For new bands touring through Seattle, it can be a little hard to break into. There's the "Seattle freeze" and a whole lot of bands and promoters that are too saturated with requests to return to all emails. Thankfully, the general mood is changing and there's a lot of new spaces and new people that want to help.
With the growth of the city and the growing number of small-medium sized venues that cater really well to emerging bands, it's becoming easier to add Seattle to a West Coast tour; you just need to know who to ask.
Check out our list of small "underground" venues that could be perfect additions to a DIY tour. These 13 small Seattle music venues are generally easy to book with, and are all in the 50-200 attendee capacity range.
Located in Ballard, Substation is an underground venue that brings in a diverse assortment of music, from indie, electronic, hip-hop, metal, etc. It's got a surprisingly quality sound system. The stage area, intimate vibe, and bar makes it a good place to showcase your project for the 21+ crowd. The team here is very supportive of emerging talent.
2: Timbre Room
The Timbre Room feels juxtaposed in the Denny Triangle / South Lake Union tech complex hi-rises, but it's another space to consider. It's a new venue, with a small stage overlooking an intimate reflective listening room. It's located above Kremwerk, a popular electronic/goth scene. To clarify, for the last time, "Timbre" is pronounced like 'tamber' and has nothing to do with logging.
Lo-Fi Performance Gallery is a classic spot for indie touring groups. Events here are often listed in The Stranger. The sound is great and wide, the stage is elevated, and the venue has high ceilings and an upstairs viewing area. If you don't have a draw for the main stage, no sweat, they often host shows in the front room bar too.
Barboza is a venue located under the iconic Neumos. It's operated by the same crew, who put on amazing live shows with pristine sound. The room is smaller than Neumos upstairs, that being said, it's still a higher capacity space than others on this list, so judge accordingly.
National band inquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org
5: Therapy Lounge
Therapy Lounge, on Capitol Hill, is typically more of a DJ club, but they do host small events for local and touring bands during weeknights. It shares a wall with a night club. They've got a decent PA, but expect to play on the floor with some 4-on-the-floor bass bleed from the club next door.
Booking: Try reaching out via Facebook
6: The Den, at Chop Suey
Chop Suey is a larger capacity venue with eclectic taste. Don't expect to play on their main stage. However, they do host bands on the floor of their bars on week nights, which is a foot in the door. Lately The Den hosts a Monday night GGNZLA KARAOKE with usually an opening band or two.
7: House Shows
Crammed bodies, Pabst on the back porches, excited college kids. Let's face it, house shows are normally the most fun. There's an assortment of houses throwing shows all the time, like Werewolf Vacation, Candy Mountain, Salmon Town, Black Lodge, The Anthill, and The Castle. Many are around U-District. The problem is that these communities are clicky and difficult to participate in if you don't know someone involved.
8: The Moon
The Moon, or Space21, is a really cool intimate spate in the top floor of a factory in SoDo, which is just south of downtown. Playing here feels like a 90s MTV music video shoot. Some people organize shows here consistently, but it seems it can be rented out by show promoters/other independent music collectives.
Booking: Reach out with FB
9: The HighDive
10: Office Space
11: The Highline
The Highline is a common destination for out-of-towners. With a professional sound system, it often caters to hard metal and punk, but I've also seen electronic, indie, and shoegaze present too. Situated in the heart of Capitol Hill, the Highline is in a good location.
Vermillion is an art gallery and bar located in the busiest street of Capitol Hill night-life. The attendance here for music is spotty. The sound system is weak, more designed for poetry readings than a live band. Nonetheless, they have live music occasionally. Playing on the bar floor is an intimate setting, like a house show.
13: The Jewelbox Theater, At Rendezvous
The Jewelbox Theater at the Rendezvous in Belltown does everything from comedy, short film, to cabaret/burlesque. They have a professional PA system and occasionally host bands. It's a good area for a low draw due to its tiny stage and close-quarters viewing area. As this is typically rented by private parties, the Rendezvous staff doesn't promote/organize shows. Bands most often play here by working through a third party booker/promoter/agent.
Booking in Seattle's Small Capacity Spaces
These are all underground, small, and mid-size venues that appeal to emerging artists that have little to no Seattle draw. Don't go straight for the bigger names like Neumos, or Showbox. Mid-size venues like The Sunset, Tractor Tavern, Chop Suey main-stage, or Barboza could be a good fit depending on how established the group is, but may still be a stretch.
Something unique about Seattle is that no music venue really has a built-in audience. This can be detrimental for out of town bands that want more fans. It's rare that venues do any individual show promotion, other than listings, so the work is on you to promote.
Of course, general booking advice applies. When pitching over email, suggests bands to play with, as well as streaming links to music, press, estimated draw, artists you've played with, and social links.
Good luck in booking! You'll likely find that people are nice, and there are angels that want to help. Do you know of any others? Comment below!