Nowhere is the fragile and strange moment we find ourselves in with COVID-19 – where it’s starting to look like life before 2020, but not quite – probably brought into sharper relief than the concert.
We are introducing ourselves; we wonder if we should wear masks; maybe we do, maybe we don’t, maybe we do if the artist asks or the people around us do; one wonders whether to huddle together near the stage or stay alone in the background; we sing, or maybe we don’t. We leave, and we inevitably receive an exposure notification from WA Notify a few days later.
Will all this change by summer? Who knows. But you might as well enjoy it while it lasts. Here are 10 shows and festivals to look forward to this summer.
Northwest Folk Festival (May 27-30)
Folklife is back in person for the first time since 2019, when it attracted 250,000 people. As the 51-year-old festival looks ahead to the next 50 years, this year’s theme is aptly: “Metamorphosis: Out with the Old, In with the New”. True to the theme, this year the festival is both in person and virtual, so you can stream live performances from the Main Stage, the Folklife Film Forum and everything from the Bulgarian Women’s Choir of Seattle to the Jam Town Howdy Band online at nwfolklife.org.
May 27-30; Seattle Center, 305 Harrison Avenue, Seattle; Suggested donation of $20; nwfolklife.org
HAIM at Lumen Field (June 13)
It seems like the pop-rock trio HAIM are everywhere now, but I was still surprised to see them playing at Lumen Field the same summer as bands like Kenny Chesney and The Weeknd. Maybe you’ve just discovered the HAIM sisters in the pandemic – featured on Taylor Swift’s “evermore” album, perhaps, or featured in Paul Thomas Anderson’s film “Licorice Pizza” – or maybe- have you been a fan since they opened for Mumford and Sons and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. Anyway: it’s time for “One More HAIM”.
June 13; Lumen Field, 800 West Ave. S., Seattle; $66.50 for general admission; haimtheband.com.
Beyond wonderland to the throat (June 18-19)
In early March 2020, “Beyond Wonderland”—a West Coast electronic dance music festival with events in California as well as Washington—looked set to become Washington’s biggest summer EDM festival as Paradiso was canceled amid a lawsuit between its promoters. You know a little about the rest of the story: the pandemic hit, festivals were canceled, and then last year, Beyond Wonderland was pushed back to October. This year it’s back in the summer, with progressive house headliners Kaskade and Alesso and Porter Robinson, plus Canadian deep house duo Zeds Dead and Australian tech-house thumper Fisher.
June 18-19; 754 Silica Road NW, George, Grant County; $209.50 for two-day general admission; pnw.beyondwonderland.com.
Ah yes, the four elements: Earth, wind, fire and Carlos Santana. After a few stops in California, Washington is the second state on the “Miraculous” tour for the two genre artists.
June 25; 40601 Auburn Enumclaw Rd. SE, Auburn; $49 for general admission; earthwindandfire.com.
Framework! outdoor music festival (July 21-23)
A casual festival for all ages in Carnation, Timber! has something every member of the family will enjoy (that’s right, I’m about to stereotype for my life): Built to Spill for Parents, Caroline Rose for 20s, an 8-Bit Brass Band for the kids, and a Simon and Garfunkel campfire for the grandparents.
July 21-23; 31020 NE 40th Street, Carnation; $150 until June 1, then $180; children 12 and under enter free; www.woodmusicfest.com.
Block party at the Capitol (July 22-24)
Seattle’s biggest block party was gone for two years, but it’s back with a vengeance – with Charli XCX, Diplo and Jai Wolf headlining alongside 100 Gecs, Flo Milli, Tokimonsta and Puget Sound, as The Black Tones, JusMoni and Enumclaw.
July 22-24; 1122 E. Pike St., Seattle; $175 for general admission; capitolhillblockparty.com.
Day after day (August 12-14)
This new Seattle festival from the same company that runs Capitol Hill Block Party didn’t have to compete with the block party or much else last summer — except for COVID and cancellations, which made a strange race at the Seattle Center in September. But this year, the festival is back with a lineup that looks set to establish it as a top alt-indie festival: Mitski, Soccer Mommy, Mac DeMarco, The National, Japanese Breakfast — plus a few outfit appearances more twisted like Animal Collective, Palais Shabazz and JPEGMAFIA.
August 12-14; 305 Harrison Street, Seattle; $250 for a three-day pass; dayindayoutfest.com.
Phoebe Bridgers at Marymoor Park (August 23-24)
If you don’t cry enough on Day In Day Out – though between Mitski and Japanese Breakfast you should be able to – you’ll have plenty of time to see the Queen of the Sad Girls in Redmond on such a quick night turned into two shortly after tickets go on sale. Guess the Puget Sound area needs a good shout out.
August 23-24; 6046 West Lake Sammamish Parkway NE, Redmond; $60; www.marymoorconcerts.com.
THING FESTIVAL (August 26-28)
THING is yet another baby fest – 2019 was its first year – hoping to make it big within the realm of possibility as the pandemic enters a new era. Coming to Port Townsend, a decade-spanning and somewhat manic lineup ranging from Modest Mouse to Wet Leg, Father John Misty to Freddie Gibbs, and comedians such as TikTok-to-“Saturday Night Live” phenoms Please Don ‘t Destroy, THING is is shaping up to be a weird but one-of-a-kind festival.
August 26-28; Historic Fort Worden, 200 Battery Way, Port Townsend; $350 for three-day general admission; chosenw.org.
Leon Bridges at Marymoor Park (August 30-31)
Who better to bring Southern soul to the Pacific Northwest than lowly Texas R&B star Leon Bridges? End your summer with “samurai cowboy” music, as Bridges described his latest album “Gold-Diggers Sounds.”
August 30-31; 6046 West Lake Sammamish Parkway NE, Redmond; $60; www.marymoorconcerts.com