Best Live Music in Seattle

Talents Continue to Rock Seattle Stages Where Legends Once Reigned

The power of live music to make folks feel good is on full display at a host of Seattle night clubs. If listening to bands and vocalists show off their skills is how you like to spend an evening, you'll find that Seattle does things right. Multiple options let you tap into the venues that 10Best readers favor, like Showbox at the Market, just blocks from downtown's Pike Place Market, or you can get a taste of the city's offerings by visiting spaces like Neumo's, which is known for its rock music at a bustling location in Capitol Hill. While many venues on the local music scene are clustered in the downtown area, remember that terrific places to hear live music can be found all throughout Seattle. Popular neighborhoods north of downtown and Lake Union like Ballard and Fremont feature more intimate venues with smaller stages and friendly vibes.

Consider stopping by the Experience Museum Project by day to learn about the city's storied musical past. By night, plan a musical adventure that will introduce you to some of the scene's up-and-coming talents. To get a feel for current music offerings, pick up a copy of The Stranger or do research on helpful websites like Happy listening!


Showbox at the Market
Photo courtesy of Showbox

Although it's experienced a variety of incarnations, the Showbox today is a must-visit place to catch touring bands. Amid Art Deco columns, young and hip crowds clamor to hear and see their favorite groups. There's even a dance floor for them to show off their moves if the spirit strikes. Plus, several bars accommodate patrons with a good menu of libations. If hunger strikes, check out the Green Room for some Mexican-inspired pub grub. To be one of the first in the door, head to the Green Door (if you're 21 or older) before the show to enjoy food and drinks--and to get an earlier entrance. DJs play when bands aren't booked.

Recommended for Live Music because: Showbox at the Market showcases hip talents that include some of the nation's hottest headliners.

Corinne's expert tip: To be one of the first in the door, if you're 21 years of age or older, the venue welcomes patrons in first who purchase food or drinks in the Green Room (the lounge space at Showbox at the Market, just off the lobby) prior to a show.

Read more about Showbox at the Market →

Paramount Theatre
Photo courtesy of Hip Hop Nutcracker by Tim Norris

Dating to the late 19th century, this venue has been restored to the glory it knew as a movie theater in the 1920s. These days, you can catch acts as diverse as Boyz II Men and The Head and the Heart to Sturgill Simpson and The Beach Boys, and there's even the odd speaking engagement, too (think beloved figures from Dr. Maya Angelou to Anthony Bourdain). Enjoy the sumptuous, gilt-edged surroundings as you take in a show. The ambience is decadent; for example, three million crystal beads adorn 218 chandeliers and light fixtures. If dancing is called for, the seating area quickly converts to a stunning hardwood ballroom floor. The "wow" factor here is definitely worth the trip!

Recommended for Live Music because: Paramount Theater brings big names to a restored historic building. Hear tunes under the 218 chandeliers that adorn the beautiful space.

Corinne's expert tip: Paramount Theatre tours (90 minutes) are offered the first Saturday of every month. Visitors meet by 10 a.m. in front of the main entrance of the theater, on the corner of 9th and Pine.

Read more about Paramount Theatre →

Columbia City Theater
Photo courtesy of brianteutsch

Columbia City Theater boasts one of the most intimate settings for live performances in Seattle, in a charming neighborhood south of the city. Since the venue reopened a few years back, its gotten rave reviews and attracted a flock of loyal fans. Built in 1917 as the first vaudeville theater in the state of Washington, the venue played a major roll in the Seattle jazz boom of the 1940s, hosting stars like Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald and Fats Waller. The theater then served as a neighborhood cinema during the '50s and, in the '60s, the establishment resumed hosting live events yet again. In recent years, highlight performances have included those by The Fleet Foxes, Everclear, Head and the Heart, Pickwick, Damien Jurado, Sera Cahoone, Ravenna Woods, Mikey and Matty, Campfire OK, Grand Hallway and Ivan & Alyosha. Concert goers can first enjoy drinks in the adjoining bar, where local ales, creative cocktails and small plates fill the menu.

Recommended for Live Music because: Columbia City Theater brings impressive acts to an intimate space just south of the city.

Corinne's expert tip: Check out weekly events in the venue's front bar like open mic Tuesdays (at 8 p.m.) and karaoke on Wednesdays.

Read more about Columbia City Theater →


An eclectic lounge hides behind this unassuming storefront off Wallingford's main strip on 45th Street. Featuring live music almost every night of the week, it promises a unique mix of jazz, soul, R&B, and blues. DJs fill the gaps on off-nights. With a fairly small stage, the club delivers an intimate listening experience and a chance to connect with performers. A limited but solid menu, helpful servers, and well-poured drinks increase the attractiveness of this neighborhood gem. Try creative cocktails like the Cucumber and Orange Soda or The Mermaid, a refreshing mix of raspberry stole, muddled lemons, soda and a splash of cranberry juice.

Recommended for Live Music because: SeaMonster Lounger is an unexpected gem in Wallingford. Come here for bands that range from jazz and blues to soul rocking out the small stage.

Corinne's expert tip: Happy hour happens daily (from 5 to 7 p.m.) and means $2 off all items.

Read more about SeaMonster Lounge →

This small, recently-revamped, hipster music venue slash Flying Squirrel Pizza joint proves a favorite among locals for the comfortable atmosphere, ample seating, decently priced covers, and quality of shows by up-and-coming but still obscure rock bands. The stage here is low for a face-to-face experience. Early birds hang out in the sectioned-off bar area up front to enjoy food and drinks before or after the set begins. The drinks are great and the pizza is even better. Though Ballard has several options for catching live music, this is one of the more intimate and cozy, in our opinion.

Recommended for Live Music because: Sunset Tavern is a small, recently-refreshed venue in Ballard that boasts delicious pizza, impressive tunes and a friendly atmosphere in which to enjoy it all.

Corinne's expert tip: Go for Kung Fu Grindhouse. Described on their site as "guerilla splatter cinema," this collection of unearthed cinematic gems played back to back for free on certain nights is nothing but a good time.

Read more about Sunset Tavern →


Located at a thriving Pike Street intersection in Capitol Hill, this music club hosts awesome punk and indie-rock concerts and has attracted bands like Black Mountain, Vampire Weekend, Buckethead and The Reconteurs. The space was originally opened as Moe's Mo'Roc'N Café in 1994 and re-launched in 2003 under its current name. The venue prides itself on "an always relevant and carefully curated music calendar, outstanding light production and state of the art sound system." The digs accomodate 800 fans, mostly with standing space, but three bars and balcony seating are available, too. Next door, Moe Bar offers a chill space in which to enjoy food and drinks (and a daily happy hour from 3 to 7 p.m.).

Recommended for Live Music because: Neumo's is a favorite Capitol Hill spot where punk and indie-rock concerts showcase artists both well-known and budding.

Corinne's expert tip: Grab a drink or food before the show at the adjacent Moe Bar (with happy hour from 3 to 7 p.m. daily).

Read more about Neumo's →

This local institution is the place for true jazz lovers, and the "best of" awards it's garnered are proof of its quality and longevity. The elegant club offers specially created artwork and first-rate lighting and sound systems. Patrons dress for the evening, and many of them dine in the club's restaurant before they partake of the musical entertainment, which includes two sets nightly. A full service bar makes sure that you'll have a cocktail or glass of wine to add to the mellow atmosphere. Some of jazz's best talents have played here (Tito Puente, Branford Marsalis, Diane Schuur, and Cleo Laine), and aficionados always make the Alley a West Coast stop.

Recommended for Live Music because: At Dimitriou's Jazz Alley, all seats are within 50 feet of the stage; this intimate venue has become a Seattle institution for jazz lovers.

Corinne's expert tip: Free parking is available one block from the club at the Westin Building garage, which is covered.

Read more about Dimitriou's Jazz Alley →

Fremont Abbey Arts Center
Photo courtesy of Corinne Whiting

Fremont Abbey Arts Center remains one of the city's biggest champions of local talent. In their own words, "Abbey Arts focuses on local music, contemporary dance, visual art, spoken word and storytelling," and show formats include multi-arts collaborative performances like The Round, a monthly showcase during which three songwriters share the stage with other musicians, a slam poet and a live painter. Other performances that come to the Abbey's intimate space--a stunning 100-year-old brick church building, originally St Paul's Lutheran Church--include close-up concerts, new dance performances set to live music, community gatherings like The Moth storytelling event (a must-see in our humble opinion), dance classes, plus a variety of workshops and "artistic life celebrations."

Recommended for Live Music because: At Fremont Abbey Arts Center, local talents take the stage in an intimate space with beautiful acoustics.

Corinne's expert tip: Grab a meal before the show (or a drink after) at one of the neighborhoods many gems, like Roux (which boasts Cajun flair) or RockCreek (seafood and spirits).

Read more about Fremont Abbey Arts Center →

The Triple Door
Photo courtesy of The Triple Door

Located in Seattle's historic Mann Building, this intimate and sophisticated award-winning music and dinner theater occupies the renovated space that formerly housed the Embassy Theater, originally a 1920's vaudeville house. The Mainstage, downstairs on the lower level, is an intimate candlelit spot with state-of-the-art sound and booths that offer clear sight lines to the stage. An Asian-fusion menu is provided by Wild Ginger restaurant next door, and the same cuisine is available upstairs in the Musicquarium Lounge, where live music, DJ sets, and the happy hour are legendary.

Recommended for Live Music because: The Triple Door offers quality music in an enjoyable setting; think seats, servers and food and drinks that can flow throughout the performance.

Corinne's expert tip: If you like sitting during a show and enjoying a good view, be sure to purchase a ticket that guarantees a seat. Standing-room-only clientele are routinely relegated to the fringes of the room.

Read more about The Triple Door →

This beloved Ballard nightspot features a smorgasbord of impressive music on a weekly basis, and performances range from zydeco, bluegrass and country to rock, folk, jazz and beyond. In addition to great live music, the Tractor also offers a friendly, neighborhood vibe as well as local beers on tap. Completing the distinctly American scene are walls decorated with old tractor parts and farming implements, and cowboy boots dangle from the ceiling rafters. Cash only at the door; Visa and Mastercard accepted at the bar. Square dancing often happens on Monday evenings, accompanied by the music of the Tallboys, who often busk down by the Pike Place Starbucks.

Recommended for Live Music because: Tractor Tavern is one of Ballard's most beloved music venues; come here for American music and a decor that features dangling cowboy boots.

Corinne's expert tip: Is Square dancing your scene? It takes place here often on Monday evenings, accompanied by the music of the Tallboys, who often busk down by the Pike Place Starbucks.

Read more about Tractor Tavern →


Meet Corinne Whiting

Corinne hails from the other Washington, where she caught the travel bug early on. Corinne studied abroad in Strasbourg, France (undergrad) and in Edinburgh, Scotland (graduate school). She's...  More About Corinne