This week, our music critics have picked everything from Broken Social Scene to the Marías to Apple Jam: Off The White Album. 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 48 best things to do this week.
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Backstreet Boys, Baylee Littrell
Now that their Vegas residency is over, the well-coiffed, nostalgia-pop-belting blood brothers of the Backstreet Boys will stop in Seattle on their DNA World Tour.
Broken Social Scene
Posted up at Neptune for two nights, Toronto’s Broken Social Scene are bringing their orchestral, many-fingered folky indie pop to Seattle. There’s, like, at least a hundred members—not to their detriment. Their soaring, grandiose harmonies benefit from all those warm bodies, who also play in other groups and solo projects including, but not limited to, Metric, Feist, and Stars. It makes for an interesting, healthy, and surprising smoothie of music. Also, for those of you who have never listened to BSS, don’t be thrown by their name—I avoided listening to them for many years because they were a scene band! Really makes you think. Though I can’t vouch for it personally, I’ve heard BSS give an incredible live performance that’s not to be missed, especially if baroque indie pop is your thing. JASMYNE KEIMIG
MONDAY & WEDNESDAY BLUES/COUNTRY/FOLK
Dave Alvin, Christy McWilson, Chris Miller
The title track of folk balladeer Dave Alvin’s new album King of California—his first fully acoustic album—tells the story of an aspiring suitor who travels west to seek his fortune in the still-wild Golden State. The former member of roots-rock band the Blasters will come to Seattle with support from Christy McWilson and Chris Miller.
If you close your eyes during a particularly harmonious Mountain Man song, you will almost certainly be transported to the riverbank of your dreams. The Appalachian-tinged folk-pop trio is comprised of Molly Erin Sarle, Alexandra Sauser-Monnig, and Sylvan Esso’s Amelia Meath.
Devin the Dude, G.A.S.
I once read a piece about Devin the Dude, aka Devin Copeland, called “Your favorite rapper’s favorite rapper,” and it opens, “Devin the Dude is probably the greatest hip-hop artist you’ve never heard.” It was written in 2000, and in some ways, it still rings true. In this case, you probably don’t think you know him, but you’ve damn sure heard him. See: Dr. Dre’s “Fuck You,” De La Soul’s “Baby Phat,” Devin the Dude’s own “What a Job,” which feels like an Outkast knockoff and actually features Andre 3000 along with Snoop Dogg. Devin has a healthy funkadelic swag to his productions, lyrics that often dwell on his favorite pastime (smoking weed), and a spacey soulful flow. He hits Seattle behind 10th LP Still Rollin’ Up: Somethin’ to Ride With. Opening is G.A.S., the project of Grynch, Jesús Spades, and Stefo. LEILANI POLK
The Psychedelic Furs, James, Dear Boy
New-wave act the Psychedelic Furs exist in the same hazed, romantic dreamworld as 1980s contemporaries the Church or Echo & the Bunnymen. Also like those acts, the Furs have toured the past few years to the delight of fans not fortunate (or old) enough to have experienced their heyday. Best known for hits like “Pretty in Pink,” “Heartbreak Beat,” and “Love My Way,” the UK band is armed with exquisitely surreal lyrics, swirling, jangly guitars, soaring sax flourishes, and riffs that situate themselves firmly in your memory. Eccentric gem Robyn Hitchcock made his name with the Soft Boys’ delightfully off-kilter neo-psych in the 1970s and ’80s, helping to pave the way for the Paisley Underground movement and psych influence of early-’80s college rock. His extensive solo material and work with his band the Egyptians should also spark the interest of those intrigued by lyrics crafted with poetic whimsy paired with smart pop melodies. BRITTNIE FULLER
TUESDAY & FRIDAY-SATURDAY METAL/PUNK
Pain in the Grass 2019
KISW’s Pain in the Grass will take over Auburn for three days of rock and punk warfare thanks to massive headliners like Slipknot, Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie, and Disturbed.
Mayday Parade, State Champs, Mom Jeans., Just Friends
Florida quintet and standard-bearers for the pop-rock genre Mayday Parade are back in Seattle and riding the wave of their fifth studio release Black Lines. They’ll be joined by State Champs, Mom Jeans., and Just Friends.
Stef Chura, French Vanilla, Zach Burba
Detroit alt rocker Stef Chura has been earning high praise since dropping her 2017 debut, Messes—from Rolling Stone (“15 Great Albums You Probably Didn’t Hear in 2017”) to Pitchfork (“Messes showcases her way with setting a twilit mood and her magnetic, mutable voice”). Her just-released sophomore follow-up (and debut outing on Saddle Creek Records), Midnight, seems to have critics on board, too. And it’s no wonder: Chura has one of those rasp-timbred voices that is at once fierce and compelling, and capable of issuing a full-throated scream without piercing the ears. Her music is pretty tight, too—rock that has a vague DIY indie quality. LEILANI POLK
There is a powerful moment in the movie To Sleep with Anger. It happens when Danny Glover, who is the bad guy, says something like: “I like my blues simple—just a man and his guitar.” This is the kind of thing (or simplicity, or honesty) that Virginian Keller Williams strives for: a man and his guitar. Though he has made music with groups (like the Keels and the String Cheese Incident), a good part of his reputation rests on his solo performances of funk, bluegrass, and rock. CHARLES MUDEDE
Toots and the Maytals, The Gladiators with Droop Lion
Toots and the Maytals have been around for a long time. Formed in the early 1960s, the Maytals were one of the most renown ska and rocksteady vocal groups to come out of Jamaica, dropping such biggie reggae hits as the storm-is-coming-for-you “Pressure Drop” (you might’ve heard the Clash version), tender wedding ode “Sweet and Dandy,” and “54-46 (That’s My Number),” about the stint frontman Toots Hibbert spent in prison (the Clash’s “Jail Guitar Doors” has a shout out about it—they were big Maytals fans). Hibbert continues to produce new recordings minus his two old Maytals vocal-mates (Henry “Raleigh” Gordon and Nathaniel “Jerry” Matthias), although much of what comes lately is new renditions of old material or covers amid the few new tracks. Still, he’s pure musical joy materialized in short beaming Jamaican man form, his vocals are soulful and lightly raspy and warm like your favorite snuggly sweater, and his legacy speaks for itself. Plus, he turns 77 this year, so who knows how much longer he’ll be touring? In sum, get the hell out to this show. LEILANI POLK
The Beths, Girl Friday, Ariel View
New Zealand band the Beths manage to capture all the great things about pop punk and none of the bad. The yearning! The angst! (“I will go out tonight / I’m gonna drink the whole town dry / Put poison in my wine / And hope that you’re the one who dies.”) The power chords! The frenetic drumming! The fuzziness and how every song just sounds hot to the touch! Their 2018 record Future Me Hates Me was a riot, and I expect nothing less than the band burning the whole venue down (metaphorically!). JASMYNE KEIMIG
These bands are brash enough to brand themselves in all caps, which can backfire, as it raises expectations. But they mostly acquit themselves well within the parameters of modern psych-rock. Los Angeles’ JJUUJJUU are the more song-oriented group of the two on this bill, but they can get as hazy and trippy as a smog-clogged L.A. sunset when they want to. Check out 2018’s Zionic Mud for proof. WEEED—who apparently have moved from Bainbridge Island to Portland—have a name that’s murder to google, but their music makes you think more about the search for ultimate enlightenment than search engines. Their ability to jam at marathon lengths and keep you engrossed attests to their labyrinthine creativity. DAVE SEGAL
The Marías, Moon King
Imagine the feeling of slipping naked into silk sheets after a warm shower. Or being the perfect amount of stoned in a room bathed in red light. Or leaning against a cool marble wall. This is more or less what L.A.-based band the Marías sound like. Their music is equal parts lounge, soul, and smooth jazz, with a dash of psychedelia and huge helping of sex appeal. If that sounds corny, it really isn’t! “Cariño” serves up bilingual declarations of love over horns and their cover of “…Baby One More Time” is a fresh velvety take on a classic pop song. Composed of María on vocals and Josh Conway on drums, the duo conjures up a mood that’ll leave you feeling titillated. They’ll be joined by upbeat, fun, disco synth-pop act Moon King. JASMYNE KEIMIG
Summer Sounds: Hoop, Drench Fries
When I first saw Hoop, all that kept running through my head was a constant stream of “Wow, I love this band.” Caitlin Roberts, Leena Joshi, and Pamela Santiago trade off singing on the dreamiest friendship-bracelet pop songs, full of tender harmonies and magical guitar lines and introspective lyrics that tug gently on my most sensitive heartstrings. ROBIN EDWARDS
Summer Meltdown 2019
Nestled in the mountains of central Washington, Summer Meltdown aims to provide a weekend of high-energy live music performances in a lush woodland setting. Headliners will include Tipper, Umphrey’s McGee, Gramatik, and Nahko and Medicine for the People, and there will also be “adventures” like rafting, helicopter rides, and kayaking.
Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats, Lucius
I was surprised as anyone else to hear Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats’ “S.O.B.” on mainstream radio. Well, anyone else who listens to mainstream radio and is also familiar with the generally boring, hackneyed, predictable, and/or vanilla shit you find on there. Rateliff hums, sings, and bellows in a beardy, booming tenor, like he could be taking it to church, minus all the religion but plus all the powerful gospel feels. It’s not gospel, though there are shades of it amid the full-bodied mix of vintage and neo soul, rock, Americana, and blues. Rateliff and co. are in town behind their sophomore studio LP, Tearing at the Seams. LEILANI POLK
Ibibio Sound Machine
Nigerian singer Eno Williams fronts Ibibio Sound Machine, a London band that blends West African funk and disco with post-punk and electronica. The Guardian praises Williams for maintaining her own vocal character while “shape-[shifting] between conventional power-diva, sultry R&B singer, the feral frontwoman of a post-punk girl band and pidgin English-speaking yarn-spinner” on the band’s latest album, Doko Mien.
50th! Great Records of 1969 – Miles Davis’ ‘In A Silent Way’
One of the best things about the Royal Room is its dedication to spotlighting music of world-historical import. This tribute to Miles Davis’s fusion classic, In a Silent Way, is deep in RR owner and supremely versatile keyboardist Wayne Horvitz’s wheelhouse. While Miles’s sly trumpet motifs are obviously integral to the sublimely chill jazz moves here, In a Silent Way is a keyboardist’s paradise, with Herbie Hancock, Joe Zawinul, and Chick Corea flaunting crystalline ambience, rococo ostinatos, aquatic swells, and the suave main theme from “It’s About That Time” on electric piano. There’s much room to improvise here, and Horvitz and his excellent cohorts will surely do this masterpiece justice. DAVE SEGAL
CATM 1: Wolf Parade, DUMB, Jock Tears
KEXP’s Concerts at the Mural will kick off with a night of indie-rock from Montreal art-rock powerhouse Wolf Parade and Vancouver punk-rockers DUMB and jock tears.
General Mojo’s, Glasys, Kate Olson
If you like your psych-pop equipped with fuzzy guitar, drippy (and trippy) synths, and vocal harmonies, local five-piece General Mojo’s won’t disappoint. They’ll be welcomed with opening sets by Portland electronic artist Glasys and local saxophonist Kate Olson.
Coming from a small village in a remote region of the Azawagh desert in Niger, Mdou Moctar and his band have become a huge hit across the globe. Playing left-hand electric guitar and combining the traditional polyrhythms of takamba and modern adaptations of Tuareg guitar music with lyrics sung in the style of old nomadic poems, Mdou Moctar sounds original and fresh. He at once captures the sound of wide-open sand-blown spaces and also makes me want to thrash around in my Vans. JASMYNE KEIMIG
Watershed Festival 2019
Watershed Country Music Festival will return to the Gorge for a wild weekend of twangin’ goodness. Put on your “Shedder gear” (trucker hats?) and get ready for three whole days of down-home studs. This year’s headliners include Jason Aldean, Maren Morris, Zac Brown Band, Miranda Lambert, the Pistol Annies, Kane Brown, Midland, Brothers Osborne, and many more.
Popular bluegrass-and-more festival Pickathon will return to Pendarvis Farm for some rootin’-tootin’ and new-boot-scootin’ and whatever else qualifies as country fun. Despite staying true to its bleedin’ bluegrass heart for over 20 years, Pickathon has expanded its reach in recent iterations to include popular artists of all genres. This year’s lineup is no exception, with key headliners like Phil Lesh, Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats, Khruangbin, Mandolin Orange, Tyler Childers, Lucius, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Fruit Bats, and Mountain Man, and performers like Karma Rivera, Viagra Boys, Ora Cogan, and Reptaliens, among many others, to round out the bill.
XYLØ, Jane Holiday, ZOLITA
Chase and Paige Duddy, the brother and sister duo behind XYLØ, have been making music together on and off almost their whole lives. It wasn’t until 2014, when Chase was working on a song for a video advertisement, that the XYLØ project started. Chase needed a singer, and with the help of his younger sister Paige, finished the song and released the video, which resulted in utter pandemonium. To please their newfound fans, they released “America,” their eerie alt-pop, Lana Del Rey–esque debut single that critiques the state of the country. XYLØ have stayed political since, releasing “Fool’s Paradise” in response to Trump’s election and a slew of singles this year, all in their distinct corner of dark electronic pop. ANNA KAPLAN
Ayo Dot & The Uppercuts, INVICTVS
High-energy hip-hop fusion group Ayo Dot & the Uppercuts take the vocal power of Ayo and weave it into riff-shredding and bass-heavy throw-downs among the Uppercuts. They’ll be joined by Seattle-based rock-hop group INVICTVS.
There’s nothing wrong with liking ska. Or is that just what I tell myself to make my enjoyment of third-wave ska less shameful, as I throw on a pair of checkered pants? Skanking out of New Jersey for the past 15 years, Streetlight Manifesto are one of the genre’s heavy hitters, giving life to a scene that’s often considered a passé novelty of the 1990s. Streetlight Manifesto’s last album, 2013’s The Hands That Thieve, broke into the Billboard Top 100, but they have yet to release anything in the last few years, partially due to public conflicts with their record label, Victory Records. KEVIN DIERS
Apple Jam: Off The White Album
Apple Jam are possibly the most arcane Beatles tribute band in the world. While most of these Moptop manqués are content to replicate the best-known songs from the Fab Four’s rich catalog (not that there’s anything wrong with that), Apple Jam dig way deeper. For example, their latest album, Off the White Album, finds Apple Jam tackling 11 songs that the Beatles cut when in sessions for 1968’s The Beatles, a fertile time of exploration. Some of the tracks were recorded by other artists (“Goodbye” by Mary Hopkin, “Step Inside Love” by Cilla Black, “Sour Milk Sea” by Jackie Lomax), while some outtakes simply eluded all but the most ardent Beatles fans. Thankfully for them, Apple Jam have the skills to recreate the Beatles’ melodic magic and vocal sonority in order to spotlight the obscure corners of their evergreen output. DAVE SEGAL
Summer Stag Party IV
Power-pop rippers Stag will throw their fourth annual summer party to celebrate the reunion of bluesy noise-makers Claw Hammer in their first show in Seattle since 1997. Plus, enjoy live sets by STAG (natch), Danny Newcomb and the Sugarmakers, Uncle Joe’s Big Ol’ Driver, Bearaxe, and Intercom, and DJ Kingblind.
John Prine, Amanda Shires
Herman Melville once wrote “there is no quality in this world that is not what it is merely by contrast.” You cannot savor warmth without knowing the cold. And you can’t really fathom happiness unless you’ve known the full depth of sadness. Folk legend John Prine appears to understand this principle. His charmingly sweet songs like “In Spite of Ourselves” set you up for heart-rending ballads like “Sam Stone” and “Hello in There.” It can be such a roller coaster that even the lyrically light “Long Monday” seems like a heavy-duty painkiller. You can keep your young sad-sucker minstrels with their endless string of minor chords. I’ll take the old guy whose upbeat demeanor belies a lifetime of genuine heartache. BRIAN COOK
Puget Soundtrack: Postcard from the Badlands presents Naer Vaer
Atmospheric music ensemble Postcard from the Badlands will perform music composed for archival footage curated by the Moving Image Preservation of Puget Sound (MIPoPS) and editing by visual projectionist Torin Kovach and MIPoPS archivist Libby Hopfauf that explores themes of “creation, community, conquest, migration, labor, and play.”
Dillon Francis Loves Seattle Especially ‘Cause His Brother Lives Here Presents: Hello Seattle, I Love You!
Billboard Dance Club-topping DJ and moombahton (house music and reggae) artist Dillon Francis will put on a dance party on his Hello Seattle, I Love You! Tour. What So Nots, Party Favor, Wax Motif, Nitti Gritti, and Kendoll will provide additional sets.
Yacht Rock Revue
For “a trip down memory lane that skips all the bad neighborhoods,” the Yacht Rock Revue will play soft-rock hits from the late ’70s and early ’80s ranging from Hall & Oates to Kenny Loggins—polyester shirts and bellbottom jeans included.
Young the Giant, Fitz & the Tantrums, Alice Merton
Los Angeles-based posi vibe alt rockers Young the Giant will be joined by Fitz & the Tantrums and pop newcomer Alive Merton on this summer tour.