A recent study revealed Seattle is the most hipster locale in the United States, narrowly beating Portland for the top spot, thanks to its concentration of small businesses appealing to the cool and connected. The city that gave the world Jimi Hendrix and Nirvana certainly lives up to its musical legacy, with a swathe of live entertainment venues showcasing everything from grunge to jazz. Strap on your converse and your band t-shirt and experience Seattle like a local.
A grunge haven loved by musicians and audiences alike
Originally opened as Moe’s Mo Roc’n Café in 1992, this grunge haven was born from a desire to break away from convention and create an intimate, artist-centric space. This approach saw it grow into one of the top venues loved by musicians and audiences alike. Some stand out moments include the debut performance of Neil Young’s collaboration with Pearl Jam, a 40 person turn out for No Doubt’s first pass through town and a free Radiohead show that caused near riots when the room hit capacity. Relaunched as Neumos in 2003, the venue still hosts many big-ticket acts including The Shins, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and MGMT, as well as showcasing emerging talent for the local scene. With three full service bars, a mezzanine and a balcony that overlooks the showroom, Neumos is the perfect place to rub shoulders with Seattle’s most fervent music fans.
925 E Pike St, Captial Hill
206 709 9442
Columbia City Theater
Washington state’s oldest vaudeville theatre
Built in 1917, this brick-walled venue is the oldest vaudeville theatre in Washington state. Having played a major role in the Seattle Jazz boom in the 40's, the theatre played host to the likes of Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Quincy Jones, Ray Charles and Fats Waller, not to mention being one of the first venues to host the legendary Jimi Hendrix in the 60s. Reoping in 2010 to rave reviews, Columbia City Theater leaves no musical stone unturned, presenting rock, hip-hop, burlesque, electronica and jazz – from Macklemore & Ryan Lewis to Chris Cornell to the Lumineers. Named “The city’s finest sounding room,” by SPIN Magazine, Columbia City Theater definitely belongs on your musical bucket-list.
4916 Rainier Ave, Seattle
206 722 3009
The Showbox at the Market
An art deco gem attracting music heavyweights
Located just across the street from the picture-perfect Pike Place Market, the Showbox at the Market is a Seattle legend. Since it opened in 1939, touring icons such as The Ramones, Prince, The Foo Fighters, Pearl Jam and The Roots have played beneath its stately chandeliers. With a capacity of just over 1,100, the Showbox mostly hosts national and international touring bands – and local bands with the largest draw. With two bars just a few steps above the main floor and great visibility of the stage throughout the venue, this art-deco gem offers that rare mixture of a large venue steeped in history.
1426 1st Avenue, Seattle
+1 206 628 3151
An institution of the grunge scene where Nirvana played for $3
Named ‘one of the best small stages in America’ by Rolling Stone Magazine, The Crocodile, which opened in 1991, hosted some of the most important bands in the grunge era. Highlights include Nirvana (billed as Pen Cap Chew) and Mudhoney in 1992 for $3, not to mention Pearl Jam, Cheap Trick, R.E.M., Mud Honey and Yoko Ono. The venue’s abrupt closure in 2007 left fans reeling, but after months of renovations and reconstruction, the new and improved Crocodile reopened in 2009. Today, The Crocodile hosts a vast range of up and coming local, national and international talent including the likes of the Beastie Boys, Ben Harper and Bombay Bicycle Club. The Back Bar is a popular neighbourhood hangout seven nights a week for intimate gigs for just $5 a pop, as well as karaoke, bingo and burlesque.
2200 2nd Avenue, Seattle
+1 206 441 4618