Let The Music Play: Celebrating Seattle’s Iconic Venues

Words by Matthew Vanatta
Photos by Jake Hanson

With a rich musical history spanning from the early 1900’s to the present time, Seattle is a music city through and through. It may be the most musically rich city in the country per capita outside of maybe Nashville and was the birthplace of the iconic grunge scene that would define modern rock music for decades to come.

Seattle’s music scene is rich and diverse spanning all genres from the most mainstream of mainstream to the eclectic and bizarre. Every night of the week you’ll find one of Seattle’s iconic music venues playing host to a wide range of national and local acts. There is something for everyone in the emerald city, and the venues are as unique as the acts they feature.

From Hendrix to Cobain, Seattle’s music venues are entrenched in lore and glory. With so many incredible acts calling Seattle home it is essential for any true music head to catch a show at one of these iconic venues. With Seattle’s latest boom many of our most treasured venues are on the verge of being redeveloped, so the time to support them is now.

The Showbox-

Situated across from the world-famous Pike Place Market sits one of Seattle’s most iconic and culturally significant venues’ The Showbox. The Showbox was founded in 1939 and stands (for now) as a testament to Seattle’s music history as the stored club has hosted acts from Duke Ellington to The Flaming Lips. While the Showbox has had a unique and sometimes tumultuous history it stands as one of the great music venues on the West Coast and has been instrumental in launching the careers of some of the most successful regional, national, and international acts.

The Crocodile-

The Crocodile is a located a few blocks down from the Showbox in Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood. The Crocodile or The Crocodile Cafe was first opened in the early 1990’s and quickly became a fixture in the local music scene, most notably for being a springboard for Seattle’s iconic rock band Nirvana. The Croc closed in 2007, but was reopened to much fanfare in 2007 and has been steadily holding down Seattle’s music scene ever since.

Neumos-

Located in Seattle’s young and hip Capitol Hill neighborhood Neumos is a long-standing venue that hosts many national and local indy groups of all genres. Fancy yourself a dancer, Neumos hosts some epic dance nights featuring everything from pop to 90’s hip-hop. Upcoming shows include both local and regional acts like Chief Keef, The Cave Singers, Ty Segall, and Thee Oh Sees.

The Tractor Tavern-

A little bit country a little bit rock and roll The Tractor as it’s called by most locals is a bastion of Seattle’s prominent folk rock, country, and bluegrass scene. Started over 20 years ago in historic Ballard, The Tractor has stayed true to its roots in a sea of continual change. Ballard has lost some of its rugged blue-collar vibes, but you can still grab a cold one and listen to some down-home American twang on any given night at The Tractor.

The Moore-

While the Moore is a multi-purpose venue hosting everything from Broadway-caliber plays to some of the most prominent names in stand up comedy, it is also a favorite theater for national music acts that prefer mid-sized clubs over stadiums. The Moore is 1,800 seats and generally pulls national acts including upcoming shows with Lucius and Jeff Tweedy. Located in Downtown Seattle it’s an awesome place to catch a show for out of towners and locals alike. 

The Paramount-

The Paramount is Seattle’s premier large music venue at over 2,000 seats. Recognized by its iconic marque and light-studded sign The Paramount is where the heavy’s play when they’re in town and want something more intimate than Key Arena or WaMu Theater. The Paramount originally opened in 1928 and its historic ambiance can still be felt in the vaulted ceilings and sweeping theater seating. If you have ever wanted to catch bands like Modest Mouse or The War on Drugs outside of a large festival The Paramount is the best venue in town.

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