From Funk to Photo Booth
The Seattle music scene is about WAY more than Kurt Cobain worship (although, yeah, that’s there if you want it). The city that became famous for grunge rock in the ’80s and ’90s is still host to incredible live shows of all genres, in unexpected corners. May we suggest a few off-the-beaten-path venues?
Vito’s — You know you’ve found a good spot when the motto is “Behaving badly since 1953.” Five days a week, this Italian joint in First Hill features live music. On December 27, Wally Shoup Quartet offers a film noir soundtrack to serenade diners looking for a little darkness. Book your tickets now for New Year’s Eve, when local trio Afrocop performs their “improvised soundscapes,” culled from inspirations as diverse as sci-fi, jazz, and soul. And did we mention that this place serves delicious pastas? If you’re looking for red sauce and a rad performance, this is definitely your spot.
Tractor — Around for 20 years, Tractor Tavern boasts one of the best line-ups Seattle has to offer, just north of the city. The honky tonk vibe (a cow skull at the back of the stage, tires affixed to brick walls, etc.) belies a diverse calendar. Leave it to Tractor to host both a Subversive Square Dance event this month in addition to a funk celebration on New Year’s.
Sunset Tavern — At Sunset Tavern in Ballard, you’re in for cocktails, a photo booth, and no cover. Out front, Betty’s Room is itself worth a visit: it’s a dim, intimate lounge with wood paneling, pretzels, and peanuts that’ll make locals and out-of-towners alike feel at home.
Motown Mondays at Bar Sue — Motown Mondays at Bar Sue offers danceable old timey hits, played by local DJs. Soulful and sweaty, the event brings good vibes only through funk, boogie, and disco tunes. Plus, go on the right night and you’ll enjoy drink specials. Come early and you’ll get in the door free. Now there’s something to feel good about.
Rendezvous — Established in 1921, Rendezvous has been entertaining Seattle for a very long time. You’ll find The Grotto speakeasy downstairs, a small venue for cozy shows. The restored Jewelbox Theater, which looks like a room straight out of the 1930s, hosts holiday-themed burlesque, a trashy comedic take on Valley of the Dolls, and improvised yuletide hip-hop this month.
Kell’s — Sure, if you’re just looking for an Irish bar, Kell’s will fit the bill. Located above Pike Place Market, the place serves the city’s largest single malt scotch collection, sausage rolls, and steak and kidney pie. But don’t forget: they’ve got live music too. Irish tunes play every night, and you can start partying as early as 11:30am, when the bar opens each day.