserves her own stadium-headlining tour on the strength of a discography that includes last year’s Jack Antonoff–produced Masseduction. Add Prince-approved Minneapolis rapper Lizzo, and this bill becomes unmissable. KATHY FENNESSY
RAIN: A Tribute to The Beatles
RAIN - A Tribute to The Beatles is a celebration of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band's 50th anniversary. In addition to early Beatles tunes, the show will highlight all the songs from Sgt. Pepper in a psychedelic multimedia performance.
The Vibrators, the Lucky Boys, Tough Times
First-generation UK punks the Vibrators, who played at the Roxy in 1977, are hitting Seattle! And, damn, these yobbos are STILL touring after having been around for well over 40 goddamn years! But y’all know this AND how they rock, ’cause as I said last time they came through, every punk ever owns a copy of their first LP, Pure Mania. Along for tonight’s go-go-a-pogo sesh is Rat City’s 1970s-style punx Tough Times and locals the Lucky Boys. MIKE NIPPER
Café Tacvba, the Marías
Take one part musically clued-in city with the world’s best independent radio station and add an ever-increasing Latino, mostly Mexican, community (12.4 percent in Washington and rising, oh and fuck you, Jeff Sessions, while we’re at it), and you’ve got the recipe for a sold-out show with Mexico’s most popular alt-rock band. Didn’t get a ticket to the Moore? Café Tacvba are playing a KEXP in-studio on September 10, so listen in. GREG SCRUGGS
The Distillers, Starcrawler
Before they teased a reunion on social media this past January, LA-based punk squad the Distillers had gone quiet for 12 years. Like many before them, they went at it hard and burned out fast, releasing three albums in just five years. Through it all, there was only one constant: the snarling howl and fierce guitar playing of frontwoman and founding member Brody Dalle. The Distillers’ final album, 2003’s Coral Fang, found the band arriving at a more mature sound, adding layers of melody to their formula of short, fast, and loud. Let’s hope we’re blessed with a fourth album after the initial reunion tour. KEVIN DIERS
Cécile McLorin Salvant Duo
In 2016, Cécile McLorin Salvant won the Grammy Award for Best Jazz Vocal Album for her record For One To Love. She is celebrated for her ability to bring together the connections between jazz, vaudeville, blues, and folk music with her strong tone.
Lucius, Cornelia Murr
Brooklyn five-piece Lucius have repeatedly proven their knack for delivering perfectly articulated pop that rolls out with fiery sass. This year, the group changed up their dynamics and unleashed Nudes, which strips off the slick pop in favor of an acoustic blend. Their artistic challenge paid off in this format; Lucius’s multi-instrumental talents are much more pronounced paired with the flexible vocal stylings of Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig. Solo cosmic-pop artist Cornelia Murr—who recently worked with producer Jim James of My Morning Jacket on her latest effort, Lake Tear of the Clouds—opens the night. ABBIE GOBELI
Neighborhood Watch Presents Baywitch, Dogbreth, & The Worries
Baywitch’s winning combo of spunky strums and ethereal vocals is a must-have for the spookiest—and most colorful—beach parties this summer. SOPHIA STEPHENS
Distant Worlds: Music From Final Fantasy with the Seattle Symphony
Distant Worlds, the collection of music from Final Fantasy, will be presented in full multimedia concert format, with the music of Japanese video game composer Nobu Uematsu and projected imagery from the game, conducted by Grammy winner Arnie Roth.
Grün Wasser, Bloom Offering, Webdriver Torso
Cynics only, enter a cloud of abnormality with this trio of duos. Grün Wasser come bearing gifts of worried sounds and whirring synths from Chicago. You know those scenes in horror films where, for one freakish beat, the person’s reflection in the mirror doesn’t match what they’re actually doing? Grün Wasser make music for those moments. The combo of their necropolitical electronica and Bloom Offering’s digital angst will make the evening an especially divine incantation. Completing this trapdoor-filled pyramid are Webdriver Torso, Seattle’s resident neo-industrialists. Their musical misanthropy will deliciously remind you what space-wastes we all are. AJ DENT
Porter Robinson's Virtual Self
Porter Robinson is a mainstream EDM producer and DJ, and I know you were wondering when and where you could possibly find more of that! Yes, the music generally sounds something like a shiny bundle of Passion Pit, Forever 21, and soft robot voices cooing positive affirmations, but the multimedia live show promises to be something to feast your bloodshot eyes upon. According to Robinson's bio, "It's a hyperreal, video-game-fueled dream come to life..." EMILY NOKES
Boy George and Culture Club, Thompson Twins' Tom Bailey
Eccentric pop cult figure/trailblazing weirdo Boy George has retained an effortlessly freakish cool since Culture Club enjoyed their biggest fame in the 1980s. Their reggae-infused, radio-ready songs immersed listeners in a smooth, festive pop paradise where neon eye makeup and passionate sax solos reigned supreme. Fortunately for nostalgia-seekers, the set lists for this tour have been drafted to please, with all the big hits represented (“Karma Chameleon,” “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me”). If you want to be transported to a time when the cell phones were even bigger than the hair, I suggest indulging in a Washington State Fair getaway, because Boy George and company are sure to provide inescapably good vibes. Besides, do you really need another reason to get day-drunk with your mom? BRITTNIE FULLER
Kali Uchis, Gabriel Garzón-Montano
Rising alt-R&B powerhouses Kali Uchis and Gabriel Garzón-Montano have been hotly tipped for a few years now in their respective cities of LA and Brooklyn. Uchis has garnered interest from the likes of Tyler, the Creator and Rick Rubin while building a solid fan base of her own with her unique voice and no-holds-barred lyrics. Garzón-Montano, on the other hand, seemingly emerged overnight with a breakthrough release for Brooklyn dance label Styles Upon Styles. But with both artists now gaining national attention for their respective Isolation and Jardín albums, this is the gig to scope if you’re looking for a new brand of soul. NICK ZURKO
Lake Street Dive
Dance-party-ready pop group Lake Street Dive will play in support of their last album Side Pony.
Brent Faiyaz created the single greatest hook of last year for GoldLink’s sureshot “Crew,” one of the year’s best singles. He named his solo debut Sonder Son, so called for his group Sonder, itself named for a word coined by John Koenig in his Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows. Its definition just deepens that hook’s mournful, transient quality: “the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own—populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness—an epic story that continues invisibly around you like an anthill sprawling deep underground, with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives that you’ll never know existed, in which you might appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted window at dusk.” LARRY MIZELL JR.
R.E.S.P.E.C.T. — An Aretha Franklin Tribute Night
Respect the legacy of the Queen of Soul with this tribute night to Aretha Frankin with performances by local artists Breaks & Swells, Grace Love, High Pulp, Whitney Lyman, and Adra Boo. All proceeds will go to benefit cancer research.
Though music writers took a moratorium on using the word “chanteuse,” one must break rank for Goapele. This neo-soul chanteuse has been plying her brand of smoky, slow-burn beauty since the turn of the millennium, occupying the space between Sade, Jill Scott, and classic Erykah Badu. Her profile’s risen considerably in the past few years, with the crossover success of albums like Break of Dawn and Strong as Glass, and it’s not hard to hear why. Their addictive blends of aqueous keyboards and subtly stoned funkiness show a big-budget attention to detail, and Goapele’s strong yet silky come-ons sound better than ever gliding over the top. Her strongest track to date remains 2011’s superb “Play,” though. It’s like the classiest adult-contemporary you’ve ever heard, the midnight soundtrack to a high-speed train ride through Neo Tokyo to meet your lover across town. KYLE FLECK
Lavender Country, Wildcat Rose, Jenny Don’t & the Spurs
The world wasn’t ready for Lavender Country back in 1973 when their very queer country album first came out. At the time, musician Patrick Haggerty played some gigs up and down the coast, sold 1,000 copies of the album, and then went about his life. But in 2014, his groundbreaking music was rediscovered and rereleased, and now you can hear songs like “Cryin’ These Cocksucking Tears” live and in person. Haggerty is a phenomenal entertainer and storyteller, and his decades of adventures as an activist have further enriched his performances with meaning.
Lost Chocolate Lab, Possibly Possible
Tonight’s a chance to experience pieces from the new Lost Landscapes album by Lost Chocolate Lab (Seattle guitarist Damian Kastbauer). After one listen to this record, it’s clear that LCL has tapped into a special stream of glacial, spatial gorgeousness that makes one think that this is what Harold Budd would sound like if he abandoned keyboards for a six-string. A majestic stillness suffuses Lost Landscapes, not unlike the music of Michigan’s gentle space-rock souls Windy & Carl. With minimal deployment of crystalline and fuzz-toned notes, Kastbauer facilitates gliding transport to meditative zones. That is an impressive and necessary feat. DAVE SEGAL
Natalie Wouldn't, The Big News, Mister Blank, The Replicators
Ska’s not dead; it’s just a lot easier to ignore than it was in its ’90s heyday of bands like Reel Big Fish and Less Than Jake. There are a handful of bands in the Northwest scene courageous enough to carry on with the horns amid a landscape of people likely to consider their ska fandom just a deep dark secret—one of which is Natalie Wouldn’t. Formed from the ashes of Moon Ska Records artist Easy Big Fella, Natalie Wouldn’t lean toward a more soulful, rocksteady sound. Give them a listen and there’s a chance you might not cringe (as much) the next time anyone utters the word “ska.” KEVIN DIERS
Angel Olsen, Hand Habits
After an apprenticeship with Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Missouri-born musician Angel Olsen struck out on her own. On her first two records, the unfiltered vocals and stripped-down settings align her with roots singers on the shadowy end of the spectrum, like Roy Orbison and Gillian Welch. Since then, Olsen’s moved in a more rock-oriented direction—the reverb on 2014’s Burn Your Fire for No Witness came as a shock the first time I heard it. A friend once dismissed her as the sort of vocalist who demands a reaction, and he’s not wrong, but her show-stopper of a voice fully earns it. KATHY FENNESSY
Leon Bridges, Khruangbin
Leon Bridges is the latest artist reviving the Motown sound, and he does it well: His 2015 debut studio album, Coming Home, earned him a Grammy nom, its title track a straight-up ’60s-vintage throwback in the vein of Sam Cooke and Otis Redding. Bridges’s soulful rhythm and blues gets more modern production values and groove tones in this year’s sophomore follow-up, Good Thing. RIYL: Aloe Blacc, Michael Kiwanuka, Benjamin Booker. Also on the bill are Khruangbin, a mostly-instrumental Texas trio churning out retro-evocative psychedelic soul that draws heavily on funk and Latin flavors à la Budos Band. Overall, this is a solid Friday night bill. LEILANI POLK
KEXP Presents: The True Loves
The seemingly ever-multiplying members of Seattle instrumental soul group the True Loves are clearly well-trained in their ability to maintain tight rhythms while also improvising all over the place. They'll share a bill with the Witness, the Black Tones, Bakelite, and High Pulp.
Toby Keith, Ned LeDoux
Singer/songwriter Toby Keith has been raking in country music fans ever since the release of his debut single, "Should've Been A Cowboy." He'll perform boot-stomping tunes tonight.
Opening Night with Ludovic Morlot & Jean-Yves Thibaudet
A bittersweet, but nevertheless glamorous, opening night for music director Ludovic Morlot's final season with Seattle Symphony. Morlot should feel right at home with his fellow Frenchman, pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet, playing Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, a perennial favorite that closes with one of the biggest bangs in all of symphonic music. After that, Thibaudet will bring the romance and high drama of Khachaturian’s Piano Concerto. You'll want to put on a suit, a dress, or a suit-dress for this one. RICH SMITH
Lusio Lights Georgetown - CCL & DJ CZ
Take in luminous installations from artists like Brittan Drake and Jeremy Winters while DJs CZ and CCL spin tunes.
TUF x SIREN
Heed the siren call and make your way to Kremwerk for this transatlantic encounter between two of the talented DJ/producer crews proving that the future of electronic music is female. TUF is our homegrown collective of female/trans/nonbinary music mavens. SIREN is basically the London equivalent of TUF, and its members are striving to smash the patriarchy in the UK. Mostly just expect these artists to lead you on a mind-expanding journey through the contours of techno, acid, dub, house, and beyond. GREG SCRUGGS
Rapper, singer-songwriter, and general diva of soulful hiphop Lauryn Hill didn’t do much following her split with the Fugees. In fact, she released only one solo album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, in 1998. But between the strength of her Fugees work, the perfection of that multiplatinum album, and her undisputed star power, she’s managed to maintain a few-decades-long career and have six kids along the way. On this tour, she’ll deliver Miseducation in its entirety. But a word of warning: She’s notoriously tardy (she once came on stage two and a half hours late because she needed to “align her energy with the time”), so don’t expect this date to be any different. LEILANI POLK
The Fastbacks, the Meigs, Stag, Shelby Earl, Alcohol Funnycar, Toothpaste, Guests
When a well-loved member of the Northwest music scene is down and out, it’s refreshing to see their peers lend a helping hand. Former Presidents of the United States of America and current Andrew McKeag Band guitarist Andrew McKeag was recently involved in a motorcycle accident. Graciously, many of his friends from local bands are coming together to help pay for his medical expenses. At the top of the bill are the Fastbacks, a Northwest institution dating back to 1979. They play incredibly catchy pop-punk anthems—and on the rare occasion when they reunite, it’s all smiles and sing-alongs on the dance floor. KEVIN DIERS
Obscura, Beyond Creation, Archspire, Inferi, Exist, Aethereus, Whythre
Death-metal bands tend to have a high turnover rate. However, few hold a candle to Obscura, the brainchild of guitarist and vocalist Steffen Kummerer. He’s rotated through about 13 bandmates since the beginning of his project. What’s more amazing is that he found 13 musicians who can play Obscura material at all. Aligned with neoclassical music, progressive rock, and jazz fusion, Obscura play death metal in its most technically proficient form, all in service of grand, multi-album conceptual arcs based on works of poetry and philosophy. In less capable hands, the band would be impossibly eggheaded and insufferably pretentious. But Kummerer knows how to write a tune, from the instant ignition of “The Anticosmic Overload” to the meditative beauty that is the final segment of “Centric Flow.” JOSEPH SCHAFER
When you think of political music, you probably think of indignation or ire or rage. Dev Hynes’s work as Blood Orange is indeed political, but the anger churns beneath the surface. On its face, his music is gorgeous: glassy keys, soft-rock guitars, rich woodwind arrangements, a rhythm section that benefits from his classic-sounding production, where every instrument has room to breathe. (Hynes, who’s produced for Solange and FKA Twigs, knows his way around an R&B track.) Amid all this, he writes about black identity, representation, and oppression; his is a vital voice that rises above the noise. ANDREW GOSPE
The Blow, DoNormaal
Portland-based artists Khaela Maricich and Melissa Dyne are the Blow, and they write saccharine lyrics set to catchy, vibrant experimental(ish) electro-pop. You likely know a few of their tracks from Pandora radio—“True Affection” was everywhere for a minute, surprising because it’s so simple, carried on a buoyant keyboard melody, stripped-back synth beats and finger-snaps, and Maricich’s dulcet vocals; and the upbeat, bumpin’ “Parentheses” (“When you’re holding me, we make a pair of parentheses”). They come to town behind 2017 electroacoustic release Brand New Abyss. According to the Blow’s bio page, they use the same rig to perform live that they use to record: “a towering mothership of patched-together modular synths, ancient samplers, and other analog gear.” LEILANI POLK
Chad VanGaalen, Loving
Chad VanGaalen’s 2017 album Light Information finds him praying to the aliens, in terms of severe skepticism over the human race—but not quite in the same way Gary Numan prayed to the aliens. VanGaalen’s electronics feel lighter, the guitar twangs and the lyrics, unlike Numan’s, bother with humans enough to plumb their insecurities, hopes, inner fears, and awkwardness, sometimes stumbling into VanGaalen’s own awkwardness and fears. VanGaalen is tempted to say screw it to everyone and everything, but he stops short of that line—while adroitly peppering his songs with video-game noises. ANDREW HAMLIN
Darto, Nordra, Great Spiders
Last September, Darto birthed their avant-pop album Human Giving. This September 16 at Royal Room, the Seattle foursome will begat their four-track Fundamental Slime EP. Human Giving was a departure from previous records and gave us a kaleidoscope of soundscapes with some National-aloof demeanor and Suicide-grainy textures. Let’s hope they’ll keep us on our toes and guessing with this new release. Nordra will blanket the room with dystopian noise, like a scene out of The Handmaid’s Tale. Darto and Nordra both opened for Wand last year, so whether you caught ’em or missed ’em, don’t do the latter. ZACH FRIMMEL
Margaret Glaspy, Jenny O
It’s hard to believe that Margaret Glaspy is even singing in English, or any other language I would innately understand (I’m a white person who grew up in the United States, I only know one thing). Her warped tone and hauntingly demure scowl brings to mind a toxic tumbleweed, rolling down the broken set of Our Town. It’s undeniably American, with a slick Southern Gothic thumbprint, tempered by a hollow directness that comes from trauma survived. She’s worth listening to simply to translate these emotions for yourself, in any way you can. KIM SELLING
Murder by Death
Indiana-spawned Murder by Death have been plying their blend of brawny yet poignant indie rock and folk roots for nearly 18 years, giving it gothic dramatic overtones with heavy strains of cello and infusing it with old-timey western appeal while fleshing out the mix with mandolin and banjo. On their most recent outing, 2015’s Big Dark Love, they added horns and extra percussion, too, and experimented with electronics, to great effect. LEILANI POLK