Autumn Preview

35 Events to Catch This Fall

A guide to getting your arts and culture fix this season.

By Stefan Milne August 14, 2018 Published in the September 2018 issue of Seattle Met

Jonathan Wilson looks as trippy as he’ll sound at the Tractor Tavern.

Books & Talks

Gary Shteyngart

Sept 10 It’s been nearly a decade since Gary Shteyngart’s Super Sad True Love Story painted a satirical panorama of a not-so-distant dystopia, full of Fox Liberty Ultra and hand-held device addiction and transparent jeans. Now he returns with Lake Success, which lampoons a hedge fund manager who takes a cross-country Greyhound trip in the summer of 2016—you know, that not-so-distant time that presaged our current dystopia. Broadway Performance Hall

Neil deGrasse Tyson

Nov 26 & 27 That mustache! Those asteroid factoids! That pedantic charisma! Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson brings two nights of talks—“Adventures in Science Literacy” and “The Cosmic Perspective”—to the Paramount. If you don’t know what to expect yet from an NDT talk, we’d say you’ve been living on another planet, but then you’d know exactly what to expect. Paramount Theater

Classical & More

Opening Night with Ludovic Morlot and Jean-Yves Thibaudet

Sept 15 Kick off music director Ludovic Morlot’s last season with Seattle Symphony at this opening night concert and gala. Hear pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet and players dig into Modest Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition and Aram Khachaturian’s Piano Concerto. Then hit the gala for dancing and dinner in true symphonic style. Benaroya Hall

Kamasi Washington blasts sax at Showbox Market.

Kamasi Washington

Oct 17 Labeling saxophonist and bandleader Kamasi Washington as a jazz musician feels as inadequate as calling Kendrick Lamar a rapper. So it makes sense that Washington helped Lamar sculpt the wildly expansive grooves on To Pimp a Butterfly. On his solo work, like this year’s Heaven and Earth, Washington slips between genres with such dexterity that you’ll forget they exist. Showbox Market

Rachmaninov Untuxed

Nov 30 In 2014 Georgian pianist Khatia Buniatishvili played Rachmaninov’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini with the Seattle Symphony that had The Seattle Times praising its “slithery” finesse. Now she returns for the Russian Romantic composer’s Second Piano Concerto. That it runs only 32 minutes merely intensifies and consolidates its gorgeousness. Benaroya Hall


Brian Posehn

Sept 14 & 15 Part of the early-aughts alternative comic cohort that included Patton Oswalt and Maria Bamford, Brian Posehn slings jokes that are as gleefully nerdy, self-deprecating, and scatological as his topics—metal, Star Wars, weed, feces—would lead you to believe. Laughs Comedy Club

Aparna Nancherla unleashes her gloriously deadpan comedy at the Neptune Theater.

Image: Courtesy STG

Aparna Nancherla CANCELED

Sept 22 In terms of the sheer glory of her awkward deadpan, Aparna Nancherla seems in a contemporary league only with Hannibal Buress. When she hits the Neptune expect her to continue to struggle with the pressing questions of our times: “Do you think if two DJs got in a fight, they’d just keep yelling, ‘Ah! The tables have turned!’” Neptune Theater

Mystery Science Theater 3000 Live

Nov 11 Break the show’s fourth wall (but not the movies’) and step inside Mystery Science Theater 3000 on its 30th anniversary tour. Here hosts Joel and Jonah will offer wisecracking commentary at afternoon and evening shows. The B-movies d’jour? The Brain and Deathstalker, a 1983 boondoggle of swords, sorcery, and sandals, complete with a flaxen-haired, loincloth-clad, exceedingly well-oiled hero. Moore Theater


Japanese Breakfast

Sept 25 Michelle Zauner’s second album under her Japanese Breakfast moniker is called Soft Sounds from Another Planet, and it is, like its title, lovely and a little cosmic, floating on synths and breathy vocals. But Zauner, a Eugene native, finds grounding in Northwest influences—Elliott Smith, Mount Eerie—and in deeply confessional subjects like the loss of her mother and femininity. Neptune Theater

Jonathan Wilson

Sept 26 Perhaps most known as a producer for artists like Dawes and Father John Misty and Conor Oberst, Jonathan Wilson is a formidable musician in his own right, working from the lush psychedelic tradition and laidback climes of Laurel Canyon. Tractor Tavern

Childish Gambino CANCELED

Sept 29 Polytalented musician, actor, producer, writer, and comedian, Donald Glover (Childish Gambino) created a viral firestorm this year with his “This Is America” video—an incendiary indictment of gun violence and America’s dissonant consumption of black culture. He followed it with a pair of shimmery summer anthems. When he hits KeyArena, idiosyncrasy is certain. KeyArena

Courtney Barnett

Oct 8 Australian singer-songwriter Courtney Barnett has a voice, and an oft-flat affect, that verges on boredom. But instead of coming across as bored herself or blandly withering, she offers wry, witty companionship. On this year’s Tell Me How You Really Feel, she invites you along on garage-rocking strolls, which occasionally break into punk outrage on tracks like “I’m Not Your Mother, I’m Not Your Bitch.” Paramount Theater

Justin Timberlake

Nov 12 & 13 If “Filthy,” the opener on his new record, Man of the Woods, sounds like Justin Timberlake returning to his “SexyBack” roots, much of the rest of the album finds him following those roots deeper, into the earthy sounds of his Tennessee upbringing—a harmonica here, a Chris Stapleton guest spot there. JT retains his signature lithe pop hooks, just with some added twang and texture. Tacoma Dome

Pedro the Lion

Nov 23 Whether he plays under his own name, or with a new group of musicians under Pedro the Lion, David Bazan is a local treasure, navigating the brooding waters of faith and its dissolution in wise, heartfelt indie songs. Here he’s joined by also locally treasured, if a tad sunnier, Chris Staples. Neumos


Pacific Northwest Ballet begins its season with a tribute to choreographer Jerome Robbins.

Jerome Robbins Festival

Sept 21–29 Pacific Northwest Ballet kicks off its new season with a festival dedicated to beloved American choreographer Jerome Robbins, a few weeks before the centennial of his birth. Here seven major works, including Igor Stravinsky’s Circus Polka and Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story, will alternate and give a comprehensive sense of how Robbins found the motion in human emotion. McCaw Hall

Solo: A Festival of Dance

Oct 4–7 This new festival sees national and local dancers coming to On the Boards, showcasing their solo dance choreography. Multiple performances will occur simultaneously, each in an attempt to locate a single body in space and time, and in that find something universal. On the Boards

All Premiere

Nov 2–11 This mixed-repertory gathers three Pacific Northwest Ballet premieres together for a new show. Alejandro Cerrudo (whose work Memory Glow debuted here in 2014) brings Silent Ghost, Alexander Ekman brings Cacti. And PNB soloist Kyle Davis, who joined the company a decade ago, will present New Davis for its world premiere. McCaw Hall

Food & Drink

Fremont Oktoberfest

Sept 21–23 If you really want to go full Rhineland, you head to Leavenworth in October. But if you need to don your dirndl more locally, Fremont offers the city’s major option. The German festival is also one of the city’s bigger beer fests, filling your stein with more than 80 local and international brews. For oompahing tubas you’ll have to head a little closer to Munich, but maybe that’s not such a bad thing. Fremont

Great Pumpkin Beer Festival

Oct 5 & 6 Love it or loath it, pumpkin beer can’t any longer be labeled a novel trend. Now in its 14th year, Elysian Brewing’s gourdy ode returns complete with its giant pumpkin filled with pumpkin brew and tapped. Last year saw over 80 pumpkin beers from across the country (20 from Elysian itself), along with food and orange-clad crowds and, of course, jack-o'-lanterns. Seattle Center

Special Events

A WWI artifact map, part of WW1 America on display at MOHAI.

WW1 America

Sept 1–Feb 10 Coinciding with the centennial of Armistice Day on November 11, MOHAI brings the nationally traveling exhibit to Seattle for its West Coast debut. WW1 America explores the War to End All Wars through an American lens, telling stories both famous and less known, including Northwest narratives like the militarization of the Puget Sound and the Seattle General Strike of 1919. Museum of History and Industry

Cirque du Soleil is back in town with Volta.

Cirque du Soleil Volta

Sept 7–Nov 4 The big-time big top company brings its show Volta to Marymoor. This one’s about Waz, a boy who’s trying to find acceptance in the world. But as with any Cirque du Soleil, the story’s just an apparatus for the troupe of acrobats to trampoline, twirl, and—in this case—flip on BMX bikes, until performers and crowd alike are dizzy with spectacle. Marymoor Park


Sept 22 The mellower and exceedingly more clothed sibling to the Fremont Solstice Parade encircles Green Lake to celebrate the autumnal equinox. Seattleites arrive at dusk, sporting lighted costumes and elaborate lanterns—snakes, dragons, and glowing orbs all seem to levitate in the night air—to celebrate our slow descent into the wintery dark. Green Lake Park

Lit Crawl

Oct 11 Book folk do love a pun—and a drink. Lit Crawl returns for the city’s most sprawling and tipsy party of letters, with bars and venues orchestrating readings around downtown and Capitol Hill. It all ends at the new Hugo House with an afterparty where you can pick up your favorite performer’s book or a nightcap. Various locations

Borealis, a Festival of Light

Oct 11–14 Centered at MOHAI but diffused throughout South Lake Union, this inaugural festival draws artists into a grand scale art competition. Europe has held such events for over a decade, but this marks the first in the U.S. Light displays and video will be projected onto building facades and—along with a slate of food trucks, beer and wine gardens, and live music—turn the city’s most technological neighborhood into an exhibition astronomically large and illuminating. Various locations



Sept 7–30 David Hare’s 1995 play finds two erstwhile lovers reuniting in a London apartment to cook dinner. She’s a schoolteacher, he’s a successful businessman. What follows delves into the workings of lost love and intimacy, yes, but also the dynamics of class in an unsteady economy. ACT Theatre

The Turn of the Screw fills McCaw Hall with ghostly opera.

The Turn of the Screw

Oct 13–27 Director Peter Kazaras brings his staging of Benjamin Britten’s opera (itself an adaptation of the Henry James’s beguiling novella) back in an expanded, McCaw Hall–sized production. Something has to contain all the atmosphere and ambiguity its ghostly libretto generates. McCaw Hall


Oct 12–Nov 11 This 2017 Tony Award–winner for best play follows Norwegian diplomat Mona Juul and her husband as they coordinate between Israeli and Palestinian leaders’ peace negotiations, which led to the signing of the 1993 Oslo Accords. It could land like a political science lecture but instead plays as a riveting thriller and reminder of the humanity, both good and bad, involved in headline negotiations. ACT Theatre

Native Gardens

Sept 6–30 This comedy gets topical over the topiary when a pregnant PhD candidate and her ambitious lawyer husband move into a DC house and meet their new neighbors, a semiretired couple with an English-style garden. The peace is quickly disturbed when a fence line becomes grounds for a territorial dispute. Who’s to say that big issues—race, class, privilege, borders—can’t be played for big laughs? Intiman Theater

Visual Art

Janna Watson: Moody as Light

Sept 6–22 Janna Watson’s abstract mixed media panels emanate wild connotative energies. The swooping, zooming, churning brushstrokes and emphatic negative space combine with hits of color to resemble everything from flowers to light to people to movement itself, often all at once. Foster/White Gallery

Group Therapy

Sept 15–Jan 6 Twelve artists and healers converge at the Frye for a show that both explores and proffers self-help. Maybe that’s Liz Magic Laser’s padded-room video project, Primal Scream. Maybe it’s Cindy Mochizuki’s Fortune House, in which the artist exchanges tarot card and tealeaf readings for monster stories. However various the methods, the exhibition/clinic is intended to find new modes of expression and connection. Frye Art Museum

Haein Kang: Illusion

Oct 4–25 Sit in a spare room. Close your eyes and music begins, a concerted plinking made by weights striking wood, metal, glass—like a John Cage piece played on found instruments. Open your eyes and the music stops. This is Haein Kang’s Illusion installation. An electroencephalogram (EEG) headset picks up alpha brain waves, created only when your eyes are shut, and these waves prompt the instruments’ rhythm. (At an October 11 workshop guests will be invited to try the headset on. While on display at 4Culture, it will be modeled in video.) Wearing the device invokes a synesthesia, to disrupt the lines dividing sight and sound, thought and action. Kang—who’s long lived at the intersection of art and tech, in Seoul, in San Francisco, now in Seattle—was curious about exploring neuroscience because of how little we understand about the mind. It remains, like any good artistic subject, largely mysterious. To call the piece cerebral is not a slight. It’s just a smidge too on the nose. 4Culture

Peacock in the Desert: The Royal Arts of Jodhpur, India

Oct 18–Jan 21 Around 250 historic art works from Indian courtly life—many of which are leaving their palaces for the first time—come to SAM for a show that’s stunning both in its centuries-long scope and in its detail: See a 19th century shield bedazzled with rubies, diamonds, emeralds, chalcedony, agate, and rock crystal. Large photo murals will render Jodhpur’s Mehrangarh Museum for further context and splendor. Seattle Art Museum

Annie Morris

Oct 24–Dec 8 Painter and sculptor Annie Morris loves to iterate. On paper that can mean hundreds of faces inked in jittering repetition, or perhaps nudes painted on wooden clothes pins. At this show, towers of plaster orbs, multicolored and many-sized, rise like colorful, counterbalanced rock stacks. Winston Wächter Gallery

Updated 12:31pm on August 24, 2018 to reflect that Aparna Nancherla's Neptune show has been canceled. Updated 1:48pm on September 27, 2018 to reflect that Childish Gambino's show has been canceled. 

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