By No Vacation Required, on August 28, 2013

Seattle music scene

Seattle’s thriving music scene makes it easy to find a show any night of the week. From a world-class music festival to multiple intimate venues showcasing a diverse range of music throughout the year, visitors and locals alike are in luck when it comes to feeding their inner groupie. Here are some options.

Music Festivals

Seattle is home to Bumbershoot, one of the best-known music festivals in the world and the largest urban arts festival in North America. Taking place in Seattle’s living room, Seattle Center, over Labor Day weekend every year, Bumbershoot’s diversity and space is what makes it special. Its proximity to downtown hotels makes it a realistic event for visitors. With a variety of large and small venues, located both indoors and outdoors across Seattle Center’s 70+ acres, it’s easy to find a vibe that matches your personal taste. During the festival, we’ve seen one of our favorite musicians on a small plot of grass right under the Space Needle and we’ve attended a heady literary arts discussion in a conference hall.

Music on the lawn at Bumbershoot

Our favorite full-on music festival is the much smaller Capitol Hill Block Party, which goes down on the streets of Seattle’s hip Pike/Pine neighborhood every July. The first time we attended, it was a packed two-day party in the streets. It has since expanded to include a third day. Because this festival is responsible for having introduced us to some of our now-favorite artists, we can always count on it to stretch our musical horizons. As is the case with Bumbershoot, we enjoy the urban feel and easy access to the fun.

A small venue at Capitol Hill Block Party

Live Music Venues

Although we do love a quality music festival, you’ll usually find us at a good old music venue (but not an arena!) when it comes time to see a show.

Many of the artists we want to see tend to pop up at one of the Seattle Theater Group venues: Paramount, Moore, and Neptune. The Paramount is a gorgeous, larger venue, that tends to attract some big names. Our favorite is the smaller Neptune, where we’ve seen several up-and-coming artists from either the all-standing main floor or the all-seated balcony.

Many of Seattle’s best shows happen at places like Showbox at The Market. Less a theater setup, this art-deco spot feels like the ideal location for a concert. A couple of bars and a smart use of stairs (so you can see from almost anywhere) makes Showbox a top pick. If this more laid-back experience sounds appealing, check out The Triple Door as well.

There’s something special about attending a show at a place that feels like a bar. You know – as though you’re just having a drink and a randomly wonderful concert just so happens to be going on. On rare occasions when we want to conjure up that feeling, we’ll head to a performance at Neumos or The Crocodile, a Seattle classic.

Viewfinder Tip: Don’t overlook intimate venues when searching for a show.

Pop-Up Music

Some of Seattle’s best music experiences occur at the assorted neighborhood festivals and events that show up on the summertime calendar. If you’re in town during the season of the sun, see if your dates align with shows like West Seattle Summer Fest or Fremont Fair.

Also, don’t forget to search out lesser-known events. In a recent search, we stumbled upon a fantastic live music and food truck event at the waterside Olympic Sculpture Park.

What’s your favorite way to catch a show?