The world-renowned music and arts festival returns Labor Day Weekend, but the allure of Seattle’s music scene stretches past a single weekend or venue.
By Kristine White
Bumbershoot Wristbands Courtesy David Conger
Every Labor Day Weekend since 1971, Bumbershoot—now one of the largest music and arts festivals in North America—has packed Seattle Center’s indoor and outdoor venues with the best contemporary acts in music, comedy, film, visual arts, and more. Whether you’re one of the thousands of fans who’ll flock here August 30 to September 1, 2019, to see stars like The Lumineers and Carly Rae Jepsen, or traveling to Seattle any other time this summer, Bumbershoot is a reminder that Seattle has a rich music culture and a wide array of voices and talent. It’s easy to fill every moment of a visit here with musical memories, even outside the festival doors.
Jimi Hendrix Statue shutterstock
Get your bearings at the Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP) (*325 Fifth Ave N). The colorful Seattle Center building, inspired by a smashed guitar, houses a vast collection of artifacts and memorabilia from local legends Jimi Hendrix and Nirvana, including Kurt Cobain’s Fender Stratocaster. Feeling inspired? In the Jam Studio, record your own big hit then download it for free to share with all of your fans. (For more Hendrix love, find his bronze statue on Capitol Hill, memorializing the rock icon for a perfect photo-op.)
Did you know Seattle had its own Beatlemania connection? The famous photo of the Fab Four fishing from their hotel room window was taken at The Edgewater Hotel (*2411 Alaskan Way). Suite 272, the very room they stayed in, is available for booking and is decorated with Beatles photography and memorabilia. You can hold more pieces of history in your hands at Ballard’s Bop Street Records (2220 NW Market St), named by The Wall Street Journal as one of the top five music stores in America. With more than 500,000 vinyl records in stock, there’s something for everyone here.
Buskers at Pike Place Market Suzi Pratt
You’ll find an eclectic mix of buskers every day at Pike Place Market (*First Ave and Pike St), performing with everything from violins to puppets. You never know who you’ll hear—earlier this year, Brandi Carlile and Dave Grohl of The Foo Fighters surprised fans with an impromptu performance.
Close by, in Belltown, The Crocodile (2200 Second Ave) was the place to see stars such as Mudhoney and Pearl Jam during the ’90s grunge era. Seattle Weekly described it as “a central meeting place for Seattle’s world famous music scene”—and it’s still elevating local heroes and international stars to this day. To catch more local, national, and international talent at the brink of fame, visit the The Showbox (1426 First Ave) just across from Pike Place Market. Over the past 80 years, this venue has hosted everyone from Duke Ellington to pre-mainstream Macklemore and Ryan Lewis.
Locals frequent High Dive (513 N 36th St) in the musically inclined Fremont neighborhood for homegrown shows and karaoke. Closer to downtown, KEXP (*472 First Ave N) in Seattle Center offers daily tours at 10am and 2pm and the opportunity to catch live recording sessions. The studio’s adjoining Gathering Space provides a public area where the community can connect and share their love for music and the arts. Of course, wherever and whenever you are, you can hear Pacific Northwest talent by tuning into KEXP 90.3 on the radio or online.
Need to feed your stomach as well as your ears? Dick’s Drive-In (*various locations) has been a Seattle staple for more than 60 years, and Sir Mix-A-Lot immortalized the burger chain in his song “Posse on Broadway.” After a long day of music madness, Dick’s is open until 2am, keeping the city rockin’ and rolling.
*Visit Seattle Partner