The 44 Best Music Shows in Seattle This Week: September 16-22, 2019

Skeleton Flower, Elton John, and More Music Critics' Picks
September 15, 2019
Composed of Degenerate Art Ensemble members, the new art-rock group Skeleton Flower will play songs from their debut album at the Neptune on Saturday. (Artist photo)
This week, our music critics have picked everything from English synth-pop outfit Hot Chip Add to a List to Elton John's Add to a List last Washington tour stop ever to Kremwerk's namesake festival Kremfest. 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.

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Blanco White Add to a List
London-based musician Blanco White blends American folk with Andean and Flamenco influences. Catch him in Seattle after an opening set from Shrewsbury singer-songwriter Dan Owen. 

Charlie Cunningham, The Still Tide Add to a List
Join London folk artist Charlie Cunningham in Ballard with Denver-based rock band the Still Tide. 


Russian Circles, FACS Add to a List
For 15 years, Russian Circles have been exemplars of fusing austere heavy metal and high-impact post rock, all without relying on vocals to build their impressive anthems. The Chicago/NYC/Seattle trio’s latest album, 2019’s Blood Year, is a bludgeoning slab of heroic, dynamic rock that’s as brainy as it is brawny. Featuring former members of Disappears, Chicago trio FACS should make for an interesting contrast, as they throb in a more overtly post-punk vein. Their 2018 Capitol Hill Block Party set was a revelation, and their two albums—Negative Houses and Lifelike—boast songs that articulate a potent ominousness through minimal means. Rare is the group that can evoke both Pere Ubu and Hovercraft without paying blatant tribute to them. DAVE SEGAL


Brian Wilson & The Zombies Add to a List
Beach Boy Brian Wilson and trippy '60s pop-rock icons the Zombies will pair up for their Something Great from 68 Tour. Sounds like a match made in heaven. 

Night Moves, Hi Crime Add to a List
The music of Night Moves glimmers: with nostalgia, with sensuality, with feeling. On the heels of releasing their third album, Can You Really Find Me, back in June, the Minneapolis-based band is bringing their psychedelic electro-pop to the Emerald City. “Strands Align” is a twangy, synth-powered soft banger, reminding me of the time of year when summer starts to slide into fall. “Colored Emotions” is a languid track that plays like an MGMT song on downers. Night Moves will be joined by Seattle’s sparkly bright indie-pop band Hi Crime. JASMYNE KEIMIG

Titus Andronicus, Control Top Add to a List
In addition to being "a bunch of guys in beards and cool shades, standing around emoting," as Stranger contributor Andrew Hamlin described them (he also suggested making their single "Number One (In New York)" the new national anthem), Titus Andronicus are a Brooklyn-based indie-punk band with a gaggle of loyal followers. They'll come to Seattle with support from Philly's Control Top. ANDREW HAMLIN



Druids, Rat King, Florida Man Add to a List
Three-piece Iowan psychedelic stoner metal band Druids, whose sound brims with "acrobatic guitars, Circadian drumming, and power-driven vocal harmonies," according to Kerrang, will get loud in Seattle with local sludge-rockers Rat King and Florida Man.


Giuda, Bad Sex, Die Nasty Add to a List
If you dig “Dyne-Mite” times or like to “Get Down and Get With It,” prepare to bust out yer braces ’cause Italy’s bovver boys, Giuda, are bringing us a proper fist-pumpin’ junk-shop stomp!!! I shouldn't forget Portland’s cool, very-late-’70s-style power-pop group Bad Sex, and Seattle’s Die Nasty, “a driving, sing-along street-punk trio” that’ll be up first!  MIKE NIPPER

Incubus, Dub Trio Add to a List
Incubus, a key rock group of the early '00s, will return to Seattle for a night of what will surely be some very intense high school recollections for everybody. They'll be joined by Dub Trio on their "20 Years of Make Yourself & Beyond" tour.

MUNA, Chelsea Jade Add to a List
LA-based alt-pop trio Muna, who just released their synthy sophomore album Saves the World (which NPR called "an emotional excavation") on RCA Records, will make a stop in Seattle. They'll be joined by Chelsea Jade, who earned the title of New Zealand's "Accidental Dream Pop Hero" in 2017.

Sheer Mag, Tweens, Lysol Add to a List
Sheer Mag embody the ethos of vintage classic rock in such a way that I understand “Sheer Mag” to be short for “Sheer Magnitude to Melt Your Face Off.” On their second album, A Distant Call, the Philadelphia-based band churns out raucous, 1970s-vibing numbers like “Steel Sharpens Steel” and “Hardly to Blame.” But it’s “Silver Line” that fucking kills. The tinny synths and catchy guitar riffs create the conditions for lead singer Christina Halladay’s distinct vocals to sear right through. It’s like listening to AM radio while on a road trip in the early 1980s. Sheer Mag will be causing trouble with Cincinnati “trash pop” makers Tweens and Seattle outfit Lysol. JASMYNE KEIMIG

Tropa Magica, Acid Tongue Add to a List
Led by brothers David and Rene Pacheco, Tropa Magica is an East Los Angeles band that draws heavily on psych rock, surf, and Latin/South American folk music influences (their inspiration were those Roots of Chicha comps) to get to their self-styled “psychedelic cumbia punk” sound. It’s highly entertaining, eclectic, and kinda weird, in a good way, with a mix of Spanish and English lyrics. Check out the hilarious “Primus Sucks”; while I don’t agree with the sentiment, the song itself (off their debut self-titled LP) is a breakneck fast, hilariously fun jaunt, and a good representation of what these guys do. LEILANI POLK

Zara Larsson, Archie Add to a List
Up-and-coming Swedish pop songwriter Zara Larsson (who was named Favorite Swedish Star by the kiddos on Nickelodeon's Kids' Choice Awards three years in a row) will bop around the Seattle stage on this tour stop with Archie (formerly known as PSA).



Elton John Add to a List
This is it for Elton John. And no, I’m not talking about death. The 72-year-old British rock star has decided to bid adieu to the touring life. And what better way to cap off a more than five-decades-long career than a three-year, 300-date world tour? On the third leg of the Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour, Elton will be treating Seattle to a two-night run, giving his fans one last chance to say goodbye to the performer behind such songs as “Tiny Dancer,” “Rocket Man,” and “Your Song,” among so many others. And if you’re lucky, maybe you can even peep his gap tooth in person, too! JASMYNE KEIMIG


Sara Gazarek Add to a List
Last time I caught Sara Gazarek here in town, at the Triple Door, I thought I knew what she was about: warm, elegant jazz vocals caught up in ever-novel and stimulating arrangements. Boy was I wrong! She was all about warm, elegant jazz vocals caught up in ever-novel and stimulating arrangements, but she sang high, she sang low, she sang heartbreak, she held notes for mystifying lifetimes. She dropped beats, added intros, swirled songs into medleys, blew notes out like candles, and let them die away like sustain-pedaled tones from Josh Nelson’s piano. Her last album with Nelson, Dream in the Blue, was 2016’s best album. Gazarek is already the best, and she just keeps getting better. ANDREW HAMLIN



Bryan Adams Add to a List
Canadian singer Bryan Adams will bring his lovelorn lyrics and passionate facial expressions on his Shine A Light World Tour.

Foreigner, Night Ranger Add to a List
Upon forming in 1976, Foreigner were a low-key supergroup featuring ex–Spooky Tooth guitarist Mick Jones and Ian McDonald—the guy who did much of the weird stuff on In the Court of the Crimson King. Like their peers Kansas and Styx, Foreigner was a well-oiled pop machine masquerading as a “serious” rock band. Their self-titled debut remains one of the more listenable relics of the AOR era precisely because of how poppy it is. The one-two opening punch of “Feels Like the First Time” and the McCartney-worshipping “Cold as Ice” is masterful sequencing, but even non-hits like the woozy “Starrider” and “The Damage Is Done” are significantly meatier than your average 1970s diet-rock filler. The real star, however, is Foreigner’s erstwhile lead vocalist Lou Gramm, who, along with Steve Marriott, could be classic rock’s most underrated singer. (Circus magazine famously remarked that Gramm possessed a voice “Robert Plant might envy,” and he probably did.) MORGAN TROPER

Jay Som, Boy Scouts, Affectionately Add to a List
Though Melina Duterte (aka Jay Som) put a lot of effort into Everybody Works, her first proper album emanates the kind of ease that makes it sound as if it arrived fully formed. Some artists, like Juana Molina and Chaz Bundick, just give off that vibe. If Duterte’s lyrics reflect youthful feelings of hope and discovery, the sophistication of the 24-year-old’s music, a shoegaze-meets-lite-funk take on bedroom pop, belies her age. KATHY FENNESSY



Hot Chip, Holy Fuck Add to a List
I was in college when Hot Chip's infectious “Over and Over” became an indie party staple and I promptly lost my shit when I saw them in a dingy rock club in Boston. Here’s the English synth-pop outfit 13 years later, touring on the strength of their seventh album, A Bath Full of Ecstasy (which lead singer Alexis Taylor swears is not a drug reference, more about the state of mind), that ably keeps up the slinky house and disco influence—a reminder the early aughts never died. Does Hot Chip’s longevity make them the 21st century’s answer to New Order (who, it should be noted, are still playing out)? We can probably expect to hear them again at the Showbox 3.0 in 2030. GREGORY SCRUGGS



GHOST, Nothing More Add to a List
Take one glance at the skeleton face paint and pope regalia adorning lead vocalist Papa Emeritus and the spooky mouthless demon masks of the five nameless ghouls beside him onstage, and one might assume Ghost play brutal, deafening death metal. In reality, they have more in common musically with a band like Blue Öyster Cult than, say, Morbid Angel. Their melodic yet Satanic anthems have earned the mysterious Swedish band quite the following, as they’ve transcended their underground cult status, transitioning into their spot as the coolest damn thing on commercial rock radio. KEVIN DIERS


Alförjs, Bad Luck Add to a List
If a Portuguese jazz ensemble makes it all the way to the Pacific Northwest, odds are they’re worth checking out. And one listen to Alförjs’s 2019 full-length, QorusQoros, proves that axiom true. The record sounds like a score for some kind of shamanistic ritual occurring far off the grid and on a microcosmic level of consciousness. The trio use myriad percussion tools, bass, voices, and electronics, but not in any way to which you are accustomed. Alförjs alter mind states like a European Residents, and the ensuing perplexity is its own reward. Fiery Seattle avant-jazz duo Bad Luck, judging by a recent show at Clock-Out Lounge, are moving in a more subdued but no less riveting direction. DAVE SEGAL


Yip Deceiver, Phone Call, Truckasaurus Add to a List
This mighty fine Thursday night bill at Clock-Out Lounge is headed up by Of Montreal’s all-analog dance-pop side project Yip Deceiver, co-led by Nicolas "Dobby" Dobbratz and Davey Pierce. They are a whole lotta fun. Need proof? Look up the video for “Get Strict,” which includes, but is not limited to, a knock-down drag-out fight between Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, nuns executing a choreographed dance in a diner, and a bikini-clad hottie in a rhinestone-encrusted Storm Trooper helmet popping a bottle of champagne and then throwing a grenade. Oh, and Reggie Watts getting down throughout. Their 2018 single “Local Business” and new Koniec EP have a definitive 1980s R&B throwback appeal. LEILANI POLK


The California Honeydrops Add to a List
For their 10th anniversary and the release of their two-volume album Call It Home, the California Honeydrops will play a mix of Bay Area R&B, funk, Southern soul, and Delta blues.



Mahler's Symphony No. 1 Add to a List
Thomas Dausgaard officially takes the reins as music director of the Seattle Symphony Orchestra with this interpretation of Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 1. Critics judge symphonies on their ability to handle Mahler's subtleties, grandiosities, and complexities, and Dausgaard knows his Mahler, so this program will be a good indicator of how well the orchestra and their (sort of) new conductor are jelling. Johannes Brahms’s Second Piano Concerto and Flounce by Finnish composer Lotta Wennäkoski will share the bill with Mahler. Flounce is full of jagged melodies and surprising bursts of brightness, which will start the season off on a lively, optimistic note. RICH SMITH



Kremfest 2019 Add to a List
Last year I described Kremfest as proof that the nightclub complex Kremwerk/Timbre Room is the “undisputed monarch of Seattle nightlife.” The Denny Triangle compound is going to defend its crown with a third edition of its namesake festival. I will proceed with the customary practice of enumerating exciting acts, but if you like house and especially techno, I'll just cut to the chase: Go. If you're pickier and choosier? Well, there are coast-to-coast dance-floor slayers like Dee Diggs and Jasmine Infiniti, overseas talents like Japanese producer Gonno and UK bass champion Fracture, and New York princeling Anthony Naples. Oh, and some guy named Derrick May... one of the Belleville Three who invented techno. Look it up. GREGORY SCRUGGS



Travis Thompson, Adé, Nyles Davis Add to a List
Some say Seattle hip-hop doesn't have a sound, which absolutely isn't true—more often than not, it sounds something like Travis Thompson. The 21-year-old Burien rapper comes across as humble and good-natured, homing in on everyday struggles and self-doubt over laid-back, soul-inflected instrumentals. Even so, Thompson has a distinctive presence, a half-sung, half-rapped delivery that's slurred but verbose. It's necessary, of course, to bring up Macklemore, who featured Thompson on his "Corner Store" single and brought him along on a national tour. It remains to be seen if Thompson ascends to Macklemore levels of national fame, but he already has the makings of a hometown hero. ANDREW GOSPE


50th! Great Records of 1969 – Neil Young's Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere Add to a List
Celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first album by Neil Young and Crazy Horse by jamming to all the hits (like "Down By the River," "Cinnamon Girl," and "Cowgirl in the Sand"). 

Alice in Chains Add to a List
Seattle grunge/heavy metal legends Alice in Chains will tear up their home turf like it's 1987.

Moon Palace, Mirrorgloss, Ex-Licks Add to a List
Seattle quintet Moon Palace will bring their hypnotic, nature-focused psychedelia to Beacon Hill with support from Mirrorgloss (whose brassy vocals and punchy electronic backing earned them "Best New Band of 2014" from the Tacoma Weekly) and punky noise-pop band Ex-Licks. 



Earth, Wind, and Fire Add to a List
Earth, Wind, and Fire, the true soul of the funk revolution, will lasso all of the elements out in Woodinville this summer.



Pokey LaFarge, Guests Add to a List
Illinois-born folk artist Pokey LaFarge will strum his charmingly nostalgic, forlorn melodies steeped in American blues, country, and Western swing. 


Berta Rojas Add to a List
Internationally renowned classical guitarist Berta Rojas will show off the chops that led her to be thrice nominated for Latin Grammy Awards in this warm and joyous program.


TUF Art Collective Takeover Add to a List
The Seattle art and electronic music collective TUF will provide a platform for Seattle artists and performers who are marginalized on account of their race or gender. Through visual work and performances, they'll pose questions like "How do we build the spaces that we want to live in? Why is space needed in a city for art? How do we hold space for each other?"


Skeleton Flower, Fruit Juice, Tomo Nakayama, the Tiger Tails Add to a List
Led by singer-songwriter Haruko Crow Nishimura, Skeleton Flower are a new group composed of fellow Degenerate Art Ensemble members Joshua Kohl, Scott Teske, Adam Koze, and Ambrose Nortness. If you're familiar with this Seattle multimedia performance troupe, you may be surprised by how conventional-sounding Skeleton Flower's self-titled debut is. They've created a seven-song collection that takes indie rock to art school in the manner of St. Vincent, Dirty Projectors, and Deerhoof. Nishimura’s endearingly quirky voice comes off like a Japanese Joanna Newsom, and Nortness’s bass clarinet and saxophone lines sometimes skew the songs into chamber-jazz territory. However, Skeleton Flower's final two tracks—“The Red Shoes” and “Mirrored Sky”—hint at Björk's phantasmal electronic songcraft, and are all the more interesting for that. DAVE SEGAL


PNW Super Soul All-Star Revue Add to a List
Bellwether Add to a List  will present a night of local hip-hop and soul, with headliners Nile Waters, ParisAlexa, Sol, Travis Thompson, MistaDC, Laza, Otieno Terry, and others.


Social Distortion, Flogging Molly, The Devil Makes Three, Le Butcherettes Add to a List
Thrash to '80s-formed California punk-rock band Social Distortion on their Summer Tour with Flogging Molly, the Devil Makes Three, and Le Butcherettes.


Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band Add to a List
Like Kraftwerk, Bob Seger largely ignores and underrates his early work. However, last year saw the rerelease of those brutal, soulful garage-rock singles he cut with the Last Heard circa 1966–67 on the Heavy Music comp. So maybe the Motor City icon is realizing the serious hunger for music from his wild, youthful phase? Does this mean Seger and the Silver Bullet Band will rekindle that flame, or will they play it safe with the heartland stadium-rock and sentimental balladry that scored some of your least-favorite TV ads? With a fan base consisting mainly of folks who’ve probably written their wills, the latter seems more likely—although recent sets have included early barn burner “Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man” and the haunting troubadour move “Turn the Page.” DAVE SEGAL

mxmtoon, Alexander 23 Add to a List
Eighteen-year-old Chinese American bedroom-pop artist mxmtoon will sing about the woes of teenhood on her masquerade tour with support from Chicago's Alexander 23.

SISTERS, Super Sparkle, Guests Add to a List
Electro-pop duo Sisters (Andrew Vait and Emily Westman) "make prog-infused, harmony-drenched pop music that is as surprising as it is pleasing," as Sean Nelson wrote. They'll come to Ballard with bill support from Spokane indie-pop outfit Super Sparkle.



Adrian Belew with Saul Zonana Add to a List
Adrian Belew is an exceptional axman, although he’s probably more renowned for his vast work as a sideman than his solo catalog. However, the latter is just as worthy of your attention, but not as commanding of mainstream respect as his recordings with (among many others) Frank Zappa, David Bowie, Talking Heads (he played on the phenomenal Remain in Light), and, most notably, King Crimson. Robert Fripp welcomed him into that band’s cool prog-rock embrace beginning with 1981’s Discipline, and Belew continued to play a major role in King Crimson on eight more albums up to 2003, all the while releasing solo material. While Belew sings and plays many instruments, it’s as a guitarist where he shines, making superior use of a whammy bar and effects pedals, juggling shreds with subtler fretwork, pushing boundaries and remaining relevant because he embraces new techniques. LEILANI POLK



John Prine, Kelsey Waldon Add to a List
Herman Melville once wrote “there is no quality in this world that is not what it is merely by contrast.” You cannot savor warmth without knowing the cold. And you can’t really fathom happiness unless you’ve known the full depth of sadness. Folk legend John Prine appears to understand this principle. His charmingly sweet songs like “In Spite of Ourselves” set you up for heart-rending ballads like “Sam Stone” and “Hello in There.” It can be such a roller coaster that even the lyrically light “Long Monday” seems like a heavy-duty painkiller. You can keep your young sad-sucker minstrels with their endless string of minor chords. I’ll take the old guy whose upbeat demeanor belies a lifetime of genuine heartache. BRIAN COOK


Shigeto, Flora FM Add to a List
Shigeto’s beat-driven electronic tracks are both energetic and chill, but it’s even more incredible to watch how they play out onstage. Instead of being the mysterious DJ behind a tower of speakers and laptop screens, Shigeto composes his music live. The result is an electro set that feels organic, and that you can watch unfurl before you. The Detroit producer/drummer’s work has shades of IDM, jazz, hip-hop, and ambient music, but it also transcends all those boxy descriptions. Shigeto will be joined by Seattle electronic artist Flora FM. JASMYNE KEIMIG


Chastity Belt In-Store Add to a List
Two days after the release of their self-titled album, post-party-punk quartet Chastity Belt will play a free, all-ages show at Easy Street while you shop for records. 


Lucky Daye Add to a List
Lucky Daye (aka David Debrandon Brown) is everything I want out of a modern soul/R&B artist. His vocals are creamy and he can hit the falsetto notes (I’m lightly reminded of Curtis Mayfield). His music is imbued with throwback elements while remaining firmly planted in the present (see stripped-back PBR&B-flavored slow jam “Love You Too Much”), and it moves between sexy and romantic sounds and subject matter (“Real Games” is a hot head-bobber with a funky-wet bass groove that I’ve had on repeat—and it has a high-quality rap break that further highlights Brown’s talents). He lands in town behind debut full-length Painted. LEILANI POLK

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