Symphony Untuxed 12:15, Bagley Wright Theatre – With Symphony Untuxed, the Seattle Symphony trades orchestral formality for a more casual feel. A chamber music quartet will play a mixed program of baroque music, Piazzolla's Tangos, and Memo for violin and a portable cassette recorder. The looser atmosphere of Untuxed makes for a more accessible symphony experience for all ages.
Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings 1:45, Bumbershoot Mainstage (KeyArena) – Sharon Jones's booming voice takes listeners back to soul’s golden days in the ‘60s and ‘70s; she even does a little James Brown-style strutting. Though her pipes power the show, don’t underestimate the tight backing provided by the Dap-Kings, who set the stage for Jones to shine. The group is renowned for its funky and energetic live sets, so get ready to cut a rug. (Note: KeyArena is not actually lined with a rug.)
Tony Bennett 3:15, Bumbershoot Mainstage (KeyArena) – Music trends come and go, but Tony Bennett is forever. The Kennedy Center Honoree has charted in seven straight decades. While he's not getting any younger, he still croons his classic standards and serves as a living definition of timelessness.
Letters to Kurt 3:30, Words and Ideas Stage (Leo K Theatre) – Former Hole guitarist Eric Erlandson saw all the highs and lows of the '90s grunge boom up close. His book Letters to Kurt captures the antics of young bands like Nirvana and mourns the suicides with a series of letters addressed to his good friend Kurt Cobain.
Paul F. Tompkins and Friends (Real and Fake) 6, Bagley Wright Theatre – Podcasts are all the rage in comedy right now; how else can comedians long-form riff with their pals and reach a broad audience? According to Rolling Stone, Paul F. Tompkins’s “The Pod F. Tompkast” is the best of the comedy podcasts out there. The former Best Week Ever host (and bit player in There Will Be Blood) is a quick wit and does spot-on impressions of everyone from Werner Herzog to Ice-T. For his Bumbershoot performances, he brings along funny friends Kumail Nanjiani and Jen Kirkman.
Fred Armisen 8, Intiman Theatre – Despite Saturday Night Live suffering a rash of departures (we’ll miss you Kristen Wiig, Andy Samberg, Abby Elliott, and possibly Jason Sudeikis), mainstay Fred Armisen will keep the sketch ship afloat. Ignoring the fact that he frequently mails-in his impression of President Obama these days (ed note: free Jay Pharoah!), he remains the best weapon on the cast, a true comedic chameleon. He’s earned major hipster points and a Peabody Award for his IFC hit Portlandia, and now he brings his live comedy act to Bumbershoot.
Sept 1–3, Seattle Center, single-day tickets ($45–$200); three-day passes ($125–$475)