Often cities have things they’re famous for, something that’s ubiquitous to the town name. Orlando has Disney World, New York City never sleeps, Nashville and country music. Up until the last ten years when Microsoft and Amazon moved into town changing Seattle’s vibe, our legacy was Nirvana. The grunge era started in the rainy city and spread like wildfire across the United States. Music in Seattle didn’t die with Curt Cobain, it’s still here alive and well. You just need to know where to look.
It’s been swallowed up with the recent development of high rises, caramel macchiatos, and techies. If you dig deep enough you can uncover the soul that made this town. The great thing about live events is that you can catch them everywhere from world-class historical theaters to funky local coffee shops.
Click on theater titles for a calendar of events.
- Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley Seattle, Dimitriou’s has been a staple here for 30 years. Pick any act off the calendar and it will not disappoint. It’s a swanky affair, so leave your jeans at home and get dressed up for a night out. The food is a bit pricey and you can probably have a better dinner elsewhere but come early to get a good spot. Choose between seating downstairs or in the mezzanine, everyone has a view of the show whether it’s side or center. The music is set up well, with just the right with a fabulous sound that won’t send you home with hearing loss. Dining in just for dessert and or drinks is available and it’s all ages, except for the bar. Bring your teenagers for an unforgettable night out and teach them what good music is. This venue has had a number of famous acts through the years and won’t disappoint.
- Egan’s Ballard Jam House Ballard, Egan’s is an old school intimate venue small enough to entertain only 35 people. It’s so much fun to see a local band close up in such a small space. The bands decide the door fee, usually around $10. Egan’s is all ages until 11:00 p.m. which is usually when the bands stop playing anyway, impress your kids with an exceptional night out. With everything growing and changing it’s nice to know these little spots are still here in pockets. Check the schedule before you come, they’re closed Sunday – Tuesday and close on nights when they don’t have performances.
- Paramount Theater is Seattle’s most opulent, historic theater originally built in 1928. The Paramount is a classically beautiful Seattle theater that has been a place of inspiration and creativity for 91 years. The gold-leafed interior is hand painted, enormous chandeliers dripping with crystals hang overhead. The Paramount shows all types of entertainment from rock bands to orchestras, plays, and musicals. Choose from multiple mezzanine balconies allowing every seat to have clear views of the performers.
- The Neptune Theater Seattle, The Neptune is another classic theater originally built in 1920. The theater doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of the Paramount, but the sound quality and the shows are first class. Originally built as a single screen movie theater it continued as a theater all the way up until 2011 when the building changed hands to the Seattle Theater Group. It was converted to a multi-use theater with a state-of-the-art sound system and now plays a variety of shows, music, and theater.
- The Showbox Seattle has been around since 1939, this place has lived through dozens of music genres. it’s a fantastic, mid-sized venue, the stage is visible from everywhere on the floor with areas for seating and dancing. Come early to get a bite and a reasonably priced drink at the historic, Kerns Music Shop next door, they’ll let you in ahead of the crowd if you’re waiting for a show.
- Tractor Tavern Ballard, don’t let the name fool you, the Tractor Tavern plays a wide variety of genres, including country music. In Seattle that can be a rarity. It’s a small venue with exposed brick and wooden accents and affordable entrance fees, usually under $20. Check the calendar for nights with free entry.
- Soul Food Coffee House Redmond, this is the quintessential coffee shop, exactly what you would expect out of the Pacific Northwest. Soul Food serves organic coffee right off the bike trail next to the Sammamish River. It has a cute little artistic gift shop filled with trinkets from local and global artists. Local talent regularly plays guitar on their little stage, perfect for low key, unplugged listening, also open for poetry nights. There’s a children’s area to keep your little ones happy while you relax and listen to free live music.
- The Lime Kirkland, keep an eye on the events calendar, they tend to host live music once a weekend. The Lime is a neighborhood favorite bar with rave reviews from loyal followers. It’s definitely a dive bar, no theater clothes needed. You can doubly entertain yourself by playing darts and pool while watching the band.
No matter what type of venue you’re looking for and what your budget is, there are a number of options in and around Seattle, from coffee shops to theaters. Check calendars often to find your jam.