Sunday, March 6, 2022

Seattle Independent Music Venue Reopenings Part II: Mar 3 - Apr 24

After a year and a half of navigating the complexities of the pandemic restrictions and closures, in-person programming largely returned in August and September to many of the regional arts venues. Early fall saw the first major steps towards reopening after nearly eighteen months of closure for the regional independent music venues, and Seattle's independent cinemas. In many cases, their future remained uncertain until as recently as February 2021 when the federal stimulus bill was approved and the funding for arts and culture that came with it. Relief funding became available 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, alongside 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. This spring sees what is akin to a second wave of programming, after the setbacks of this past winter and plateauing vaccination rates alongside widespread pandemic variants causing many tours to be postponed or cancelled outright.

March and April particularly herald the arrival of larger national and international acts, seemingly picking up where programming left off this past fall, beginning with the sludge and progressive metal of Sumac at Substation. This same first week of March also sees the Canadian collective around Godspeed! You Black Emperor bring their particular brand of orchestral noiserock to The Showbox. The newly opened and expanded theater setting of The Crocodile will host more indie rock and post-black metal and hardcore with Midwife and Deafheaven. The week before, the venue also presents what will bound to be the surreal juxtaposition of French baroque breakcore combo Igorrr alongside the punk oriented noiserock of Japan's Melt Banana. The end of March sees Nick Cave and Warren Ellis making good on their "Carnage" tour at The Paramount, African keyboardist and electro-soul artist Ata Kak appears at the recently reopened The Sunset Tavern, the long-delayed Lightning Bolt show takes place at Vera Project, and synth-pop and new wave legend Gary Numan's postponed tour of last year will finally arrives at The Neptune. April begins with the American Contemporary Music Ensemble performing the compositions of Jóhann Jóhannsson at The Moore Theatre, and Seattle Symphony's presentation of Gustav Mahler's massive 6th Symphony, the institution rebounding from a series of setbacks at the beginning of the year with a 2022 calendar that promises classics and innovation in equal measure. Returning two years since the final pre-pandemic show of March 2020 at Columbia City Theater, Fennesz will this time be hosted in the intimate setting of the Ballard Homestead. After editions in New York, Chicago and Portland, the Ambient Church series will be bringing Kranky recording artist Chihei Hatakeyama to Seattle for its own edition at the First Baptist Church. Guides to the expanse between neo-soul and spacerock don't get more capable than Spiritualized who return to The Neptune the first week of April, and the Shabaka Hutchings-led Sons of Kemet are back at Neumos after two rather legendary hardbop free-jazz shows in 2018 and 2019 at sister venue Barboza. Barboza will be hosting neo-folk and psychedelic drone artist Ben Chasny and his Six Organs of Admittance project, and the following night at The Crocodile, postpunk electro act Boy Harsher will be playing with PAN recordings artist Hiro Kone. Much later in the year, The Paramount will play home to a night of the ritualistic pagan folk of Heilung. Legendary industrial rock band Ministry will be taking to the stage at The Showbox alongside stoner rock behemoths Melvins and metal stalwarts Corrosion of Conformity. A different variation of heavy will be heard at the Showbox the following night with Gloasgow's post-rock goliaths Mogwai. Shoegaze and noiserock round out the month with Ringo Deathstarr at The Sunset Tavern, and Japan's Mono return to their ceaseless world touring, playing from their two albums released over the course of the pandemic with a show at Neumos.