Monthly Planner

13 Seattle Events to Catch This May

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

By Stefan Milne April 23, 2019 Published in the May 2019 issue of Seattle Met

Jenny Lewis rides her riffs to the Paramount.

Image: Courtesy STG

Books & Talks

Mary Norris

May 1 After decades as a copy editor at The New Yorker, Mary Norris perhaps became the country’s foremost punctuation pedant with her first book, Between You and Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen. Now she returns with Greek to Me: Adventures of the Comma Queen, a memoir about Greece’s wine, its mythology, its men, and—of course—its language. The Summit on Pike, $5

Classical & More

Yekwon Sunwoo

May 4 Twenty years after starting to play piano at age eight, and following a master’s from Juilliard, Yekwon Sunwoo became the first South Korean to win the prestigious Van Cliburn International Piano Competition by performing Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto no. 3. When he performs Schumann, Liszt, and Schubert at Meany Center, expect the same blend of dazzle and passion. Meany Hall, $41–$49

Brahms Concerto Festival 1 & 2

May 9 & 10 For this two-day festival, soloists from all over the world—Canada, China, Russia, and elsewhere—unite in praise of four pieces that span the career of Johannes Brahms. The first, Piano Concerto no. 1, finished when he was only 25, is an ardent collision of symphony and soloist. The final, Double Concerto in A Minor, he wrote 29 years later. As you may expect, his initial brio had by then transformed into something more articulate. Benaroya Hall, $22–$97


Ivan Decker

May 10 & 11 Ivan Decker trades in the sort of comedy—observational, inoffensive—most associated with Jerry Seinfeld. The charm is that he’s still able to find fresh insights in topics as quotidian as running: “I know that you don’t want to be a jogger…because everything bad in the news always happens to a jogger.” Laughs Comedy Club, $15


Shannon Shaw with Prom Queen

May 11 Shannon Shaw and Prom Queen (a Seattle musician who decamped to LA in 2018) both work in a similar idiom—1950s and 1960s pop and rock—but in dramatically different registers. Prom Queen comes on in a silvery croon, over dreamy doo-wop backing, while Shaw, who also leads surf punks Shannon and the Clams, leans into belting orchestral country that occasionally bends psychotropic. Clock-Out Lounge, Sold Out

Jorja Smith and Kali Uchis

May 20 Kali Uchis’s Isolation was one of the splashier debut albums last year, lush with funky beats and elastic vocals. One of its standout guest spots, on “Tyrant,” came from Jorja Smith, another young soul singer who just had a breakout year and got a Grammy nomination for it. Now the two trade honey-voiced lyrics live as they co-headline a North American tour, fittingly titled “Kali and Jorja.” WaMu Theater, $37

Jenny Lewis

May 21 Jenny Lewis jitters across genres with glee. She came up in indie band Rilo Kiley and has as a solo artist dipped into a cappella folk harmonies, swaggering classic rock, plucky funk, sunlit California pop. This year’s On the Line sees her stretching her canvas further. “Heads Gonna Roll” is an ascending ballad (with Ringo Starr on drums), while “Red Bull and Hennessy” recalls a more aggressive Fleetwood Mac. Moore Theatre, Sold Out

Special Events

Crosscut Festival

May 3 & 4 Back for a second year, the Crosscut Festival draws an impressive list of over 60 speakers to Seattle University for conversations about pressing issues. The panels are dominated by journalists, from locals like KUOW’s Sydney Brownstone to writers from national publications like Ars Technica and The New York Times. But there are plenty of record scratches, too. Just see the session with the Seahawks’ Doug Baldwin Jr., civil rights activist DeRay Mckesson, and—why not?—Macklemore. Seattle University, $95–$125

Big Opera Party

May 10 Partway through this season’s production of Carmen, Seattle Opera is throwing the inaugural Big Opera Party in its new building. The opera promises some standard fundraising games—a raffle, a live auction—and an after-party with dancing. But the main event is dinner: Ticket holders will head next door to McCaw Hall and sit on stage amid the set of Carmen for a meal hopefully as passionate as the opera, though with less murder. The Opera Center, $250–$1500


School of Rock

May 14–19 The movie School of Rock stars Jack Black as a guitarist who cons his way into a substitute teaching job and forms a band with his class. In 2015, Andrew Lloyd Webber debuted a stage adaptation. Cock your head and that makes good sense: A teacher crossing a line with his students, backed by some emphatic rock, was the basis of Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera. Paramount Theatre, $35–$90

West Side Story

May 31–June 23 The Sharks and the Jets have been staging dance fights for over 60 years now. West Side Story endures both because it has impeccable, dynamic music and dance, spawned by three legends—Stephen Sondheim, Leonard Bernstein, Jerome Robbins—and because its story of racial divides and the people that try to bridge them resonates as fundamentally American. 5th Avenue Theatre, $29–$110

Visual Art

Seattle Style: Fashion/Function

May 4–Oct 14 This might be a first: a museum show dedicated to Seattle’s sense of fashion. While MOHAI admits few looks are unique to the city, when taken together, our varied duds cohere. So yes, there will be flannel, but also a Utilikilt (still skirtlike, not plaid) and a gold filigreed dress that looks like someone stole royal drapes. But the website’s lead image? A poncho. Museum of History and Industry, $22

Forge. Art Magazine

May 2–31 For its final exhibition as a physical gallery, Mount Analogue hosts LA’s Forge. Art Magazine as curator. The group show will feature over 20 artists—like Molly Soda, Eunice Luk, Eli Howey—unified around an aesthetic that’s slyly dark, patently colorful, and absurd only because it looks true. Mount Analogue, Free

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