Top Five Historic Theaters in Seattle for Live Music


Live music and Seattle go way back. Before Hendrix and Nirvana there was vaudeville and jazz; the first Seattle Symphony performance took place in 1903. Surely, a city with a musical background as colorful as Seattle's must have retained its historic venues. And it has. So much so, in fact, that Seattle boasts a Downtown Historic Theater District. Let's take a look at five historic venues where you can still see live music today.

The Moore
The Moore is Seattle's oldest remaining theater. Opened in 1907, it's over a century old and still rocking - everyone from B.B. King to the Seattle Rock Orchestra has played it. With a capacity of 1,800 and upcoming blues-rock shows from Gary Clark Jr. and The Arcs, The Moore shows no signs of slowing down in its old age.

Columbia City Theater
The oldest vaudeville theater in Washington state, Columbia City was built in 1917. Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, and (rumor has it) Jimi Hendrix have graced its stage. Today, the 300-capacity, standing-room-only theater hosts local bands, many of which have graduated to larger venues; think Seattle darlings The Head and the Heart, Noah Gundersen, and Kris Orlowski.

Neptune
Formerly a movie theater, Neptune opened in 1921 and now operates as a 850-seat music venue. The conversion was fairly recent (2011), so don't expect to see Elvis Presley show posters on the wall. What you can expect is a great lineup of touring artists old and new, including George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic in April 2016.

Jewelbox Theater at Rendezvous
This tiny theater, opened in 1927, seats only 65 patrons. Shows here are quite varied, including comedy, theater, film and burlesque along with live music. Due to the theater's intimate size, artists tend to be of the local and lesser known variety - which makes it a great place to discover something new. Also, it may be haunted. So there's that.

Showbox at the Market
Since 1939, Showbox has been a Seattle live music staple. Celebrating many local-gone-national acts, the venue has hosted Pearl Jam, Modest Mouse, and Heart among others. With a capacity of 1,100, it's best to show up very early if you want a seat. The few scattered tables in the back fill up quickly, and everyone else is left standing.

Of course, this is just a sampling of the many historic theaters in Seattle. For more, check out the Downtown Historic Theater District and Historic Theaters Library.

Brandon Fralic is a Bellingham-based writer and photographer. With a focus on the outdoors, travel, and craft beer, he has contributed to a handful of publications including Washington Trails and Outdoor Project. Visit his portfolio for more info.