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Home > Local News > The 50 Best Music Shows in Seattle This Week: May 13-19, 2019 –

The 50 Best Music Shows in Seattle This Week: May 13-19, 2019 –

This week, our music critics have picked everything from dark synth-pop project TR/ST to Oakland rap collective Hieroglyphics to American Football. 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.

Found something you like and don’t want to forget about it later? Click “Save Event” on any of the linked events below to add it to your own private list.

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An Evening with Yann Tiersen
Were you one of the millions whose trousers got charmed off while watching the 2001 film Amélie? Then you likely recall the score by one Yann Tiersen, the French composer whose festive, lilting themes on accordion, harpsichord, toy piano, and other non-rock instruments fortuitously soundtracked the title character’s whimsical adventures (most of the pieces were collated from earlier Tiersen recordings). That huge exposure made Tiersen a global star, and he’s gone on to cut multiple albums, including 2014’s ∞ (Infinity, if you’re nasty). It’s a rich, orchestral collection that has a patina of high European culture spread lightly over everything. ∞ is a bit more elevated, delicate, and precious than 2011’s Skyline, which soared in the same slate-gray skies as Coldplay and lesser, later Sigur Rós works. Whatever the case, the Moore should sell some damn croissants at this show. DAVE SEGAL


15th Annual Seattle Kobe Female Jazz Vocalist Audition
Seattle will team up with our sister city in Japan for an evening of jazz vocalist auditions. The winners, one high school and one adult female jazz vocalist, will be flown to Kobe for the Kobe Shinkaichi Jazz Queen Contest later this month.


Cub Sport, Minor Poet
Fast-climbing Australian alt-pop band Cub Sport (who classify their genre as a “trans-dimensional, genre-queer family”) will bring the frothy synth beats of their latest self-titled album to Seattle. They’ll be joined by Sub Pop’s Minor Poet. 

Kris Orlowski, Jjjacob Jjjames
Former Stranger music contributor Anna Minard has written, “Kris Orlowski’s all snowy poetry. This show should have all the energetic shimmer of campfire sing-alongs, ‘real’ block parties, and Christmas-light-decorated-basement shows. Bring somebody you want to make out with.” The artist will be joined by gloomy Seattle bedroom-popper Jjjacob Jjjames.

Mac DeMarco
Everyone’s favorite and least favorite slack rocker Mac DeMarco got himself in a bit of hot water recently. The Canadian musician was accused of copying singer-guitarist Mitski after announcing the name of his album (Here Comes the Cowboy) and lead single (“Nobody”), which was eerily similar to Mitski’s own recent outing Be the Cowboy and lead single “Nobody.” The jangle pop rocker claims to have never listened to Mitski’s album, despite its consistent ranking as the best record of 2018—which is a little surprising. But no matter. Mac always puts on a show. Live, he spices up his tracks by speeding ’em up or slowing ’em down. Sometimes Mac even gets freaky with the crowd. Just don’t steal his hat! JASMYNE KEIMIG

Spencer Krug, Light Conductor
A member of Canadian indie-rock band Wolf Parade, Spencer Krug will go solo tonight with support from Montreal synth duo Light Conductor. 

Western Standard Beer Launch Party with Noah Gundersen
The Washington State Bartender’s Guild will host the launch of Western Standard Beer, with a live performance by local indie folk singer-songwriter Noah Gundersen.



John Nemeth & The Blue Dreamers
Boise blues artist John Nemeth will get backup support from his band the Blue Dreamers. 

Kevin Morby, Sam Cohen
Sometimes you hear a song and you’re immediately sold on an artist. And then the rest of their music proves fantastic and you fall in love. Such is the case for me and Brooklyn-based alt-folk and indie-rock troubadour Kevin Morby. The track that left me breathless and excited was “No Halo,” the lead single off his fifth studio album, Oh My God. It opens with some keyboard riffs, a hand-clap-driven rhythm, and Morby’s tuneful vocals before little trills of sax and flute worm their way in. Then the tempo slows down and it transforms into a lush, languid, goose-bump-inducing break that finds him repeating a different version of the opening verse: “When I was a boy / No rooftop on my joy / When I was a child / No one, nowhere, no how, nothing was not made of fire.” There’s something very gospel-soulful about the record overall, which makes sense; it’s not a religious concept album per se, but he’s described it as “an outsider’s view of the human experience in terms of religion.” It deserves all your attention. LEILANI POLK


The Wild Reeds, Jenny O
Kinsey Lee, Sharon Silva, and Mackenzie Howe of the Wild Reeds tend to swap lead vocal duties and rotate instruments throughout their live performances, so there will be no uniform dancing allowed at this show. Folksy LA singer-songwriter Jenny O will open. 



Nicola Cruz, NAVVI
Get into some high-energy South American beats with Ecuadorian music producer Nicola Cruz, who will be joined by local electro-pop duo NAVVI.


KNKX Presents Piano Starts Here: Voicings of a Generation — The Music of McCoy Tyner and Bill Evans
The Piano Starts Here series showcases the work of musical icons who contributed to the knowledge and appreciation of the instrument. This iteration will celebrate the jazz legends who gave a voice to the ’60s generation, featuring the work of McCoy Tyner and Bill Evans.


Imagine if CocoRosie were more introverted and actually good. Boom, you have OHMME. Okay, that’s reductive, but the young women in OHMME—Chicago musicians Sima Cunningham and Macie Stewart—engage in intricate vocal interplay not too different from that of the Casady sisters and they radiate a similar arty aura. But the songs on OHMME’s self-titled EP bear grittier timbres and more folk-inflected melodies, making for a much more enjoyable listening experience. For the follow-up, Parts, though, OHMME—both classically trained pianists who’ve gone rogue—tapped Windy City heavies such as Tortoise’s Doug McCombs, cellist Tomeka Reid, and jazz saxophonist Ken Vandermark to bolster their formidable songwriting, resulting in a record that both rocks with sinewy, torqued verve and spaces out into meditative reveries. DAVE SEGAL

Roller Experiments: Bad Luck, Ever Endering Kicks, Drama Bahama
Skate around to live sets from Seattle experimental jazz outfit Bad Luck, Anacortes-based singer-songwriter Ever Ending Kicks, Drama Bahama, and Forest Friends. 

Snow Patrol, Billie Marten, Ryan McMullan
Irish indie rockers Snow Patrol have been at it for 14 years, and will return to Seattle to perform tracks from their new album, Wildness.

Sugar Candy Mountain, Flaural, Candace
True to their name, Oakland foursome Sugar Candy Mountain take cues from summer-ready psych-jammers like Tame Impala and ’60s pop-rockers like the Kinks to craft tunes fit for a day on the lake or a pilgrimage to that Instagram mountain. They’ll be joined by Denver synth-pop outfit Flaural and Portland’s Candace.

TR/ST, Lydia Ainsworth
TR/ST (pronounced Trust) is the dark synth-pop project of Robert Alfons, a man gifted with a spooky baritone that could seduce Count Dracula. His grimy, sinister tracks get bodies moving, even when it’s unclear what he’s muttering. TR/ST’s original cofounder, Maya Postepski from the Toronto band Austra, has returned to collaborate on most of the tracks from his band’s latest album, The Destroyer – Part 1. It’s a welcome release, nearly three years in the making. If cool goth gays had an orgy in a graveyard, this album is what they would play as their soundtrack. CHASE BURNS



Hieroglyphics, Rap Noir, Stoney Hawk, Grandmasters, S.A.V.E. 1
If you’ve never heard of Oakland-based rap collective Hieroglyphics, you’ve most definitely seen their logo: a simple straight-lipped face with three eyes. Apparently, it’s the Mayan number for eight and the infinite. Iconic. The members of Hieroglyphics laid the foundation for Bay Area hiphop, centering it as one of the most influential sites in the hiphop world. The collective will be joined by Oakland rap duo Rap Noir, Stoney Hawk, and Grandmasters. JASMYNE KEIMIG


Heavy Electricity: A Tribute to Jazz Rock Fusion of the 1970s
Bless the Royal Room for being Seattle’s most jazz-fusion-friendly venue. Championing a deeply unfashionable genre in 2019 takes guts. Even though younger, fusion-informed players such as Kamasi Washington, Thundercat, and Shabaka Hutchings are drawing crowds and garnering substantial media attention to the flamboyantly virtuosic and funky style, fusion at its best is a rarefied experience that requires long attention spans and ears attuned to unusual, complex rhythms and serpentine dynamics. For this show, I’m guessing homages to Miles Davis, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Soft Machine, Tony Williams Lifetime, and other heady innovators will be on the agenda. DAVE SEGAL


Chaos Chaos, Worn-Tin
LA-based sister duo Chaos Chaos (former residents of Seattle, formerly known as Smoosh) have been a bonafide band since they were just nine and 11 years old, and their song “Can You Feel It?” was featured on Rick and Morty. Join them for a night of fun synth-pop bops after an opening set from LA alt-rocker Worn-Tin.

Death Valley Girls and Bearaxe LIVE on Band in Seattle
This live taping for Band in Seattle—a concert video series that highlights local bands—will feature Burger Records’ LA gutter rockers Death Valley Girls and local rockers Bearaxe. You could be featured in the video as an audience member!

Weyes Blood, Jackie Cohen
Critics are already making year-end best-of predictions about Titanic Rising, the celestial-themed fourth outing from NYC-based musician/producer Weyes Blood, aka Natalie Mering. There is something rather lovely and melancholy-evocative about her elegant soft-hitting rock, which calls on baroque and psychedelic pop in its lush arrangements and hypnotic synthesized production qualities, while Mering’s otherworldly, mildly mournful, gliding and soaring vocals have a 1970s-era singer-songwriter feel. Standouts include the gorgeous sweeping “Andromeda,” which hits those getting-you-inexplicably-choked-up notes, though it might be the sliding guitar solos that sound touched by the late George Harrison or maybe it’s the subject matter (Mering has said it’s about “losing your interest in trying to be in love”), and “Everyday,” which explores modern dating in a bouncy, piano-driven format. LEILANI POLK


Džambo Agušev Orchestra, Romani Brass Band from Macedonia, The m9
Macedonian trumpet virtuoso Džambo Agušev “represents the apex of the younger generation of Romani brass performers” in a long family line of musicians. Catch him here in town with his orchestra for some Balkan g*psy music with Latin jazz, Flamenco, Caribbean beats, and other global influences thrown in. They’ll be joined by fellow Romanian brass band the m9.



Local Natives, Middle Kids
Local Natives are stellar. Their sound has evolved a bit from the vigorously rocking, melody-rich, percussion-powered, and at times poignant debut album, 2009’s Gorilla Manor. Fourth and latest Violet Street took them a year to make with producer Shawn Everett (Kacey Musgraves, the War on Drugs), and it’s a little groovier, a tad more psychedelic, and by their measure, a lot more experimental than past efforts, at least in the studio, where they’ve claimed influence from Brian Eno and how he made records for the Talking Heads. It’s nice, with a definitive highlight in the primal, dense, horn-blasted “Shy.” I saw Local Natives with a crowd that often howled along to entire passages, and the spirited outfit seemed 100 percent invested in giving us a good time. My guess is this commitment has only deepened. LEILANI POLK



Pixar in Concert
See your favorite childhood films in a new light as the Seattle Symphony performs classic Pixar film scores by Randy Newman, Patrick Doyle, Thomas Newman, and Michael Giacchino as their accompanying scenes play in a high-definition montage, with clips from every one of Pixar’s 14 films—including CarsWALL-ERatatouilleA Bug’s LifeFinding NemoMonsters, Inc., and Brave.



Fisherman’s Village Music Festival 2019
Celebrate the efforts of the Everett Music Initiative with this weekend festival, now in its sixth year, spread over several beloved local venues, with live sets from local and touring talents. Headliners this year will include Wolf Parade, Travis Thompson, the Coathangers, and Laura Veirs, with featured sets by Pickwick, Death Valley Girls, Parisalexa, Black Belt Eagle Scout, and many more.



Bloom: Indigenous People’s Dance Party
Join the Northwest-based open call exhibition yəhaw̓ in celebrating Indigenous peoples and cultures by dancing to cumbia, Latin pop, and reggae spun by live DJs.

Ferry Corsten
Hailing all the way from Denmark, Ferry Corsten explores myriad dance music genres in his DJ sets, from trance to progressive house. Allow him to set the tone for your night at the club.


J’Von, MistaDC, Samurai Del
Stranger music contributor Larry Mizell Jr. has described Oakland-born, Seattle-raised MC J’Von’s music as “soulful-warm basement-level boom-bap.” He’ll be welcomed with warm-up sets from MistaDC and Samurai Del.


American Football, Illuminati Hotties
American Football craft a mix of math rock, emo, and indie rock that would be bumping on the edge of the mainstream if it was less technical and more hook-laden. Not surprising since it’s the project of Chicago mainstay Mike Kinsella (formerly of Cap’n Jazz and Joan of Arc, currently of Owen), along with frequent collaborator cousin Nate Kinsella, drummer and trumpet player Steve Lamos (the Geese, DMS), and guitar player Steve Holmes (also of the Geese). They released an EP and one critically acclaimed eponymous full-length in 1999, then disbanded, though they reunited after a deluxe rerelease of said album in 2014 and have been active ever since. They’ve even dropped a few more LPs. All are titled American Football. LEILANI POLK

DYED, Weird Numbers, Downtown
Fair warning—you might wanna bring earplugs and, perhaps, a helmet for tonight’s show, for safety. Openers Downtown, whose driving jammage often seems to careen into TOTAL CHAOS, fringed with (possible) threats of veiny scrote reveals, will no doubt be cracking some skulls. And if there are any skulls left uncracked, headliners Dyed, a fashion-forward, “pointedly dissonant new-wave group that also delivers razor-sharp danceable sounds,” shall lay waste to whomever is left standing. Sandwiched in between chaos and cool is Weird Numbers’ mid-tempo power pop; they’re also celebrating the release of their new EP on this night. MIKE NIPPER


Bea Miller
Bea Miller didn’t win first place on X Factor in 2014, but the singer-songwriter is doing just fine with a Hollywood Records deal. She’ll breeze through Seattle on her “nice to meet u” tour. 

The Coathangers and Tres Leches LIVE on Band in Seattle
Righteous garage-punk trio the Coathangers and psych punks Tres Leches will share a bill at this live taping for the local concert video series Band in Seattle.

The Lemonheads, Tommy Stinson
You’ll find members of Dinosaur Jr., Fuzzy, Blank Babies, and the Descendents on the ever-evolving Lemonheads’ family tree. Lately, Evan Dando (the indie-rock band’s founder) is holding down the fort. Join him and whomever else is currently sharing the stage with him on this tour stop with former Replacements bassist Tommy Stinson.

Lolo Zouaï, Jean Deaux
I’m a little shocked there hasn’t been more hubbub around French Algerian American singer Lolo Zouaï. Her latest release, High Highs to Low Lows, contains everything that’s hot in popular music right now, including but not limited to lite hiphop/trap beats, bilingualism, Ariana Grande–style “rapping.” It’s boppable, perfect for the turn up and the turn down. Be sure to bang “Caffeine” before you head out—it’s equal parts bratty, poppy, and sugary sweet. Warm-up from trippy multidisciplinary Chicago rapper Jean Deaux. JASMYNE KEIMIG


Keith Sweat
Anyone who had sex in the ’90s owes their good fortune to the slick R&B of easy listening (and platinum-selling) legend Keith Sweat.



Kuinka, The Mondegreens, Cumulus
Defiantly alternative string band Kuinka make “backyard folk” elevated to an almost orchestral level with input from classic string band instrumentation, weighty percussion, the integration of electronic sound production, cello, and six-string ukulele.

Orville Peck
It would be easy to write off the mask worn by rising crooner Orville Peck as a gimmick. But that would be the wrong way to look at it. For Peck, this isn’t just a mask—it’s an entire persona. Like Zorro’s bandit mask or Nicolas Cage’s snakeskin jacket in Wild at Heart (a symbol of “individuality” and a “belief in personal freedom,” as Cage repeats, over and over), Orville Peck’s long fringed mask is an extension of the man. A phantom limb of his personality. Signed by Sub Pop late last year, Peck released his debut country album, Pony, in March. The 12-track LP is a lush, dreamy journey careening through tales of gay hustlers and conflicted lovers. Peck’s twangy howling is simultaneously intimidating and romantic—enigmatic, like his mask. CHASE BURNS

Thomas Rhett, Dustin Lynch
Frequent Top 40 denizen and CMT darling Thomas Rhett, who wins audiences with his pop and rock-influenced country tracks, will hit the road this year on his Very Hot Summer tour with support from Dustin Lynch.


Depth: Mark Ernestus
Berlin producer/DJ Mark Ernestus made his exalted rep in the 1990s as co-architect of Basic Channel’s dub-techno hypno-scapes alongside fellow groove scientist Moritz Von Oswald. Ernestus later burnished his legend with space-dusted roots excursions accompanied by emotive reggae vocalists in Rhythm & Sound. Under myriad aliases, he and MVO honed a stripped-down, machinic species of club music that’s influenced thousands of cerebral 4/4 psychonauts. For this rare Seattle appearance, Ernestus is DJing and arming venues with a disclaimer that promises “dub and reggae, mostly instrumental, from deep roots to militant steppers, roughneck electronics to digi minimalism, heavyweight doom to hardcore uptempo. On occasion, he plays West African dance music.” So don’t expect Basic Channel’s greatest hits—and prepare to get BASSed. DAVE SEGAL


OS: Magisterial
Portland’s Magisterial are a couple of bearded young bros who wield an expansive sound palette. Their repertoire includes unconventional house, non-slick Italo-disco, low-impact techno, noise excursions, and krautrock-inflected experiments. Yes, anyone can dabble with a diverse array of styles, but Magisterial display a mastery of each one they attempt. Machine House Brewery isn’t a typical club with a big dance floor, so it should play well to Magisterial’s eclectic inclinations. DAVE SEGAL


Hatebreed, Obituary, Agnostic Front, Prong, Skeletal Remains
Fresh off a tour with Dropkick Murphys and Clutch, metalcore band Hatebreed will visit Seattle with hits they’ve been thrashing to since 1994. They’ll be joined by genre mutuals Obituary, Agnostic Front, Prong, and Skeletal Remains. 


Blood Moon Orchestra, Hel Mary, Kara Hesse, Tekla Waterfield
All-female improv band the Blood Moon Orchestra will sync up their talent for a night of audience-inspired songs after opening sets from indie-folk artists Hel Mary, Kara Hesse, and Tekla Waterfield.

Double Major Festival
Western Washington University’s annual benefit show will host ODESZA and Death Cab for Cutie this year at a sold-out fest that will have its proceeds donated to WWU’s Alumni Association Scholarship Endowment.

Julia Jacklin, Black Belt Eagle Scout
Australian singer-songwriter Julia Jacklin will come to town with lyrically focused tracks about unrequited love from her recent album Crush, joined by Black Belt Eagle Scout, the solo project of Indigenous artist Katherine Paul.


There’s No Place Like America Today Fest
Named after the seminal soul record by Curtis Mayfield, There’s No Place Like America Today Fest presents a full day of music with bands like Downtown Boys, Dangers, Gabriel Teodros, and High Pulp, plus art activities like zine-making and free workshops and panels on “radical social causes” and ways to get involved in grassroots activism in Seattle.



Art Garfunkel
American songbook legend and general beloved weirdo Art Garfunkel will bring his decades of folk-pop experience, myriad of chart-topping hits, and literal thousands of miles walked and the memories therein to Seattle.


Music of Remembrance: The Parting
“Never forget” was the refrain the world adopted in response to the horrors of the Holocaust. Music of Remembrance takes that charge seriously, using symphonic music’s ability to transcend time and create emotional connections between an audience and those touched by the Shoah and other tragedies. Tonight, they mark their 21st season with “The Parting,” an opera by composer Tom Cipullo and librettist David Mason that explores the life and work of Miklós Radnóti, who is considered one of the most vital poetic witnesses to the Holocaust. RICH SMITH


Foxing, Now, Now, Daddy Issues
Missouri band Foxing were always on my periphery, their math-y art rock verging into emo territory a little too much for my taste. But. Last year’s Nearer My God—their third LP—grabbed my ears and wouldn’t let go. Among the highlights: the dark and driving “Lich Prince,” which reaches an exciting instrumental peak, its chorus an earnest falsetto-reaching howl of “I just want real love for you”;  the spooky, twisted, urgent kick and launch of “Gameshark”; and the desperately soaring title track. RIYL: TV on the Radio, Menomena. LEILANI POLK


SassyBlack, Bells Atlas
The artist sometimes known as Catherine Harris-White used to rap with Shabazz Palaces and later as half of THEESatisfaction. Now she’s mostly singing, one chilled-out but sly observer from the back of the bar, nursing one drink as humanity struts, flexes, sometimes belly flops up in the front. Listen closer, though, and she finds a way to relate through that distance, to herself—then outward, again, wondering what she might mean to someone else, confident and a little scared by turns. Inviting conversation and compromise, but never a doormat. Agreeably and wittily, she relates how life flows behind doors and windows open, closed, stuck, painted shut. Implying reasonable discourse may now seem unrealistic. Such never stops her. ANDREW HAMLIN