Wine-Soaked Concerts

Yacht Rock Comes to Seattle: Michael McDonald at Chateau Ste. Michelle

The legendary singer's still got it after 40 years.

By Alison Klein August 14, 2017

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The scene. (Boz Scaggs opened the show.)

Image: Alison Klein

Those of you familiar with the Yacht Rock web series—or the Sirius/XM channel dedicated to this smooth AF genre—will understand why a Michael McDonald show would be something that an Urban Millennial Female (hi) would want to attend.

Whether or not it’s true, this white-haired musician with the iconic, soaring voice feels like the godfather of the 70s-and-80s-era easy listening that the web series (very lovingly) mocks. You might know him from such hits as “I Keep Forgettin’” (which, of course, Warren G samples on “Regulate”),  “What a Fool Believes” from McDonald’s Doobie Brothers days, and – who could forget the incredible harmony of Steely Dan’s “Peg”?  This era of smooth rock is timeless—but this concertgoer is convinced it’s experiencing a particular renaissance right now.

So when the big man come to town, you go pay your respects and see what he’s up to in 2017.  And it turns out he’s up to quite a bit. After recent collaborations with the likes of Thundercat, Grizzly Bear, and others, he performed for a completely sold-out crowd at Chateau Ste. Michelle, touring ahead of the release of his new album “Wide Open.” 

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Image: Alison Klein

I was expecting the audience at this show to trend older—and it did—but was pleasantly surprised to see several groups of 30-somethings* picnicking on the lawn, singing along to McDonald (and his talented crew of backup singers), wine bottles a'flowing. He opened his set with "Ya Mo B There," which is the one song the security guard I chatted with knew...thanks to its cameo in The 40-Year-Old Virgin.

Maybe those of us 40 and under should embrace being a new target demographic for soft rock? As Yacht Rock host "Hollywood" Steve Huey points out in Rolling Stone's brilliant oral history of the show: 

I turned 30 right before we started doing the series, and I thought, well, this is a nice round number. What do 30-year-olds do? I feel like it's time I get into Steely Dan. I bought most of the catalogue and was like, This is my new identity. I'm gonna unwind, start listening to Steely Dan, and leave parties early.

Word to the wise: Your next chance to see a similar performance is coming up when Kenny Loggins heads to the Evergreen State Fair August 31


*Special shout-out to the group I saw wearing white sailor hats and aviators: I hope you guys set sail after the show.

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