May 28–June 1
Bellevue Jazz Festival
Each year, the Bellevue Jazz Festival turns downtown Bellevue into a musical oasis for fresh-faced upstarts and season veterans. In addition to a myriad of smaller performances (including Seattle’s stellar high school bands), this year’s fest features headlining sets at Meydenbauer Center by Latin jazz icon Pancho Sanchez and Seattle’s own jazz guitar superstar Bill Frisell. Various venues, free–$35.
Fri, May 30
Hello…is it a Lionel Richie concert you’re looking for? The R&B star is no stranger to the Seattle area, as he recorded Dancing on the Ceiling at Bear Creek Studio in Woodinville. Make sure to arrive early for his All The Hits All Night Long Tour as he is bringing CeeLo Green along to open the show with his freaky, funky sounds. KeyArena, $25–$315.
Sat, May 31
When you think of the pomp and spectacle of arena rock one name instantly comes to mind: James Taylor. Okay, probably not. The iconic singer-songwriter might be known for the soft-spoken intimacy of his tunes, but his soothing baritone and gentle guitar plucking will have a legion of fans in KeyArena swaying their heads to the beat. KeyArena, $77–$97.
CLASSICAL & MORE
May 29–June 1
Bust out the Fourth of July gear early, as Seattle Symphony and pops conductor Jeff Tyzik present a program of pure patriotic glory. With works like “Yankee Doodle,” Sousa’s “Liberty Bell March,” and Copland’s “Variations on a Shaker Melody,” it’s the sonic equivalent of wrapping yourself in Old Glory. Benaroya Hall, $31–$95.
Thru June 8
It came as no surprise when the Oscar-winning musical Once made the effortless transition to a hit, Tony-winning Broadway musical. The story follows the relationship between a Dublin busker and a young woman who meet by chance and instantly connect on a musical level. She inspires and pushes him to follow his failed performer dreams, as songs vacillate between uplifting hope and emotionally crushing heartbreak. The touring Broadway production is sure to have eyes welling with tears as the simple folk songs soar. Paramount Theatre, $25–$100.
May 30–June 8
Pacific Northwest Ballet closes out its season with a production of Giselle with newly revamped costumes and scenery. The story tells of a scorned lover who dies of a broken heart, only to rise from the dead for revenge. The production marks the final performance of PNB principal Kaori Nakamura before her retirement. McCaw Hall, $28–$184.
Fri, May 23
SIFF 2014: Frank
Michael Fassbender is the type of handsome rising film star that studios crave to put on their posters. So naturally in his latest film Frank, his mug is hidden behind a massive papier-mâché mask that covers his head the whole time. Fassbender stars as the titular Frank, an eccentric pop music genius who never removes his artificial cartoonish cranium. As the he prepares to head to SXSW, comedic tension rises in Frank's band as some members want him to make more commercially viable music while others want him to stay true to his oddball roots. Egyptian Theatre & SIFF Cinema Uptown, $12.
Fri, May 23
SIFF 2014: To Kill a Man
To Kill a Man is a gorgeously shot exploration of how far a person can be pushed before breaking. The Chilean winner of this year's Sundance Grand Jury Prize, follows Jorge (Daniel Candia), a relatively bland man who gets his diabetes medicine stolen by a neighborhood thug, Kalule (Daniel Antivilo). When Jorge's son confront Kalule, the thug shoots him but doesn't kill him. After serving two years in jail, Kalule returns to torment Jorge's family in increasingly disturbing ways while local authorities do nothing, leaving Jorge must decide what to do in order to protect his family from the psychopath. SIFF Cinema Uptown, $10–$12.
Fri, May 23
SIFF Centerpiece Gala: Boyhood
Boyhood is unlike any movie to come before it. That type of praise may seem cliche, but in this case it's entirely apt. Richard Linklater spent 12 years shooting the film with the same cast of actors to show the story of a young boy becoming a young man. The story follows Mason Jr. (Ellar Coltrane) from age 6 to 18 and doesn't so much have a single through narrative as much as momentary snapshots from each year; a collection of formative memories that shaped Mason Jr. Boyhood is a modern epic without any of the grandiosity that word usually implies. It's a story of life that's naturally authentic in a peerless way. Egyptian Theater & Harvard Exit Theater, sold out (standby tickets may be available).
Fri, May 23
SIFF 2014: The Stunt Man
It wouldn't be a proper celebration of SIFF's 40th anniversary without a little history lesson. Richard Rush's The Stunt man looked dead in the water before screening as the closing film at the fifth incarnation of SIFF. The film—about a powerful film director (Peter O'Toole) who shelters a man on the run from the police (Steve Railsback) and manipulates him as a stunt man—couldn't find studio distribution before coming to Seattle. After its screening was heralded it got picked up and went on to earn three Oscar nominations (Best Director, Best Actor for O'Toole, and Best Adapted Screenplay). It's a testament to how impactful SIFF truly can be on the movie industry. Harvard Exit Theater, $12.