Looking for a sexy yet low-pressure atmosphere on Valentine's Day? A concert with neo-soul artist Bilal and up-and-coming R&B star Parisalexa is just the ticket.
This week, our music critics have picked everything from former teen heartthrob Jesse McCartney to soul revivalists the Dip to underground-electronic music mecca Kremwerk's Five-Year Anniversary Weekend. Follow the links below for ticket links and music clips for all of their picks, and find even more shows on our complete music calendar and our Valentine's Day calendar. Plus, check out our arts critics' picks for the 54 best things to do this week.

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Events may be subject to change due to snow. Do consider double-checking event websites before leaving the house



The Nels Cline 4
A dexterous guitarist who excels in many rock and jazz contexts, Nels Cline is most famous for his 15-year stint with avant-Americana group Wilco. His versatility is such that he might be the only musician who’s played with Julius Hemphill and Mike Watt. Now in his 60s, Cline is still thrusting into interesting sonic territory with his newish quartet, as their 2018 album Currents, Constellations (on the still relevant Blue Note label) proves. Here, Cline unspools circuitous motifs of chords that sometimes glisten with intrigue and sometimes rustily fray nerves. Album highlight “Imperfect 10” sounds like Norwegian fusion deity Terje Rypdal getting oblongly funky with Tortoise. Tonight is going to be a cerebral joy. DAVE SEGAL

Steve Gunn, Meg Baird
Brooklyn’s Steve Gunn has a strong name-association game in indie folk. He played in the Violators with Kurt Vile for a span and collaborated with Vile outside that particular lineup. He has played with Grateful Dead–vibing Hiss Golden Messenger, celebrated guitarist/improvisor Mike Cooper, and multi-instrumental talent Mike Gangloff (Pelt, Black Twig Pickers). He has an ambling, easy-to-dig roots-rock sound dosed in very light psychedelia, a delicate high-toned vocal quality, loosely roaming guitar melodies, and songwriting that feels breezily effortless. LEILANI POLK


The BellRays, the Atom Age
I think the BellRays have been around, off and on, for 20 years now. But they’re back again and, I swear, they haven’t lost any of the fire of their younger days. The band’s high-energy rock ’n’ roll riffage plus Lisa Kekaula’s killer vox will still leave you feeling like you got struck by some "Black Lightning”! And from what I’ve heard, along with their high-energy jams, they’re also dropping a bit of proper Muscle Shoals–style soul in the mix. They were shit kickin’ THEN, but NOW are a mature group at the top of their game. MIKE NIPPER

Jesse McCartney, Whitney Woerz
It seems that as soon as Aaron Carter left my life, Jesse McCartney entered it. They both had the blond-haired-mop, blue-eyed-pop market on lock. One apparently just replaced the other, but my 10-year-old self was in love regardless. That’s why I was a little distressed to remember that McCartney did not, in fact, star in an episode of Lizzie McGuire (that was Aaron) and also wasn’t in John Tucker Must Die (that was Jesse Metcalfe). Even though I got my early 2000s teen-pop hunks mixed up, McCartney’s new stuff is actually pretty catchy! He now leans to a decidedly more EDM/club sound, though there’s no doubt that the former teen heartthrob will play fan favorite “Beautiful Soul” on this night. JASMYNE KEIMIG

Johnny Mathis
Lush pop crafter and '50s-'60s chart mainstay Johnny Mathis is celebrating his 62nd year in the music industry. He'll share his sublime vocals with a Seattle audience at the end of this winter.



Dancing on My Own
At this rambunctious dance party in honor of this love-filled (or stiletto- and broken-bottles-filled) holiday, dance on your own or with your friends and lovers as resident Barboza DJs play the best tracks from Swedish pop star Robyn's 2018 album Honey, as well as her classic hits like "Call Your Girlfriend," "With Every Heart Beat," "Hang with Me," and the titular smash "Dancing on My Own."

Dream Date Sing-Along: Boy Band and Girl Group Edition
Go back to those lip gloss and frosted tip days and sing along with Spice Girls, N'Sync, Backstreet Boys, and other stars.

Emo Night LA: Emo Nite Seattle
Bring back the early-mid 2000's with your deep passion for gauged ears, flat-ironed hair, and Pete Wentz's smirk. Emo Nite, presented by Emo Night LA, is the new sensation of reliving your MySpace glory in the form of a high-energy, passionately emo DJ night.


Serengeti, INVICTVS
Chicago experimental hiphop artist Serengeti will come to Seattle for an all-ages show with local support from alt-hiphop group INVICTVS. 

Trey Songz, Eric Bellinger, Ebon Lurks
Rapper Trey Songz has toured with the likes of Usher and Miguel. He'll come to Seattle to woo you with a special Valentine's night concert with Eric Bellinger and Ebon Lurks.


Mindi Abair and the Boneshakers
Contemporary sax thriller Mindi Adair will rip through Seattle over Valentine's Day with her bluesy, jazzy band of bad boys, the Boneshakers.

Valentine's Day with Gail Pettis Quintet
Earshot Jazz-acclaimed 2010 Vocalist of the Year Gail Pettis will perform a program of romantic movie themes and jazz standards featured in classic films with her quintet and a special feature by Dmitri Matheny on flugelhorn.

Valentine’s Day with Jennifer Kienzle
It was dusk when the smoke from the wildfires of Central Washington transformed the sky of Seattle into the kind of sky you would expect to find on a martian planet. At around this time, I began listening to four tunes by Jennifer Kienzle recorded in December 2013 at Vitos. Because it looked like I was in another world, Kienzle's music sounded like it was from another time and solar system. Her voice--which has its roots in the tradition established by Ella Fitzgerald, and is so lucid and impeccably pitched--made feel a longing for my home, for the earth I once knew. I wanted blue skies of Kienzle's songs. I was tired of these red days and orange suns. CHARLES MUDEDE


Air Supply
Stranger contributor Andrew Hamlin has written, "Air Supply rarely bother with new albums. They’re about the hits and the memories of those tiger-shirt days. Graham Russell looks like he never leaves the beach. Russell Hitchcock’s the hedgehog. Hope he’s still got it! (That shirt, I mean, which may be too much to hope for.)" The soft-rock duo will return to Washington State once again for a night of nothing but your favorites. 

Aurora, Talos
Norwegian singer-songwriter Aurora has sweetly high-toned vocals and a sound leaning to pop catchiness. The music verges on saccharine some moments and grandiose cheese at others, but more often than not, it is dreamy and lovely and thoughtful, her instrumentals incorporating electronic and organic instrumentation. She’s called her latest outing, Infections of a Different Kind (Step 1), a “very empowering album, but also sentimental at times,” and she’s landing in town behind it. Support from architect-turned-electro-pop-musician Eoin French, aka Talos. LEILANI POLK

Be My Baby: Valentine’s Duet Show
Snuggle up with your date for a night of duets from Katie Costello and Jake Hemming, Aubrey and Matt (of the Local Strangers), Kim and Ryan (of Smokey Brights), Matt and Kristy (of the Vocal Few), Steve and Valerie Leslie (of Chuckanut Drive), and Phil and Hannah (of Friday Mile and Youth Rescue Mission). 

Greenhouse Gigs: Valentine's Concert at The Conservatory
What's a more romantic setting than a glass house filled with twinkling lights and lush plant life that flourishes even in freezing temperatures? Spend Valentine's Day evening taking in live music from Luke Stanton and Katie Kuffel in the balmy greenhouse.

Valentine's Day with Lemolo, OK Sweetheart, Sophia Duccini
Sweetly meditative Lemolo—chosen as one of the "Top Bands Rocking Seattle" by Seattle magazine, voted “Best Seattle Band” by City Arts, and named one of Google Play’s “Best Unsigned Artists of the Year”—will return to play their dreamy lullabies that are perfect for setting a softly romantic scene for your Valentine's Day celebration. They'll be joined by the equally sugary and smoky tunes of indie pop quartet OK Sweetheart and local alt-folk-pop chanteuse Sophia Duccini.


Bilal, Parisalexa
Are you still looking for that thing to take your boo to for Valentine’s Day? An event that evokes a sexy yet low-pressure atmosphere, where your senses are heightened by both mood and sound? I think this Bilal and Parisalexa show is just the ticket. Bilal is a neo-soul artist who has worked with a lot of your favorite artists (including Kendrick and Common), and she crafts sensual, D’Angelo- and Roots-adjacent tunes. Warming the stage is up-and-coming R&B star Parisalexa, a native of Seattle whose catchy songs pair perfectly with those of the music industry veteran. JASMYNE KEIMIG

Ella Mai, Kiana Lede, Lucky Daye
Smooth English singer-songwriter Ella Mai has been heard all over the world since her single "Boo'd Up" hit the airwaves this past summer. She'll travel back to the West Coast on her "Debut" tour this winter.

Valentine's Day 2019 with Scarlet Parke & Whitney Mongé
This Valentine's Day, spend your evening with two talented singer-songwriters who lend a sense of quiet sensuality to their music. Smooth and smoky songstress Scarlet Parke will play on your heartstrings with her particular blend of blues and pop that gains momentum from her brand of dark yet party-ready seduction. Local alternative soul artist—and former Seattle busker—Whitney Mongé will fill your eardrums with a voice that Stranger contributor Andrew Hamlin once called "understated but emphatic."



Prokofiev Symphony No. 7
An evening chock-full of violins, playfulness, and nostalgia. Paul Dukas's The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, which you'll remember from Disney's Fantasia, will give way to Prokofiev's sweeping and yet wistful Seventh Symphony. Violinist Aleksey Semenenko will also tackle the challenging but downright jaunty solos in Sibelius's one-and-only Violin Concerto, colloquially known as the "Polonaise for Polar Bears" due to its icy texture and pounding rhythm. RICH SMITH



Kremwerk Five Year Anniversary Weekend
Kremwerk, the downtown tri-venue compound boasting exceptional live music, dance, and drag events, will celebrate their fifth birthday this weekend with a plethora of events featuring—you guessed it—live music, dance, and drag, including Shook: Machinedrum & HomeSick (Fri), the genre-bending drag show and DJ dance party Cathedral (Sat), and KW 5-Year All Night: Patrick Russell, Beta Librae (Sat).



Lavender Country Valentine's Concert
Stranger contributor Matt Baume has written, "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." Spend Valentine's Day with these legends. 


Beats Antique, Axel Thesleff, Pilz Beats
Oakland-based Beats Antique is a prime paradigm of three people with diverse talents banding together to create something uniquely fresh. CIA grad David Satori spent many years playing in a 10-piece Afrobeat band, and he juggles viola, guitar, banjo, melodica, and various instruments from around the world like the saz and electric cümbüş (a sort of Turkish banjo). Lifelong dancer Zoe Jakes started in jazz and ballet, settled on belly dancing that incorporates elements of tango, popping, and Indian styles, did stints with Yard Dogs Road Show and Belly Dance Superstars, and plays strap-on bass drum. Tommy “Sidecar” Cappel picked up drums young (he was beat-keeping by 6), and his jazz, prog, and metal influences were augmented by a Berklee education, and grew to encompass world music that included non-jazz rhythmic patterns of African and Arab music. All three are involved in electro production techniques, their resulting sound heady, mesmerizing, sonically bright and exciting, danceable, and just fucking cool experimental world fusion that’s heavy on samples, sequencing, and percussives. The band promises a whole new stage show on their current Grand Bizarre tour. LEILANI POLK

Support The Stranger

The Motet, John Medeski’s Mad Skillet
Colorado-based progressive funk group the Motet will be joined in their Afrobeat ecstasy by New Orleans groove band John Medeski’s Mad Skillet.


Leyla McCalla
New Orleans-based Haitian American musician Leyla McCalla, who sings and plays the cello, tenor banjo, and guitar, will perform. Her music is influenced by traditional Creole, Cajun, and Haitian music, as well as by American jazz and folk.


A Bowie Celebration: The David Bowie Alumni Tour
Now that the winter is slowly passing, it’s time to revel in some palate-cleansing joy. Seattle Symphony has decided to host an evening of tributes worthy of glam rock god David Bowie with his friends, former bandmates, and acclaimed musicians including Mike Garson and other amazing Bowie band alumni. Feel free to zazz your face up with a lightning bolt and cry/dance in the corner with the rest of us.

Tomo Nakayama, Lenore
Tomo Nakayama makes, if anything, deeper sense to me 16 years after I discovered him in the wake of 9/11. His music was calming folks—although I understand that isn’t his primary intention—in the shadow of 9/11, Election Day, or whatever confines us within the famous Hoodie of Dread. He’s still sensible, still tuneful, understated, urging us to look at the sky, the moon, nature, and commonplace things, commonplace feelings, even. A good friend of mine got Siri to say, “You should be satisfied with what you have,” and has no idea how he got Siri to say that. Tomo knows of what he sings, telling us to at least consider satisfaction with what we have. And then build from there. ANDREW HAMLIN

Wall of Ears, Zen Mother, Einar
Amherst-via-Seattle quartet Wall of Ears leader CW Lott claims an impressive range of influences (krautrock, free jazz, ambient, psych-pop, “tribal African sounds,” minimalism, and more). Yet Wall of Ears’ music, as evidenced on their latest album, Hello Beautiful Nothing, sounds as if it came out of a laboratory where they make 21st-century indie-rock songs to encourage Urban Outfitters customers to linger longer. It’s fine for what it is, but it fails to live up to the self-description. As for Zen Mother, this show may be your last chance to catch one of Seattle’s most interesting rock groups before their two main members—Monika Khot and Wolcott Smith—move to NYC in the spring. Zen Mother’s I Was Made to Be Like Her album plumbs chthonic zones with foreboding atmospheres and a panoply of outré guitar and keyboard textures. Get a copy while you can. DAVE SEGAL


The Dip, Hoshin, Falon Sierra
The soul revival has been in full effect for a good decade, and lots of good artists are coming out of it still. Among them is Seattle septet the Dip, led by Beat Connection regulars Tom Eddy (vocals, guitar) and Jarred Katz (drums). They’ve earned some ink from Rolling Stone (which likened the Dip to acts on the Daptone Records roster, not a small compliment), and their just-released sophomore album, The Dip Delivers, adds percussion, back-up singers, and a string quartet to the mix. There is a fine collab with organist Delvon Lamarr and guitarist Jimmy James (True Loves, Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio) in the hard slinking, groove-shuffling track “Advertising.” The band also encompasses a tight three-piece horn section that brings brass-raising oomph to the Dip’s modernized take on 1960s-vintage sounds. They sold out Saturday night at Neumos. This Friday-night date was added so stragglin’ fans didn’t miss a chance to get their Dip on. LEILANI POLK



Stefan Maier, Chloe Alexandra Thompson, Marcus Price
Vancouver composer Stefan Maier works in the rarefied stratum of electronic music that deals with extremes in volume, density, and timbre. His music tends to put you on edge, as it often seems to be presaging a catastrophe. In a sense, it’s like a highbrow thriller soundtrack for people who appreciate Iannis Xenakis. Maier will be performing “Arranger,” which, the show’s promoter says, “uses custom Machine Learning software to rearrange [his] computer-assisted improvisations in real time.” Portland’s Chloe Alexandra Thompson creates severe, minimalist drones in a manner of French legend Éliane Radigue, for which I thank her. DAVE SEGAL


A Love Supreme with The John Hanrahan Quartet
John Hanrahan will electrify John Coltrane's 1965 A Love Supreme—an album that already has its fair share of experimental elements, and is widely considered to be the most genre-defining jazz recording of all time.

SRJO's Basie Bash: I Got A Right to Sing The Blues
Revisit the legendary collaborations of Count Basie's career with many of history’s greatest jazz singers, such as Joe Williams, Frank Sinatra, and Billie Holiday. The Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra will perform some of his greatest hits like "Too Close for Comfort," "Honeysuckle Rose," and Sarah Vaughan’s version of "I Got a Right to Sing the Blues."


Alex Cameron & Roy Molloy
When that Gayngs Relayted album came out in 2010, I was sure it heralded a yacht rock renaissance. Everybody seemed way into it again for a minute. Friends were fist-pumping during Hall & Oates songs and going earnestly to Michael McDonald concerts. The revival never really took off, and the soft sounds of the late ’70s/early ’80s have remained mostly in the past, except for the odd artist like Aussie musician Alex Cameron. Something about his tonal quality brings me right back to that brief non-revival. He definitely has the soft, breezy, mellow quality and warm sax accompaniment, courtesy of business partner/bandmate Roy Molloy, but with more up-tempo synthy dance moments and an intriguing individuality that’s hard to pinpoint. Pitchfork calls his 2018 album Forced Witness “art-sleaze” that “transcends its surface-level smarm to become a biting piece of commentary.” I say, sure, why not? This go-round, Cameron is touring as part of a duo with Molloy backing him up on horns. LEILANI POLK

Rhye, Rum.Gold
If the music of Rhye were a mood, it would be like when you’re sad but also horny and want to be surrounded by candlelight and expensive things that look pretty but don’t bring you joy. This is a state I’m in often. Overly complicated moods aside, Rhye is good. Led by Toronto-bred, LA-based musician and lead singer Michael Milosh—whose detached and dulcet vocal tone is easy to fall for and be entranced by—their music is delicate, down-tempo R&B that gets embellished by occasional violins. Rum.Gold, who has a similarly smooth voice he pits over sad and sexy production, will open. JASMYNE KEIMIG



North Mississippi Allstars
When I was a music critic in Florida, there were two genres I had to write about frequently that wore on my patience: black metal and contemporary electric blues. While on the surface, North Mississippi Allstars belong in the latter group—and not only because deep-voiced frontman Luther Dickinson is a consummate guitarist prone to wailing solos—their music has more Southern rock dimensions, Delta grit, and ass-shakable grooves than your normal noodling fare. Plus Luther and his bro Cody (who plays a wicked electric washboard in addition to drums and keys) are the sons of late great Memphis record producer Jim Dickinson, so they know their shit. Also, they put on a fucking sweaty, righteous show. Expect some barn-burning on this night. LEILANI POLK

Joan Osborne Sings the Songs of Bob Dylan with Brenda Xu
National treasure and legendary Grammy-nominated vocalist Joan Osborne will interpret classic tracks originally penned by Bob Dylan with local folk-influenced string musician Brenda Xu.


BabexHouse Presents: Black Queer History In The Making
Dance in honor of Marsha P. Johnson and other black queer activists of the past with DJs Halfdead, JennGreen, Reverend Dollars, NO.Bi.Es, Ancient Mariner, and others. You can also buy artwork from Iamshakera, knowing that proceeds will benefit the Trans Women of Color Solidarity Network. 


The Toasters, The Pimpsons
The Toasters are big potatoes in the ska world, claiming to "sit on the nexus between reggae, jazz, punk, and soul." Hear them play live on their World Tour with local opening support from "skalternative" band the Pimpsons.