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Ben Ottewell & Ian Ball of Gomez
Ben Ottewell, the lead guitarist for Mercury Prize-winning crowd-pleasing rock band Gomez, will come to Seattle on an acoustic tour in support of his new solo album, Shapes & Shadows. He'll be joined by fellow Gomez guitarist Ian Ball.
Orlando Consort: The Passion of Joan of Arc
The Orlando Consort will perform a selection of 15th-century choral music to accompany a screening of Carl Theodor Dreyer’s 1928 silent film La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc.
Straight outta Manitoba, Canada, Alexa Dirks (AKA Begonia) has made quite an impression here in the states after releasing 2019’s Fear, a collection of R&B-inspired songs that also touch on gospel, jazz, and indie rock—not surprising since it was produced by members of Royal Canoe. Blessed with powerful vocals, Dirks excels on songs like “Beats,” which soars with introspective, clever, and self-aware lyrics; as well as “The Other Side,” a gospel-infused howler that touches on the yearning vagaries of relationships without ever dipping into desperation. Dirks exposes her life and loves through music—and this heartfelt openness is something that’ll keep making Begonia a name to watch out for. WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY
Chastity Belt, Loose Tooth
After nearly a decade, the all-women four piece is firing on all cylinders, making the kind of music they want to make and delivering a unique indie-rock sound that's earned them plenty of accolades and fans.
Scottish singer/songwriter/guitarist Lloyd Cole shot out of the gate strongly with Rattlesnakes, his classic 1984 debut LP with the Commotions, and followed it a year later with another tantalizing collection of literate, ornate, and jangly rock songs, Easy Pieces. Throughout the decades, Cole has shown a real knack for smooth compositions that pack a deceptively potent emotional punch, abetted by a voice that suavely blends the sonorities of Edwyn Collins and Chris Isaak. This show will encompass Cole’s work from Rattlesnakes to his 2019 album, Guesswork, which glazes his high-IQ rock with a tasteful electronic sheen. Let’s hope the concert includes stuff from his exploratory synth LP, 1D Electronics 2012-2014, which was influenced by German geniuses Cluster. DAVE SEGAL
Sinead O'Connor needs no introduction, but in case you have a serious case of name and face evasion, she's a legendary Irish songstress who could slay a dragon with a single tear. She'll stop in Seattle on this much-anticipated North American tour.
SuperM: We Are The Future Live
Korean pop supergroup SuperM's We Are the Future Live world tour will be their tour since their formation in 2019. Their seven members include Taemin from Shinee, Baekhyun and Kai from Exo, Taeyong, Ten, and Lucas and Mark from NCT.
Reverend Horton Heat, The Buttertones, The Dusty 45’s, Bloodshot Bill
Polish your buckles and join real Texas legends the Reverend Horton Heat as they head up a country-rock show with the Buttertones, the Dusty 45’s, and Bloodshot Bill.
Loudon Wainwright III
There's a whole generation of folks (myself included) for whom Loudon Wainwright III is more familiar as an actor (having appeared in M*A*S*H, three Judd Apatow productions, and G-Force—2009's Jerry Bruckheimer production about guinea pig secret agents). Wainwright the actor, while delightful, is nowhere near as interesting as Wainwright the musician, who's been recording and performing sardonic folk commentaries since his beatific 1970s self-titled debut. His long and storied career is still going strong, even if his new material is no longer about growing old (like his early stuff was) so much as it just plain sounds old (now he sings about things like "Cash for Clunkers"). Still, it would be worth it to hear some of Wainwright's older gems. JASON BAXTER
Young Dolph & Key Glock
Special in that he is probably one of the few people with a similar first name to that German dictator born in the last half century, Adolph Thornton Jr., aka Young Dolph, is major, bringing his syrup-drenched rhymes and Southern swagger to our rainy, gray corner of the country. Having been the target of not one but two shootings in 2017, and dropping several chart-topping albums, the Memphis rapper has experienced both the bitter and the sweet sides of life—and this comes out in his music. Dolph’s songs are catchy, and there’s really nothing like seeing an artist on the come-up. JASMYNE KEIMIG
Back in 2012, Queensryche publicly feuded over the use of their name with former vocalist Geoff Tate. After securing the copyright to the well-established name, the remaining members made a risky move, hiring former Crimson Glory singer Todd La Torre. Many feared this change, as Tate's voice was synonymous with Queensryche's prog-rock sound. What fans received was a love letter to the vintage Queensryche years, shying away from their softer, more ballad-driven material and embracing their original soaring, power-metal-esque anthems with 2013's self-titled album and 2015's Condition Hüman. There's no end in sight for this old-school Northwest rock institution. KEVIN DIERS
The Blank Tapes, Head Band, Smoker Dad
Los Angeles and Joshua Tree multi-instrumentalist Matt Adams has churned out more than a dozen albums as the Blank Tapes, exploring the psychedelic rock spectrum, and slathering his music in broad strokes of ’60s inspiration that sound like the sonic equivalent of paisley, or a surfboard. Adams takes a turn into desert, stoner, and hard rock territories in 2019’s Look Into the Light, and doses it with some feminine vocal energy via guest Veronica Bianqui. Standouts include the fuzzy/druggy “Took Too Much,” the spooky-warped psych-surf soul-pop of “Pure Evil,” Bianqui’s cooing vocal harmonies adding an extra element of eeriness to counter Adams’ lazy Tom Petty-evoking drawl, and the back-to-back tripped-out instrumental-heavy odes that are “Death” and “Don’t You Feel,” the latter of which feels like a CSNY bootleg (with extra Y). Good shit. LEILANI POLK
Promising a "visceral and unadulterated musical adventure," Freedom Barbie, Alpine Barbie, Velvet Barbie, and Attila the Horn of NYC's Genghis Barbie will perform pop arrangements from the '70s to the present using brass instruments on their 2 Legit World Domination Tour.
Dark Star Orchestra
Dark Star Orchestra keep the indomitable legacy of the Grateful Dead twinkling with their spot-on tribute concerts. They plunder the mother lode of the jam-band progenitors' vast output for Deadheads who miss the real deal or for those unfortunates who never had the chance to witness them live. DSO's MO is to replicate momentous Dead set lists from the group's deep archives, and then nail every facet of the music. Clearly, DSO have their inspiration's wonderfully tight/loose chops, fluid sense of time and space, and that all-important stamina to keep on truckin' through the transitive nightfall of diamonds. DAVE SEGAL
The foremost torch-bearer of experimental-rock musician/guitar iconoclast Frank Zappa, son Dweezil will resurrect poppa's second solo LP, Hot Rats, on this tour, along with highlights from the vast FZ catalog. Hot Rats recently received the deluxe box-set treatment for its 50th anniversary, and hardcore fans will delight in hearing that record's soaring jazz-rock convolutions (and the filthy blues-funk of “Willie the Pimp”) reanimated by the devoted Dweezil and his “rocking teenage combo.” Not sure who's going to be tasked with trying to replicate Captain Beefheart's lascivious growl for “Willie the Pimp,” but they have their work cut out for them. DAVE SEGAL
Goth Babe, Guests
LA slacker rocker/dream-popper Goth Babe (aka goth babe Griffin Washburn) will be welcomed with an opening set from the Reptaliens.
Left At London, VALENTINE, move.by.u
Seattle pop crafter Left At London has received internet acclaim for her smart satire videos and clever wordplay. She'll be joined by guest artists VALENTINE and move.by.u.
Canadian instrumentalist and producer Ekali will return to Seattle once again with fresh and futuristic electronic tracks.
THURSDAY & SATURDAYCLASSICAL
Dvořák Symphony No. 8
Antonín Dvořák's Eighth Symphony, which plays with Czech pastoral themes, will be brought to life by world-renowned violinist Gidon Kremer, alongside pieces by Mieczysław Weinberg and Dmitri Shostakovich.
Westerlies Fest 2020
Brooklyn-by-way-of-Seattle jazz, roots, and chamber-influenced brass quartet the Westerlies (trumpeters Riley Mulherkar and Chloe Rowlands, and trombone players Andy Clausen and Willem de Koch) have never forgotten their Emerald City roots. They’ll return this first full weekend in February to host their second eponymous music fest, which, according to press materials, was created “to give back to the musical ecosystem that raised them by engaging local students, highlighting local talent, and facilitating explosive collaborations between artists from Seattle and beyond.” Basically, workshops at area schools by day, and concerts that find the Westerlies performing with a different guest artist by night: singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Celisse at the Royal Room on Thursday; Seattle-based pianist, composer, and singer Robin Holcomb at the Chapel Performance Space on Friday; and NYC poet duo Phil Kaye and Sarah Kay alongside local spoken word artist Troy Osaki at Town Hall Seattle on Saturday. Sunday closes with the Westerlies Fest JAM-boree of workshops, activities, a listening session, and an open rehearsal followed by a late afternoon Westerlies concert, all at Nickerson Studios. LEILANI POLK
Ward Davis, Josh Morningstar
Nashville singer-songwriter Ward Davis will bring his signature Americana and alt-country sound to Seattle after an opening set from Josh Morningstar.
The Symphony's Untuxed series is great. They only play one piece, and the expectation is you just show up in jeans, or whatever you wear when you're just walking around picking up stuff at the grocery store. The iconic grandeur of Antonín Dvořák's New World Symphony—a piece you'll recognize from any number of movies and TV shows (from The Joy Luck Club to Ren & Stimpy)—is a perfect fit for this casual concert. RICH SMITH
STA Presents: Anjunabeats World Wide 09 Tour
Anjunabeats DJs will bring you a night of trance-based house and techno music.
Freakout Records Presents: Sessa, Guests
Most clued-in North Americans know about the brief but influential Tropicália movement that merged innovative music with rabble-rousing, leftist political views that sometimes drew the ire of Brazil's military government. Artists such as Jorge Ben, Caetano Veloso, Os Mutantes, Gal Costa, and Gilberto Gil proved that this genre could not only translate to other people worldwide, but excite the hell out of them decades after its halcyon era passed. Sessa, a bushy-haired singer/songwriter/guitarist from São Paulo, is in the tradition of those greats, and he's poised to be the next biggest thing from Brazil since Seu Jorge. Sessa's 2019 debut album, Grandeza, doesn't sound much like his recent activities in former Monotonix guitarist Yonatan Gat's band or the groovy garage rock of Garotas Suecas. (By the way, you should check out both of those units.) Instead, Grandeza—which means "Greatness"—abounds with placidly strummed nylon-string guitar, gently rolling hand percussion, shakers, and tangy backing vocals by a five-woman choir. DAVE SEGAL
J Dilla Birthday Party and Tribute with Vitamin D and The Carlos Overall Quartet
Tenor saxophonist Carlos Overall and his quartet will share a bill with local DJ and rapper Vitamin D at a birthday party for beloved Detroit hip-hop artist J Dilla.
If you can relate to young, emo-leaning hip-hop artists who are most certainly influenced by Drake, then you’ll likely enjoy the introspective, emotionally available rap of Phora, an MC from Anaheim, California, signed to Warner Bros. While I’m all set in that regard, the 25-year-old does have something going for him. I’m a sucker for a soulful chipmunk effect, which is utilized beautifully on his 2017 song “To the Moon,” with its well-placed sample of Alex Isley's “Into Orbit.” Another one that might ring true for understandably jaded millennials is “Fake Smiles,” which has racked up more than 36 million streams on Spotify. JENNI MOORE
International Clash Day: Clash Cover Night
Get ready for a bunch of obscure references and English puns with KEXP's Clash Cover Night. Naked Giants, Tres Leches, Duke Evers, and others will perform tracks from across the Clash discography.
Medejin, Power Strip, 2Libras, Black Ends
This will be a night of ethereal delights. Headliner Medejin revels in the swirling, reverby, guitar-driven melodies of dream pop. The project of Jenn Taranto (who plays keys and guitar and sings), the Seattle-based band creates hazy sonic landscapes for Taranto to sing against. Their most recent single—and one of their strongest songs—“World’s Fair” features a woozy guitar and Taranto’s echo-y vocals, which are bolstered by the sharpness of the drums. They will be joined by darkwave trio 2Libras, the bedroom-y Power Strip, and “gunk pop” band Black Ends. JASMYNE KEIMIG
Until last year’s fantastic Hot Motion, I hadn’t really listened to Temples since their 2014 debut, Sun Structures, an album of ’60s-soaked psych rock that I dug, though it didn’t knock my socks off (it felt a bit too derivative). Fast forward five years to the British quartet’s third and latest, the aforementioned Hot Motion, one of my favorites of 2019. Their sound has slipped naturally and easily into neo-psychedelia, an evolution that makes perfect sense, and finds them playing around with melody and sonic textures in vaguely vintage rock that is both catchy and trippy as hell. It’s hard not to compare them to their Aussie contemporaries in Tame Impala, especially in tracks like the fine, drug-fueled “You’re Either on Something,” or the urgent, doomy “Atomise,” but Temples definitely has their own distinctive appeal. LEILANI POLK
World Inferno Friendship Society, Bridge City Sinners, Vic Ruggerio, Window Smashing Job Creators
Genre knows no bounds at this show with headliners World Inferno Friendship Society, a lounge-y punk cabaret out of NYC, and supported by Portland folk-punks Bridge City Sinners, rocksteady artist Vic Ruggerio, and Olympia jazz-punks Window Smashing Job Creators.
Western State Hurricanes, Nevada Bachelors
The Western State Hurricanes had a short-lived indie-rock career in Seattle in the '90s. Now they're back and ready to take Ballard by storm, which they'll do with support from fellow PNW rock vets Nevada Bachelors.
KPH & The Canary Collective, Mutual Benefit, Namii
Kaeley Pruitt-Hamm and her "people-power folk group" want to raise awareness and care for people with chronic illnesses struggling to afford healthcare and get access to safe drinking water, food, air, and housing. They'll play songs from their debut album with support from Mutual Benefit and Namii, with proceeds benefiting the Earth Pearl Collective.
The only DJ/producer big enough to name himself after the land of a thousand lakes, Minnesota will take over the stage.
'The Tuba Thieves' Performance
This experimental trumpet and ASL performance directed Alison O'Daniel echoes themes of the artist's The Tuba Thieves video installation featured in the Henry's In Plain Sight exhibition. The performers will move about the space to render the best acoustics, and guests are invited to plop themselves down wherever they like.
Da Qween, Moon Palace, FRED
Currently occupying the throne of local queer rap is Da Qween, the hard femme with harder bars and a hunger to establish themselves as not only the queen of Seattle, but the queen of everything. They'll be joined by psychedelic quintet Moon Palace and FRED.
Gregory Porter's voice is a baritone that makes you feel right at home; as for his style of phrasing, it feels very familiar (Lou Rawls, Johnny Hartman, Nat King Cole), but it is also like nothing you have heard before. And this is why the greatness of Porter is not easy to describe. If you listen to him one way, he seems to be rooted deeply in the tradition of jazz song, but if you listen to him another way, you hear a big, warm, blue voice that moves about the music like some liberated balloon rising and falling in the wind. Porter is not conventional, yet he is, and for some reason he easily manages to be both without settling on one or the other. CHARLES MUDEDE
American Authors, Magic Giant, Public
Massive alt rock group American Authors will continue their hot streak with a tour stop supported by Magic Giant and Public.
An Evening with Pink Talking Fish
Pink Talking Fish are a self-styled “hybrid tribute fusion act” that perform set lists that stitch together the music of three mega bands from different but overlapping eras: Pink Floyd, Talking Heads, and Phish. Why am I writing about a bona fide cover band, you ask? Because the way they present these covers is extraordinary and lots of fun. The songs of each artist are distinctive and recognizable—and yet each one flows seamlessly into the next no matter who it’s by, like jumping from Pink Floyd’s “Run Like Hell” into Talking Heads’ “Psycho Killer” into Phish’s “Run Like an Antelope,” and then segueing back into “Run Like Hell” to close it all out. It all feels very organic, even though it’s quite the opposite. RIYL: Any of the aforementioned bands. LEILANI POLK
Mattiel, Calvin Love
At turns slacker, garage-y, with a dash of alt-country, Atlanta-based singer-songwriter Mattiel’s sound is unique. Initially signed to Burger Records, her most recent album Satis Factory is her first with ATO (home to Alabama Shakes and Old 97’s among many others). This move broadened her sound, outside the lo-fi, DIY sensibility of her self-titled debut and into a space that’s a bit more polished and assured, but still lovingly craggy. “Je Ne Me Connais Pas” channels the White Stripes while the heaviness of the guitars in “Keep the Change” is buoyed by a xylophone. Mattiel will be joined by the groovy Calvin Love, who has a strange, lounge lizard sort of charm that you definitely do not want to miss. JASMYNE KEIMIG
Seattle Women's Chorus: Revolution 2020
This rousing concert celebrates the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote. Though it recognizes how far women have come, Revolution 2020 also underlines just how much work is left to be done to ensure free and fair voting rights for all. Come support those rights and listen to stirring renditions of "The Times They Are A-Changin," "R.O.C.K. in the USA," "Revolution," and more.
Grace Love with Michaud Savage
Grace Love's music is "mostly stripped down to just her soulful, rich vocal, often accompanied only by acoustic guitar or a minimal electro backing track," wrote Stranger staffer Mike Nipper. She'll be accompanied tonight by guitarist Michaud Savage.
Heavy instrumental rock band Caspian will come through town with tracks from On Circles, their first album in five years that "may not have some grand concept driving it, but it’s just a great collection of songs, and there’s a nice amount of diversity too," according to a review from Brooklyn Vegan.
KEXP Presents: Caspar Adultpants, King of Hawaii
Ex-member of the Presidents of the United States of America Chris Ballew, who these days can be found playing music for children under the moniker Caspar Babypants, will change his game tonight with a show for adults that means to help you "get back in touch with the little kid version of your grownup self." He'll be joined by local instrumental surf band King of Hawaii.
Mustard Plug, The Toasters, Mister Blank, The Replicators
Take note, note takers: an original ska revival group, the Toasters, who formed in ’81 and are now considered one of the groups that influenced contemporary—well, third wave ska and onward, are playing tonight!!! So, Rudies, sort them porkpies, press them turn-ups, and get your braces braced ‘cause this throw down is guaranteed to get “Intensified”!!! And that ain’t all the Studio fun we're gettin', as Mustard Plug will be playing some “party music for punk rockers,” along with pop punk ’n’ ska from two of Seattle’s good timing bands, Mister Blank and the Replicators. Let’s skank, y’all! MIKE NIPPER
Seattle lo-fi garage-rock four-piece Snuff Redux are the kind of band that sings about Lou Reed. On the song “French Press,” off their most recent outing, Denim American, lead singer Skyler Ford recounts sitting on a bench with the aforementioned coffee brewing device on the day Lou Reed died, wishing that he was Paris again, thinking about love, etc. JASMYNE KEIMIG
Few rock bands have emerged on the scene with more raw vitality than did Milwaukee's Violent Femmes with their self-titled 1983 album. The platinum-selling Violent Femmes abounds with instantly catchy, immediately engrossing songs about young-person angst, all stripped down to their most crucial essentials. Front man Gordon Gano channeled Lou Reed and Jonathan Richman vocal tics and lyrical tropes with very relatable results. Tough act to follow, but 1984's Christianity-haunted Hallowed Ground proved the Femmes could go darker yet. I stopped following them after 1986's The Blind Leading the Naked, but one listen to 2019's Hotel Last Resort reveals that Gano and bassist Brian Ritchie's flair for spare, infectious folk rock hasn't diminished much over the last 37 years. DAVE SEGAL