Chamber Music Society Summer Festival
Twelve chamber music concerts, preceded by free recitals and followed by conversations with musicians, plus a free performance in Volunteer Park, free open rehearsals, a family concert for kids, live broadcasts in parks around the city and on the radio: All this is the feast of music by top-caliber musicians which is Seattle Chamber Music Society’s Summer Festival.
I know Helen Gillet from her solo performances at Bacchanal in New Orleans, a well-appointed wine bar in the Bywater that boasts a gorgeous, ramshackle backyard garden with a tiny stage. Gillet is known to hold court here, further thickening the already sultry air with her lustrous voice and thrumming cello, going weird with electro-acoustic folk instrumentation and a loop pedal. Tonight she’ll play one set solo and another accompanied by powerhouse saxophonist Jessica Lurie and drummer Tarik Abouzied. This is as close to contemporary NOLA as Seattle gets.
Huun Huur Tu
Be warned/intrigued: Mongolian quartet Huun Huur Tu sounds like nothing you’ve heard before. They’re throat singers, meaning all four men can sing multiple notes at the same time, harmonizing with themselves as well as each other, in several octaves at once. The result is a weird, buzzing, ululating sound that mimics the natural world, like a burbling river topped by discreet splashes and dunks—only made by human beings. This music is an instant transportation device; you’ll close your eyes and find yourself suddenly whisked to the vast, windswept steppe, epic vistas sprawling all around, and you’ll feel some indescribable ancient magic.
Timber! Outdoor Music Festival
Year after year the good-times tacticians at Timber! Fest build a better lineup and more robust experience—and this year looks to be the best yet, beginning with a killer lineup. The anxious, ingenious indie rockers of Car Seat Headrest headline, backed by Kyle Craft’s anthemic shredding, Polyrhythmics’ psychedelic Afrobeat, Courtney Marie Andrews’ intrepid country-rock, Thao Nguyen’s brainy folk-rock and, wildest of all, post-jazz quartet Industrial Revelation paired with the two dances of Northwest Tap Connection. Word is there will be more secret shows indoors and out this year, so keep your ears open for music where you least expect it.
Tolt-MacDonald Park, Carnation
West Seattle Summer Fest
Three days of free live music and beer gardening in the sunshine—all you have to do is get to West Seattle. The lineup for this annual neighborhood shindig is typically fantastic and heavy on raucous, high-volume rock: Dude York is playing at their power-pop peak right now; blues rockers the Black Tones become more immense with every gig; Fruit Juice brings the glammy weird; Hyways’ recent debut album is a masterful sojourn into cosmic country; big riffers Gypsy Temple with Misunderstood floored us at Upstream. That’s a lot to love—and drink—over three days, but that’s what summer is for.
The Junction, West Seattle
With a fey name like that and a SoundCloud profile pic that bears an uncanny resemblance to Zack Morris’ yearbook photo, Yung Bae is easy to dismiss, a millennial Instagram brand turned dance-club dilettante. And yet we’re undeniably drawn to the Portland-based producer’s neon-bright, chrome-slick, bass-boosted take on disco and funk, as heard on many Soundcloud singles, mashing up styles and sounds from a certain era common across the world. No small amount of mainstream disco was as fluffy and insubstantial as fine cocaine, and we find no fault in the youngs following those footsteps. Tonight will be a groovy pleasure, guilty or otherwise.
Despite the diet of Hendrix he consumed growing up, Niger-born singer-guitarist Omara “Bombino” Moctar has lived a life very different from you or me, one that saw he and his Tuareg family forcibly relocated from their homes, their instruments routinely confiscated and their music banned. But Bombino has not only survived but thrived in the 800-year-old city of Agadez, and his music—propulsive, entrancing desert rock—has found its way west, embraced by open-minded connoisseurs and produced by tastemakers like Dan Auerbach and David Longstreth. Nevermind the white-guy cosign: As heard on his just-released album Deran, Bombino rips entirely on his own terms.
This is true hipster pedigree: Hollie Cook is the daughter of Paul Cook, drummer for the Sex Pistols; her godfather is Boy George; she performed in the latter-day incarnation of iconic post-punk band the Slits. More importantly, since 2011 the singer-songwriter-keyboardist has partnered with UK producer Prince Fatty to record three albums of timeless, reggae-inflected pop, her radiant vocals shining above synth-heavy, slow-swaying grooves—an alluring style of nocturnal island soul, incandescent like a crescent moon on ocean waves.
Lovelee Dae feat. Justice & Treasure, Pappa T, Jeromy Nail, Joey Webb and Jason Tokita
The supreme summertime pleasure of a daytime house-music party is something we don’t get a lot of in Seattle, so best indulge while you can. From 4–10 p.m. today, Monkey Loft’s roof deck will be in full effect for sunshine and city views, plus DJs from Seattle and San Francisco who specialize in that feelgood, hands-in-the-air style of house. Given the lineup, expect a colorful crowd of a certain age—the kind of folks who’ve done this sorta thing before and have pretty much perfected the art.