Around the holidays, Seattle's regularly stacked calendar of arts and music happenings slows down a little to make room for an abundance of light displays and other festive happenings, but it doesn't come to a stop. There are still plenty of events happening this week that our arts and music critics recommend, including the Black Tones, Monica Nevi, and Jingle All the Gay! We've compiled them all below—in one list this week, for your convenience, instead of splitting them up as we usually do into our music and arts' critics picks. You can find even more suggestions on our complete EverOut Things To Do calendar, including cheap and easy things to do this week and our list of restaurants and bars to visit before they close at the end of this year.
Jump to: Comedy | Film Events | Food & Drink Events | Theater, Dance & Drag Performances | Visual Art | Music
Collide-O-Scope: X-mess Edition
Every month is a good month to see Collide-o-Scope, but December's edition of this wildly trippy found footage extravaganza will be really festive, with Krampuses, scary Santas, unnerving animation, and other treasures—plus free popcorn, Red Vines, and prize drawings.
Be Kind, Rewind: 'Spice World'
Americano (filling in for The Stranger's own Uh Oh) and She will screen the '90s British musical fantasy Spice World, complete with performances, popcorn, drink specials, and more for maximum queer girl power.
For more recommendations, check out our list of the best movies playing in Seattle over the holidays.
Sugar Plum Gary
A misanthropic disposition combined with a strong satanist worldview distinguishes Sugar Plum Gary from other yuletide figures. Every year around this time, "somewhat beloved storyteller and comedian Emmett Montgomery" slips into a red onesie and takes the stage to give audience members completely unsolicited advice on how to best navigate the season, and it's often pretty funny if you're into dark, absurd humor. What's his favorite holiday decorating tip? In an interview with Brett Hamil in City Arts, Sugar Plum Gary gives his answer: I like to "find a dark place and put myself in a corner and wait," he says, with a creepy uncle grin. Merry Christmas. RICH SMITH
With a casual delivery, Renton native Monica Levi delivers punch lines that slyly insinuate themselves into your mind. She thrives on addressing stand-up staples: dating, sex, pot, family dynamics, the pros and cons of various places, and kids (she used to work with them and she assures you that “they’re the worst people in the world”). That employment experience convinced Nevi that she doesn’t want to have her own children. She recounts: “I took a pregnancy test the other day—not because I was scared, but because I like the feeling when it comes back negative.” DAVE SEGAL
Seattle-raised Courtney Karwal (named Sammamish High's "never naughty" student in 2007) is now based in Los Angeles, where she was named Comic to Watch at Riot. She created the Funny or Die series Check Your Surroundings. Welcome her home to perform a set in which she'll read from her high school diary.
FOOD & DRINK EVENTSMONDAY
Parol & Pulutan
Snack on festive Filipino bites and craft your own parol (a traditional Filipino lantern displayed during Christmastime).
Miracle on 2nd
In 2014, New York bar owner Greg Boehm temporarily transformed his space into a kitschy Christmas wonderland replete with gewgaws and tchotchkes galore. Now the pop-up has expanded to more than 100 locations all over the world and will be returning to Belltown’s Rob Roy this year. The specialty cocktails are no ordinary cups of cheer: Beverages are housed in tacky-tastic vessels (a drinking mug resembling Santa’s mug, for example), bedecked with fanciful garnishes like peppers and dried pineapple, and christened with irreverent, pop-culture-referencing names like the “Bad Santa,” the “Yippie Ki Yay Mother F**r,” and the “You’ll Shoot Your Rye Out.” New this year: At nearby Vinnie's Raw Bar, there will be a spin-off holiday-tiki-themed pop-up called "Sippin' Santa," which asks you to "imagine Santa on a surfboard instead of a sleigh and palm trees instead of pine." Drinks include the "Kris Kringle Colada" (dark Jamaican rum, Cynar, allspice, lime and pineapple juice, and cream of coconut) and the "Christmas Eve of Destruction" (dark overproof rum, herbal liqueur, nutmeg syrup, lime juice, and Angostura bitters). JULIANNE BELL
For Christmas Eve and Christmas Day dinner recommendations, check out our guide to where to eat out in Seattle over the holidays.
Instead of gazing at a virtual Yule log video, take your tea beside an actual roaring, crackling hearth at Hotel Sorrento’s Fireside Room, a Mad Men–worthy old-school vision in opulent ochre mahogany paneling. You can nosh on posh teatime fare—like freshly baked butter croissants, lemon scones, and chocolate beignets; cured salmon with alfalfa sprouts and herb cream cheese; and smoked ham with pimento cheese and pickles—as you sink into a squishy high-backed leather chair and enjoy sounds played on a baby grand piano. If you’re lucky, you might even spy the ghost of Alice B. Toklas, who is said to roam the halls of the hotel. JULIANNE BELL
The concept of Connect Lounge is in its title: to facilitate human connection IRL. There’s even a “Phone Free Happy Hour” on Tuesdays, where you get an extra $1 off happy hour drink prices if you stay off your phone. Their regular menu is “PNW cuisine with a little Romanian touch” (there’s only one fully Romanian appetizer, mici, grilled rolls of meat made from a mix of beef, lamb, and pork—kind of like a sausage without the skin). But once a month, owner Iulia Bejan (who moved to the United States from Romania 11 years ago) has Romanian Night, and offers six or seven authentic Romanian dishes from her mom’s recipes. According to Bejan, it’s a way to share her culture and serve a type of cuisine that is generally scarce in Seattle, but it’s also yet another way for people to connect: “We encourage conversations and being social, and the events we are doing support our vision.” The Romanian Night menu also features mici, in addition to other authentic fare, like sarmale (cabbage rolls), ciorba taraneasca (beef stew with potatoes and veggies), and tocanita de pui cu galuste (chicken and dumpling soup). Delicios! LEILANI POLK
The Dina Martina Christmas Show
Watching Seattle drag legend Dina Martina perform is a bit like having a Christmastime flu. You will sit there, confused and warm, your thoughts disassociating, a fever addling your brain, while the holiday cheer twinkles all around you. Truly there’s no performer who is more like a strong dose of Nyquil than Dina Martina. She is cozy but disorienting. You will laugh without knowing why. Take her with alcohol and double the danger. CHASE BURNS
A Christmas Carol
ACT Theatre's production of A Christmas Carol is a dependable, simple pleasure, with just enough variation to warrant returning year after year. Kelly Kitchens will direct.
No performance on Wednesday
George Balanchine's 'The Nutcracker'
If you haven't seen this Christmas classic since you were a kid, give it a go this year. In 2014, Pacific Northwest Ballet replaced its beloved Maurice Sendak set with one by Ian Falconer, who did the Olivia the Pig books, and I'm glad that they did. The new set is gorgeous in a Wes Anderson-like way, and it reflects the genuine weirdness and beauty in the story. I mean, the last 45 minutes of this thing is a Katy Perry video starring dancing desserts and a glittery peacock that moves like a sexy broken river. Bring a pot lozenge. RICH SMITH
No performance on Wednesday
A Very Die Hard Christmas
Marxiano Productions will restage last year's hit holiday musical from a script by the top-notch sketch comedy outfit the Habit (plus Jeff Schell), which peppers the rip-roaring action with songs, jokes, and more.
No performances on Tuesday or Wednesday
Jingle All the Gay!
The new performers are the standouts in Jingle All the Gay! Kitten N' Lou brought in Markeith Wiley and Randy Ford, two breakout dancers/performance artists who have been having a great couple of years performing around Seattle. Wiley plays the mailman, an important figure in any holiday story, and he's got to deliver lots of big, uh, packages. Ford plays Lil' Fruitcake, a femme voguing fruitcake who fucks shit up in the best way possible. Ford and Wiley's duets are highlights, as are the numbers from Seattle drag artist Abbey Roads, who brings solid musical theater chops and good comic timing. Also in this cast: New York City's Mr. Gorgeous, serving his uniquely tall and hilarious boylesque as the Little Drummer Boy. These favorites return, along with the UK's Reuben Kaye, plus Lola van Ella from New Orleans. CHASE BURNS
No performances Wednesday or Thursday
Land of the Sweets: The Burlesque Nutcracker
Land of the Sweets: The Burlesque Nutcracker is a lascivious holiday show experience with sugar plum fairies, exciting clothes-dropping times, and more swanky fun.
This is the world premiere of the musical Mrs. Doubtfire, a stage adaptation of the 1993 Robin Williams film. After its run in Seattle, it goes straight to Broadway. Mrs. Doubtfire is directed by Jerry Zaks, a Broadway legend who won a Tony Award for directing the revival of Guys and Dolls in 1992, and was nominated again for his revival of Hello, Dolly! with Bette Midler in 2017. CHRISTOPHER FRIZZELLE
No performances Tuesday or Wednesday
Wonderland is divided into three short acts that make up a brisk 90-minute show. Hosted by the exceedingly charismatic Jonny Boy (Jonathan Betchtel), each act gets progressively naughtier, although the most scandalous thing an audience member sees is a jock-strapped ass and bare tits covered by pasties. The show has danger, but it's found in the cancan lines that occur mere feet from audience members' dinner salads. During the third act, two dancers perform an athletic duet that—when I saw it—nearly knocked over a birthday girl's wine glass. But it didn't. Everyone whooped. CHASE BURNS
No performance Wednesday
All I Want for Christmas Is Attention
BenDeLaCreme and Jinkx Monsoon are like peanut butter and jelly. They're two great tastes that taste great together. Though they were not on the same season of RuPaul's Drag Race, they were on back-to-back seasons, a one-two punch of perfect comic timing, stunning looks, and eccentric Seattle energy. Last year, they started a new tradition: a joint holiday show. There will be singing. There will be dancing. There will be looks. There will be jokes and jabs and verbal jousting. There will be... okay, look, I don't know what there will be, because I've never seen this show before. But I can tell you it's selling out like crazy. CHRISTOPHER FRIZZELLE
No show on Wednesday
The Christmas Killings at Corgi Cliffs
Butch Alice once again stars as Becky June Beasley-Jones in Scot Rigsby Augustson's drag-filled send-up of Agatha Christie-type whodunits, directed by Jasmine Joshua (artistic director of Reboot Theatre Company).
No show on Wednesday
Head Over Heels
Tunes by the Go-Go's [sic] pepper this musical loosely based on a 16th-century narrative poem by Sir Philip Sidney. A royal family learns of a fateful prophecy that may disrupt "the Beat" that supplies the rhythm to their kingdom. Jeff Whitty (Avenue Q, Bring It On: The Musical, the screenplay for Can You Ever Forgive Me?) wrote the book and lyrics.
Kink, luxury, and avant-garde fashion combine in Valtesse's signature style at this "futuristic sex dream" of a cabaret. Be sure to dress in red or black cocktail attire.
VISUAL ART — LAST CHANCES
These shows are closing this week. For more recommendations, check out our list of the best art shows in Seattle this winter.
Chantal Gibson, Brenetta Ward, Storme Webber, Moses Sun: Installations
This cycle, Wa Na Wari brings us stellar works from four Pacific Northwest artists. In the same vein as her own work, Vancouver-based artist-educator Chantal Gibson’s piece allows visitors to make redaction poetry from problematic historical texts about James Baldwin. Seattle-based Brenetta Ward is a third-generation quilter and will present her beautifully patterned pieces to the space. There’s an installation from multimedia artist Moses Sun, who explores blackness in his work. And Two Spirit, Alutiiq/Black/Choctaw interdisciplinary artist Storme Webber debuts Home of Good: A Black Seattle Storyquilt, the result of a collaboration between her and educator Dr. Maxine Mimms. JASMYNE KEIMIG
This group exhibition promises "lusciously packed surfaces, playful personal narratives, [and] deliciously indulgent use of material and other forms of escape." It brings together work by a number of celebrated local painters and sculptors like Nikita Ares, Brian Beck, Dawn Cerny, Warren Dykeman, Alfred Harris, Ken Kelly, and Brian Sanchez, as well as distinguished out-of-towners Heather Wilcoxon, Andrew Hendrixson, Damien Hoar de Galvan, Sharon Louden, Maya Strauss, and Molly Zuckerman-Hartung.
Margaret Chodos-Irvine: Corral
Chodos-Irvine joins 12 identical white men's dress shirts into cloth rings in this examination of the "psychological shell" provided by formal garments. These interesting soft sculptures evoke questions of language, culture, connection, and self-protection.
Shift Artist Members Group Show: Best of Shift
Discover some of the finest work from the 21 members of this artist-run gallery, like Ken Barnes, Leah Gerrard, Patrice Donohue, and other talents.
Miracle on Howell St: Tony H., Blueyedsoul, DGW, Sharlese
The legendary nightclub/theater venue Re-Bar will be just as magical and wish-granting as Santa Claus at the eighth annual iteration of this party inspired by the holiday classic Miracle on 34th Street. Dance the night away to local DJs, including Tony H, blueyedsoul, Sharlese, and Dane Garfield Wilson.
Korean contemporary classical musician Yiruma will combine melodious Korean compositions with inspirational holiday pieces.
Home for the Holidays - Night 2
For the eighth year in a row, locally renowned jazz musicians will take over the Royal Room for two nights over the Christmas season for this beloved series of holiday standards. Tonight's show will feature Kammy Yedor, Isaac Poole, Aidan Siemann, Raphael Zimmerman, and Carter Eng.
She Wants Revenge, the Guidance
She Wants Revenge’s licentious, Joy Division–worshipping “Tear You Apart” was 2006’s wet-dream deep cut for hip clubsters to get their American Apparel–clad freak on. The Los Angeles duo answered their eponymous debut album with This Is Forever the following year. Now in 2019, after a seven-year hiatus—save for a few “we’re still alive” anniversary shows—they’re avenging their sophomore, tear-stained opus on their This Is Forever Tour. Pre-rage this electro-seductive banger by cranking up the nostalgia (I’ll be blasting Fischerspooner’s “Emerge”) to get in the mood and tear away from the holiday hangovers and into this mid-aughts reunion. ZACH FRIMMEL
Blind Boys of Alabama Holiday Show
The legendary, multi-Grammy-winning Southern gospel, blues, and soul group plays four nights starting right after Christmas. Based on the show’s title, the set list will likely skew heavy on festive selections (they have a few holiday albums, the last being 2014’s Talkin' Christmas!). But the Blind Boys of Alabama have been active going on 80 years and have a vast catalog, so there’s sure to be other offerings, too. BBOA are currently led by sole original surviving member, vocalist Jimmy Carter, with heavy backup from the group’s other singers (Ricky McKinnie, Ben Moore, and Paul Beasley), guitarist and musical director Joey Williams, and a full band that includes players on bass, drums, and keys. Be prepared to be moved and uplifted. These dudes are gonna take you to church, in a good way. LEILANI POLK
Christopher Ledger, Succubass, Slope
Rome/Berlin-based DJ/producer Christopher Ledger makes his Seattle debut, and it should be a heady night. His cerebral tech-house tracks abound with intriguing ambient tones and neoclassical piano motifs. Intelligent, psychedelic sound design rule in Ledger’s productions, which often recall Ricardo Villalobos’s oblique melodies and gliding and skittering rhythms. Succubass (aka Jessica Duran) has become one of Seattle’s most savvy and eclectic selectors, excelling at techno, breaks, and drum & bass. DAVE SEGAL
Get sweaty at the club with Finnish dance music artist Darude on this winter tour stop.
Don McGreevy, Skerik, Crystal Beth
You should know multi-instrumentalist Don McGreevy from his left-of-center work with Master Musicians of Bukkake, Earth, and Sulphuric. He also excels at drone-based compositions for large ensembles and as a solo artist. For the latter mode, check his 2015 album Aichmophobia, which explores kosmische territories in the realm of Popol Vuh and György Ligeti. Skerik is an insanely prolific and diverse saxophonist/keyboardist who’s taken artistic risks in dozens of bands. No telling what tricks he’ll pull here. Crystal Beth is the stage moniker of veteran improvisational clarinetist/singer Beth Fleenor, who’s played with Terry Riley, David Byrne, and many other luminaries. On her new album, Push Thru, she flexes glossolalia-laced vocals in alpha-female modes, like a Pacific Northwest Yoko Ono or Urszula Dudziak, and transfers her skills into art songs that sometimes rock, sometimes trance out, and sometimes float enigmatically. DAVE SEGAL
Dâm-Funk, Nosaj Thing, Machinedrum
My favorite YouTube comment on the fog-enshrouded video for Dâm-Funk’s laid-back West Coast jam “We Continue” is simply this: “Medicinal!” If you’re in search of music to un-crease your brow, look no further than the Pasadena synth-funk maestro also known as Damon Riddick. Over three albums and countless singles, he's collaborated with everyone from Slave’s Steve Arrington to Ariel Pink. As Riddick told Resident Advisor in 2010, “Funk is not a fad—it's a way of life.” To judge by their discographies, musician-producers Nosaj Thing (Jason Chung) and Machinedrum (Travis Stewart), who've loaned their expertise to Kendrick Lamar and Solange, feel exactly the same way. KATHY FENNESSY
Yuki Aoki Quintet
Seattle jazz chanteuse Yuki Aoki will perform with her talented quintet, which includes Darian Asplund on saxophone and Matt Williams on piano.
The Black Tones
KEXP’s Audioasis DJ Eva Walker and her brother Cedric know how to punkify the blues and blues-ify the punk. If you’ve ever witnessed their high-octane rock and roll shows and the dynamic of Eva’s infectious and idiosyncratic quirks matched with the band’s avalanche-like force, then you know you can’t experience their shows enough. Their 2019 chart-topping Cobain and Cornbread is easily one of the strongest full-lengths (a debut at that!) to come out of Seattle this year—not to mention one of the more culturally salient bands to break out in the rock genre right before the new decade. ZACH FRIMMEL
Darkside - Decade of Dance! (Celebrating 2010-2019)
DJs will cram 10 years of goth, industrial, and otherwise dark synthy club jams into one night.
Depth: Pearson Sound
Hessle Audio co-owner Pearson Sound (aka British producer/DJ David Kennedy, aka Ramadanman) has been an important tastemaker and creative presence in global dance-music culture for the past decade. Eight years ago in these pages, I wrote that Kennedy is “known for his labyrinthine rhythms and sophisticated sound palette in the future-bass petri dish of experimentation. Amid all the brainy beat convolutions and exploratory textures, Pearson Sound infuses a soulfulness that keeps things from getting clinical.” All of that holds true today. This Depth event might be the smartest way this month to sweat off your holiday overindulgences. DAVE SEGAL
Taylar Elizza Beth, Astro King Phoenix, sunking, Dero
Los Angeles–based rapper Taylar Elizza Beth (aka Taylar White) has a distinct, low voice that pairs well with her dark and ethereal beats, evoking both jewel-toned velvet and glimmering platinum. It’s perfect to lounge to in a mesh jumpsuit while smoking a giant blunt. Her latest release, Ripening, is a heady and entrancing foray into her universe: “Countdown to Chaos” is a beguiling, trippy, slowed-down track, while “Blah!” featuring DoNormaal makes me want to get into someone’s face. TEB will be joined by LA-based rapper Astro King Phoenix, experimental group sunking, and Dero. JASMYNE KEIMIG
31st Anniversary Concert of Duke Ellington’s Sacred Music
This is the annual concert of Sacred Music by Duke Ellington. Ellington was, of course, the greatest and most creative figure of the big band era. He had, one could argue, three main musical projects: One was the production of dance-hall hits, two was the production of serious black music (music that would represent the 400-year history of African descendants in the world that was new to Europeans), and three was the production of pieces that expressed his religious/existential feelings. Tonight is devoted to the third, and in many ways most profound, of Ellington's projects. Anyone who has heard his composition "Come Sunday" instantly understands that Ellington felt God as something that's inside and not outside of (or remote from) the human experience. He was, in short, a Spinozist. And so was, for that matter, John Coltrane. The theology of Spinoza, a 17th-century Dutch Jewish philosopher, has many features that agree with jazz spirituality. The Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra will stage the program joined by guest vocalists Dr. Stephen Newby and Nichol Veneé Eskridge, plus tap dancer (and SRJO saxophonist) Alex Dugdale and the Northwest Chamber Chorus (under director Mark Kloepper). CHARLES MUDEDE
LeRoy Bell & His Only Friends, Alec Shaw
Local singer-songwriter LeRoy Bell has risen through the ranks of the Seattle music scene with his smoky voice and command of rock, blues, and soul. He'll be playing with his backing band His Only Friends.
Lindstrom and the Limit, Heather Edgley
Aaron Lindstrom’s trio, first formed in 2015, has metastasized into a nine-piece. With so much firepower onstage, the band juggles a variety of sounds: alternative, soul, rock, and folk. The local boys have done pretty darn good in just a short stretch of time. They sold out the High Dive for the release of their newest album, Estate Sale!, and the bookers at Neumos must have taken notice, as Lindstrom and the Limit are headlining Capitol Hill’s big room for the first time. The Neumos stage should give plenty of room to roam, especially on funky numbers like “Hot Butter” that are sure to get the pre–New Year’s crowd moving. GREGORY SCRUGGS
Country Holiday Hangover: The Lowdown Drifters, Darci Carlson, Santa Poco
The Lowdown Drifters play heavy, Northwest-tinged country direct from Stanwood, WA, and will be joined by Darci Carlson and Santa Poco for this "country holiday hangover" show.
Zony Mash and Skerik Band
A good rule of thumb is to check out any band named after a song by New Orleans funk legends the Meters. Ergo, you need to hear Seattle's Zony Mash, a veteran collective headed by master keyboardist Wayne Horvitz, whose career could give most musicians discography envy; he was a favorite of John Zorn's, for one. Zony Mash have shown a durable ability to maximize excitement in the realms of jazz and funk, combining virtuosity with passion in order to bestow you high-quality, feel-good music. And, oh man, do you need to hear their riotous cover of Pharoah Sanders's "Upper Egypt & Lower Egypt." DAVE SEGAL