This week, our music critics have picked everything from NYC jazz trio Harriet Tubman to the Timbrrr! Winter Music Festival to an Art Martyrs Showcase helmed by Tres Leches. 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. Looking for more options? Check out our arts & culture critics' picks for this week.
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Cursive, Cloud Nothings, Criteria
The top portion of tonight’s Midwestern emo romp (brought to you by the letter C) is worthy enough of your attention: Omaha-raised musician Tim Kasher has hit his stride with long-running post-hardcore outfit Cursive, and few bands have been more consistent over the course of the past decade than Cleveland indie rockers Cloud Nothings. That said, the main draw might be Criteria, the bill’s opener. Longtime Cursive fans will no doubt be familiar with Steve Pedersen, who shared the stage with Kasher in the influential heartland indie-rock band Slowdown Virginia and the first iteration of Cursive. His own band, Criteria, recently ended its 15-year hiatus with the release of Years, an album chock-full of the same arena-sized hooks that made them a force to be reckoned with in the early aughts. CHIPP TERWILLIGER
Olli Hirvonen, Dan Phelps
No less a jazz-fusion deity than Mahavishnu Orchestra leader/Miles Davis sideman John McLaughlin has praised Finnish jazz guitarist Olli Hirvonen, so you know he’s the real deal. The Brooklyn-based Hirvonen—who won the Montreux Jazz Guitar Competition in 2016—plays in a style reminiscent of another Scandinavian fusionist: Norway’s excellent Terje Rypdal. Hirvonen’s tone ranges from icy pointillism to dense clangor, with his fleet fingers finessing rococo filigrees in elegant compositions that will dazzle fans of forward-thinking jazz and prog rock. His virtuosity urges along songs with surprising swerves and thrusts, as exemplified by the 2019 album Displace. DAVE SEGAL
...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, Kinski , Beverly Crusher
Like a Smashing Pumpkins that never disgraced themselves, ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead are still bringing that full-on fantasy orchestral rock to which we all imagine epic D&D campaigns or simply pump our fists. Their two most successful albums remain 1999’s Madonna and 2002’s Source Tags & Codes. Did Source Tags DESERVE that perfect Pitchfork 10? Who knows? Did it FEEL like it did at the time? Hell yes. More than 20 years later, Trail of Dead are still messing around with prog, punk chords, grave singing, and their band’s mystical mythos. Hearing their brand-new record, X: The Godless Void & Other Stories, in this midsize but intimate setting sounds flippin’ EPIC. SUZETTE SMITH
Amber Liu, Meg & Dia, Justice Carradine
K-pop star Amber Liu emerged from massively popular group f(x) to work on her solo career over the last few years. She'll perform tonight with guest sets by Meg & Dia and Justice Carradine.
Rex Orange County
Rex Orange County’s name is a bit confusing. The alias of musician Alex O’Connor evokes the warm, sunny region of Southern California, but the musician himself hails from the considerably grayer London, a whole ocean away. Despite this geographical disparity, O’Connor blends elements of jazz, hip-hop, and electronica to create bright, groovy tracks. His latest record, Pony, delivers the intimacy of bedroom electronica while also recalling the buttoned up-ness of Weezer. Go and pretend his tunes are playing out of a convertible’s stereo while you’re zooming down the Pacific Coast Highway. JASMYNE KEIMIG
Named after the woman who helped hundreds of African American slaves escape from servitude in the 1850s, New York City trio Harriet Tubman embody in their music that heroic activist's irrepressible quest for freedom. Brandon Ross (guitar/banjo/vocal), Melvin Gibbs (electric bass), and J.T. Lewis (drums) have been jamming complexly and powerfully for the last 22 years, imbuing their technically brilliant pieces with a fiery soulfulness. Harriet Tubman are masters of improvised fusion, as they proved in a 2019 show at Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute, where they dazzled attendees with telepathic interplay, rhythmic sorcery, and a turbulent vibe that recalled Jimi Hendrix's strafing acid rock and the torrid jazz-funk of 1970s-era Miles Davis. DAVE SEGAL
Com Truise is the perfect music to smoke to. Well, all music is, if you really try—but hitting a joint while listening to “Memory” or “Existence Schematic” feels like you’re getting high inside of a really advanced computer. Tron-level advanced. Maybe I’m influenced by the fact that “Alfa Beach” off his 2012 album In Decay was used by HBO stoner comedy series High Maintenance in an old trailer for some of its webisodes. (Music supervisor Liz Fulton has great taste.) The LA-based musician’s chill, synthy sounds are a perfect way to spent a Wednesday night. JASMYNE KEIMIG
Atlanta-based rapper and singer-songwriter Trippie Redd—best known for his songs "Love Scars," "Poles1469," and "Dark Knight Dummo"—will headline on his Love Me More Tour.
It was back in the 1990s that Scottish musician Midge Ure first presented his “theatre show”— which featured his music followed by an informal chat. He revisited the format last year and has been touring on and off ever since!!! Ure has a long pop history, what with Band Aid, his solo work, Silk, the Rich Kids, Visage, and, of course, Ultravox. Word is there will be some jams and a bit of a Q&A afterward—and, based on his discography, there will be A LOT to Q&A about. This show is mandatory for all y’all so-called “post-punks.” MIKE NIPPER
WEDNESDAY & FRIDAY-SATURDAYOPERA
This Seattle Opera production brings together the genius of two great Russians: Alexander Pushkin, who wrote the novel in verse, and Pyotr Tchaikovsky (The Nutcracker), who penned the score. It's a simple but moving and melancholy story of a young woman who falls in love with a cold-hearted nobleman, an encounter that tragically changes the course of their lives.
The Lil Smokies
Wielding acoustic instruments but harnessing "electric energy," the Montana-bred bluegrass outfit Lil Smokies will get you moving and grooving.
Midori with Jean-Yves Thibaudet
Classical pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet, whose music can be heard on soundtracks for films including Pride & Prejudice and Atonement, joins Grammy-winning violinist Midori for an all-Beethoven recital program in honor of the composer’s 250th anniversary.
TeZATalks, Daym, Archie
Experimental singer-songwriter TeZATalks focuses on a singular winding narrative that unfolds with each track of her rawly emotional electronic-based music.
Thraxxhouse-affiliated rapper and Bay Area maverick Larry June has appeared on notable Mackned releases and a seven-part mixtape series of his own, and excels in locating a bombastic Atlanta-hewn sound that promotes individuality above all else.
Ex-teen sensation Greyson Chance is now an adult and touring the country on the wave of his popular singles (notably, "Shut Up," "Yours," and "Timekeeper"). He'll be joined by additional guests on this stop for his Portraits World Tour.
ings, Tomo Nakayama
Former Stranger staffer Amber Cortes wrote, "If there are ever songs that can lull you into feeling as good as you do when you're watching cat videos, ings brings. But hidden behind her mellow, pretty pop reveries and Joanna Newsom–esque voice are deep ruminations on self-respect, time travel, and, of course, crushes on boys." ings will be joined by local folk artist Tomo Nakayama.
South Korean superstar crew Seventeen (who, despite their name, only have 13 members) will arrive in Washington for a stop on the North American leg of their Ode To You World Tour.
Steve Gadd Band
Judged by his peers as one of the greatest drummers ever, Steve Gadd has played on a multitude of important records made by legions of legends, including Paul McCartney, Kate Bush, Paul Simon, and Steely Dan. Virtuoso fusion keyboardist Chick Corea said, “[Gadd] has brought orchestral and compositional thinking to the drum kit while at the same time having a great imagination and a great ability to swing.” Steve Gadd Band’s self-titled 2018 album is a poised, polished slice of jazz-funk that shows the drummer has not lost his nimble sorcery, even in his 70s. For these shows, Gadd’s band will include Kevin Hays (keyboards), Michael Landau (guitar), Jimmy Johnson (bass), and Walt Fowler (trumpet/flugelhorn). DAVE SEGAL
Wynonna and The Big Noise
Nashville country singing legend, famous redhead, and musical force of nature Wynonna Judd will throw down all the classics and some tracks from her latest release with her backing troupe the Big Noise.
Seattle Modern Orchestra — Inside Out
The Seattle Modern Orchestra will perform music that will "[urge] us to reexamine our reality," featuring works by Thomas Adès, Anthony Cheung, Ivan Fedele, Tristan Murail, and Alfred Schnittke.
Rat Fancy: A Lunar New Year Party
Give the International District favorite Dynasty Room a proper farewell and celebrate the Lunar New Year at the same time. DJs MK, Avi Loud, Houseplants, T.Wan, CAnh Solo, Yung Barong, and Marjane will keep the decks hot. (Do people say that?)
Stayin' Alive at The Monkey Loft!
If you're already a fan of Monkey Loft's frequent '70s dance party Stayin' Alive, this is excellent news: Zac Levine and the BeautyBoiz are teaming up to bring you all-night grooves with nine DJs (including Ajax, Ben Traxx, Derek Pavone, and Gold Chisme); disco drag performances by Angela Visalia, Bosco, Britt Brutality, LüChi, and Monday Mourning; and live music by saxophonist Spencer Edgers and drummer Ammo. Wear your silks and your sequins.
Depth: Joey Beltram
I am shocked—shocked!—that Joey Beltram is performing in Seattle in 2020. The NYC producer/DJ was one of the totemic figures in early-’90s rave culture with catalytic techno bangers such as “Energy Flash,” “Mentasm,” “The Start It Up,” and “Mucho Acid.” Yet the last time he blipped my radar was when his Trax Classic best-of CD dropped in 2005. Beltram’s most recent posting on SoundCloud appeared two years ago—a brilliantly bruising Boiler Room DJ set in New York, which suggests a late-career lag. Whatever the case, Beltram is such a legend for his psychotronic, 140+ bpm dance-floor bombs, it seems unlikely he’ll disappoint, even at this late date. DAVE SEGAL
Heiress, Witch Ripper, Deadkill
Thrash through the night with local metal bands Heiress, Witch Ripper, and Deadkill.
It should be said right away that redheaded Brett Dennen, who plays the guitar and sings and came from California, seems like a very nice man. He promotes deserving nonprofits on his website and his songs have conscience. They are best called "warm," which they are often called. It makes them sound slightly more generic than they are, but they are still slightly generic—but nice. Rolling Stone called him one to watch. JEN GRAVES
Timbrrr! Winter Music Festival 2020
Former Stranger contributor Brittnie Fuller has written, "This event in Leavenworth—the infamous German-themed town/tourist attraction nestled in the Cascades—looks like the coziest mid-winter music festival, filled with beardo-magnet amenities like skiing and snowboarding, a hot-toddy garden, wine tastings, and festival-branded flannel shirts. The weekend's musical offerings are generally varied, with numerous local and national acts ranging from indie rock to hip-hop." This year's roster is no exception, boasting sets by Pedro the Lion, Bully, Bearaxe, Lisa Prank, Ivan & Alyosha, CarLarans, Bryan John Appleby, and many more.
Seattle Chamber Music Society Winter Festival
Hear pieces from a variety of composers at the Seattle Chamber Music Society's annual six-day winter program. This year's theme is centered on a celebration of Beethoven’s 250th birthday. The second weekend of the festival will feature violin sonatas by Grieg and Mozart, piano trios by Schubert and Ravel, and both of Brahms’ string quintets, along with concluding concerti by Johann Sebastian Bach.
Cry & Roar X: 10 Years of Racer Sessions
Local indie label Table & Chairs will celebrate 10 years of Racer Sessions, a concert series at Cafe Racer highlighting its artists, with an entire weekend of sets from bands like Bad Luck, Amelia Porter, and Jocelyn Beausire (Fri); Ray Larsen, Gregg Keplinger, and Casey Adams (Sat); and No Baby (Sun).
Bonny Light Horseman, Guests
Folk supergroup Bonny Light Horseman—the project of Tony-winning singer-songwriter Anais Mitchell, the National's Josh Kaufman, and Fruit Bats' Eric D. Johnson—will play their mercurial, down-tempo jams with support from pop singer-songwriter Johanna Samuels.
Diggin' Deep: Derrick Carter
If you’re not too exhausted from hitting the Joey Beltram show the night before, you should continue paying your respects to dance-culture immortals with this Diggin’ Deep appearance by Chicago house-music magus Derrick Carter. He has more than 30 years of disc-jockeying under his belt-drive turntables, and has become one of the most reliable optimizers of euphoria in clubland. Don't be surprised if Carter sprinkles in some synth-pop, soul, disco, or jazz amid his soulful, upful house selections. Hell, he may even slip in his remix of Tortoise’s “In Sarah, Mencken, Christ and Beethoven There Were Women and Men.” Yeah, that happened. DAVE SEGAL
The Accused AD
Coffin Break, Dust Mob, and Dadbod accompany the night's headlining band for an evening of hard rock in Tacoma.
Art Martyrs Showcase: Tres Leches, Crystal Beth, Mantraband, Arson Nicki, Guests
The Art Martyrs Relief Society, which aims to bridge the gap between underfunded working artists in Seattle and those with the means to support them, will host a fundraiser with power trio Tres Leches, Crystal Beth (whose sound "falls somewhere between the grisly skronk-punk of Stickers and earthy freak-indie of tUnE-yArDs," as Stranger music contributor Todd Hamm once wrote), Mantraband, and avant-garde drag artist Arson Nicki.
Boston jam Dopapod will lead you in spurts of frenzied dancing on this Seattle tour stop. Genre-spanning power trio Cycles will provide opening support.
Thrice, mewithoutYou, Drug Church, Holy Fawn
While they’re just now starting to get traction on commercial-rock radio, Thrice have been putting in work for the past 20 years, rising from the Southern California underground all-ages scene to release 10 albums. They’ve evolved from playing the breakneck metallic hardcore anthems of their early years to a much more straightforward, melodic rock sound. For a couple years, though, vocalist Dustin Kensrue called the Eastside home, as he was gospel leader for the Bellevue Mars Hill Church location before abandoning ship in 2014 as the controversy surrounding infamous pastor Mark Driscoll came to a head. KEVIN DIERS
Washed in Black, Stargazer
Pearl Jam tribute Washed in Black will have you longing for simpler, grungier times after a set from Stargazer.
Xavier Omär, Parisalexa
R&B crooner Xavier Omär is all satin sheets, boxes of chocolates, and mood lighting. His most recent record, Moments Spent Loving You, was released late last year, and created with Seattle producer and frequent collaborator Sango. Pulling from a wide variety of sonic influences, Sango builds sensual soundscapes for Omär’s smooth voice to explore and sing over. Together, the pair’s record is perfect to reach for during peak cuffing season. The two will be joined by Seattle’s own Parisalexa, who will be bringing her smoky Brandy vibes to the evening’s proceedings. JASMYNE KEIMIG
The Los Angeles-based band and multi-Grammy Award-winning outfit delivers a modern Latinx sound that encompasses hip-hop, funk, reggae and more. These "cultural ambassadors" are characterized by their creativity and festive spirit.
The Distillers x Alexisonfire
Before they teased a reunion on social media back in January 2018, 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. KEVIN DIERS
Irish singer-songwriter Dermot Kennedy flew in a day early for his NPR Tiny Desk concert to rehearse with Washington, D.C.'s Howard Gospel Choir, whom he brought along to the performance. Hopefully, this tour stop will also bring some fun surprises.
Forest Ray, Big Iron, Love, Fraser
Seattle band Forest Ray are lovingly analog. It helps that their psychedelia-drenched tracks also recall an era of shaggy hair, lava lamps, and paisley. Recording their music using analog technology, their sound falls somewhere between post-punk and psych with a Tropicalia flute thrown in for good measure. Pure fuzz. Their most recent release, Wedgwood Tapes, which came out during the last week of 2019, is pure positivity—it doesn’t rock the genre’s boat hard, but instead does exactly what it needs to do: deliver a perfect jangly time. It’s a good listen and a good trip. JASMYNE KEIMIG
Izumi, Guayaba, Nic Masangkay, Emma Lee Toyoda
Izumi, a "half-Japanese kid in Seattle letting it all out," will play America-tinged folk-punk with bill support from local all-stars Guayaba, Nic Masangkay, and Emma Lee Toyoda.
Wolf Parade In-Store Performance
Local rockers Wolf Parade will play new tracks off their brand-new LP, Thin Mind, while you shop for records at Sonic Boom.
Guayaba, La Neve, Archie
Pulling from hella goth lineage (the horror and pleasure of 19th-century phantasmagorias), local musician Guayaba’s latest record, Fantasmagoría, reflects their Afro-Latinx roots as well as their keen eye for the world that runs just parallel to this one, that consists of our desires and deepest fears. As such, their album encompasses genres like horrorcore, bossa nova, psychedelia, and hip-hop, as Guayaba raps in both Spanish and English, creating a sonic world ripe enough in which to see your own soul’s surreal reflection. They will also be joined by Rhode Island musician La Neve and Seattle-based singer Archie. JASMYNE KEIMIG