Seattle (and the entire NW) amps up for a high-volume season.
Seattelites love to rock out all year-round, but when we’re finally blessed with never-ending azure days, we crank it up even harder. This summer’s music options include the obvious gems like Capitol Hill Block Party (July 25-27) and Bumbershoot (August 30-September 1), and we’re impressed once again with these events’ lineups that continue to “wow.”
Yet the options this year abound even more so than in summers past, and we’re confident that no matter your music preference or concert/festival style, you’ll find something(s) that feels just right. The following list is only a sampling of ideas—yes, there are even more!—featuring fests that are new, others that are free, and some that, simply put, you just won’t want to miss.
If you don’t already know why you love calling this city “home,” the Summer Bonfire Series at Golden Gardens presented by Artist Home will surely seal the deal. Three magical beach concerts take place throughout the summer, and the first one happens Sunday, July 20. BYO picnic blankets and provisions; the killer views, crackling bonfire and live music (bands TBD) are provided. (The event’s free, but bring cash for the circulating tip jar.)
For downtown daytime musica throughout the summer, check out the Out to Lunch Concert Series lineup to catch musicians like Naomi Wachira Friday, July 11, Kris Orlowski Wednesday, August 13, the Dusty 45s Friday, August 15, and Dehli 2 Dublin Thursday, September 4.
KEXP and Seattle Center put on Concerts at the Mural Fridays in August; for example, the “Swinging Roadhouse” showcase August 22 brings to the stage (perched just beneath the Space Needle) Lee Bains III and the Glory, Fires, Star Anna and Mark Pickerel and His Praying Hands.
The Olympic Sculpture Park gets in the mix with the free SAM Performs series every Thursday from July 10 through August 28 from 6 to 9 p.m. Soak in city views and live tunes, while enjoying snacks from a caravan of local food trucks or wine and dinner fare from on-site Taste Restaurant.
PIECE DE RESISTANCE
In our humble opinion, Pickathon—a friendly gathering down on Pendarvis Farm outside of Portland—steals the show. Zale Schoenborn helped launch the event 16 years ago, in what began as a small gathering of less than 100 music lovers representing all genres. Since then, the event has experienced positive “slow growth” and a tribe of loyal fans. There is something nearly mystical about this feel-good, family-friendly gathering that brings kind people and incredible talents to a serene, storybook setting. This year’s festival (August 1-3) features bands like The War on Drugs, Blind Pilot, Gregory Alan Isakov, Angel Olsen, Shakey Graves, Nickel Creek, War Paint and many others. Take our word for it, this annual gathering is well worth the short trek south.
INTO THE WILD: ZOO TUNES
A summer tradition for 30-plus years, the Woodland Park Zoo hosts the aptly-named Zoo Tunes yet again this year in its picturesque North Meadow. An alluring schedule boasts names like Josh Ritter & The Royal City Band with Lake Street Dive (July 30), Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue plus Galactic (August 17) and reggae master Ziggy Marley (August 24).
Ziggy Marley photo by Malia James
NOTABLE NEWBIE: GIGANTIC BICYCLE FESTIVAL
This year the Pacific Northwest’s annual summer celebration of bike culture introduces an awesome music itinerary to Snoqualmie August 23-24. The Gigantic Bicycle Festival weekend features performances by bands like Menomena, Telekinesis, Hey Marseilles, The Moondoggies and Anomie Belle, in addition to hand-built bicycles, visual and performance art, installation, film and guest speakers. Sticking with the fest’s theme, about one-third of attendees arrive at the grounds via bicycle after leaving Magnuson Park early in the morning on August 23. Registered riders and festival goers enjoy overnight field camping (with a view of Mt Si).
We warned you that the list goes on and on, so be sure to also check out the Snoqualmie Casino Summer Series, the list of big-name bands featured at Marymoor and the Summer Concert Series at Chateau Ste Michelle (the Gipsy Kings 25th Anniversary Tour comes through August 22, and you can catch legends Crosby, Stills & Nash September 13-14).
Timber! Outdoor Music Festival comes to Carnation, Washington, July 24 through 26, featuring some local favorites like Seattle Rock Orchestra, Damien Jurado, The Comettes and Mikey and Matty.
And though we’ve yet to check out this one firsthand, the Doe Bay Fest (August 7-11) on Orcas Island gets raves reviews for being an indescribably awesome and distinctly Northwest experience. (Count us in.)
Hmm where to begin? Happy planning, music lovers!