The power of music cannot be understated and live music venues in Seattle offer a multitude of options throughout the city. While many of the more popular venues are concentrated in the downtown area, neighborhoods to the north such as the University District and Fremont offer clubs with smaller stages in an inviting atmosphere. In a city that embraces its culture and artists, concertgoers in Seattle are never short on options.
1426 1st Ave.
A live entertainment destination since the 1930s, the Showbox has a long history interwoven with Seattle's music scene. For decades, the venue has hosted diverse acts, from Thelonious Monk in its earliest days to modern performers such as Kanye West, Maroon 5 and Daft Punk. Part of the appeal is the location—just steps from a Pike Place Market in the heart of downtown. As there is limited seating, standing near the bar in the back left corner is a great way to see bands and enjoy the room’s excellent acoustics. If you find the main performance space a little crowded, the quaint bar attached in front is perfect for relaxing with an adult beverage. The venue is an integral part of the local music community and continues to host of over 200 shows a year from a wide variety of genres.
925 E Pike St.
Neumo’s began its life in 1994 as a venue called “Moe’s Mo’Roc’N Café.” The city’s music scene was thriving due to the popularity of grunge, and the owners wanted to create the best sounding room and customer experience possible, in a venue designed around the artist. The spacious, subterranean greenrooms, generous pay to performers and hospitable staff quickly established the space as a desirable stop for many touring bands. In 2003, the space was reopened as Neumos (pronounced “new moe’s"). The venue has three bars, including a second floor mezzanine and balcony overlooking the stage. The building also houses a fish n’ chips eatery and two hip bars named Moe, and Barboza, located on the lower level.
The Crocodile Cafe
2200 2nd Ave.
The Crocodile Cafe opened April 30, 1991 coinciding almost exactly with the explosion of the grunge movement in popular culture. Located in the Belltown neighborhood, the club quickly became a fixture in the local music scene. The venue hosted numerous local acts who would aspire to critical and popular acclaim including Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Mudhoney, The Posies and Death Cab for Cutie. After opening the Crocodile, owner Stephanie Dorgan went on to marry Peter Buck of R.E.M., who became a partner in the business. Buck and Dorgan divorced in 2006 and the Crocodile closed suddenly in 2007. A little over a year later, the venue reopened, purchased by a group of business people and musicians. Through the front doors, you’ll find a large stage and performance space, while a cozy bar and restaurant is tucked away in the rear. Today, the Crocodile maintains its hip authenticity while catering to both emerging and established artists.
The Moore Theatre
1932 2nd Ave
The Moore Theatre is an enormous 1,400 seat performing arts venue centrally located in the city, just two blocks from Pike Place Market. It is the oldest still-active theatre in Seattle. Opening in 1907, the Moore’s designers spared no expense, utilizing innovative architecture, luxurious materials and impeccable decor. In its infancy, the theatre and adjoined Moore Hotel served as a lavish social venue for Seattle’s early 20th Century elite. Currently the venue hosts acclaimed international music acts, theatrical productions and occasional lectures. With great acoustics, seating and atmosphere, the Moore promises a monumental entertainment experience.
109 Eastlake Ave.
Situated in the formerly industrial, but rapidly developing East Lake neighborhood you’ll find El Corazon. The venue is a mid-size performing space, and like many other clubs in Seattle, has a history closely associated with the popularity of grunge in the early 90s. At that time, the space was known as the Off-Ramp, as it’s situated near an an I-5 exit. Another incarnation of the spot was known as Graceland before finally landing on its current moniker. El Corazon is a no-frills, darkly-lit rock establishment offering the opportunity for both local acts and touring bands to perform. The venue remains relevant in the local music scene, employing musicians and fostering a sense of rock ’n’ roll community.
The Comet Tavern
922 E Pike St.
Residing in the heart of the city’s hip Capitol Hill neighborhood is the Comet, one of the final remaining dive bars in the area. Popular with the more trendy set, the Comet has hosted live music for decades. It’s an interesting space in that on any given night you could see anything from a group performing its first show to internationally renowned touring acts. The venue unexpectedly closed in 2013, sparking rumors of corporate development. The following month, local nightlife entrepreneurs Dave Meinart and Jason Lajeunesse took over the lease. Lajeunesse squashed rumors of development by stating his commitment was to “preserve and create small, independent businesses because they benefit the city culturally and financially. If neighborhood legends like the Comet Tavern turn into chain restaurants, the soul of the city is gone.”