Best Music Shows

The 48 Best Music Shows in Seattle This Week: March 2-8 2020

Best Coast, High Pulp, and More Music Critics' Picks
March 1, 2020
Surf-rock favorites Best Coast will play their moody-yet-catchy jams at the Showbox on Wednesday night after a free KEXP in-studio at noon.

This week, our music critics have picked everything from Bill Frissell to High Pulp to the Queens of Noise Punk 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. Plus, check out our arts & culture critics' picks for the 68 best things to do this week.

PSA: As you're making plans to go out in Seattle, remember that it's important to always wash your hands and stay home if you're sick. Currently, there are no restrictions in place regarding events due to the coronavirus, but Governor Inslee has encouraged people, especially people over 60, to avoid large gatherings. It's a good idea to double-check event websites directly for cancellations or postponements before leaving the house.

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Little Jesus, Los Walters
Join indie-rock five-piece Little Jesus for a night of catchy dance tunes infused with pop hooks and Afrobeat rhythms galore. They'll take the stage after Los Walters on this leg of their El Camino a SXSW Tour.

Lower Dens, Ami Dang
An alt-pop band with heavy post-punk feels and a bit of woozy synthy experimentation, Lower Dens had their come-up with 2010 debut Twin-Hand Movement and a strong sophomore follow-up, Nootropics, a few years later. It's all driven by the creative, socially aware mind and distinctively higher-toned vocal qualities of singer-songwriter Jana Hunter. The group is on tour behind 2019 fourth LP The Competition, which, according to their Bandcamp page, deals with “modern capitalism and its psychotic effects” in 11 songs that “express an epiphany: you need radical and unquestioning compassion for yourself if you’re to reimagine what society could be.” Looking for something less political? Take a listen to their dark and slinky reading of old Hall & Oates chestnut “Maneater.” LEILANI POLK


Nigerian American triple-threat Davido is a singer, songwriter, and producer who has been rising in the charts since his debut with the music group KB International.



Just in time to get you excited for Comic Con season, big-city chiptune quartet Anamanaguchi will perform their signature low-bit video game sounds (or "intensely emotional digital music," as they call it) off their well-received latest album, [USA].


Aubrey Logan with the Seattle Symphony
High-powered jazz vocalist Aubrey Logan peppers her songs with bits of pop, rock, R&B, and soul for a bombastic Broadway vibe perfect for an evening of cabaret and cocktails.


Black Label Society, Obituary, Lord Dying
Heavy metal stalwart Zakk Wylde, who is perhaps best known as the lead guitarist for Ozzy Osborne, will come to Seattle with his band Black Label Society (which, fun fact, is named after Wylde's love of black label whiskey). They'll be welcomed with opening sets from Tampa death-metal band Obituary and Portland's Lord Dying. 

Uniform, The Body, Dreamdecay
New York City-based duo Uniform play "dirty, blown-out industrial heaviness with a snotty hardcore punk attitude, much like Ministry covering Minor Threat," according to Stranger music contributor Kevin Diers. They'll take over the Laser Dome with the Body and Dreamdecay. 


Bambara, Guests
Southern gothic-rock outfit Bambara has a mission to uncover everyday ugliness with their dramatically dark, Nick Cave-esque storytelling. They'll stop in Seattle on tour for their latest album, Stray. 

The Music of Cream
The original lineup playing the music of Cream featured relations of that band’s original members: Kofi Baker (son of the now-late Ginger Baker) on drums and vocals, Malcolm Bruce (Jack Bruce’s son) on bass, and Will Johns (Eric Clapton’s nephew and son of Zeppelin/Stones engineer Andy Johns) on guitar and vocals. On this 2020 iteration, it’s only Baker and Johns (there was some inner-band drama that involved Bruce being booted), joined by musicians Sean McNabb and Chris Shutters. They’re still playing Cream tunes—on this go-round, 1967’s Disraeli Gears from start (“Strange Brew”) to finish (“Mother’s Lament”)—and those will be followed by some Clapton classics. LEILANI POLK

Originally formed in Hawaii and now based in San Diego, rock trio Pepper will roll through town on their Step to the Local Motion Tour. 



Omar Sosa and Yilian Cañizares: Aguas
Grammy-nominated, Cuban-born pianist Omar Sosa will perform with violinist-vocalist Yilian Cañizares at this live set of their new collective work, Aguas, an album that pulls from the perspectives of two generations of Cuban artists living outside their homeland.



Best Coast, Mannequin Pussy
Hardcore lifelong Seattleites, take note: Best Coast are from Southern California and unabashedly proud of that fact! If you can manage to get past this, you’ll soon find appreciation for a decade-deep catalog of songs that includes catchy, Beach Boys–inspired surf-rock bops as well as moody, Beach Boys–inspired depressing surf-rock anthems. They’ll be joined tonight by Mannequin Pussy, a punk band from Philadelphia that earned praise for their 2019 album Patience. BLAIR STENVICK
The band will also play a free KEXP in-studio at noon.


Prince Royce
Dominican American songwriter Prince Royce will embark on his biggest tour yet in support of his new album, Alter Ego.



The Oregon-based sisters and bandmates have avoided the sophomore slump with their second album, Good Luck, Kids, a collection of songs highlighting the band's signature storytelling and emotional complexity.



Charlie Parker's 'Yardbird'
Jazz icon Charlie Parker gets the operatic treatment in this Seattle Opera production of Daniel Schnyder's Yardbird, a journey through limbo by Parker, who struggles to complete his last masterpiece amidst a series of flashbacks that showcases the glorious heyday of iconic NYC jazz club Birdland, as well as the failures and victories of Parker's dynamic life.



Telefon Tel Aviv
Joshua Eustis, the remaining member of New Orleans-bred, Chicago-based electronic music act Telefon Tel Aviv—whose second half, Charles Cooper, died in 2009—will come to Seattle.

Télépopmusik, DJ Kid Hops
TĂ©lĂ©popmusik is a French electronic duo that released their first album, Genetic World, in 2001. That said, I want to turn to the ghost of the jazz goddess Billie Holiday. She appears in a number of pop songs. One is Little Dragon’s “Twice,” and another is Erykah Badu’s “On & On.” Yet another is Telepopmusik’s exquisitely beautiful and existential “Breathe,” which is on that first album and was made famous by a Mitsubishi car commercial. “Another day, just breathe.” That is the most you can hope for, my friend. CHARLES MUDEDE


Bill Frisell
What more can master guitarist Bill Frisell do? Over the last 42 years, he’s finessed his way through many permutations of jazz, rock (including an album of John Lennon songs), Americana, folk, and even noise. For his new album, HARMONY (Frisell’s first for Blue Note), the revered Bainbridge Island musician explores vocal-based songwriting, with the gorgeous voice of Petra Haden (that dog., the Decemberists, etc.) augmenting his spectral ballads. Featuring several covers of chestnuts by Pete Seeger, Billy Strayhorn, Stephen Foster, and others, HARMONY may be a conservative move, but you can’t accuse Frisell of stagnating. And within the record’s parameters, he and his band (including guitarist/bassist Luke Bergman and cellist Hank Roberts) evoke an almost Twin Peaks–like vibe, a sheer reveling in hushed melodic beauty for its own sake. DAVE SEGAL


Hot Snakes, Kills Birds
Post-hardcore titans Hot Snakes' gloriously riff-intensive, weirded-up Wipers vibe expands on the unrelenting force of members' other bands Rocket from the Crypt (John Reis) and Drive Like Jehu (Reis and Rick Froberg). Hot Snakes fans have been starved since their 2011 reunion tour, with the first new record since 2004 expected on Sub Pop next year, along with the release of their discography: Audit in Progress, Suicide Invoice, and Automatic Midnight. BRITTNIE FULLER

Refused, METZ, Youth Code
As a 1980s hardcore kid, I never really sussed Refused; they ascended to relevance as a ’90s stock Victory label band into a group boasting they were “the shape of punk to come.” However, by 1998, had you been listening, their “shape” had come and gone, as they owed everything to acts like Fugazi, Helmet, and Rorschach. Still, they’re a top group for late hardcore 1990s/early aughties kids. Now, two decades after The Shape of Punk to Come, they’ve evolved into a good, contemporary, heavy, hook-filled rock band just like many ’80s-era hardcore bands did by ’87, and I’m inclined to reckon 2019’s War Music LP is their October File. MIKE NIPPER


Frances Quinlan, Mary Lattimore
Frances Quinlan, the mighty-voiced frontwoman of Philly indie-rock darlings Hop Along, will hark back to her solo days. She'll be joined by LA singer-songwriter and harpist Mary Lattimore. 
The artist will also play a free KEXP in-studio at noon.



Arturo Sandoval
Much-decorated Cuban trumpeter and classical musician Arturo Sandoval was a founding member of the Grammy Award-winning Cuban jazz fusion group Irakere, and has spent decades developing his own solo work, including a full album that interprets the romantic bolero of Armando Manzanero.



Depth: Magda & Aida
Born in Poland and raised in the techno-rich land of Detroit, electronic artist Magda (Frustrated Funk) will grace Seattle alongside Russian-born, Beijing-based DJ Aida. 

Matoma & Two Friends
Young Norwegian electronica producer, DJ, and pianist Matoma will bring the groove-heavy bass back to Seattle on his newest tour. Win and Woo will provide opening support.

NECK Presents: Youryoungbody, Yufi, Skybox, Extinction Event
Youryoungbody like it dark—real dark. The Seattle-based duo deals in heavy, synthy darkwave that is both danceable and spooky as hell. Their recent track "4ever" is lush and otherworldly with Killian Brom masterfully holding down the beats and Duh Cripe’s voice soaring over and around the music. JASMYNE KEIMIG


Rebel Souljahz
Reggae partiers and ska stalwarts Rebel Souljahz will stop in Seattle on their latest tour.


Who says the Seattle Sound isn’t inspiring musicians from around the world anymore? Shopping are a British trio that rippled out from London’s queercore scene (they have since relocated to Glasgow) and take a strong dose of inspiration from our Northwest feminist punk riot-grrrl sound. They wrote “Initiative”—the lead single off their new album, All or Nothing—in an Emerald City basement. The angular, propulsive guitar and crisp shout-sung lyrics intentionally conjure up the ghosts of Gang of Four while tackling political subjects (like the UK’s ubiquitous CCTV cameras) more discreetly than their avowedly communist predecessors. But if the personal is political, then Shopping’s identity politics more than make up for the lack of Marxist dogma. As lead guitarist Rachel Aggs said in an interview with TIDAL, "I feel really proud to be on stage and be queer, a person of color, and a female-identifying person that doesn’t necessarily present in a conventional way." GREG SCRUGGS


With a self-titled album described by The New Yorker as a combination of the "Colgate-white glisten of sixties-girl-group pop with an uncensored edge," Brooklyn psych-rock band Habibi will charm your socks off on this tour stop. 

Rick Springfield
Eighties pop-rock icon Rick Springfield will punctuate Tulalip with his irreverent showmanship and lifelong soap opera star mystique on his 2020 tour.

Tracy Bonham
Join Eugene-born, Grammy-nominated artist Tracy Bonham, best known for her 1996 single "Mother Mother," on her West Coast Tour. 

Vote with Vera ft. Dude York, Lisa Prank, Jo Passed, and More!
Get pumped for the primaries with the Washington Bus and peppy local alt-rock bands Dude York, Lisa Prank, and jo passed. 

Icelandic musician Ásgeir Trausti Einarsson crafts elegant folk music with restrained electronic elements, setting his tender, sweet, ethereal vocals against it. I’m reminded of the very first Bon Iver album, when Justin Vernon was recording all by himself in an isolated cabin in Wisconsin, and you could hear it in the songs. Ásgeir’s music has a similar feel, though it’s somehow brighter, lusher, and sexier, while still maintaining a subdued tone. His 2020 third album, Bury the Moon, is an early contender on my Best of 2020 list. LEILANI POLK



The Moondoggies, Silver Triplets of Rio Hondo, Danny Newcomb
"It's impossible to hear the Moondoggies' special brand of honky-tonk and not give in to the urge to stomp and drink and wail along. Their simple hooks in songs like 'It's Hard to Love Someone' are irresistible, but it's their plaintive four-part harmonies that truly separate them from their folk brethren and stamp them as a local treasure," wrote former Stranger music contributor Cienna Madrid. Join them for a two-night stint with special guests the Silver Triplets of Rio Hondo and Danny Newcomb. 



After a slew of singles and EPs, electronic dance music duo ARMNHMR has finally released a debut album. Rave with them after an opening set from LA EDM artist Lione on this stop of their Free World Tour. 



Tomo Nakayama, Elisha, I Love You Avalanche
Tomo Nakayama makes, if anything, deeper sense to me 16 years after I discovered him in the wake of 9/11. His music was calming folks—although I understand that isn’t his primary intention—in the shadow of 9/11, Election Day, or whatever confines us within the famous Hoodie of Dread. He’s still sensible, still tuneful, understated, urging us to look at the sky, the moon, nature, and commonplace things, commonplace feelings, even. A good friend of mine got Siri to say, “You should be satisfied with what you have,” and has no idea how he got Siri to say that. Tomo knows of what he sings, telling us to at least consider satisfaction with what we have. And then build from there. TODD HAMM


Queens of Noise Punk Festival
Alice Bag is a significant name in punk rock; she was the lead singer and cofounder of first-wave punk band the Bags, which came out of LA in the 1970s and was fronted by two women in a scene that was heavily male-dominated. She’s also a significant feminist icon who’s been a strident voice against injustice. In addition to being an educator, author (she has two books, Violence Girl: East L.A. Rage to Hollywood Stage: A Chicana Punk Story and Pipe Bomb for the Soul), and activist, she’s still churning out music speaking to current issues (see last year’s “No Gifts for Nazis”). She is appropriately headlining the Queens of Noise “female, femme, nonbinary” punk festival, which will also feature sets by nine other punk-minded lady-repped Washington-area bands spread over two stages: Ichi Bichi, Itchy Kitty, Klondike Kate, Dread on Cue, Madame Damnable, Having Issues, Post Rapture Party, the Heels, and Mallory. Proceeds benefit Peoria Home, which provides sanctuary and support for survivors of sex trafficking and prostitution. LEILANI POLK


Scottish Australian singer-songwriter Colin Hay breaks from his work with chart-topping rock band Men at Work on his new solo album, Fierce Mercy, which "[uses] a palette of pop songcraft, Americana flourishes, and soundtrack-ready strings," according to press materials. 

Known for their mid-2000s hit "Somewhere Only We Know," Sussex-formed rock band Keane will bring heavy rom-com vibes to this Seattle tour stop.

Summer Cannibals
Here's Sean Nelson with a past endorsement: "There's no delicate way to say it: Summer Cannibals fucking rule. They play with the punishing urgency of young Superchunk, songs full of power and abandon but also set alight by excellent pop instincts and shrewd songwriting. Their third album, Full of It, has been a mainstay since its 2016 release, and their live shows are exciting in a way rock bands often don't even bother aspiring to anymore. Too bad for those losers."


Drama, Ric Wilson
Chicago's Na’el Shehade and Via Rosa compose the highly danceable R&B duo Drama. Join them for a night of darkly passionate jams after an opening set from party-ready hip-hop artist Ric Wilson. 

High Pulp, Shaina Shepherd, JusMoni, Falon Sierra, DJ Stas THEE Boss
High Pulp's multitudinous members interlock with loose-limbed precision to create a nuanced amalgam of funk, jazz-fusion, and R&B. In local terms, you could consider High Pulp to be Eldridge Gravy & the Court Supreme's slightly smaller and more subdued sibling. Their music might be more suitable for the after-party and what seductions you leverage after the after-party than the party itself. But High Pulp can rock a dance club, too. Check out "Midnight Bistro"—a sleek, nocturnal electro-funk number that sounds like MandrĂ© and Grover Washington Jr. jamming in a planetarium that serves wine—and the spasmodic, action-scene funk of "Juiced." DAVE SEGAL


Balkan Night Northwest
New Orleans isn't the only place known for its Mardi Gras celebrations—Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia, Bulgaria, and other Balkan regions have their own ways of celebrating. You'll discover many of them at this music- and dance-focused event.



Shall Not Be Denied
In this statement of solidarity with women's activism, the music of American women past and present will be performed by choral group Seattle Pro Musica to mark the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the of 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution, guaranteeing women the right to vote. The program will include pieces by composers Caroline Shaw, Reena Esmail, Rosephayne Powell, Meredith Monk, and more.



Reuben & the Dark, Faux Prix
Canadian folk-rock outfit Reuben & the Dark will stop in Seattle with opening support from New Zealand expat Faux Prix. 


Celebrate Asia
Seattle Symphony will perform its annual Celebrate Asia concert, which has celebrated the traditions of Seattle's Asian communities for 12 years now. This year's concert will feature the Asian American composer and pianist Conrad Tao.


Fennesz, Britton Powell, Mamiffer
A quarter century on, Austrian guitarist/laptop musician Christian Fennesz is still creating ambient music of stoic grandeur and subliminal beauty. He debuted on record with 1995’s Instrument EP, four tracks of beatless industrial klang in the vein of early Cluster, and on subsequent early Mego releases, laced static and glitch into poignant melodies, peaking on 2001’s Endless Summer. Fennesz has spent the last two decades refining his sound into less abrasive realms while collaborating with esteemed artists such as Ryuichi Sakamoto, David Sylvian, Jim O’Rourke, and King Midas Sound. With his latest album, last year’s Agora, Fennesz has produced his most eventful work in years—ambient music of thrilling cinematic drama. Don’t miss this rare Seattle appearance by a master. DAVE SEGAL


Curl Up and Die, Heiress, Blightmaker
Formed in Las Vegas in the late '90s, the current members of metalcore band Curl Up and Die will come to Seattle with local support from Heiress and Blightmaker. 


Pup, Screaming Females, The Drew Thomson Foundation
Pup will return to Seattle and bring their Toronto bodega lifer punk to the stage, with guest sets from New Jersey indie-rock trio Screaming Females and the Canadian indie-popper Drew Thomson Foundation.