Thursday, June 24, 2021

Washington State Phase 4 Reopening: Jun 30 | Seattle Independent Music Culture

This time last year saw the rise of the first wave of the coronavirus epidemic shutter all cultural and arts venues. Numerous concerts, film, theatre and live events were cancelled and the future of many of the regional cultural institutions looked to be in question. Over a year later relief funding became available for many of these same institutions with the benefits of the Save Our Stages Act finally beginning to arrive, alongside the newly implemented Shuttered Venues Grant. The benefits of the various pandemic relief bills, with regional infrastructure like the 4Culture Relief Fund, awareness efforts like the Washington Nightlife Music Association, crowdfunding and philanthropy like the ArtistRelief, ArtsFund grant, and GiveBig Washington have come in the 11th hour for many of these venues and institutions. Some have not fared as well. Seattle's premier home to all things metal, heavy rock, industrial, hardcore and punk, The Highline, was one such casualty of the last year. We can hope that venues with like-minded programming such as El Corazon and Substation rise to fill the void left in their wake. As stated under the Healthy Washington: Roadmap to Recovery guidelines; "Washington state will no longer evaluate counties based on these Key Indicators of Covid-19 Activity, and the state will fully reopen to Phase 4 on June 30, which could happen earlier if 70% or more of Washingtonians over the age of 16 get their first vaccine dose." In anticipation, numerous of Seattle's live music venues have made the first week of July their starting line. The queer and LGBTQ-centric stage of Kremwerk, known for their cutting edge electronic, experimental and underground music programming are leading the charge with a progressive policy statement, and a calendar month beginning on Pride Week.

Fast on their heels are the trio of venues under one roof at Neumos, Barboza, and The Runaway, Seattle's longtime indie rock mainstay, The Crocodile, and the larger historical stage of The Showbox which was spared from a development bid this past year. The city's larger concert stages consisting of The Neptune, The Moore and The Paramount under the Seattle Theater Group banner have also begun filling their calendars, with the anticipated and rescheduled tours of 2020 on their stages this coming fall. Seattle's smaller and community venues like Lo-Fi Lounge, Chop Suey, Fremont Abbey, The Tractor Tavern and The Sunset will also begin their programming this summer and fall, respectively. No news yet from the city's fringes out at the Columbia City Theater, or Wayne Horzitz' ground zero for jazz in the Northwest, The Royal Room, but expect news soon. As we should from the Wayward Music Series at Wallingford's Chapel Performance Space, as their compatriot organization Earshot Jazz have begun scheduling live events, and Seattle Symphony have announced their return to live performances with an opening concert in September. Correspondingly, the fall looks to be the highest concentration of new and rescheduled tours. In rapid succession, expect to see Kelly Lee Owens, Xiu Xiu, William Basinski, Dead Can Dance, Mdou Moctar, Gary Numan, The Residents, New Order with Pet Shop Boys, Wardruna, Ministry with Front Line Assembly, Herbie Hancock, and Ólafur Arnalds, all coming through Seattle in the months of September through November. Early spring 2022 continues the abundance with shows slated from Igorrr with Melt-Banana, the Rough Trade label's Black Midi, the Shabaka Hutchings-led Sons of Kemet, Canadian noise rockers Godspeed You! Black Emperor, and an anniversary tour from 1980s synthpop band Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark. No doubt there will be numerous more openings and concerts scheduled on the horizon. These only represent the beginnings of a return to a kind of pre-pandemic programming for regional venues this summer and fall.