If you’re like me, you spent your long weekend enjoying the beautiful weather. If you’re even more like me, you started to dream of all the wondrous music that you would see and experience this summer. And if you literally are me, you sat on the roof of your studio apartment, sighing wistfully and scrolling through an Instagram feed plastered with pictures of your friends at Sasquatch. In this scenario where you are me, you were way too broke to shell out the money for tickets.
But while I’m sure that some fantastic performances were delivered at the Gorge this weekend, I’m comforted to think that just as many fantastic performances will be found in parks and dingy bars and basements all over the city this summer. Music is many things but perhaps primarily it is a vehicle for the creation of community, and Seattle is home to one of the most vibrant and thriving musical communities in the country. There’s something to be said for the knowledge that the money you spent at the merch table is going to pay for band’s gas money or props for their next music video.
So, what follows is my totally incomplete, completely subjective list of must-see Seattle summer music events. Most of them are relatively cheap, and all of them feature great local artists who are just as worthy of your time and money as a big summer music festival–maybe more.
Chastity Belt with Posse, Mommy Long Legs, and Hoop
June 2 / 8pm
$13 in advance
Look at that lineup, appreciate that lineup, savor that lineup. I RSVP’d to this invite in March because I was already that excited. Chastity Belt is one of the best acts in town, and lead singer Julia Shapiro’s voice is a deadpan force of nature. Posse makes blissed-out alt-rock and Hoop is a four-piece, all female outfit that crafts glassy dream-pop that sounds sweet and a little sad (but good-sad). Mommy Long Legs are a bratty, trash-core punk act that sing about tech bros and sleep-overs and put on a killer live show. Get your tickets now so I can have somebody to dance with!
BIG BLDG BASH
June 4-5 / 3pm-2am
3600 E Marginal Way S in a warehouse
There is no reason to miss this shindig. The third-annual BIG BLDG BASH features a lineup of over fifty artists from across the region, a goods market, food, beer and art installations AND it’s not-for-profit AND AND proceeds benefit Rain City Rock Camp for Girls. Plus it’s housed in a big warehouse which automatically makes it seem interesting and European. Honestly there aren’t that many places where you’ll be able to see a lineup this large or diverse, and made up entirely of local artists. Seriously folks, just go.
Volunteer Park Pride Festival
June 11 / 12pm-7pm
Volunteer Park, Seattle
Look, I get it, Pride has become a touchy subject these days. Like basically every other aspect of queer culture, it’s become more mainstreamed, more brazenly commercial, and ultimately seems to have mostly turned into an excuse to wear hot pants and get day drunk/high (as though you ever need an excuse for either of those things). If regular old Pride is your thing, cool! I’ll see you out there! If you want something a little more laid-back, Volunteer Park Pride Festival features a vintage fair, food and libations, and performances by alien chanteuse Aeon Fux, as well fey-punk band Boyfriends, and more. See you there in your hot pants!
Block Party at the Station
June 18 / 12pm-8pm
The Station, 2533 16th Ave S
There are SO MANY amazing, young hip-hop artists in Seattle and several of them are among the most vital and important new voices currently working. Hip-hop, particularly local hip-hop, is often denied a place in summer music festivals, so Block Party at the Station is a great opportunity to catch some incredible acts that you otherwise may have missed. Folks like DoNormaal, JusMoni, Black Stax, Draze and more will laying it down on Beacon Hill all afternoon. Plus it’s free, so you’ll have more money to spend on imbibing booze and weed all day.
Lisa Prank Adult Teen album release show
June 25 / 6pm-9pm
Free / all-ages
Local pop-punk princess and Twitter goddess Lisa Prank is releasing her new record Adult Teen and you should go celebrate with her. Prank, the nom de tune of Robin Edwards, crafts spunky bedroom anthems about dudes and dancing and how loves stinks sometimes. The show features performances by Hoop, and a special guest and it’s early enough that you can still rage afterwards if you’re so inclined.
West Seattle Summer Fest
West Seattle Junction
Have you ever looked out across the water from downtown and wondered what that strange landmass on the other side could be? Have you heard the rumors of a mysterious neighborhood of Seattle known only to those who trade in secrets and hidden knowledge? Well folks I’m here to tell you that West Seattle is real, and it’s pretty darn cool. This year’s Summer Fest features performances by Tacocat, Grace Love and the True Loves, Chastity Belt, Pillar Point, Bread and Butter and Acapulco Lips among others. Seriously, the lineup is killer and the whole thing costs zero dollars. So take a trip to parts heretofore unknown and jam out.
Timber! Outdoor Music Festival
July 14-July 16
Tolt-MacDonald, Carnation WA
$75 for a 3-day pass
Camping and music are the two greatest gifts that the ever gods gifted mortals, so you better believe that a festival that combines the two made it onto this list. With bigger-name acts like Telekinesis and The Moondoggies, Timber! delivers a solid lineup and a number of REI-sponsored activities like biking and kayaking. As far as I’m concerned, spending a day alternating between swimming in a river and listening to Lemolo and Chastity Belt is about as good as it gets.
Suicide Squeeze 20th Anniversary
August 25 (21+) / August 26 (all-ages)
Neumos (21+) / The Neptune (all-ages)
$13 (21+) / $36 (all-ages)
Seattle label Suicide Squeeze is celebrating their 20th anniversary with a two night spectacular featuring the likes of The Coathangers, Childbirth and Minus the Bear and more. Suicide Squeeze, which has released music by Elliot Smith and Modest Mouse (to name a few) is sure to put on a great show. Plus, since it’s two nights, you can pick the one you like the best and keep the other one free for whatever other mischief you’re looking for.
So go! Support local artists, engage with Seattle arts communities and as the great philosopher Sheryl Crow once famously implored, “soak up the sun.”