Venues to visit
From wide open spaces to small contained clubs
By Jakob Ross and McKenna Princing
Seattle has historically housed some of the country’s greatest music scenes due in part to the city’s wide supply of excellent venues.
Located right off the Ave on Northeast 45th Street, the Neptune is the smallest and most recent addition to the Seattle Theatre Group’s trifecta of awesome venues that also includes the Paramount and Moore theaters. It used to be a cinema, but was converted to a miniature concert hall several years ago. Since then, it has hosted a diverse group of musicians and performers that bring all sorts of crowds to the U-District. Whether you love indie, hip-hop, electronic, or punk, you’ll definitely find a show worth getting excited about at the Neptune.
If metal is more your thing, El Corazon is Seattle’s preeminent heavy metal club, though it sometimes includes other genres. On any given night you can easily catch a comedian, an old punk band, or even a harsh noise artist. With that said, a good 75% of the venue’s bookings are metal bands of various styles and sounds. Whether you prefer technical death metal, black metal, or djent, El Corazon’s concert calendar should be something you check daily.
The Showbox is one of the longest-running spaces in the city, but that’s not the only reason it’s a must-visit. The concerts feel intimate and intense; the venue feels smaller than it actually is. It’s a beautiful place, and the sound is in top form. Like all great venues, its bookings are versatile and exciting. Don’t mistake the Pike Place location for the SoDo location, though, because the latter is bigger and the sound is far worse. Concerts as far out as January are still booking up thanks to an initiative started by Ben Gibbard of “Death Cab for Cutie” to save Showbox from its planned demolition and transition to a multistory flat block. Support for the venue was extensive from both Seattleites and artists, marking it as a well-loved space and not one to be missed.
Since 2004, the Café Racer has been an alternative space in the U-District for local artists and free gigs, as well as comfort food and good beer. After a brief closure in 2018, the current owners took over, promising to keep as much of the original charm as possible. If it’s not broken, why fix it? At the end of a long Tuesday, the open mic is a welcome break from reality to enjoy the supportive community atmosphere for all ages. The calendar is almost always full and you’ll be spoiled for choice entertainment-wise with a variety of genres and events.
Neumos deserves a spot on this list not only for the plethora of indie talent you can catch at the venue, but also for the delicious fish fry located next door. Every show at Neumos is a rowdy blast of energy. Neumos hosts hundreds of excellent concerts a year, and a good majority of them are affordable for any college student. Be careful before you buy your tickets because roughly half the shows here are 21+ only.
The Vera Project
Seeing a show at The Vera Project feels like paying a visit to a secret club no one else knows about. The headliners are generally obscure enough as is, but the venue allows local artists to open up for national touring bands while also ensuring every show is low-cost and all-ages. While most people won’t know of any of the bands booked here, fans of emo, punk, and hardcore music will find that many of the bests visit The Vera Project. It’ll be tough to find it since it’s tucked away to the side of Key Arena, but once you pay your first visit, you’ll never forget how to find The Vera Project.
Although concerts and music contribute a great amount to the individual vibe and rich culture of Seattle, the theater scene is not one to be ignored, with venues and shows that are second to none.
Conveniently located adjacent to the entrance of the Convention Place Station, the Paramount is one of Seattle’s most attractive spaces. It justifies its size with a wonderful sound system that benefits artists both loud and quiet, proving the perfect venue for bands, comedians, musicals, and plays alike. It’s owned by the Seattle Theatre Group (along with the Moore Theatre and the aforementioned Neptune Theatre) and can house thousands. The only drawback is that ticket prices tend to be particularly expensive. For special occasions, however, the Paramount is worth the price of admission, especially as it’ll still work out more reasonable than flying to New York to see the same shows. The “Broadway At The Paramount” 2019/2020 season has recently been announced and includes Broadway favorites “Wicked”, “Miss Saigon,” and “The Book of Mormon.”
Jet City Improv
A mix between a comedy show, a musical act, and an improvised play, this venue offers performances that are entirely audience-generated and appropriate for all ages. Jet City, on University Way Northeast and Northeast 55th Street, has been in business for more than a decade and also offers improv classes for those brave enough to try their hand at this unique brand of comedy.
For a schedule of events or to purchase tickets online, visit jetcityimprov.org.
UW Drama Venues
The UW School of Drama utilizes several different venues on and near campus that feature both classic and student-created performances. Meany Hall and the Glenn Hughes Penthouse Theatre, both on campus, offer a variety of performances while the UW Undergraduate Theater Society puts on productions in Hutchinson Hall. The Floyd and Delores Jones Playhouse, another great venue for performances by the School of Drama and others, is located on West Campus at University Way Northeast and Northeast 41st Street.
More information about student groups and upcoming performances can be found at drama.washington.edu.