Seattle Summer Outdoor Concert Guide

Our picks for the essential open air music experiences of the season.


Sasquatch! Music Festival The annual Memorial Day weekend party at the Gorge has scaled back on the EDM this time around in favor of more indie songwriters. As a result, it boasts an amazing undercard of female-fronted acts, including Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers, Charly Bliss, Lizzo, Japanese Breakfast, and Soccer Mommy. Notable acts: The National, Modest Mouse, David Byrne, Vince Staples, Neko Case May 25–27. Gorge Amphitheatre. $129–$899.

Northwest Folklife Festival The ultra-accessible celebration of the diversity of Northwest culture mixes traditional dance, music, and food with a dose of Seattle’s local music scene in an environment the whole family can enjoy on the cheap. Notable acts: Jason McCue, Tres Leches, Tomo Nakyama, Vince Mira May 25–28. Seattle Center. $10 (suggested donation).


Upstream Music Fest + Summit The second edition of Paul Allen’s Pioneer Square musical extravaganza again features an excessive amount of bands (200+) spread across atypical performance spaces. Notable acts: Jawbreaker, The Flaming Lips, Miguel, Hot Snakes June 1–3. Pioneer Square. $70–$675.

Janelle Monáe While there’s always been a nimble grace to Monáe’s genre-breaking blend of hip-hop, funk, and R&B, the artist’s public declaration of her pansexual identity seems to have freed her to open even more creative doors on her new album, Dirty Computer. June 11. Marymoor Park. Sold out.

Paradiso Festival EMD kids annual pilgrimage to the Gorge only spans two days this year, but that just means there’s less need to pace one’s self while dancing like a maniac. Just watch to not overdo the chemical intake. Notable acts: Deadmau5, Armin Van Buuren, DJ Snake June 15 & 16. Fremont. $195–$479.

Live From Here Chris Thile’s upbeat radio show Live From Here (the former A Prairie Home Companion) takes musical variety show on the road for a stop featuring Ben Folds, Guatemalan singer/songwriter Gaby Moreno, and comedian Dave Hill. June 16. Chateau Ste. Michelle. $42–$79.

Fremont Fair After a few years of blowing out its musical offerings, the neighborhood summer Solstice celebration has simmered things down a bit while still offering two stages of free local music to enjoy between the food munching and craft shopping. And hey, there still are a ton of weirdo bikers at the Solstice Parade. June 16 & 17. Fremont. Free.

After playing outside at Upstream last year, Thunderpussy heads to Sasquatch! in 2018. Photo by David Conger/Upstream

After playing outside at Upstream last year, Thunderpussy heads to Sasquatch! in 2018. Photo by David Conger/Upstream


Downtown Summer Sounds Sometimes you just need a musical break from the workday. Downtown Summer Sounds (formerly the Out to Lunch concert series) is here to help by offering top local talent playing pop-up concerts at spots like City Hall Plaza and Westlake Park. July 9–Aug 31. See website for locations. Free.

Timber! Outdoor Music Festival If you want some actual summer outdoor activities (hiking, kayaking, nature painting, swimming, etc.) with your musical intake, a short drive over to Carnation for Timber! does the trick. Notable acts: Car Seat Headrest, Thao (of the Get Down Stay Down), Courtney Marie Andrews July 12–14. Tolt-Macdonald Park (Carnation). $40–$99.

West Seattle Summer Fest Without a ton of fanfare, West Seattle Summer Fest has become the city’s best entirely free music festival. The lineups consistently feature top local talent, and the neighborhood’s community vibe keeps things welcoming and fun. Notable acts: Dude York, The Black Tones, Versing, The Dusty 45’s July 13-15. West Seattle. Free.

The Bash The local fest formerly known as BIG BLDG Bash is rebranding due to a change in location. However, you can still expect a lineup packed with standout Seattle musical talent. July 14. Inscape Arts. $25–$35.

Capitol Hill Block Party The most urban summer fest packs sweaty throngs onto Pike Street. And while the crowded feel always draws ire, the musical slate usually makes up for the hassle. This certainly qualifies as one of those years. Notable acts: Father John Misty, Brockhampton, Bully, Alvvays July 20-22. Capitol Hill. $65-$300.

Chris Stapleton The go-to savior for “real” country music, Stapleton brings his self-proclaimed All-American Roadshow to to satiate Seattle’s country-deprived masses. July 21. White River Amphitheatre. $70–$249.

The Roots Even if they’ve been relegated to the dregs that is The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, The Roots still remain the best live band in hip-hop. July 22. Woodland Park Zoo. $60–$135.

Chamber Music in the Park There frankly should be more outdoor classical music in Seattle, but at least this annual Seattle Chamber Music Society event continues to entertain grass-seated audiences. This year’s performance features string-quartet masterworks by Anton Arensky and Johannes Brahms. July 28. Volunteer Park. Free.

Seattle Center comes alive for Bumbershoot. Photo by David Conger/Bumbershoot

Seattle Center comes alive for Bumbershoot. Photo by David Conger/Bumbershoot


Doe Bay Fest The escapist option for the musically inclined, the Orcas Island festival joyously weaves artists into its scenic blend of forest and beaches. Aug 1–6. Doe Bay Resort and Retreat (Orcas Island). $110.

Summer Meltdown Do you like songs that go on for a really, really long time? Then do I have a fest for you. Summer Meltdown’s lineup of jam bands and EDM acts is sure to keep the crunchy sect entertained. Notable Acts: Bassnectar, Big Gigantic, Lettuce Aug 2–5. Darrington Music Park (Darrington). $250–$400. summermeltdown

Watershed Music Festival The Gorge’s country-music blowout offers Washingtonians a chance to bust out the cowboy boots and hats measured in gallons that have been gathering dust in their closets. Notable acts: Brad Paisley, Blake Shelton Aug 3–5. Gorge Amphitheatre. $215–$550.

Weezer + Pixies Because sometimes bands just keep going. Aug 4. White River Amphitheatre. $25–$253.

Pearl Jam For some reason, Pearl Jam hardly ever plays concerts in Seattle (it’s been five years since their last local gig). So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that fans are thrilled for the legendary Seattle rock band to play Safeco Field. (It’s also why both shows sold out quick.) Aug 8 & 10. Safeco Field. Sold out.

107.7 The End’s Summer Camp Seattle’s premiere rock radio station’s annual shindig features mainstays of its mildly diverse playlists. Notable Acts: Awolnation, Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats, Manchester Orchestra Aug 11. Marymoor Park. $89–$200.

Bass Canyon Festival What’s this? Another EDM festival at the Gorge? The inaugural Bass Canyon Festival focuses on the subgenre of bass music (aka post-dubstep) with acts like Zomboy and 12th Planet. It should be interesting to see if Bass Canyon and Paradiso can co-exist. Aug 24–26. Gorge Amphitheatre. $125–$375. bass

Bumbershoot Seattle’s summer unofficially ends when Bumbershoot finishes its invasion of Seattle Center. While the lineup is always eclectic, this year features far fewer legacy acts and more notable hip-hop names near the top of the bill. Notable acts: J. Cole, Fleet Foxes, Portugal. The Man, SZA, Lil Wayne Aug 31–Sept 2. Seattle Center. $240–$775.


Foo Fighters You know you’ve really made it when you can play consistently play marathon three-hour stadium concerts and nobody complains. Dave Grohl and co. reached that point a loooooong time ago. Sept 1. Safeco Field. $55–$99.

The Avett Brothers + The Head and the Heart On the tail end of the outdoor concert season, folk-rock titans The Avett Brothers and the Seattle-founded The Head and the Heart head to the Gorge for one last night of stirring musical emotion. Sept 15. Gorge Amphitheatre. $45–$65. gorge

The crowd goes wild at the Northwest Folklife Festival. Photo by Christopher Nelson

The crowd goes wild at the Northwest Folklife Festival. Photo by Christopher Nelson