The 35 Best Music Shows in Seattle This Week: Nov 12-18, 2018

Khruangbin, Rufus Wainwright, Young Fathers, and More Music Critics' Picks
November 12, 2018
Houston psych-rock trio Khruangbin will bring their cosmopolitan trippiness to Seattle on Friday. (Mary Kang)

This week, our music critics have picked everything from the finely honed piano chops of Rufus Wainwright to the Blade Runner-esque hiphop trio Young Fathers to the Sixth Annual Freakout Festival. 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.


Jump to: Monday | Tuesday | Wednesday | Thursday | Friday | Saturday | Sunday

MONDAY

CLASSICAL

Joseph Adam in Recital
Seattle Symphony’s own Joseph Adams is a highly lauded organist, and will perform a recital here that will showcase his virtuosity and sterling technique.

ELECTRONIC

Claudio Simonetti's Goblin
Almost universally recognized as one of the greatest horror-film soundtracks ever, Suspiria captures Italian prog-rock ghouls Goblin at an ominous peak. Keyboardist Claudio Simonetti has splintered off from the group's other original members, bringing players from the cinematically adept band Daemonia on this tour. Regardless of personnel, you can be assured that the music will exude visceral injections of terror, ingenious passages of suspense, sophisticated freakouts, and some corkscrewed funk. Even divorced from director Dario Argento's imagery, the Suspiria score possesses the power to chill and ripple your blood. Tonight's set will also include material from other facets of Goblin's fertile, febrile catalog. DAVE SEGAL

ROCK/POP

Why? Play Alopecia
At this point, it almost goes without saying that Yoni Wolf isn’t your average rapper. The Cincinnati native rose to prominence in the late 1990s/early ’00s backpack-rap scene as part of cLOUDDEAD, along with Doseone and Odd Nosdam, cofounders of outré rap label Anticon. While Why? had been Wolf’s stage name since 1997, in 2004 he made the unprecedented move of turning his MC handle into the name of an indie-rock band that has remained popular for more than a decade. Part of Why?’s popularity can be attributed to the fact that there’s really no other band out there like them—rap-rock this is not. Rather, Why’s dexterous, sing-songy flow proved the perfect counterpart to Wolf’s bandmate and brother Matt Meldon’s imaginative, folk-friendly, and prog-inspired instrumentation, which has earned them fans more into Bob Dylan than Biz Markie. NICK ZURKO

SOUL/R&B

Emerald City Soul Club 13th Annual Rare Soul Weekender
From 1973 to 1981, English youth boogied down to American soul music at a club called the Wigan Casino. Out of this industrial town near Manchester came the northern soul movement—essentially, a fetishizing of all things rare soul, not the Motown hits you might hear on oldies stations. With Capitol Hill and Eastlake as Manchester stand-ins, the obsessive crate diggers behind the Emerald City Soul Club will do their best to re-create the 1970s vibe during their 13th Rare Soul Weekender, when the most passionate soul collectors from across the Pacific Northwest will converge for four days and nights of nothing but soul at a range of venues: Triple Door, Lo-Fi, Century Ballroom, Narwhal, and Revolver, plus a record swap at Vermillion. GREG SCRUGGS

TUESDAY

METAL/PUNK

Daughters, Dreamdecay, Haunted Horses
With an incessant grinding together of all things death knell, thrashcore, and unruly, the mad scientists of Daughters manifest chronic chaos in this world in the most cacophonously lyrical way. Having just released their fourth studio album, You Won’t Get What You Want, the Rhode Islanders have maturely metamorphosed their guitar spazzing, blast-beat drums, and spoken-word slurring by incorporating atmospheric drones in more mellow and dissonant noise rock. Like death horsemen of the apocalypse, their skull-sinning frenzy is as dark and unholy as ever with their front man Alexis S.F. Marshall still a hellish Surtur spewing fire. ZACH FRIMMEL

Muncie Girls, Theories of Flight
Muncie Girls are a female and two males from Exeter, UK. The new album is called Fixed Ideals. The really important stuff, though, is that they write songs about trying to get healthy and hip and accepted through the clinic, the meds, the struggles for the right clothes, the right attitudes—and none of that is working well at all, and the only deep-seated solution is to sing their own freakiness. Not that they’re freaky at all in the conventional excessive use of that term. They’re likable, charming folks who deserve what they want. That’s what makes them so exciting, and so sad. ANDREW HAMLIN

TUESDAY-WEDNESDAY

FUNK/REGGAE

An Intimate Evening with Matisyahu
Matisyahu is undoubtedly devoted and faithful, and yet his iconic stage persona feels gimmicky and calculated. His earnestly worn Hasidic attire and Orthodox Judaism grant him an exoticized authenticity that trumps race and class, allowing white, middle-American footbaggers entry into a musical tradition that is otherwise comically foreign to them (as in white dreadlocks and the ubiquitous freshman-dorm Bob Marley poster). What's really bizarre is how Matisyahu's bland, lyrically ascetic music has become so popular. At least with dub appropriators like Sublime or jam-band heroes like Phish, there's a culture of rebellious hedonism to entice the youth. But Matisyahu's lyrics call out materialism, drug use, atheism, and apathy, all without even the radical political undertones of traditional reggae. Could it be that the kids just want to rock out with God? It's a possibility that shakes the very foundations of rock music. ERIC GRANDY

WEDNESDAY

DJ

KEXP Presents: Death & Music
Join KEXP morning show host John Richards for an evening on "death and music." The program features special local musical guests, personal stories from past years of the program and the history of how it came to be, and an exploration of the intersection of "these two distinct veins of life and how they feed into one another."

ELECTRONIC

Ross From Friends
When Felix Weatherall’s electronic project surfaced a couple years back, it was highly on trend. A number of producers had been tearing up SoundCloud with hazy, nostalgic house music released under monikers that were either irreverent (DJ Boring, DJ Houseplants) or referenced ’90s ephemera (DJ Seinfeld). Now signed to beat-oriented label Brainfeeder, where his deep house is something of an outlier, Ross from Friends has grown up, gotten serious, and moved in with Rachel. Though it retains touches of trademark smooth-jazz saxophone, debut album Family Portrait is more purposeful than his early work, full of pared-down, heady house and techno made with the dancefloor in mind. ANDREW GOSPE

ROCK/POP

Guided By Voices
Living legends, y’all. Guided by Voices—the saliently sustained project by co-founder Robert Pollard—have been intergenerational anthemic antiheroes and will be for generations to come. It’s almost incomprehensible how you’ll be able to see such musical magnitude at such an intimate space as the Crocodile. They’re as true to their lo-fi psych-rock as ever as evinced on Space Gun, which came out earlier this year. Bandleader Robert Pollard has integrated some new and old blood into this year’s lineup, and we can rest assured that even after 100 studio releases, there’s still gold pouring out. ZACH FRIMMEL

Parisalexa, Chong the Nomad, U Moore, Claudine Magbag
You guys… Parisalexa and Chong the Nomad are gonna be big. Like forever-changing-the-national-perception-of-what-type-of-music-comes-out-of-Seattle big. Bid adieu to grunge and the Emerald City being synonymous—both of these Seattle-based artists are here to shake things up. Parisalexa is a 19-year-old singer-songwriter-producer who makes smooth R&B/pop music that easily gets the party going and your booty bumping. Alda Agustiano (aka Chong the Nomad) produces infectious beats, pulling together hectic and tropical sounds to make beautiful, danceable music. All this talent in one show is sure to be a rump-shaking good time. JASMYNE KEIMIG

Rufus Wainwright, Rachel Eckroth
Rufus Wainwright—the belting vocal pop composer and songwriter with baroque and operatic persuasions and finely honed piano chops—has a résumé that includes nine Shakespeare sonnets set to music, originally inspired by a theater piece he scored for Robert Wilson. That release, 2016’s Take All My Loves, has cameos by Helena Bonham Carter, Carrie Fisher, William Shatner, and Florence Welch. Wainwright lands in Seattle on his All These Poses 20th Anniversary Tour, which celebrates his 2001 breakout LP, Poses, featuring his beloved quasi-hit “Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk” and a cover of Loudon Wainwright III’s “One Man Guy,” with his dad actually sitting in. LEILANI POLK

Steady Holiday, Tomemitsu, Whitney Ballen
Dre Babinski created her musical project Steady Holiday back in 2015 after spending time alone in secret, crafting songs about hidden desire. She has achieved considerable success ever since, landing major festival spots as well as acclaim for her LP and EP.

THURSDAY

CLASSICAL

Black Violin
Musical duo Black Violin blend classical, hiphop, rock, R&B, and bluegrass music to create their own complex, high-energy sound. They will be accompanied live by their backing band, a DJ, and rotating drummers.

ELECTRONIC

Shook: Plastician [Rinse FM / Terrorhythm]
If there’s anyone qualified to play a DJ set of dubstep, grime, and garage, it’s Chris Reed. The Londoner, neé Plastician, has been part of the UK electronic underground since the days of early-2000s pirate radio, working with canonical producers and MCs like Skream, Benga, and Skepta along the way. This familiarity with the grittier strains of UK bass music comes through when he DJs as well as on his Terrorhythm label, whose releases continue to exemplify the genre. It’s worth showing up early for Korma, a Seattle native and one of just a handful of producers making real-deal grime in the Pacific Northwest. ANDREW GOSPE

HIPHOP/RAP

DoNormaal, Clit Kat, Nauticult, Red Lektroid
Third Daughter, DoNormaal’s sophomore LP, was easily one of 2017’s best albums. The up-and-coming hometown MC has a knack for adroitly advertising her slurred wordsmithing over cosmic beats, which are crafted by about a dozen different producers. DoNormaal will be joined by Los Angeles "meowcore" group Clit Kat and thrash-hop trio Nauticult. ZACH FRIMMEL

Masego
Referred to both as "TrapHouseJazz" and as "a Gumbo of culture and creativity," Masego crafts saxophone-based jazz compositions pulling from pop, soul, and hiphop, with a focus on loop pedal soundscapes and electronic mythology.

ROCK/POP

The Berries, Great Spiders, Hoop
Local alt-country singer-songwriter Matt Berry will celebrate the release of his solo project the Berries' debut album, Start All Over Again—a cosmic country-rock project that draws inspiration from Neil Young, Townes Van Zandt, and chilly Seattle winters. He'll be joined by local pop group Great Spiders and soft rockers Hoop. 

Dermot Kennedy
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. 

THURSDAY-SUNDAY

CLASSICAL

Beethoven Symphony No. 5
It's the one that starts with DUN DUN DUN DUUUN! This concert kicks off with Berlioz's sprightly Roman Carnival Overture, wanders through the garden path of Prokofiev’s Fifth Piano Concerto, and then drives on home with Beethoven's most recognizable symphony. Should be a fun ride. RICH SMITH
No performance on Friday

FRIDAY

BLUES/COUNTRY/FOLK

Laura Veirs, Whitney Ballen, Mike Dumovich
Indie-folk music has housed its fair share of acoustic guitars accompanied by easy, breathy voices, but Portland-based singer-songwriter Laura Veirs makes these two components as endearing as ever. Catch her tunes after support sets from Seattle singer-songwriters Whitney Ballen and Mike Dumovich.

CLASSICAL

Kurbasy
Vocal trio Kurbasy blur the lines between folk and classical with an exploration of Ukraine’s trove of calendar song cycles, lullabies, and legends, paired with folk-influenced costuming and visuals steeped in magical realism.

FUNK/REGGAE

Khruangbin
Khruangbin's quick ascent to lofty popularity has been one of 2018's most pleasant surprises. Normally, groups as subtle, exotic, and smart as this Houston psych-rock trio (who are making their third visit to Seattle this year) don't headline venues as large as the Moore until many years deep into their career—if at all. Somehow, though, Khruangbin have harnessed their ultra-laid-back, cosmopolitan trippiness into crowd-pleasing songs on a mass level. The lesson: Bands can still make the trad guitar-bass-drums-vocals approach to rock sound vital, provided they can weave in global influences (in Khruangbin's case, Thai, Iranian, Latin, Middle Eastern). A blissed-out cover of Vince Guaraldi's “Christmas Time Is Here” doesn't hurt, either. DAVE SEGAL

HIPHOP/RAP

Young Fathers, Algiers
Has anyone ever imagined what rap music would sound like in a Blade Runner-esque future? I think it’d sound something like Young Fathers. Their music isn’t ostentatious or showy—it’s hiphop stripped down to its emotional essentials: synthy and minimal, but loud where it needs to be. Touring in support of their newish album, Cocoa Sugar, the Scottish rap outfit will be coming to the Showbox, probably the perfect venue for enjoying their intimate but engaging tunes. Atlanta band Algiers are sure to be an ideal opener, with their distinct blend of gospel and post-punk music. JASMYNE KEIMIG

ROCK/POP

Twenty One Pilots
It’s not surprising Ohio duo Twenty One Pilots have become so successful. As songwriters, they’ve ripped bits of influence from around the proven-popular-music landscape—from the approachability of Bruno Mars to the anthem-chasing of the Lumineers and plainspoken lyricism of Macklemore—and disguised their pandering with enough face paint and stage energy to seem edgy or experimental to the average middle-schooler (but safe enough for their parents), and fake-rapped all the way to the bank. Their ability to tickle the familiarity sensors in the minds of casual young music fans and whisper nonsensical angst rhymes that are vague enough to feign artsy-ness yet simplistic enough to not fly over anyone’s head must appear an admirable trait to a tastemaker with a checklist somewhere, but does that mean we have to let it pollute the minds of our young? Hide your children. TODD HAMM

FRIDAY-SATURDAY

VARIOUS

Sixth Annual Freakout Festival
For two nights in November, Ballard gets an extra jolt of sonic excitement and diversity with Freakout Festival. Run by the folks behind Freakout Records (Skyler Locatelli, Guy Keltner, and Nathan Casey), this event has grown over the last six years into a dependable showcase of Seattle’s eclectic, burgeoning music scene, with up-and-coming acts from the US, Mexico, and the UK now in the mix. This year’s lineup boasts Sneaks, OCnotes, Death Valley Girls, Night Beats, and more. DAVE SEGAL

SATURDAY

ELECTRONIC

The Orb, DF Tram, Michael Manahan
Before there were chillout rooms and chillout music comps, there was the Orb. Started in 1988 by Killing Joke roadie Alex Paterson and former KLF member Jimmy Cauty, and best known for their 1991 rave smash "Little Fluffy Clouds," the ambient-dance-music pioneers have weathered multiple waves of rave music and countless flavors of the day in bringing their unique brand of laid-back and groove-focused electronic music to the sweaty masses. Paterson remains the core member of the group, working with a changing cast of talented producers and collaborators in a wide variety of dance-music genres. This should be a perfect show for eating some medical-grade gummies and astral traveling to realms unknown. NICK ZURKO

METAL/PUNK

D.O.A., MDC, 2Klix, Millhous, Toecutter
Kids, we’re getting TWO of y’alls grandparents' favorite ol’ hardcore groups TONIGHT! From the great white norf come headliners D.O.A. Damn, after many hiatuses and even more lineups since they started in, like, 1978, they’re back AND they’ve just released their 18th album, Fight Back. And we also get MDC, aka Millions of Dead Cops/Children, who've also been on/off again since about ’78, and are still screaming their relevant message of no war, no KKK, no fascist USA. Yeah, all that PLUS some sweat-soaked thrash from locals 2Klix, melodic, shoegaze-y indie rock from Millhous, and metallic hardcore from Toecutter. MIKE NIPPER

ROCK/POP

Cat Power
After a flurry of activity in her younger years, Chan Marshall decelerated her pace, taking six years between albums, including 2012’s Sun and this year’s Wanderer (which was inexplicably rejected by Matador). Marshall, who became a mother in 2015, has always been a singular vocalist, an old soul who's finally grown into that aged-whiskey voice. If her music hews closer to today than yesterday, her unflappably phrased approach recalls subtle sirens from Julie London to Astrud Gilberto. On the new record, she pares instrumentation down to the core, the better to accentuate her open-hearted tales of hope and resilience. KATHY FENNESSY

An Evening with Fleetwood Mac
Fleetwood Mac is legendary for many things, most notably for their Elizabeth Taylor-like proclivity for divorce, a group-shared love of cocaine, and their evolution from an English blues band into a Californian pop juggernaut. Enjoy an evening that showcases their decades of immense talent, fringed scarves, theatrical yowling, extended guitar solos, and the simple drama of their presence.

POPDEFECT, Girl Trouble, Clean Lines
Tacoma’s Girl Trouble and Seattle/LA’s Popdefect (although they seem to have been born out on the road, probably crossing North Dakota in pitch blackness), go back decades, boast cult followings, and have had movies dedicated to them—and both remain criminally underhyped. All I can do to un-underhype them is to affirm that Girl Trouble strike exactly the right balance between manifesting rock’s big-dick/big-ego strut and satirizing the same, while Popdefect perfect primal, minor-key wails from the id. Now how much would you pay? ANDREW HAMLIN

Wavves, Shy Boys, Graham Van Pelt
When Wavves’ breakout record King of the Beach was released in 2010, it sounded unlike anything else in the Vampire Weekend-led indie vanguard. It shamelessly referenced bands like Weezer and Blink-182 at a time when “pop-punk” and “emo” were still largely terms of derision. Aspects of King of the Beach have already aged: Lead singer Nathan Williams’ nihilistic attitudinizing, an album cover with a color palette influenced by the hoodie rack at American Apparel, etc. But Wavves deserve credit for the part they played in heralding the current guitar-rock boom. For an entire generation of kids reared on Warped Tour comps, King of the Beach was a like phoenix born from the ashes of pop-punk’s mid-’00s mallcore hangover. It made this style of music cool again—for better or worse. MORGAN TROPER

SUNDAY

JAZZ

Evan Flory-Barnes: On Loving the Muse and Family — Kickstarter Donor Appreciation Concert
It’s no secret that Seattle is spilling over with gifted musicians, but even given that relatively high bar, Evan Flory-Barnes is a standout. The veteran multi-instrumentalist is probably most visible in his role as bassist for the formidable Stranger Genius Award-winning ensemble Industrial Revelation, but his many appearances on his own and with others have made it clear that he is a major talent no matter whom he’s playing with. Now he gets the chance to take center stage for On Loving the Muse and Family, a show that means to frame his monster skills with a narrative framework incorporating the style of vintage late-night TV variety shows, and featuring such collaborators as the Traumatics, the True Loves, the Seattle Girls Choir, and a full orchestra. On the Boards promises “a series of self-reflexive monologue songs about his relationships, both intimate and familial” and “a celebration of life, philosophy, and psychology through music.” That’s a tall order, but if anyone can deliver on that promise, it’s Flory-Barnes. SEAN NELSON

METAL/PUNK

The Garden, Le1f, Machine Girl
Shape-shifting Orange County punk duo the Garden is a vehicle in which twin brothers Wyatt and Fletcher Shears continuously attempt to defy categorization, despite their own self-established "Vada Vada" genre. The mercurial Shears boys will be joined by massive hiphop talent Le1f and twisted electronica artist Machine Girl.

Good Charlotte, Sleeping With Sirens, Knuckle Puck, The Dose
Cut it any way you want, Good Charlotte are cathartic as hell. Whether you were singing "Seasons" in middle school, or heard “Actual Pain” on the radio yesterday, it’s likely you indulged in their drama for one mollifying moment. While many ’90s and early-’00s revivals feel forced, Good Charlotte’s pop-punk remains appealingly archetypal. Generation Rx, their seventh studio album, condemns the “thoughts and prayers” culture, calls out to “Better Demons,” and screamos at life’s meaninglessness—everything you want from your favorite Hot Topic tunes. Sleeping with Sirens support the big mood with their signature angst and tenore di grazia. AJ DENT