Met Picks

The Top Things to See and Do in Seattle: Spring 2018

A guide to getting your arts and culture fix, be it a packed Pink show at KeyArena or a new take on Macbeth at Seattle Rep.

By Darren Davis February 27, 2018 Published in the March 2018 issue of Seattle Met

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Tyehimba Jess

Books & Talks 

A Song for the Unsung

Mar 4 When Tyehimba Jess’s book Olio won a Pulitzer Prize for poetry last year, it also brought home the esteemed award for Seattle-based poetry press Wave Books. Recasting the lyricism of blues and church hymns, Olio taps into African American cultural history and musical heritage, spinning a fact-within-fiction narrative for forgotten black Americans during and after the Civil War. The Detroit native returns to Seattle to discuss the inner workings of his poetics and creative process. McCaw Hall,

Brian Reed

Mar 1 Go from bard to bird with distinguished UW English professor Brian Reed as he traces the long history of poets and their avian inspiration. Touching on Wordsworth and Frost as well as contemporary poets, Reed will contextualize this long relationship within modern-day issues. University of Washington, Kane Hall, 

Charles Johnson

Mar 29 The National Book Award winner comes to Hugo House by way of the Frye Art Museum. Johnson has garnered accolades for his stunning novel The Middle Passage and more recently put out a book on the craft and philosophy of writing that combines technical advice with searching philosophy. Writers and lovers of writing should be there. Frye Art Museum,

Ada Limón

Apr 14 Hugo House’s ongoing discussion of writing and craft this month deals with mourning. In “Grief and Release: Poetry as Elegy,” Ada Limón (2015 National Book Award finalist for Bright Dead Things) discusses why poetry lends itself to the emotional unpacking and reconciliation of loss. Frye Art Museum,

Viet Thanh Nguyen

May 7 It’s now as important as ever to put human faces on the issue of immigration. In his newest collection of short stories, The Refugees—as in his Pulitzer Prize–winning novel The Sympathizer—Viet Thanh Nguyen reflects on the journeys of immigrant Vietnamese struggling to reconcile feelings toward their native country and their new adopted homes. Benaroya Hall,

Classical & More  

Imogen Cooper

Mar 6 British pianist Imogen Cooper boasts a broad range, performing modernist works as well as classical pieces by the likes of Schubert and Schumann. She’ll showcase that versatility in a program at UW that includes interpretations of the early Romantics alongside new work from contemporary composer Julian Anderson. Meany Hall,

Carmina Burana

Mar 15–18 Treat yourself to this soaring song cycle, which touches on the fickleness of wealth and fortune, the pleasures and pitfalls of lust and gluttony, and concludes with the indelible “O Fortuna,” a piece you’ve heard even if you think you haven’t. A must for opera fans and curious newbies alike. Benaroya Hall,

Debussy La Mer

Apr 19 & 21 Claude Debussy’s dreamy composition is the centerpiece of a night spanning centuries and geographies of classical music, including Ibert and Respighi. Russian virtuoso Daniil Trifonov also joins the Seattle Symphony to tackle the piano concerto of Alexander Scriabin (another young prodigy born a century and a half earlier). Benaroya Hall, 

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Image: David Becker


Bill Maher

“Give yourselves a hand for getting through 100 days of Donald Trump…it’s like Lent if we all gave up reality.”

Apr 14 More polarizing than his fellow late-night hosts, Bill Maher likes a bit of liberal snark with his political commentary. Paramount Theatre,

Franco Escamilla

Mar 8 & 9 Escamilla, who hails from Mexico and wields both wit and guitar, will drop by the Moore for two nights of his trademark sarcasm and black humor. Both these shows will be performed in Spanish, so monolinguals need not apply. Moore Theatre, 

Paula Poundstone

Mar 9 This comedy vet has been stepping in front of mics since the first Bush presidency. The writer and occasional television personality is perhaps best known these days for lending her quick wit to NPR’s game show Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me. Almost a year after publishing her newest book, The Totally Unscientific Study of the Search for Human Happiness, Poundstone returns to her standup roots. Pantages Theatre,

Trevor Noah

Mar 23 The Daily Show host returns to the Paramount Theatre in support of his latest comedy special, Afraid of the Dark, which debuts on Netflix on February 21. Expect an incisive, often incredulous look at race and politics in America and abroad from the affable South African. Paramount Theatre,

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Bianca Del Rio

Image: Denise Malone

Bianca Del Rio

Apr 6 The fabulous alter ego of comic Roy Haylock won season 6 of RuPaul’s Drag Race, and it’s easy to see why. Manic and foul mouthed, Bianca Del Rio exists somewhere between a crazy, overcaffeinated aunt and a Mardi Gras parade float. Del Rio’s brand of insult comedy is relentless, especially when trained on herself. Showbox SoDo, 

Hannibal Buress

Apr 12–14 In both his standup and delightfully surprising appearances in TV and movies (like Broad City and Spider-Man: Homecoming) Hannibal Buress keeps it cool. His meandering anecdotes and deadpan delivery are reminiscent of the funniest guy at your school making people double over with laughter in the dorm room. Laughs Comedy Club,


David Byrne

May 24 The living legend behind Talking Heads enraptured Seattle audiences in 2017 with the immersive disco theater experience Here Lies Love. David Byrne’s recent collaborators include other creative zealots like St. Vincent, Bryan Eno, and Fatboy Slim (who cowrote Here Lies Love). Now the iconoclast returns to Seattle with his first solo album in 14 years, American Utopia. Paramount Theatre,

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David Byrne

Image: Courtesy STG

House of Aoki

Mar 14 It might be easier to name which chart-topping artist Steve Aoki hasn’t collaborated with. The electro house producer extraordinaire can remix a popular song and somehow elevate it even higher into the stratosphere (the Korean pop group BTS’s “Mic Drop,” for instance). And he still lands Grammy nominations for his music and sells out tours in his own right. Rapper Desiigner joins Aoki for a bass-thumping show that should go well past bedtime. Showbox SoDo,

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Apr 4 When Alana, Danielle, and Este Haim (aka the band Haim) exploded onto the scene with their 2013 debut Days Are Gone, the sisters brought to the mainstream a refreshing new sound: contemporary pop starlet songwriting mixed with an electric guitar moxie reminiscent of bygone rockers Fleetwood Mac and Sheryl Crow. With last year’s Something to Tell You, Haim deftly dances between pop and rock without ever falling into bland pop rock. WaMu Theater,

Herbie Hancock

Mar 1 The legendary keyboardist— who has crossed over into popular music more times than anyone not named Miles Davis or John Coltrane—graces Seattle Center for one night only. Serious fans already have this one circled on their calendar, but Hancock’s ear for melody is such that even total neophytes will have a blast. McCaw Hall,

Taylor Swift

May 22 Following the 2014 release of 1989, and its star-­studded world tour, Taylor Swift went from lovable countryish artist to the queen of pop. She returned last year a little edgier and less affable with Reputation (“The old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now. Why? Oh! ‘Cause she’s dead!”) but even when she wants to be hard, Swift can’t stop writing the catchy tracks seemingly designed to get stuck in your head for weeks. CenturyLink Field,

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May 13 Eighteen years after her debut album, Can’t Take Me Home, Pink is back. Long freed from comparisons to onetime contemporaries Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera, Pink and her 2017 album Beautiful Trauma (with its inescapable single “What About Us”) prove her talents as a vocalist can buck trends and resonate through the years. KeyArena, 

Celebrating David Bowie

Mar 10 It’s been over two years since David Bowie left this planet for realms unknown. To commemorate his passing, the world-class musicians of the Seattle Symphony will join a crew of Bowie’s friends and former bandmates for a concert that spans his entire incomparable career. Benaroya Hall,

A$AP Ferg

Mar 23 Harlem’s own A$AP Ferg, part of the A$AP Mob, drops by the Showbox to deliver his signature flow. With lyrical dexterity, Ferg cemented his place with 2016’s slick Always Strive and Prosper. His 2017 mixtape Still Striving was looser and more digressive. Expect buoyant beats punctured by the occasionally wry, introspective verse. Showbox SoDo,

Dashboard Confessional

Apr 14 The tattoos, the gentle but emotionally wrought strumming of an acoustic guitar, the perpetually love-scorned lyrics—it’s no wonder Chris Carrabba of Dashboard Confessional became something of a poster boy for the early-aughts emo wave of alt rock. There might be a new album, Crooked Shadows, but Dashboard better play fan favorite “Screaming Infidelities.” The Showbox,

DoNormaal with Taylar Elizza Beth

Mar 9 Get in on a deep cut of the Seattle hip-hop scene featuring two of its stars. But you might need to know someone on the inside (or message the host on Facebook) to get into this hush-hush show at an enigmatic house venue—it’s a little mysterious. Kame hou$e,

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Image: April Solares


Jack &

May 10–13 The debutante ball is a joyous and formal occasion marking a woman’s entrance into society. Everywhere else, countless men and women attempt to again join the world via prison reentry programs, with wavering success. Jack & merges these two contrasting images to explore themes of transition, reentry, and class struggle. On the Boards,


Apr 13–22 After putting on back-to-back classics with The Nutcracker and Swan Lake, Pacific Northwest Ballet turns the stage over to three choreographers presenting innovative work: Alejandro Cerrudo’s Little Mortal Jump, the PNB premiere of Yuri ­Possokhov’s Raku, and finally Emergence by Crystal Pite (who dazzled as part of PNB’s Her Story production last year). McCaw Hall,

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Emergence by Crystal Pite


Seattle International Film Festival

May 17–June 10 The 44th-annual film festival promises 25 days of citywide programming for movie buffs and casual matinee attendees alike. Plus, there’s a chance you’ll see a film before it blows up—like last year’s opening-night film, The Big Sick, now nominated for an Academy Award for best original screenplay. Various venues,

Special Events

Emerald City Comic Con

Mar 1–4 Dust off your Marvel costume and head to the convention center for all things geekery. The largest con in the Pacific North­west boasts booths, cosplayers, and pop culture guests ­Christo­pher Lloyd, Wil Wheaton, and more, plus artists like Stan Sakai (creator of Usagi Yojimbo), Tim Sale (Batman: The Long Halloween), and Brian Michael Bendis (Jessica Jones).  Washington State Convention Center,


Mar 30–Apr 1 See someone with fire-red hair and a cape brandishing a five-foot sword while casually strolling down Pike Street? Sakura-Con must be in town. The largest anime convention in the Northwest returns for a 21st year, with thousands of anime fans—many dressed in elaborate costumes—flooding the convention center to feast their eyes and wallets on all things animation, manga, and video games. Washington State Convention Center,

Sasquatch! Music Festival

May 25–27 In terms of scenery, Coachella has nothing on the Gorge Amphitheatre’s rolling hills and water vistas. And Sasquatch’s lineups at the Gorge strive to impress as well. Consider this year’s headliners, including Modest Mouse, the National, and Vince Staples. Turn it into a camping trip with a way better soundtrack than acoustic guitar noodling around the fire. The Gorge Amphitheatre,

Fremont Fair

June 16 & 17 Close out spring and welcome the summer at Seattle’s pagan capital, Fremont. The sunbaked weekend festivities include an arts and crafts market, live music, and essentially a neighborhoodwide beer garden. But the fair’s main event is of course the annual, clothing-optional Solstice Parade. Is this the year you bust out the body paint?  Fremont, 



Feb 28–Mar 25 This subversive black comedy centers on Isaac, who returns from the war abroad to fight the war at home: with his ailing father, his liberated mother, his newly out transgender sister, and the patriarchy itself. Directed by local favorite Jennifer Zeyl, Hir should be raucous and insightful in equal measure. Intiman Theatre,

Love Never Dies

May 8–13 The iconography and drama of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera—one of the most successful musicals of all time—receives the sequel treatment. Set 10 years after the original story, the Phantom now lives among the music and bustle of early-twentieth-century New York City. But the heart still yearns for his one true love. Paramount Theatre,

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Love Never Dies

Image: Joan Marcus

Falling Awake

Mar 8–17 Performance collective UMO hopes to tap into our collective unconscious in this experimental new show, which combines language, music—even ballroom dancing. Glimpses of different lives repeat, layer, and complicate themselves, moving gracefully with the logic of dreams. ACT Theatre,

Ride the Cyclone

Mar 10–May 20 When the St. Cassian High School Chamber Choir straps into the Cyclone roller coaster in Coney Island, little do they know it will be their end. Or is it really an end? After a deadly mechanical mishap, the choir traverses a carnival purgatory to reflect on their lives, and the dreams unfulfilled, in this macabre comedy. 5th Avenue Theatre,


Mar 21–Apr 28 Combining gospel music and theater, this play tells the story of a young Brooklynite buoyed by a group of women whose experiences and stories take them on a journey across the globe and historical eras. The play is based on a book of photography of black women’s church hats by Michael Cunningham and Craig Mayberry. Expect fantastic haberdashery. Taproot Theatre, 

The Nether

Apr 27–May 14 Is any act morally wrong if it’s done in an artificial world? Part creepy mystery, part tech horror straight out of Black Mirror, Jennifer Haley’s play about alternate reality, male fantasy, and toxic objectification imagines a future in which a person’s desires, no matter how depraved or exploitative, can find a home in a virtual space. Washington Ensemble Theatre,

Mac Beth

May 18–June 17 This new reimagining of Shakespeare’s classic among classics takes a step back from the original play to create a whole new metanarrative. As a group of girls gather after school to share Macbeth’s tale of tragic ambition, destiny, and guilt, fiction converges with reality as the storytellers become part of the story itself. Seattle Repertory Theatre, ­

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Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s Marine (Seascape), on display along with other work at Frye Art Museum’s upcoming exhibition Towards Impressionism.

Visual Art 

Towards Impressionism

May 12–Aug 5 Straight from the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Reims, France, come 40 genre-defining landscape paintings. As the name implies, this exhibition follows the origins of impressionism, from the rural realism of the Barbizon school of painting—in which landscapes became the subject, not the background—to the dreamy brushstrokes of Monet. Frye Art Museum,

Chase Langford: Calcadia

Apr 5–21 As if conjuring sedimentary cross-sections of stone, Chase Langford manipulates bright and neutral colors to paint layered shapes both incongruous and with an organic logic all their own. These images evoke a sense of time’s ceaselessness—how the natural world literally builds on top of and buries itself—and the inherent beauty in that fact. Foster/White Gallery,

Teardrops That Wound

May 12–20 In this sweeping and personal exhibition, six Asian Pacific American artists respond to the callous violence of war by rendering violent imagery banal. Yukiyo Kawano’s life-size replica of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima constructed with kimono silk and her own hair is especially poignant amidst new anxieties over nuclear war. The multimedia installations from Phong and Sarah Nguyen, Patrick Nagatani, Noa Batle, and Thomas Dang further recast these images of destruction. Wing Luke Museum,

Jono Vaughan: 2017 Betty Bowen Award Winner

Apr 21–Aug 5 Seattle’s own Jono Vaughan began her Project 42 series six years ago to draw attention to violence toward trans individuals. In this project, Vaughan honors 42 murder victims, providing an entry point into the heinous acts, with a series of garments that feature murder locations transformed into mesmerizing textile prints. Seattle Art Museum,

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