This week, our music critics have picked everything from Beirut to major African musical stars Habib Koité and Bassekou Kouyate to Swedish electro-pop icon/goddess Robyn. 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 critics’ picks for the 59 best things to do this week.
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The Town Love Hiphop Awards
Share your love for the best hiphop to come out of Seattle in the last year with this award show hosted by KEXP DJ Stas Thee Boss. Songs from all 20 nominated records will be played with laser accompaniment, and all are vying for the title of Record of The Year and a prize of $500, provided by organizer Crane City Music.
Half Waif, Whitney Ballen, Pickleboy
Half Waif, the project of Massachusetts singer-songwriter Nandi Rose Plunkett, occupies that space between being awake and asleep, where reality isn’t quite scary but is bent at a 37 degree angle. Sounds get big and small and big again. She is supported by local act Whitney Ballen. I’ve heard Ballen’s voice described many different ways, but I think it’s strong as fuck! It’s like porcelain—translucent, beautiful, and seemingly delicate, but also way more durable than you think. Or than you give it credit for. Vulnerability, public vulnerability, is something that requires constant undressing and bravery. This show is for the bravest of the brave. JASMYNE KEIMIG
Jon Spencer & the Hitmakers
Lord knows, as a favorite of mine, I’ve written a goddamn LOT about Jon Spencer over the last 25 years and, well, I’m REAL stoked he’s turning up in Belltown with his “extracurricular” group. Spencer, and his Hitmakers, hit with the patented Spencer aplomb (and lots of “YEEAH!!!”), though the Hitmakers’ jams feel slightly tempered, like the songs are a little less like Blues Explosion’s chaos and groovier, like Boss Hog, plus an added shade of Pussy Galore metallic percussiveness. Uh, fuck yeah, y’all, they’ll be brangin’ some clangin’. ALL RIGHT!!! MIKE NIPPER
Cannibal Corpse, Morbid Angel, Necrot, Blood Incantation
For nearly 30 years, Cannibal Corpse have thrived on the dichotomy of knuckle-dragging metal and depraved imagery delivered in a very disciplined, proficient, and melodically sophisticated manner. Controversial album art and gruesome lyrics might provide the initial lure, but the band flourished throughout the peaks and valleys of death metal’s popularity on the strength of their intricate instrumentation and inhuman stamina. BRIAN COOK
JusMoni, Stas THEE Boss, Nappy Nina
Local electro-soul queen JusMoni combines Cambodian and African musical influences. She’ll share a bill with fellow local artists Stas THEE Boss and Nappy Nina.
Kevin Murphy of the Moondoggies & Friends
Kevin Murphy of ever-loved Everett rockers the Moondoggies will round up his favorite songwriters to workshop songs and play covers. This iteration brings Dean Johnson (of Lowman Palace and Sons of Rainier), Craig Chambers (of the Lights and Le Sang Song), Eli Moore and Ashley Eriksson (of Lake), Kevin Sur (of Indian Valley Line), Alexandra Niedzialkowski (of Cumulus), and Moon Baille (of Pampa).
Just One More Thing x Women.Weed.WiFi
Sharlese Metcalf, McKenna Haley, and Dusty Henry will curate another listening party as part of their Seattle-focused series Just One More Thing. This time, they’ll dedicate the night to artists from womxn-of-color-centric collective Women.Weed.WiFi.
Linda’s 25th Birthday Party!
Celebrate the 25th birthday of Linda Derschang’s cozy, reliable Capitol Hill watering hole with ’90s jams (courtesy of Kurt Bloch and Tacocat and Lisa Prank members), free raffles with cool prizes, “1994 prices,” free cake, and more.
Lords of Acid
Belgian dance-industrial survivalists Lords of Acid will return to Seattle for their Pretty in Kink Tour.
Beirut, Helado Negro
I feel like I missed the boat with Beirut—I never really listened to the New Mexico band in my teen years, and no one has a Beirut phase at 25. Their music sounds like the early 2000s—lots of tight stringed instruments, horns, a quavering vocal. The band is touring in support of their brand-new fifth LP, Gallipoli. Supporting act Helado Negro, aka Roberto Carlos Lange, produces music that makes me feel like I’m the creamiest, most delicious scoop of ice cream that’s melting in the hot summer sun. This is a good thing. It’s lush, experimental, and a bit weird. He sings in a low voice that makes it seem like he’s telling you a secret. Listen closely. JASMYNE KEIMIG
WEDNESDAY & SATURDAY
The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs
Contemporary opera probably isn’t the most intuitive delivery system for the life story of the CEO of the world’s largest tech company, but in some ways it kinda makes sense. Jobs was a major mythical figure for geeks, a reportedly tyrannical boss who basically wore a costume all the time, and a literary enthusiast! Regardless, the opera, which was written by Mason Bates and librettist Mark Campbell, has been getting great reviews since its premiere in Santa Fe last year, thanks largely to its state-of-the-art, “visually stunning” projection sequences. RICH SMITH
Sweet Vibes with SassyBlack, Chocolate Chuck, and Reverend Dollars
Dig, tonight is the debut of Sweet Vibes, a dance night and celebration of “positive energy, good music,” and the sweetest of vibes! Speaking of sweetness, tonight’s resident DJ and host is Sassyblack, so I’d go expecting to groove on her mid-tempo smoothness. Also bringing the groove will be beat maker and sound curator Chocolate Chuck and local DJ Reverend Dollars. The Rev’s expansive dance mixes, as she told The Stranger’s Dave Segal, will “make people dance and sweat.” Uh-huh!! Bring your dancing shoes and a dry shirt, ’cause you know it’s gonna get hot on the dance floor tonight. MIKE NIPPER
Chong The Nomad / Stas The Boss In-Store Performance
Seattle hiphop is in capable, diverse hands—if this bill is any indication. Stas THEE Boss, of course, formed half of one of Seattle’s deepest and most pleasurable rap/R&B units, THEESatisfaction, as their two Sub Pop LPs proved. Stas has continued to grow as a solo artist, with the excellent S’WOMEN, whose lyrics Stranger freelancer Jake Uitti deemed “noble, poignant, and revelatory.” Chong the Nomad (aka Alda Andara Agustiano) stunned attendees at this year’s Capitol Hill Block Party with a series of skewed trap and R&B heaters that she enhanced with ukulele, harmonica, and beatboxing. AAA is one of the most distinctive young musicians working in the city now, balancing the weird and the playful—see especially “Ghosts in the Shower”—with a rare panache. Tonight is the release party for a Stas/Chong split LP on local label Crane City Music. DAVE SEGAL
Trippie Redd, Lil Keed, Coi Leray, Lil Duke
Atlanta-based rapper and singer-songwriter Trippie Redd—best known for his songs “Love Scars,” “Poles1469” (featuring 6ix9ine), and “Dark Knight Dummo” (featuring Travis Scott)—will headline with support from Lil Keed, Coi Leray, and Lil Duke.
The Coathangers, SadGirl, MONSTERWATCH
If you’ve heard one all-grrl punk-garage group, you’ve heard them all. But the Coathangers, a trio from Atlanta, are a little more fun, cheekier, and grosser (their irreverent name refers to a gruesome means of self-induced abortion) than their contemporaries. And the first few singles off forthcoming sixth LP The Devil You Know are perfectly fucking righteous: “Bimbo” finds dulcet melodies sailing over catchy, upbeat instrumentals that turn crunchy and raucous and slightly surf-y, while “F the NRA” is an urgently snotty, fast-paced battle cry that inspires feelings of rah-rah angst against an organization with far too much power and far too little accountability. LEILANI POLK
Over a four-decade career, England’s Joe Jackson has forged a chameleonic catalog that’s seen him apply his skillful musicianship and compositional verve to new wave, reggae lite, krautrock (“Steppin’ Out” is sehr motorik), R&B, jump blues, jazz, salsa, and classical. So it’s kind of strange that he’s not accrued the same critical respect as similarly eclectic contemporary Elvis Costello, though Jackson’s commercial popularity undoubtedly salves that slight. Still, my favorite JJ is the one-two power-pop punch of Look Sharp! and I’m the Man, the twin 1979 LPs that established Jackson as one of the most formidable hookmeisters and relatable lyricists in the new-wave biz. For this tour, Jackson will perform material from five albums representing every decade of his career: Look Sharp!, Night and Day, Laughter & Lust, Rain, and the new Fool. Expect songs from other releases and new covers, too. DAVE SEGAL
Habib Koité and Bassekou Kouyate
Two of Africa’s biggest musical stars breeze into town to liven up the elegant Triple Door. Senegal-born Malian guitarist Habib Koité and his band Bamada’s 2014 album Soô (translation: “Home”) weaves delicately gorgeous male/female vocal harmonies, vibrant hand percussion, and spangly guitar motifs into spare, folky songs of deep pathos. It’s the kind of aural warmth you’ll crave in late February. Fellow Malian musicians Bassekou Kouyaté & Ngoni Ba—who released their Grammy-nominated I Speak Fula album for Sub Pop subsidiary Next Ambiance—traffic in more up-tempo, undulant songwriting that skillfully balances euphoria and bluesiness while keeping your hips swaying. Listen in awe as Kouyaté flaunts a Hendrixian mastery of the African string instrument, ngoni.
Expect to get all’a your dancing done here, ’cause the good-timin’ and get-downin’ group Antibalas will be landing just north of the cut and have promised to get our shit LIT! Uh, Antibalas are one of the many killer groups from Daptone label’s stable of funky funk makers. And they’re always guaranteed to get you sweaty from their funky Afrobeat HEAT. The group/collective draw from all the best world rhythmic traditions to find the deepest of grooves. MIKE NIPPER
Joey Alexander Trio
In my review of Don Cheadle’s biopic of Miles Davis, Miles Ahead, I complained that it was very disappointing to see one of the most brilliant American musicians “characterized as a gangster and not an intellectual.” My point is that the mastery of jazz takes years upon years (what I call aristocratic time), which is why the 15-year-old jazz pianist Joey Alexander is so freaky. How did he pack into himself so much information in such a short amount of time? But one of the things that jazz does is transform musicians into intellectuals. An intellectual is simply someone who has absorbed a large body of knowledge—such a body is jazz. CHARLES MUDEDE
To hear Billy Bragg extol the practical value of socialist principles—which is to say, collective provision as a necessary function of any democratic government worthy of the name—is invigorating. Songs may not change the world, but they can grease the gears. And unlike so many people making noise about this subject right now, Bragg (armed with an unimprovable East London accent) makes it sound not only like common sense, but like it’s right around the corner if we only pull together. There’s no greater asset in an age that invites cynicism. His certitude—powered by 30 years of experience—really helps ease the disorienting sense that you’re the only sane person left in the fucking world. Which is also what the best pop music has always done. Though you can’t really separate the message from the messenger, it’s also worth mentioning that Bragg is one of the most charismatic, entertaining, and hilarious performers on the circuit. It’s not like there’s ever been a bad time to see a Billy Bragg show. But at the moment, it feels like there’s never been a better one. SEAN NELSON
THURSDAY & SUNDAY
Sir András Schiff Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 4
While visiting Linz, Austria, in 1999, I discovered and bought András Schiff’s interpretation of Bach’s The Well-Tempered Clavier, one of the greatest works of art in the history of humankind. At that moment, my love for the Hungarian-born British pianist—whom Queen Elizabeth II made a Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in 2014—was born. His Bach is not intellectual, like Glenn Gould’s, but rich, lively, and rhythmic, and he’ll play Bach’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in addition to Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4. Schiff has a lot of soul for a classical pianist. CHARLES MUDEDE
Emerald City Music: 18 Musicians
This is the most exciting development in minimalist-composition news since Terry Riley orchestrated a live rendering of In C outside of SAM in 2013. Steve Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians ranks as one of history’s most universally revered long-form works of minimalism. Originally released via ECM Records in 1978, the 59-minute piece evokes an ever-regenerating sense of hope and lofty aspiration as it cycles through its 12 busy, intricate movements. Its cumulative effect is to create the illusion you’re ascending to a realm of heavenly beneficence and rejuvenation. This staging is being billed as “a wander-through concert experience,” and it will involve an international ensemble of vocalists, percussionists, pianists, and chamber musicians. DAVE SEGAL
Research ft. DJ Boring
DJ Boring (aka Berlin-based Englishman Tristan Hallis) sure has set himself up for critical snark, but he’s overcome his self-deprecating alias by filling big rooms and appearing on important radio stations and podcasts with a scintillating slant on lo-fi house music as both disc jockey and producer. To get a grip on Boring’s deck ethos, check out his 2018 Rinse FM mix on SoundCloud, which gets funky, deep, and psychedelic without losing the plot. His own productions skew toward the acidic and gently disorienting. This is Boring’s Seattle debut. DAVE SEGAL
Brasstracks, Kemba, Pell
Brooklyn-based duo Brasstracks make funky, psychedelic jazz/R&B/hiphop that’s not afraid of the horn. They call it “future brass,” and it’s incredibly groovy. Hiphop artists Kemba (also from New York) and Pell will provide opening sets.
Robyn is back. Thank God. I can’t really remember a time before the Swedish electro-pop icon/goddess was in my life, making dancefloors all the more inviting with hits like “Dancing on My Own” and “Call Your Girlfriend.” And although she’s definitely kept a low profile over the past couple of years, Robyn has been releasing music with Norwegian electronic music duo Röyksopp and La Bagatelle Magique. Last year saw her return in a big way: She dropped her eighth solo album Honey and now she’s on tour. Come through and pay your respects with sweat! JASMYNE KEIMIG
Stephanie Anne Johnson, Angela Soffe, Jess Pillay
Sway to the rich vocals of Northwest R&B singer-songwriter Stephanie Anne Johnson (who was featured on the 2013 season of The Voice), folk singer/pianist Angela Soffe, and soulful acoustic pop singer-songwriter Jess Pillay.
Belltown will get taken over by some of the most talented womxn in PNW music and beyond during this two-night, all ages music festival. The first night features Adra Boo (a member of “New Wave noir” band Hotels), pop-rocker Bad Saint, soulful punks Bear Axe, dream-wave five-piece Razor Clam, and dream-pop band Lemolo, plus Salt Lick, Something Witchy, Erin, Heather Edgley, and the Morning After. Come on the second night for sets by dreamy, fuzzy indie-rock quartet Biblioteka, indie-folk project Byland, indie pop-rockers Coach Phillips, jazzy R&B artist Cherry Thomas, and ’80s-beckoning indie-rockers Early Warnings, and Uva Solah (of Portland-based favorites Y La Bamba), plus additional sets from Fretland, Hoshin, Kelli Schaefer, La Fonda, Little Hero, Scarlet Parke, Stephanie Mae, Super Sparkle, Temple Canyon, and Vannah Oh & The Any’s.
Sir András Schiff In Recital
Legendary Hungarian pianist Sir András Schiff will play a solo program of pieces from Bach, Bartók, Schumann, and Janáček.
I have never related so hard to a track upon immediate first listen as Atmosphere’s nasty yet telling “Trim.” It’s about being one half of a grown-up couple with three kids and seemingly no energy for anything other than lazing on the couch, trying to get it in and make time for each other whenever you can (“Feeling like I miss you, but I’m living with you / Help me take the garbage out so I can try to kiss you / You forgot that it could get so hot inside of a parked car up in the Target parking lot”). It is well-produced and perfectly delivered, as is most of what you hear from the Minneapolis alt-hiphop duo made up of Slug (raps) and Ant (beats), including their ninth and latest studio outing on Rhymesayers, Mi Vida Local (“Jerome” is a fucking jam). This tour supports that album.
Haute Sauce: DJ Jazzy Jeff
West Philadelphia-born DJ Jazzy Jeff—one half of the former duo DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, the other half being Will Smith—will be the special guest at this weekly hiphop dance night. Resident DJs Famous, Lourawk, and Swervewon will provide local support.
Joshua Radin, Lissie, Lily Kershaw
Joshua Radin has the monopoly on emotionally resonant indie rock, and will be illustrating the reasons for his success in a set flanked by equally popular Starbucks soundtracker Lissie and guest artist Lily Kershaw.
Spear Of Destiny
To say I’m shocked that Spear of Destiny are touring North America in 2019 would be a grand understatement. Trouble is, I mistakenly thought they’d faded out in the ’80s; in actuality, they’ve been prolific up to the present. Formed from the remains of fraught British goth-rockers Theatre of Hate, Spear of Destiny always seemed like an anti-climactic addendum to that group’s powerful, melodramatic rock. Neither band made much of a dent in American consciousness outside of the most ardent Anglophiles. The common links are singer/guitarist Kirk Brandon (master of the melodic bellow) and bassist Stan Stammers, who’ve constructed a discography that bursts with earnest, widescreen rock for people who think U2 are too ironically distanced. DAVE SEGAL
Walter Lure, Andy Place and the Coolheads, Communist Eyes, The Moberlys
Oh. My. GOD!! Walter Lure, an ORIGINAL Heartbreaker—Johnny Thunders’ Heartbreakers, not the Tom Petty group—is touring and playing the ENTIRE Heartbreakers album L.A.M.F. (short for “Like a Mother Fucker”). As slurring-sloppy as it is, L.A.M.F. is perfect; the songs are uplifting, driving, and fun even with their undeniable sense that shit’s ‘bout to teeter off the rails. Tonight’s lineup also includes Andy Place and the Coolheaded from PDX, who sound a lot like LA’s ’90s rockin’ take on ‘70s punk; faded-denim-and-wore-out-Vans-wearing punks Communist Eyes; and a sorta rare appearance from Seattle’s bestest power pop group, the Moberlys!! MIKE NIPPER
Danity Kane, Dumblonde, Dawn, #All4doras, DJ Indica Jones
Gather your best gals for a night out with chart-topping R&B group Danity Kane, who formed on the MTV reality series Making the Band in the mid-2000s.
SassyBlack, Silas Blak, Vernox
Get dancing with neo-soul/funk hero SassyBlack, grungy electro-rocker/rapper Vernox, and hiphop artist Silas Black.
Wordplay: Original music Inspired by Seattle7Writers
Hear original music inspired by the work of Seattle7Writers Anca Szilagyi (Daughters of the Air), Michael Schmeltzer (Blood Song), and Laurie Frankel (This Is How It Always Is). Each author will be partnered with three musicians.
(Im)migration: Music of Displaced Peoples
In this quarterly series that highlights music by composers affected by diasporas and migration, UW piano professor Robin McCabe will lead UW music students as they perform multiple works, with a pre-concert lecture by UW Music History faculty member Jon Hanford.
Sallie Ford & the Sound Outside, Caitlin Sherman
Between 2007 and 2013, Portland’s Sallie Ford & the Sound Outside put out a few LPs and EPs of raw, clamorous rockabilly with less old ‘50s-era feels and more fuck-off appeal, all fueled by the throaty, sultry vocals of its namesake. They’ve been apart for nearly six years, but have come back together for a couple of reunion shows in Portland, and booked this date in Seattle, too. Should be a fun night of West Coast nostalgia. Indie rock singer-songwriter Caitlin Sherman opens. LEILANI POLK
Warniegedon: A Benefit for Kim Warnick
Proceeds from this benefit show will go toward the recovery of local rock Kim Warnick (of the Fastbacks and Visqueen), who injured her shoulder during Seattle’s snowpocalypse. Enjoy sets from local rockers Carrie Akre, Alcohol Funnycar, Bread & Butter, the Derelicts, the Fall-Outs, Tom Price Desert Classic, SGT Major III, Society of the Silver Cross, and other special guests. You may even win prizes in a raffle.