It’s no secret that Seattle has been the birthplace to many famous bands over the years—Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Fleet Foxes, and Heart, to name just a few. It makes sense that a city so steeped in artistic talent would have an excellent selection of live music venues.
There is a type of music venue for every kind of listener in Seattle. Interested in popular performers and sold-out crowds? Try a stadium show. Drawn to underground artists and powerful lyrics? Check out an intimate theater or bar. Whatever you’re in the mood to hear, Seattle has just the places to listen.
1. The Triple Door
Located in downtown Seattle, The Triple Door hosts everything from live music to burlesque shows. The venue itself still holds hints of its vaudeville house origins in its decor, making it feel like you’re stepping back in time.
The booths are arranged so that you are guaranteed a good view of the stage from nearly any seat in the house. You can arrive early and order dinner or small bites, but you can also continue to place food and drink orders throughout the show as well.
If you’re strolling through Capitol Hill in the daylight, Neumos may be easy to miss, nestled unassumingly on a corner surrounded by bars and restaurants. It’s well worth your time NOT to miss it though, as it features a wide selection of local and national talent. They even have nights dedicated to dancing, with themes like 70’s pop, Beyonce songs, and throwback indie jams.
A mid-size venue, Neumos offers an excellent sound system as well as three bars. It’s also a great place to find your favorite bands, as well as to get introduced to new talent. Its location makes it easy to extend your evening, grabbing some dinner before the show or exploring the local bars afterwards. Do keep in mind that seating is limited, although it can be reserved in advance if you need ADA accommodations.
3. Tractor Tavern
A little gem in the heart of Ballard, Tractor Tavern offers performances from a diverse variety of artists and musical genres. The majority of shows are standing room only, with the exception of a bench that runs the length of one of the walls. While this does mean that you need to get to the venue early if you’re hoping to secure a seat, it also provides plenty of opportunities to dance and move with the music.
Tractor Tavern does not sell food, but there are plenty of dining options in the area if you are hungry. You can even pick up food and bring it to the show if you’d like. If you enjoy your music loud and love being close to the stage, Tractor Tavern is an excellent choice.
4. Climate Pledge Arena
With a concert seating capacity of about 17,000 people, Climate Pledge Arena provides the space to see big name acts in a slightly smaller setting. You still get the atmosphere and energy of the thousands of fans, but you can see the stage much better than you might be able to at a stadium concert.
A general admission ticket will likely get you closest to the stage on the ground floor. If that’s your jam, be sure to show up to the event early. If you prefer to enjoy your shows seated with a beverage in hand, there are plenty of options to purchase food and drink in the arena.
5. Sunset Tavern
If you’re looking for a no-frills place to hear some good music, the Sunset Tavern is it. Located in Ballard, it has clung to its roots amid a sea of neighborhood changes, offering reasonably priced drinks, friendly staff, and a solid mix of rock, punk, comedy, and electronica.
In the front of the establishment, you’ll find Betty’s Room, a bar area perfect for grabbing drinks before or after a show. An added bonus? Never expect a cover charge for the front bar. In the back, you’ll find the showroom itself, a low-ceilinged and intimate venue that allows you to feel connected to the performers. Tickets here hover around the fifteen-dollar mark and all shows are 21 and up.
6. The Crocodile
Proclaiming itself to be the place to go for “momentous music experiences”, The Crocodile is a beloved Seattle venue with a rich history. Since it first opened its doors in 1991, it has hosted a range of artists and popular performers, including Yoko Ono, Nirvana, and Snoop Dogg. It was even featured in a Rolling Stone article about the best small clubs in the country.
While it recently underwent a renovation that expanded its capacity to about 750 patrons, The Crocodile still offers a unique and personal listening experience. In addition to The Crocodile Room itself, customers can now enjoy multiple spaces within the venue, including a hotel, comedy club, and a downstairs showroom, Madame Lou’s.
7. The Moore Theater
While the Moore Theater offers a wide variety of events, like Broadway and stand up performances, it also has a great selection of musical shows across genres. The Moore itself is a slice of history, opening in 1907 and holding the title for the oldest theater in Seattle. The staggered seating, sloped ramps, and arched ceiling add a feeling of timeless elegance to any show.
There is a small concession stand which offers drink specials, small bites, and a limited selection of catered snacks. You can enjoy these in the lobby or carry them back with you to your seats. Because of the venue’s size and the arrangement of the seating, you can get a pretty good view from anywhere in the house. The Moore is also right in the hustle and bustle of downtown Seattle and is a quick walk to Pike Place, making it easy to plan for a dinner or daytime excursion before or after a show.
8. The Showbox
The Showbox is known for its variety in musical entertainment, featuring big names over the decades like The Ramones and Muddy Waters, as well as more local artists. Located across the street from Seattle’s famous Pike Place Market, this venue offers several ways to enjoy your music, including standing at the mainstage or sipping at the main bar.
If you’re traveling, The Showbox also has a partnership with two neighboring hotels, The Roosevelt and Hotel Max. You can check these out for a small discount, perfect for visiting folks who are eager to catch a show at one of the city’s staple venues and explore some classic Seattle sites after.
9. Sea Monster Lounge
An aquamarine haven, the Sea Monster Lounge in Wallingford is the perfect place to catch some live jazz and funk. With the variety in tables and seating, you can choose to enjoy performances up front and center or tuck yourself away for a more relaxed experience. You can even catch live performances every night of the week, regardless of your personal schedule.
If you’re interested in small bites or a meal, the Sea Monster also offers classic bar fare paired with friendly service. An avid dancer? Join your peers for salsa night and move the night away. Whatever your vibe, you can pick the live music that most suits your mood.
10. KEXP Live Studios
You may have caught some tunes on KEXP, one of Seattle’s most famous nonprofit radio stations, but did you know that they offer free shows in their studio? Well, they do! KEXP’s Live Room Viewing Gallery can host up to 70 people and offers the chance to hear great talent in a small space, as well as take a peek at some of the technical processes, like video production.
If you love a spontaneous musical experience, this one might check all your boxes. To sign up for an In-Studio performance at KEXP, you need to wait until the day of, sign up in person an hour and a half before the show, and line up 15 minutes prior to the start time. While these may sound like a lot of requirements, do keep in mind that this is a rare opportunity to catch special performances at no cost.
Musical talent comes in all shapes and sizes in Seattle and the music venues themselves reflect that diversity in genre, style, and sound. Whether you have a carefully crafted night of musical entertainment planned or you’re waiting to see where the wind (and rain) take you, chances are you will have a melodic and memorable adventure.