Seattle’s Best Live Music Venues to Visit

Photo by Christopher Nelson, courtesy of Neptune Theatre

Seattle has more music venues than it’s possible to list at once, and while this poses a logistical problem for this article, it also means we’re collectively spoiled for choice. As the unofficial capital of grunge in the 1990s, the home of Sub Pop, and the busking spot of choice for a young Brandy Carlyle, the city has seen more than a few musical acts reach their peak levels of fame. That said, it’s one of the best places to catch an indie rock show on a Thursday night with your friends and bandmates in tow. Ahead, Seattle’s best music venues for big celebrities, humble newcomers, and every act in between.

Sunset Tavern
Photo courtesy of Sunset Tavern

Ballard
Arguably Seattle’s best dive-bar-slash-venue, Sunset Tavern is the kind of place where you can catch indie bands from the East Coast (Gustaf, Delicate Steve), as well as a ton of local PNW acts (Tomatron, Sunbath). , most of which will only set you back $12. Décor-wise, this former Chinese restaurant-turned-music venue is as charming and charming as you’d expect.
Where to eat and drink nearby: Hattie’s Hat, WeRo, Parish NW

Belltown
Crocodile has changed a lot over the past few years, most notably moving venues from their old location (also in Belltown) to the old El Gaucho building, where they now have multiple stages, a one-seat comedy club, and 17-room hotel (apparently the likes of Bikini Kill and Radiohead used to play upstairs at Pacific Hall’s Sellers Union). Most importantly, though, it’s still home to some of the city’s best indie shows, so don’t let the new venue scare you off.
Where to eat and drink nearby: Umi Sake House, Al Basha, Taqueria Cantina

Paramount Theatre
Photo courtesy Paramount Theatre

Downtown
Housed in a nearly 100-year-old theater originally named the Seattle Theater in 1928, the Paramount is appropriately grand for the Roaring Twenties, and yet complete with an intricate golden ceiling, many chandeliers, and an old-school stage. with velvet curtains. You can catch some pretty big name acts here, but expect to pay accordingly for the pomp and sound.
Where to eat and drink nearby: Carlyle Room, Taylor Shellfish Oyster Bar, Kizuki Ramen and Izakaya

U District
Established as a movie theater in 1921 (true locals may remember the 14-year streak it played. Rocky Horror Picture Show once a week in the ’90s), the Neptune is probably the best place to catch an indie band show in the U District. It is also host to the annual Seattle International Film Festival, among other arts and cultural events.
Where to eat and drink nearby: Mountaineering Club, U:Don, Finn MacCool’s Irish Public House

Tractor Tavern
Tractor Tavern

Ballard
Just down the street from Sunset Tavern on Ballard Ave, Tractor Tavern caters to the indie-twang aesthetic we’ve been hearing from bands like Cut Worms and Half Stack, cowboy boots hanging from the ceiling, and a whole lot of western vibes. on all sides. Local bands dominate here and, like Sunset, the shows are delightfully affordable and riotously fun.
Where to eat and drink nearby: Barnacle, Percy’s & Co., Ballard Pizza Company

Moore Theatre
Photo by Bob Cerelli, courtesy of Moore Theatre

Downtown
Completing the non-profit Seattle Theater Group’s trifecta of venues, the Moore Theater is steps from Pike Place Market, AKA, one of the liveliest parts of downtown Seattle. Inside, this landmark 1907 building is less decadent than the Paramount, but just as historic and fun as catching a show in an old-school movie palace seat.
Where to eat and drink nearby: Aburia Bento House, Cloudburst Brewing, Jupiter Bar

Capitol Hill
Tucked away on Pike Street in the basement of its sister venue Neumos, Barboza is the kind of small club that can’t fill a big space—like, Neumos—yet. So, it’s perfect for a casual night of good music, and if you’re eager to bust out some moves, $3 and free dance parties are some of the easiest (and cheapest) ways to have a good time in Cap Hill these days. .
Where to eat and drink nearby: Through Oddfellows, Tribunali, Havana

neumes
Photo courtesy of Neumos

Capitol Hill
Neumos might seem like a random gibberish name but that’s only until you learn the history of the venue, which includes, briefly, Moe’s M’Roc’N Café and its relaunch into the New Moe’s in 2003 (get it?). These days, this venue hosts all the cool indie bands you know and love in one prime Capitol Hill location just steps away from our favorite bars and restaurants.
Where to eat and drink nearby: Boat Bar, Pony, Linda’s Tavern

Capitol Hill
While some might argue that Cafe Racer hasn’t been the same since moving locations from the U District to Capitol Hill, this new era for Seattle’s beloved mainstay is shaping up to be just as fun as the last. Come here for open mic night, comedy, karaoke, indie rock, Sunday jazz, or very good drinks from locals like Megadose and No Cover.
Where to eat and drink nearby: Comet Tavern, Karachi Cowboy, Light Sleeper

Sea Monster Lounge
Photo courtesy of Sea Monster Lounge

U District
Jazz and funks are easy to find in the U District at Sea Monster Lounge, a small venue on the main drag of N 45th Street that has free live music on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Later it can get quite packed but usually in a fun, non-claustrophobic way.
Where to eat and drink nearby: Octopus Bar, TNT Taqueria, Dick’s

Downtown
This landmark jazz club, family owned and operated since 1979, is one of those bucket list venues that has played a defining role in Seattle’s music scene. Often playing host to some of the most iconic jazz acts of our time, Jazz Alley boasts both legends and newcomers alike.
Where to eat and drink nearby: Wilmott’s Ghost, Mamnoon Street, Deep Dive

Showbox
Photo courtesy of Showbox

Downtown
The Showbox has been a mainstay of the Seattle music scene since it opened in 1939 (hosting the likes of Duke Ellington, the Ramones and Soundgarden), so much so that STG actually offered to buy it in 2019, in partnership with Historic Seattle. It remains to be seen if this deal actually goes through but regardless, there could be a lot of good music here in the meantime.
Where to eat and drink nearby: Old cooking stove, Maximilian, Alibi room

Triple door
Photo courtesy of Triple Door

Downtown
A former vaudeville house turned movie theater turned music venue, The Triple Door is another cornerstone of Seattle’s historic music scene located in the heart of downtown, next to Benaroya Hall on Union Street. Swankier than its other counterparts, you can expect a sit-down, dinner-and-show kind of night here.
Where to eat and drink nearby: Ben Paris, Seattle Beer Co., Purple Cafe and Wine Bar

Fremont
Substation is truly a no-frills watering hole for locals who love local music. A cool little stage and dance floor always makes for an intimate performance, and the neighborhood combo of Bad Jimmy’s and Big Mario’s makes for the perfect weekday (or weekend) night out.
Where to eat and drink nearby: Bad Jimmy’s Brewing Co, 4Bs, Big Mario’s Pizza

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Emma Banks is a contributor to Thrillist.

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