Best Music Shows

The 38 Best Music Shows in Seattle This Week: December 2-8, 2019

Allah-Las, Blevin Blectrum, and More Music Critics' Picks
December 2, 2019
LA-based quartet Allah-Las will bring their surfy sounds to Neumos on Friday.

This week, our music critics have picked everything from Blevin Blectum to the Dandy Warhols to Hail Santa X. 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. Plus, check out our arts & culture critics' picks for the 71 best things to do this week.


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MONDAY

JAZZ

Jane Monheit
The conspicuous charm of Jane Monheit’s latest tribute to Ella Fitzgerald is that is does not sound conspicuously like Ella Fitzgerald. That’s conspicuously charming. You’ll find plenty of other stuff to love, I’m sure. Willie Nelson earns praise for sounding like he’s singing in his car. Jane Monheit sounds like she took the persona of an opera diva (not a diva diva) and assumed the diva’s point of view, but toned it down just a few notches, singing in, let’s say, her bathroom, alone, just her and the sink and the shower and the toilet and maybe some ikebana. Private joy. Private sadness. But a diva, being a diva (even a diva diva), can’t help projecting. Can’t help putting it over. ANDREW HAMLIN

ROCK/POP

Nothing, Launder
Philadelphia shoegaze-rockers Nothing tap into that subgenre’s predilection for blurry vocals, understatedly euphoric melodies, and the stark contrast between wickedly distorted electric guitars and clean-toned electric guitars. They’ve nailed the Novocaine’d bliss vibes that mark shoegaze’s particular appeal among sensitive folks who want to be cocooned in firmament-blotting guitar and bass frequencies. Nothing write the kind of anti-anthems to which you lower your lighters. DAVE SEGAL

TUESDAY

BLUES/COUNTRY/FOLK

Mount Eerie, Julie Doiron
Phil Elverum’s music under the Mount Eerie moniker has always been extremely intimate—an attribute inherent in his soft-spoken vocal delivery and largely acoustic guitar-based arrangements. But over the years, Elverum’s modest instrumentation has become increasingly majestic, with his expanding arsenal of instruments and resourceful recording techniques creating a lush world where even the lone sustained fuzzed-out bass notes on 2015’s Sauna take on a symphony of microtones. In the wake of the passing of his wife, Geneviève, Elverum channeled his anguish into A Crow Looked at Me, an album that explores death not through metaphors but through the literal details of life in the aftermath of loss. By eschewing the platitudes that often accompany the discussion of death, Elverum has made both his most deeply intimate album and a profound stand-alone examination of grief. BRIAN COOK

ROCK/POP

The Chainsmokers, 5 Seconds of Summer, Lennon Stella
The Chainsmokers make sense as a festival headliner due to their overblown, triumphantly loud type of EDM perfectly curated for giant arenas and outdoor partying. Remember to stay hydrated since you'll be dancing to this set all night, not to mention those of openers Australian pop-rockers 5 Seconds of Summer and Canadian export Lennon Stella. 

JD McPherson, Joel Paterson
I’ve been following JD McPherson since the 2010 release of his first single, “North Side Gal,” when he somehow, pointedly, drew black R&B back into a contemporary take on 1950s rockabilly. It was remarkable, as his music was earnest and seated in the period, but it didn’t come across as any kind of hot-rod burlesque/psychobilly cosplay cliché. As for opener Joel Paterson, he plays fancy-fancy guitar like them Nashville godhead pickers from the 1950s, and I believe he’s touring in support of his recent, rather fun LP Let It Be Guitar! Joel Paterson Plays The Beatles. MIKE NIPPER

WORLD/LATIN

Bedouine
LA-based Syrian American singer-songwriter Azniv Korkejian, aka Bedouine, crafts the most soothing, Carole King–vibing fusion of 1960s folk and 1970s country you’ll hear this side of the Mississippi, the sort that makes you want to recline and unwind in dreamy, languid pleasure. Her love songs hit your ears like the whisper of a kiss, her resonant, eloquent, lower-toned vocals soothing and pristine both when she’s crooning, cooing, or breathily talk-singing like a dulcet Dylan. She played the debut THING festival earlier this year, and she is returning to the area to deliver a full-length set behind sophomore full-length Bird Songs of a Killjoy. LEILANI POLK

WEDNESDAY

ROCK/POP

Kate Davis
Oregon-spawned singer-songwriter Kate Davis has undergone a complete stylistic about-face with her 2019 LP Trophy. The pop-sensible jazz-trained bass-playing prodigy was recognized by artists ranging from Herbie Hancock to Ben Folds, but shifted gears after some soul-searching and cowriting “Seventeen” with friend/musical inspiration Sharon Van Etten. Davis’s own guitar-driven indie-rock style is elegantly pretty and perfectly arranged, swinging between subdued and rocking, and serving as a fine backdrop to her high, dulcet-sweet vocals. Notable online music rag Northern Transmissions called Trophy “a smart, tuneful, and heartfelt debut record about self-examination and looking to the future while still being mindful of the past.” I concur. Go listen now. LEILANI POLK

THURSDAY

CLASSICAL

Hear & Now Performance
Rich Smith has written: "Trimpin is a musical genius who builds room-sized art installations that are also instruments. Picture a Rube Goldberg machine exploded all over a room, but one you can play Beethoven on. This year, Trimpin again partnered with students from Path with Art, a nonprofit that works with homeless people to create original works of art. Together they constructed a new sound sculpture bursting with poetry, visual art, and, of course, music." Here's one of your last chances to experience the sculpture as well as hearing new compositions and a talkback from the artists.

ELECTRONIC

Blockhead, Eliot Lipp, J-Justice
Tony Simon is Blockhead, an NYC maker of sample-studded instrumental hip-hop productions on the venerable Ninja Tune label. He has an impressive catalog of solo joints (10 and counting), but is likely best known on first listen for his soundwork for Aesop Rock. He’s on tour behind his moody new outing, Bubble Bath, its title track looping a man's soulful belts and splicing in the odd warped flute, harmonica, vocal chant, or hand drum rhythm over a languid piano riff, swaying bass groove, and down-tempo beat. Eliot Lipp’s soundscapes are a bit more eccentric, funk and hip-hop oriented but with added sound design experimenting, unidentified synth work, and expertly placed samples. New single “Cars” has a definitive early ’80s robotica appeal with modern fuzzed-out textures and layering techniques. LEILANI POLK

EXPERIMENTAL/NOISE

Blevin Blectum, Leash, blouseusa
Blevin Blectum, as I’ve written ad infinitum, is one of America’s foremost experimental electronic musicians, and every live performance she’s done since moving to Seattle two years ago has been an overwhelmingly weird trip. Leash is the next bold leap forward for former Newaxeyes synth/bass player Jordan Rundle. In the aftermath of Newaxeyes’ distortion-laden electronichaos, Leash released the EP Wrest, what I called on Slog “a gorgeously grotesque soundscape of postapocalyptic splendor.” Fungal Abyss drummer Benjamin Thomas-Kennedy’s blouseusa project will be celebrating the release of their fifth album, blouseusa2000. Its nine jittery, enigmatic songs straddle the wobbly line between abstract electronica and off-kilter rock, proving that Thomas-Kennedy is never not interesting. Diminished Men’s inventive jazz-rock guitarist Simon Henneman will be accompanying him at this show. DAVE SEGAL

METAL/PUNK

YOB, Earthless, Blackwater Holylight
If the title of “world’s heaviest band” were contested by some sort of championship bracket, Oregon's Yob would be seeded near the top. After four years of lying low, Yob have delivered a new record this summer. And we all know that season is the perfect time to blast dark, crushing doom metal. KEVIN DIERS

ROCK/POP

An Evening with Mike Cooley of Drive-By Truckers
Mike Cooley, known for being the man behind the guitar, vocals, banjo, and harmonica of Drive-By Truckers and Dimmer Twins, will play a special solo set rife with his favorite alt-country and roots-rock hits.

KEXP and Redhook Present Yule Benefit with Neko Case and Calexico
This year's big KEXP holiday fundraiser will be headlined by Northwest pride and joy (and exceptionally talented folk singer-songwriter) Neko Case, with a support set by Southwestern indie rock band Calexico.

WORLD/LATIN

Sin Bandera
Dance to acclaimed Latin R&B pop duo Sin Bandera when they come to Seattle. 

THURSDAY-SUNDAY

CLASSICAL

Hershey Felder: Beethoven
Former Stranger writer Sean Nelson described Felder as an "astonishingly gifted vocalist and pianist, not merely in terms of pure technique, but in his capacity for restraint." In this show, he takes on the roles of both Ludwig van Beethoven and his student Gerhard van Breuning while playing such beloved pieces as Moonlight Sonata and Pathetique Sonata, as well as excerpts from the famed Fifth and Ninth Symphonies.

FRIDAY

ELECTRONIC

Max Cooper
Go anywhere in British producer Max Cooper’s catalog and you instantly sense you’re in the presence of a masterly sound scientist. Using Ableton digital audio workstation, Cooper creates intricate rhythms alongside pointillistic, glitchy textures and poignant melodies. His tracks often split the difference between the classical recital hall and the sweaty underground techno club. Because he’s such a skillful technician and arranger, Cooper never lets his music take on the antiseptic quality that afflicts many electronic musicians who eschew hardware.  DAVE SEGAL

HIP-HOP/RAP

DJ Quik
Compton rapper/producer legend DJ Quik’s debut, Quik Is the Name, came out in 1991—a full 20 years before his more recent full-length, The Book of David—but the quality of his output has barely (if at all) faltered in that time span. He’s still producing all of his own classic Way-2-Fonky West Coast beats and still running circles around suckers with his effortless flow and rapid-fire, smooth-yet-sharp rhyme patterns. Quik’s refusal to let his game slip has rewarded him the kind of career longevity that very few rap veterans get to enjoy. Expect his live set to include nothing but hits and very few signs of aging.  MIKE RAMOS

ROCK/POP

Allah-Las, Mapache, Tim Hill
A couple parts jangly, a few parts surfy, and a whole heap of psychedelic, Allah-Las evoke the sand, the waves, and the music blasting out of the cars driving down the beach fronts of Southern California. The Los Angeles–based quartet’s latest release, LAHS, expands their sound into new territory, tackling Portuguese country rock in “Prazer Em Te Conhecer” and funkier bass-driven grooves in “Star.” The result is a record that sounds just like how the California horizon looks before the sun sinks into it: pink, orange, purple. You hope that mishmash of day and night can last forever. It won’t. JASMYNE KEIMIG

The Dandy Warhols, Mother Mariposa
The Dandy Warhols are one of those staple 1990s-era post-grunge alt rock bands that are so consistently fun and out-there that I almost take their existence for granted. Until, of course, they release an album like this year’s Why You So Crazy, their 10th overall. The Portland group has always leaned heady and cheeky, tossing elements of garage, power pop, synth rock, shoegaze, roots rock, and a bit of Brit invasion pop into their mix. Why You So Crazy is particularly genre-jumping fabulous, touching on gothic twang in “Highlife,” which finds Zia McCabe on snotty lead vocals, the strum-and-stomp of “Sins Are Forgiven,” and the spacey cosmic Americana of “Motor City Steel,” to the expected fuzz, drive, and heady rolling vibe of “Be Alright,” the swaggering little groove and high-reaching vocal weirdness of “Thee Elegant Bum,” the cheeky, slinky psychedelia of “Next Things I Know,” and the warped melting-on-itself farting-and-zipping synth bizarrity of “To the Church, all driven by frontman Courtney Taylor-Taylor’s mix of low and breathy vocalizing, odd falsettos, and crusty, over-pronounced Southern drawls. LEILANI POLK

Kinski, Quid Quo, Beverly Crusher
Lauded by Dave Segal as "instigators of punky instrumentals that tear through heads in a brutal blur," Seattle rock band Kinski will headline in Ballard with support from their more newly formed contemporaries Quid Quo and Beverly Crusher. 

SOUL/R&B

Stephanie Anne Johnson & Hidogs
Tacoma-bred R&B/soul artist Stephanie Anne Johnson (who was featured on the 2013 season of The Voice) will be backed by her band and welcomed with an opening set from down-tempo indie rockers Junebugs.

FRIDAY-SATURDAY

METAL/PUNK

Hail Santa X
Hail Santa has remained one of heavy metal's best-kept Seattle secrets, an annual yuletide celebration of the devil's rock and roll, preferably of the black-thrash variety, performed in front of gory clips from holiday-themed horror films. This year, the celebrations are spread over two evenings and feature a pair of bar-raising headliners. Headlining Friday is Uada, with support from Drawn And Quartered, Xoth, and ÆNIGMATUM. On Saturday, it will be Skelator with support by Solicitor, Ghost Blood, and Toxic Reign. JOSEPH SCHAFER

FRIDAY-SUNDAY

CLASSICAL

Holiday Pops
Acclaimed conductor Jacomo Bairos and the University of Washington Chorale will headline a program of holiday favorites with the Seattle Symphony.

SATURDAY

DJ

Bloom ft. DJ Bricks
This installment of the "cerebral sonic experience" BLOOM will feature an acid-heavy set from Seattle's DJ Bricks, with additional support from resident DJ Gag Reflex. 

ELECTRONIC

Madame Gandhi, MILCK, SassyBlack
Catch Los Angeles-based electronic artist Madame Gandhi—the former drummer for M.I.A.—with locals MILCK and SassyBlack. 

EXPERIMENTAL/NOISE

Rob Angus et al: Hidden Room
Using a variety of acoustic instruments and toys, Rob Angus makes kinetic ambient-industrial soundscapes set against video projections that tend to be gorgeous. He'll share the stage with experimental electronic producer Jeff Greinke and Butoh dancer Joan Laage. 

JAZZ

Jonathan Scales Fourchestra
Steel pannist and composer Jonathan Scales will bring his funk-fusion jams to Seattle with his four-piece orchestra. 

ROCK/POP

Conan Gray, Benee
Gen Z heartthrob and MTV-dubbed "Prince of Pop" Conan Gray will return to Seattle for a night of bedroom pop on his Comfort Crowd tour with opener Benee.

Howlin Rain, Head Band
Anyone who’s seen guitarist/vocalist Ethan Miller in action can testify that he’s a goddamn force of nature. The Howlin Rain leader launches familiar cosmic-Americana and jam-band elements into the red, forging songs that deftly balance power and beauty. He’s a soulful maximalist with both ax and throat, and his bandmates are road-tested warriors who make the rock of ages ago seem absurdly vital. Seattle quartet Head Band are ideal openers for Howlin Rain. They play A+ party rock that splits the difference between the Allman Brothers and the Velvet Underground, which is not a difference that’s split very often. DAVE SEGAL

Pickwick, Cataldo, Baja Boy
Produced by Erik Blood, their 2017 sophomore full-length, Lovejoys, gets a 1970s vintage Shuggie Otis–flavored groove treatment, opening with the slinky bass lines and velvety, high-hitting vocals of "Turncoat." Things turn even more greasy and gritty with the chugging, brass-farting funk of "Ascension," and get into more straightforward trippy, organ-driven cuts like "Lying Awake in the Dark," while Pickwick amp up the psychedelic soul on set-closer "Ammonia." LEILANI POLK

Sea Caves, Rabble, KT Neely, Aaron Semer
For every Starbucks in Seattle, there’s a singer-songwriter… or so it seems. It can be a chore to differentiate between the snooze-inducers and the real-deal artists. As the new album Cape Disappointment proves, Aaron Semer belongs in the latter camp. While I admit that this style is not really my bag, I can discern that Semer’s authoritative acoustic-guitar strums and perceptive, gripping lyrics command respect. His songs bear a subtle gravitas and abound with vivid lyrical details, with shadings of Warren Zevon and Ian Hunter’s world-weary wit and emotional depth. The urgent, sociopolitically savvy “(Little Back Square on My) Profile Pic” is an anthem in the making. He’ll be opening this date that also serves as the Seattle release show for Across the Water, the new outing from dreamy Portland indie pop outfit Sea Caves. DAVE SEGAL

SMooCH 2019
The charity circuit will get an indie-rock soundtrack as a pitch-perfect lineup gathers to help raise funds for Seattle Children's Hospital. Attendees will get the unique treat of pairing their five-star meals with live sets by Pacific Northwest favorites Redd Kross, DeVotchKa, and Dude York.

SUNDAY

HIP-HOP

Comethazine, Max the Demon
St. Louis rapper Comethazine will visit Seattle on his Hench Mafia Tour with support from fellow SoundCloud-bred artist Max the Demon.

ELECTRONIC

SYML, EXES
Musician/producer Brian Fennell, aka SYML, of Seattle’s gentle indie rock group Barcelona, has now gone an ambient direction, mixing elements of dream pop, synth rock, and alt folk to lovely, emotive effect. He dropped his self-produced self-titled debut LP (SYML) in May, preceded by sublime first single “The Bird,” its dark and sinister production divinely sundered by bright guitar-plucked melodies and Fennell’s exquisite falsetto-reaching vocal. Warm-up comes from LA indie pop duo EXES (Allie McDonald and Mike Derenzo), who are touring behind a new six-song EP Once More, with Feeling. LEILANI POLK

Terror/Cactus, The Ghost Ease, Guayaba, Juracán
Terror/Cactus are hypnotic, psychedelic electro-cumbia influenced by Tropicalia and science fiction—they are complex and engaging, and will keep you dancing and thinking about all the ways music can be a million amazing things at once. KIM SELLING

METAL/PUNK

Khemmis, Un, Witch Ripper, Eye of Nix
Denver death metal outfit Khemmis will treat thrashers of Seattle to a night of heavy doom-groove riffs with local support from Un, Witch Ripper, and Eye of Nix. 

ROCK/POP

KEXP Decks the Dock 2019
This family-friendly holiday music celebration will take place indoors, so you can dance to live sets from Eli Rosenblatt, Mikey Mike the Rad Scientist, and DJ Abbie without freezing your buns off. Hot beverages and snacks will be provided. 

WORLD/LATIN

Kiran Ahluwalia
Kiran Ahluwalia fuses strains of African desert blues with sounds of her native India.