Our Music Critics’ Picks for This Week

David Crosby—the well-weathered mellow jammer of Crosby, Stills & Nash—will
come to the Neptune on Saturday.

Artist photo

This week, our music critics have picked everything from English punk and leather pants icon Billy Idol to Portland singer-songwriter Kyle Craft to Lizzo and Carly Rae Jepsen at Bumbershoot. 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.

Found something you like and don’t want to forget about it later? Click “Save Event” on any of the linked events below to add it to your own private list.

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MONDAY


ELECTRONIC

Drab Majesty, Xeno & Oaklander, Body of Light
Last night my girlfriend was telling me about a certain ill-fated coworker campout she attended last year that devolved into group hysterics for the exact variety of reasons that you’d expect from a 10-person camping trip of over-served and under-supported restaurant employees. She said she weathered their group drama by doing coke and reading vampire fiction alone in her tent. There is truly no better environment I can imagine for listening to the dark tinkling of Drab Majesty than a coked-up fantasy tent, unless you can get your hands on Morgana’s ice cave from The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea. DM pound their linked string and percussion tracks into metallic chimes—smooth, chilly renderings of what electro-goth-shoegaze music could look like in and outside of ’80s pop culture restrictions. And what’s more ’80s-gaze revival than icy, churning beats amid an extra line and a tale with some teeth? KIM SELLING

TUESDAY


BLUES/COUNTRY/FOLK

Ghost Town Whistlers, Jessie Thoreson, Bart Budwig, Hannah Abrams
Seattle psychedelic folk-rock five-piece Ghost Town Whistlers will share a bill with fiddle-playing solo artist Jessie Thoreson, “cosmic country lawn gnome” Bart Budwig, and piano-pop groover Hannah Abrams.

TUESDAY-WEDNESDAY


JAZZ

Otis Taylor Band
My introduction to Otis Taylor was his third album, 2001’s White African. He’s from Colorado, but he took hill-country blues to heart, droning wickedly and refusing to change chords, except exactly where it would break the listener’s mind. He sang in the voice of a black man framed for a murder, lynched, doomed to roam railroad tracks and the wilderness alongside them as a ghost, trying in vain—and already losing hope—that anyone would ever hear. Well, that cost me a few winks. The more recent album is called Fantasizing About Being Black, so his humor is still obstinately corrosive, and over the years he’s added drums, trumpet, and a few other not-strictly-blues touches. But he’s still singing about death. About running, running, and don’t look back unless you want to see your last muzzle flash. ANDREW HAMLIN

WEDNESDAY


OPERA

Rigoletto
The powerful men charged with sexual assault in the #MeToo era are doing just fine. Seattle Opera’s production of Giuseppe Verdi’s Rigoletto is here to show us it was ever thus, and that it shall ever be so long as we continue to uphold longstanding social and political norms around consent, harassment, and male power. Rigoletto is a classic opera based on a Victor Hugo play called Le roi s’amuse. The story follows the Duke of Mantua on his various sexual conquests. He loves cuckolding courtiers while his court jester, Rigoletto, mocks the cucks. But shit hits the fan when the Duke goes after Rigoletto’s own daughter, Gilda. To exact revenge, Rigoletto puts out a hit on the Duke, but it all goes horribly wrong. Director Lindy Hume updates Verdi’s opera by replacing jolly old misogynists in codpieces with men in suits in executive offices, calling greater attention to the violence against women and the power imbalance. The aesthetics and tone of Hume’s production, she says, were inspired by Silvio Berlusconi’s “bunga bunga” sex parties, which were detailed by national outlets in 2013. RICH SMITH

ROCK/POP

Generationals, Pure Bathing Culture
Generationals make music that could easily soundtrack a car commercial (a shiny-new Subaru snakes through desert roads without getting dusty as the sun sets on the horizon), but that’s not a snub; the power-pop, New Wave-y duo are masters of hooks and will have you dancing into your second summer wind. They’ll be joined by elegant indie-pop group Pure Bathing Culture.

Molly Burch, Jackie Cohen
Earlier this year, Texas singer Molly Burch came through Seattle on tour with Australian lounge lizard Alex Cameron. It makes sense—his slick, seedy persona pairs well with her dusty, Americana melancholy. But now, Burch is back with a tour of her own! There’s a certain husky, yearning, and haunted quality to her voice that, if you’re not listening closely, you might think she’s Angel Olsen. Her most recent record, First Flower, is a dreamy listen—“Wild” has a bright, slightly surf-rock mood; “First Flower” unfurls in front of you like a winding, spindly road along the rocky coast with its reverb-y guitar and soaring melodies. God, everything good just sounds like California to me, sometimes. JASMYNE KEIMIG

Skillet, Sevendust, Pop Evil, Devour the Day
Tennessee-formed Christian rock band Skillet will bring their zealous power chords to town on their Victorious War Tour. Michigan’s Pop Evil and Devour the Day will provide additional support. 

Valley Queen
The organizers say, “Valley Queen front woman Natalie Carol leads a band reminiscent of Fleetwood Mac and My Morning Jacket with vocals evocative of Florence Welch.” If any of those artists make your ears perk up, don’t miss the LA quartet in Seattle with local indie-pop band Coach Phillips. 

THURSDAY


FUNK/REGGAE

Stephen Marley, DJ Shacia Payne
The winding road of musical history is paved with the sons and daughters of icons, who (often through nepotism, sometimes with talent) gave a shot at their own careers, never to step out from the shadow of their legendary parents (see: Sean Lennon, that poor so-and-so). What sets reggae icon Bob Marley’s brood apart is their undeniable hit-making abilities: Damian’s blistering ‘Welcome to Jamrock’ was pretty much inescapable the summer it was released, and Stephen’s a Grammy-winning, critically lauded artist in his own right. His is a dressed-up, omnivorous take on reggae, incorporating hiphop drum breaks, record scratches, and pop-leaning female backup singers, along with the requisite mentions of Jah. It’s sort of a globalized, millennial take on reggae, and while it lacks the rootsy charm of his father’s classic records, it’s nice to see the Marley clan doing their own thing and doing it well. KYLE FLECK

METAL/PUNK

The Varukers, Generation Decline, Open Veins, Nightfeeder
Though they formed in 1979, the Varukers are a proper early-1980s UK hardcore band. They play fucking LOUD and FAST while hollering the basic truths about “Another Religion Another War” and asking “How Can Your Conscience Allow This to Go On?” Welp, since not much has changed, 40 years on, they’re still angry and they’re still playing loud and fast!! Sorted as openers tonight are Bremerton’s killer thrash group Generation Decline, whose sound lovingly leans into sweet, classic late-’80s Raw Power–era Stooges riffage; Open Veins, local dual-guitar shredders who’ll kill it, early-’80s hardcore style; and Nightfeeder. MIKE NIPPER

ROCK/POP

The National, Alvvays
Beast gives us what the National have always given us: the musical equivalent of reveling in anxiety-depression, a mental condition common among urbanites. On the record, Bryan Devendorf’s busy drums provide a foundation of nervous energy, Berninger’s melancholy mumbles croon over the top, and then the twins (Aaron and Bryce Dessner) command the guitars to flourish in fits or else swell to bursting to release all the pent-up angst. In keeping up with the times, the Dessners incorporated into this record subtle, intricately arranged electronic sounds, but they didn’t mess too much with the general formula. RICH SMITH

Seattle Sounds Summer Concert Series
Sip wine and listen to live music from Tomo Nakayama amidst Dale Chihuly’s glass creations.

SOUL/R&B

Electric Circus
Eclectic keyboardist Wayne Horvitz’s hydra-headed, all-star ensemble will be recording a live album and video shoot at his Columbia City venue the Royal Room. Joining the award-winning virtuoso will be avant-garde saxophonists Skerik and Kate Olson, clarinetist/vocalist Beth Fleenor, percussionist Thione Diop, Diminished Men guitarist Simon Henneman, and others. Electric Circus’s raison d’être is covering the music of important artists from decades past. For this special occasion, they’ll be ingeniously interpreting songs by Miles Davis, Sun Ra, James Brown, Funkadelic, the Clash, Dr. John, Captain Beefheart, Bob Marley, and several others. DAVE SEGAL

THURSDAY-FRIDAY


ROCK/POP

Kyle Craft & Co.
Portland-based singer-songwriter Kyle Craft purveys Southern-flavored glam rock that falls somewhere on the spectrum between Elton John and Ty Segall (the spectrum is wide, okay?). There’s a grandness to his music, but it still retains a sort of garage sensibility. Like a hand on which jeweled rings adorn every finger, gripping a glass full of the cheapest Kentucky whiskey in the bar. If that makes sense. His third and latest release, this year’s Showboat Honey, is full of gems like “Broken Mirror Pose” and “2 Ugly 4 NY”; both songs possess the sort of charm that’s best enjoyed while driving with the windows down. During his two-night Tractor Tavern run, he’ll be playing his 2016 debut, Dolls of Highland, in its entirety the first night, and Showboat Honey on the second. JASMYNE KEIMIG

FRIDAY


DJ

100% That Queen
Local drag performers will join you for a dance party paying tribute to Lizzo and her divine contemporaries.

ROCK/POP

Billy Idol
William Michael Albert Broad, aka Billy Idol, is 63 years old, but you better believe that sneer hasn’t aged a bit. Coming up in the original English punk scene, Idol was a founding member of Generation X—the first band to play the iconic venue the Roxy (it was also their first show) and one of the first punk bands to play on the BBC’s Top of the Pops. I always admired that Idol and co.’s interpretation of the P-word was less militant and political than was fashionable at the time, and that they were unapologetically more into big-time rock ’n’ roll than their Beatles-and-Stones-dissing peers. This also factors into Idol’s solo career and penchant for showmanship, which lean toward something I think of as “Punk: The Musical.” Yes, it’s leather pants and cross earrings, but it’s also elaborate lights, costume changes, and well-done makeup. EMILY NOKES

Of The Heavy Sun, Asterhouse, PHOOD
Roam the deserts of your mind with Seattle psychedelic rockers Of the Heavy Sun. Or, just sit comfortably in reality while you dance to new songs from their sophomore release at this show with Kenmore’s Asterhouse and fellow local rockers PHOOD. 

Shonen Knife, Me Like Bees, Ichi Bichi, The Fucking Eagles
Shonen Knife have always been the coolest of the cool and super fun, like the MOST SUPER FUN. They started in the 1980s as a bright, pristine, contemporary underground articulation of a pop-art-inspired 1960s girl group; they were catchy and raw, yet sweet and slightly bubblegum, but earnest. They’re the band the Ramones wanted to be if the Ramones had been able to literally morph into the girl groups they worshiped. Shonen Knife are the fucking best, so go see them and buy all their records, because everyone wants a Shonen Knife to love them. MIKE NIPPER

somesurprises, Darto, Bad Luck
Dreamy local electro-folk quartet somesurprises will headline after opening sets from moody, psychedelic shoegaze outfit Darto and saxophone-heavy duo Bad Luck.

SOUL/R&B

Aloe Blacc
Remember How to Make It in America, that HBO show about pants? The theme song, “I Need a Dollar,” is from hip-hop/R&B artist Aloe Blacc’s popular sophomore album Good Things. Since then, the artist has collaborated with Pharrell Williams and has earned a Grammy nomination for Best R&B Album. Catch him at the Evergreen State Fair.

VARIOUS

PAX West Nerd Music Showcase
Stretch out your PAX mood beyond the confines of the festival with a night of nerdy live music and performances from Schaffer the Darklord (who describes himself in his Facebook bio as “a Frankenstein-esque monster assembled from equal parts Bill Hicks, Adam Yauch, Joey Ramone and Prince, stitched together inside the shell of a maniacal heavy metal ex-patriot”), Lex the Lexicon Artist, Miss Eaves, Techno Mage, D&D Sluggers, Death*Star, MC Ohm-I, and Nikola Whallon. 

FRIDAY-SATURDAY


ELECTRONIC

Depth 3-Year Anniversary: Zenker Brothers
The banging techno monthly Depth celebrates its third year of partying hard and smart with Munich, Germany’s Zenker Brothers, who will be making their Seattle debut. Dario and Marco purvey deep, heady techno, in keeping with Depth’s aesthetic. For this 12-hour blowout, Depth’s brain trust has also booked Denver-based master of zoned techno Alex Whittier, and several local luminaries from the secondnature, Tremulant, and TUF crews. Rest up, hydrate, and prepare for an onslaught of transportive electronic music till brunchtime. DAVE SEGAL

ROCK/POP

Northwest Psych Fest 2019
Now in its sixth year, Peter Koslik and Nick Arthur’s Northwest Psych Fest does an excellent job showcasing local and international talent on a small budget. Their connections with the Mexican psych-rock underground again pay dividends with Dorotheo and Los Dug Dugs bringing their transportive, melodious songs to the Sunset. In the 1970s, this Mexican group (LDD) forged a canon ablaze with artfully brutal rock and gritty earworms. Their songs wield a galvanizing power combined with a melodic brilliance that’s rarely heard these days. Other highlights include polyglot avant-rock dynamos Diminished Men and epic outer-limits jammers WEEED. It’s a loaded bill to get loaded to, for sure. DAVE SEGAL

Steve Miller Band, Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives
Steve Miller, the king of classic rock FM radio, brings his whole band to the rolling banks of Chateau Ste. Michelle for a whole evening of flying like an eagle with Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives.

FRIDAY-SUNDAY


BLUES/COUNTRY/FOLK

Dave Matthews Band, Lettuce, Gov’t Mule
Birkenstock-rock legend and #1 dad bod Dave Matthews performs all three days of Labor Day Weekend for the 28th anniversary of his band and in promotion of his latest studio album.

JAZZ

Maceo Parker
Soulful saxophonist Maceo Parker has spent decades exploring and rewriting the history of funk in collaborations with icons like James Brown, George Clinton, and Prince, while simultaneously honing his own brand of creative showmanship.

VARIOUS

Bumbershoot 2019
Bumbershoot, Seattle’s biggest music, comedy, and arts festival, will take over Seattle Center for Labor Day Weekend 2019 for the 49th year. Major touring artists (Lizzo, Carly Rae Jepsen, the Lumineers, Taking Back Sunday, Bea Miller) will take the same stages as local talents (Y La Bamba, the Dip) across the music, art, and comedy spectrums, with a special food selection known as B-Eats.

SATURDAY


BLUES/COUNTRY/FOLK

Keith Urban, Russell Dickerson
Terrible pop country is the gas station coffee of music. Yeah, it doesn’t taste great and that corn syrup creamer is going to make my stomach churn at some point, but on a long drive those cheesy sentiments beat you over the head with straight-forward lyrics about pickup trucks and pouring rain, and choruses I can sing along to before the song is over will keep me awake and entertained. Keith Urban deals in this much-maligned realm; the Australian celeb hubby of Nicole Kidman sings about falling in love in the back of a cop car (“The blue lights were shinin’/Bringing out the freedom in your eyes”) and stands in a photo on his album cover in the middle of a cornfield. It’s all a problematic fantasy world, a flawed fairy-tale version of the country sung by someone who didn’t grow up here, but sometimes it feels good to sing along. ROBIN EDWARDS

The Wild Feathers, Racoma
Neon cowboys the Wild Feathers will bring their lush harmonies and ’70s-style eerie twang to town after a warm-up set from sunny Seattle alt-rockers Racoma. 

DJ

JK POP! PAX Party
Bop around to Japanese and Korean intergalactic pop music over PAX weekend with DJs Hostboi, Mooncakes, Yung Futon, and Toya B. Kylie Mooncakes, Ümlaut, and Rylee Raw will also be performing some cute and nerdy drag numbers.

Pink Party 11
This is it: the boss fight of queer geek parties, and one of the main reasons we look forward to PAX every year. Relax in the “Gayming Lounge” with geek-themed drink specials, participate in a massive cosplay contest with serious cash prizes, and dance all night long with host Arson Nicki.

ELECTRONIC

Quantic, J-Justice
I am kind of in love with Quantic. The music is classy, rich, and lovely while maintaining a danceable grooviness. Will Holland—the DJ, producer, and multi-instrumentalist (guitar, bass, double bass, piano, organ, saxophone, accordion, percussion) who leads the project—draws on elements of funk, jazz, soul, cumbia, salsa, bossa nova (the latter three likely from the seven years he lived Colombia before relocating to NYC), plus some trip-hop, lounge music, and electro. It’s bright and heady and fun, but also feels like what you might hear at a late-night cannabis lounge in Amsterdam. The prolific artist’s new album, Atlantic Oscillations, was recorded with all live musicians, has a vague, pleasant disco feel in songs like “September Blues” (although “Motivic Retrograde” feels straight out of West Africa), and is just as sublime as I’ve come to expect from Quantic. LEILANI POLK

JAZZ

Jovino Santos Neto Quinteto
Join Brazilian pianist and composer Jovino Santos Neto and his quintet for an evening of jazz. 

ROCK/POP

Coley Mixan, World Record Winner Izaac Mellow, Superstar Watcher
Don’t miss a night out with queer musicians Coley Mixan, World Record Winner, izaac mellow, and superstar watcher, who will all apparently be “exploring themes of sports.” 

David Crosby and Friends
I’d be okay if Croz just busted out the golden troubadour psychedelia of If I Could Only Remember My Name in its entirety, and then encored with some Byrds songs he wrote or cowrote (e.g., “Eight Miles High,” “Everybody’s Been Burned,” “I See You,” “Draft Morning,” “Why?”). But of course he’ll dip into the hit-heavy catalog of Crosby, Stills & Nash, because enough sweet, mellow jams reside there to keep a theater full of Boomers and their offspring content for hours. While he may not hit those high, silky notes as gracefully anymore, Crosby’s voice has weathered the decades well. Come for the timeless, glowing melodies, stay for the tales of ye olde rock aristocracy from the ’60s and ’70s. DAVE SEGAL

Friend Fest 2
Local bands, artists, and vendors will gather for an all-day benefit for Colectiva Legal del Pueblo, a non-profit organization that provides legal assistance to families at risk of deportation. Music acts so far include jo passed, Whitney Ballen, Tomo Nakayama, iji, and many more. Featured vendors will include art, vintage clothing, and Ingo Bingo’s Vegan Ice Cream Emporium.

The Intelligence, Constant Lovers, Quid Quo
Lars Finberg refuses to stop pumping out great rock, 16 years into his tenure as the Intelligence’s mastermind. The 2011 Stranger Music Genius—now a California resident—keeps his winning streak going with Un-Psychedelic in Peavey City, a typically sardonic title for songs that find Finberg and company purveying alluringly prickly music and wry lyrics. LP opener “L’appel Du Vide” sets the bar high with a funky rhythm nicked off Billy Squier’s “The Big Beat” and caustically spangling guitars that recall the mighty This Heat. It represents a new peak for the Intelligence’s 10-album catalog, and leads a collection of songs that, against the odds, make rock seem barbed and mysterious.  DAVE SEGAL

Sponge, Purusa, Stereo Embers
Rooted in ’70s glam-rock and their Motor City contemporaries like the Stooges and the MC5, Detroit rock band Sponge are back on tour for the 25th anniversary of their first major album, Rotting Piñata. They’ll stop in Seattle with support from Purusa and Stereo Embers.

VARIOUS

blink-182, Lil Wayne, Neck Deep
Pop-punk Peter Pans Blink-182 will join forces with booked and busy rap king Lil Wayne for maybe not the summer mash-up tour we wanted, but the summer mash-up tour we deserve. Welsh pop-punk group Neck Deep will support all tour dates.

SATURDAY-SUNDAY


ROCK/POP

The Intelligence, Steal Shit Do Drugs
Lars Finberg refuses to stop pumping out great rock, 16 years into his tenure as the Intelligence’s mastermind. The 2011 Stranger Music Genius—now a California resident—keeps his winning streak going with Un-Psychedelic in Peavey City, a typically sardonic title for songs that find Finberg and company purveying alluringly prickly music and wry lyrics. LP opener “L’appel Du Vide” sets the bar high with a funky rhythm nicked off Billy Squier’s “The Big Beat” and caustically spangling guitars that recall the mighty This Heat. It represents a new peak for the Intelligence’s 10-album catalog, and leads a collection of songs that, against the odds, make rock seem barbed and mysterious. DAVE SEGAL

SUNDAY


ROCK/POP

Weezer
Twenty-five years after you destroyed their sweater, Weezer’s path as a band has unraveled (with a string of awkward, lackluster albums in the early-mid ’00s) and re-raveled (with a 2014 redemption for their album Everything Will Be Alright in the End). But you’ll probably just go to sing along to “My Name Is Jonas” and “Island in the Sun”—and that’s okay! We won’t judge you. AMBER CORTES

MONDAY


ROCK/POP

The Beach Boys
Are the Beach Boys past their prime? That’s up for debate (we’re leaning towards yes), but how could you pass up an opportunity to sway along to “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” and “Good Vibrations” in the sleepiest, haziest part of the summer? The legendary pop band will grab some set time at the Washington State Fair. 

The Posies
However dark things may seem, there is still a light somewhere—however small, and however lost you may be—and the Posies have delivered that surviving light throughout their three decades as a band and in their discography. Celebrate the survival of your emotional, vulnerable self in all its glory at this show—and if you do cry, make them tears of joy. You made it. SOPHIA STEPHENS

Southern Culture on the Skids, Johnny 7 and the Black Crabs
Southern Culture on the Skids have been holding down the fort of surf, rockabilly, R&B, and psych-garage stomp for going on 32 years now. I used to write about the cheeky North Carolina trio on the reg when I lived in the Tampa Bay area (they came through frequently), but you don’t see their name much up in these Northwest climes. Their subject matter is definitely heavy on sex, food, drinking, and getting down—seedy Southern gothic backwoods hick culture is on full display, along with plenty of cheekiness. (You’ve likely heard their sole known hit “Camel Walk”—”You make me wanna walk… like a camel.”) This feels like a perfect Labor Day show. LEILANI POLK

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