The Best Live Music Venues In Seattle

Photo of Sarah Lantz
13 January 2017

Washington State, known for its grunge and rock icons like Jimi Hendrix and Kurt Cobain, draws plenty of musical brilliance to its largest city, Seattle. Here you can find all sorts of venues that claim legendary performances from artists like Nirvana, R.E.M., and Radiohead, as well as draw new performers to their stages. Here are five of Culture Trip’s favorite venues in the city.

Loch Lomond at Tractor Tavern | © Tyson Lynn/Flickr

Tractor Tavern

Attracting country, folk, blues, indie pop, and all sorts of artists from across the world, Tractor Tavern is a cozy, happy, and relaxed venue to go for some alcohol and live music. It may be one of the most underrated places in Seattle for music, without the historic overhyped grunge scene of The Crocodile or Neumo’s. Located in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle, it’s a 20-year-old establishment that caters to its own niche of music, doing things like hosting a 2008 show of the then little known English band Mumford & Sons. It’s a small venue to give many bands and artists the exposure they need to become known, such as James Blake who played his first Seattle concert at Tractor Tavern.

Tractor Tavern, 5213 Ballard Ave NW Seattle, WA USA +1 206-789-3599

Bassnectar at The Showbox | © Michael Holden/Flickr

The Showbox

A music fixture of downtown since 1939, the Showbox has hosted all sorts of artists, including the grunge gods like Pearl Jam and Seattle favorites like Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. This year they’ve got upcoming acts like RATATAT, Doomtree, and Django Django . They’ve also expanded to the industrial Sodo district of Seattle to provide a larger music space that has attracted artists like M.I.A. and the Hives since 2007.

The Showbox, 1426 1st Ave Seattle, WA USA +1 206-628-3151

The Crocodile

This historic bar of the grungy Seattle ’90s boasts past performances from iconic artists like R.E.M., Nirvana, and Mudhoney. Today it’s a host of indie pop and rock groups as well as alternative, hip hop, and folk artists. On their list of bands and acts set to play at The Crocodile includes Alt-J, Jessie Ware, and Ben Gibbard. They’ve also got a back bar where they serve hot pizza and refreshing drinks every night; it’s also where they host smaller events when the showroom’s not in use.

The Crocodile, 2200 2nd Ave Seattle, WA USA +1 206-441-4618

Paramount Theatre

Around in Seattle since the 1920s when silent movies and vaudeville was all the rage and talkies had yet to be invented, the Paramount Theatre is today one of Seattle’s most treasured venues for music, plays, and musicals as well as comedians and speakers. They also host larger musical events like Modest Mouse and Death Cab for Cutie, as they have nearly 3,000 seats. Pink Floyd, The Grateful Dead, and Nirvana have all played at the Paramount.

The Paramount, 911 Pine St Seattle, WA USA +1 206-682-1414

Joy Formidable at Neptune | © Seattle Theatre Group/Flickr

Neptune Theatre

Another 1920s theater in Seattle, the Neptune is a small theater with a lot of character smack in the heart of the University District. Amongst the students and buses going up and down 45th Street to the University of Washington’s campus, it’s easy to miss it, but the Neptune is hardly forgettable for its college, hole-in-the-wall atmosphere where lines pile up outside for various music events. From Rocky Horror Picture Show screenings to hosting indie bands, Neptune Theatre attracts all sorts of attention and love.

Neptune Theatre, 1303 NE 45th St Seattle, WA USA +1 206-682-1414

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