13 Best Things To Do in Seattle in February 2019

Our hand-picked list of best bets for entertainment this month
  • Inuk singer Tanya Tagaq
Tanya Tagaq, performing live at Toronto’s Massey Hall, visits the University of Washington’s Meany Center this month

This article appears in print in the February 2019 issue. Click here to subscribe.

Tanya Tagaq
This Inuk singer, born in Nunavut, Canada, has learned how to split her voice between low, guttural vocalizations (used percussively to lay down a rhythm track) and breathy tones in her upper register that can evoke BjÖrk or bird cries. Then she builds darkly thrusting instrumental settings around that voice, harnessed to raw, angry lyrics about environmental and other despoliations—a sort of primeval punk. Of her 2016 album Retribution, she says, “Why sugarcoat it? This album is about rape.” 8 p.m. Prices vary. Meany Center, University of Washington, 4140 George Washington Lane NE; 206.543.4880

Ronan Farrow
2/11 (UPDATE: This event has been rescheduled for June 17)
If cultural changes could be measured on the Richter scale, Farrow’s October 2017 exposé in The New Yorker outlining Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein’s decades of sexual predations would be “The Big One.” The resulting seismic waves toppled icons thought untouchable, and will be felt for generations. Hear how he did it when he opens this spring’s “Unique Lives” lecture series. 7:30 p.m. Prices vary. McCaw Hall, Seattle Center, 321 Mercer St.; 206.733.9725

Art Encounters
Of course the Seattle Art Museum is a great place to see art, but it’s also a great place to see artists, and its ongoing “Art Encounters” series brings you up close to their work, processes and ideas. This month, meet multidisciplinary indigenous artist Christine Babic, who explores the interstitial place between traditional and contemporary indigenous art practices. And since the Alaska-raised artist’s work also reflects a deep environmental concern, what better place to meet her than the Olympic Sculpture Park? 7 p.m. Free. Olympic Sculpture Park, waterfront, 2901 Western Ave.; 206.654.3100

The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs, first staged by Santa Fe Opera, comes to Seattle. Photo by Ken Howard

The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs
Bouncing forward and backward in time, snapshots—or perhaps more to the point, Instagram posts—from the life of the computer visionary make up Mark Campbell’s libretto for Mason Bates’ opera, which premiered in Santa Fe in 2017. In Bates’ ear-friendly score, sprinkles of guitar and percussion add surface glimmer to themes of reminiscence and regret, both in Jobs’ personal life and his business life. Times and prices vary. McCaw Hall, Seattle Center, 321 Mercer St.; 206.389.7676; seattleopera.org

Roger Guenveur Smith
Perhaps most visible for his roles in several Spike Lee films, Smith has also staged a series of solo shows paying homage to black icons—a diverse lot, including Huey P. Newton, Rodney King, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Bob Marley. Here, he performs Frederick Douglass Now, based on the writings of the abolitionist leader; last November, it was reported that Lee plans to turn this, too, into a film. Times vary. $25. Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute, Central District, 104 17th Ave. S; 206.684.4757

The David Bowie Alumni Tour
You know the piano solo on the Bowie song “Aladdin Sane”? The one that starts with glittering Ravel-meets-jazz licks and changes in the middle into something like a player piano possessed by a Lovecraft demon-beast? That would be Mike Garson, who played with Bowie beginning in 1973. Well, he’s gettin’ the band back together, an all-star lineup of Bowie collaborators, and touring them for an evening of song from all over the Bowie catalog. 7:30 p.m. Prices vary. Benaroya Hall, downtown, 200 University St.; 206.215.4747; seattlesymphony.org

Kacey Musgraves
In country music, there’s always been a push-pull between folk-focused traditionalists and those who want to splice into other musical styles. Grammy winner Musgraves seems to be pretty chill about this tension, happy to collaborate with musicians from all over (among them: Katy Perry, Willie Nelson, Harry Styles, Ronnie Milsap), as well as inject politically not-so-conservative lyrics into her buoyant sound. 8 p.m. Prices vary. Paramount Theatre, downtown, 911 Pine St.; 206.682.1414; stgpresents.org

Seattle Asian American Film Festival
Laotian actor/writer/podcaster Kulap Vilaysack got a shock as a teenager when her mother blurted out that the man Vilaysack thought was her father actually wasn’t. Her documentary Origin Story, about her search for her biological and cultural roots, opens a packed weekend of 83 features and shorts by and about Asian-Americans, with a focus on Northwest filmmakers. Northwest Film Forum, Capitol Hill, 1515 12th Ave.; 206.329.2629

Raychelle Duazo’s Together We Are Home poster is part of the Sanctuary: Design for Belonging show

Sanctuary: Design for Belonging
Through 2/23
Highlighting the winners of an international competition (“Displaced: Design for Inclusive Cities”), this group show—featuring huge names in the art world, such as Ai Weiwei and Shepard Fairey—places design at the service of the global refugee crisis with ideas for parks, community centers and the like that will meet the unique needs of displaced peoples. But placed front and center as you enter are works of attention-grabbing immediacy: posters by 31 graphic artists that are bold, multilingual cries of defiance in the face of indifference or hostility to those peoples. Times vary. Free. Center for Architecture and Design, downtown, 1010 Western Ave.; 206.667.9184

Zadie Smith
London-born and now a professor at New York University, Smith examines contemporary mores and clashes on both sides of the Atlantic in her adored novels as well as her essays, and regularly contributes to The New Yorker and The New York Review of Books. Feel Free is her recent collection of essays, touching incisively on topics crucial (Brexit, Facebook, climate change) and aesthetic (Prince, Renaissance art, Justin Bieber). 7:30 p.m. Prices vary. Benaroya Hall, downtown, 200 University St.; 206.215.4747; seattlesymphony.org

Cowboy Junkies
Like their compatriot Tanya Tagaq, the members of this Torontonian quartet (three siblings plus a bassist, and a band since 1985) have recently been spurred to political comment—borne on a wind from the south, it seems. On “The Things We Do to Each Other,” from last July’s album All That Reckoning, vocalist Margo Timmins spells it out: “Fear is not so far from hate/So if you get the folks to fear/It only takes one small twist/To kick it up a gear.” 8 p.m. $38. Neptune Theater, University District, 1303 NE 45th St.; 206.682.1414

Sharon Van Etten
This singer-songwriter, for all her low-key style, has reached a heady zenith of hipness, her music used in properties including Twin Peaks: The Return, The Walking Dead and Tig Notaro’s eponymous documentary. She’s touring her album Remind Me Tomorrow, released in January; on it, she pursued “a bigger and darker sound,” she says, “and a lot more electronic feeling.” 9 p.m. $28.50. Neptune Theater, University District, 1303 NE 45th St.; 206.682.1414

French Truly Salon
Why just show a film when you can make a soirée out of it? SIFF offers French classics with a keynote speaker and vin et fromage beforehand. For Valentine’s Day, host Virginie Paradis speaks on the changing mores of love and marriage in France over the centuries to introduce The Women on the 6th Floor (2010), an upstairs-downstairs story of the meshing and clashing of a wealthy French couple and their Spanish domestics. 6:45 p.m. Prices vary. SIFF Film Center, Seattle Center, 305 Harrison St.; 206.464.5830

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