What’s your favorite current Seattle band? If you have trouble answering (or if you draw a blank after Macklemore), we’re not going to judge. But we are going to suggest it’s time to check in with the city’s thriving indie music scene. New local bands are exploring sounds, blurring genre boundaries (though we’ve wrestled them into categories here) and playing vibrant live shows all over town (see our Live Music Venue guide). Even with this sampler of 50 bands, we haven’t scratched the surface of Seattle music. Listen right here—where you can stream songs from all 50 bands—and also try tuning in to KEXP (the city’s unsurpassed discovery engine for local music) for a whole week. Soon enough, you’ll have an answer to the above question—and you might just go on and on. Peruse the local bands in the other genres here.
Gateway Band: Fela Kuti
This decidedly funky eight-piece Afro-beat band is one of the most danceable groups in Seattle. On stage, three horn players coordinate choreographed steps while front man Ben Bloom plucks his electric guitar with groovy ease. Add Lalo Bello on hand-drum percussion and the rest of the world-class players, and you have an instrumental band that draws hundreds of people to shake their stuff. The band’s 2013 record Libra Stripes will transport you far beyond Northwest shores.
How would you describe your sound? “Like Fela Kuti, Quincy Jones, David Byrne, James Brown and the band War got together in New Orleans for a private jam session. File under funk.” —Ben Bloom
Industrial Revelation (Evan Flory-Barnes, Ahamefule Oluo, Josh Rawlings, D’Vonne Lewis) photographed at the Royal Room, July 10, 2014
Gateway Band: Medeski Martin & Wood
With D’Vonne Lewis on drums, Evan Flory-Barnes on bass, Josh Rawlings on keys, and Ahamefule J. Oluo on trumpet, Industrial Revelation is a supergroup that defies convention. They’re jazz, they’re postjazz, they’re neo-soul, they’re rock ’n’ roll, but most importantly, they are masters of their craft. Lewis descends from multiple generations of serious musicians; Oluo has played with Hey Marseilles; Flory-Barnes, who has composed symphonies, can play his double bass on anything from hip-hop to brunch chatter; and Rawlings has toured with Allen Stone and Macklemore. Their live shows are sweat-inducing jams with big horn crescendos, rapid bass solos, lightning strikes of keys and rolling-thunder drums. See them cast their magic spell on September 27 at the Blue Moon Tavern. industrialrevelation.com
How would you describe your sound? “Black and white keys melodically tickle the spirit while your soul is immersed in the baptizing roar of the trumpet. Bass strings slap against the wood grain as if to unapologetically beg for your submission, as the drums thunderously dance during your revelation of a love found.” —D’Vonne Lewis
Gateway Bands: Phish, critters buggin, Fishbone
If you’ve ever been to Wallingford’s Seamonster Lounge on a Tuesday night, then you probably don’t need to read any farther. McTuff owns the room, which it fills to capacity. Made up of Joe Doria on keys (known as one the best jazz keys players in Seattle), Andy Coe on guitar (whose Grateful Dead cover band had a strong local following) and the sharp and funny Tarik Abouzied on drums, McTuff can play anything from Beatles covers to 12-minute instrumentals—all while having other Seattle musicians sit in and perform. To know them is to dance to them in a psychedelic haze. Give it a whirl on November 26, when McTuff plays The Crocodile with the Polyrhythmics. mctuffmusic.com