Seattle’s iconic KEXP radio station will celebrate its 50th anniversary on Aug. 6 the only way that seems appropriate: with a bunch of free, live music at its Seattle Center home.

At the event the station has dubbed KEXP50, there will be two stages in the courtyards by its studios and public Gathering Space, along with a beer garden, food trucks and KEXP DJs spinning their favorite tracks.

“We were looking to put together a lineup of artists who would be exciting to our listeners,” KEXP spokesperson Dashel Schueler said. “But also we have some artists including some special [surprise] guests who are going to be joining us who are a little less well-known, and that’s exciting for us, too. KEXP is all about music discovery and we wanted to put together a lineup that reflected that focus.”


Schueler said many KEXP listeners will likely appreciate Sons of Kemet, who are making their last U.S. appearance on Saturday, as well as performances by Tomo Nakayama and !!! (Chk Chk Chk). But don’t be surprised if you come away with a new favorite as well.

For Sons of Kemet, this will be one of the pioneering British jazz group’s final performances, with just a handful of European performances left before it permanently disbands. If you’re a Sons superfan distraught about seeing your favorite band for the final time, perhaps Tomo Nakayama’s cheery electropop will be just the tonic to lift you out of the doldrums.


The 50th anniversary celebration has been well underway on-air and at this year, with DJs exploring the best music by year dating back to 1972. This week, the focus turns to recalling some of the station’s best moments with DJs and community members.

“We’re talking about the KEXP community, the history of KEXP’s programming, the impact that programming has had, that donors have had by powering that programming,” Schueler said. “We’re really wanting to cap it off with KEXP50 as an event that does focus on the future. We’re also going to be collecting some feedback and ideas about the future of KEXP and the future of music with something called the Future Booth, where people can leave video messages about what they’d like to see for the future of KEXP.”

Here’s a prediction: Listeners will be hungry to see even more Live on KEXP content on the station’s YouTube channel, which has 2.76 million subscribers and helped the station reach a global audience. Live on KEXP is featuring artists such as Ben Gibbard and Built to Spill in the run-up to Saturday’s celebration.

As far as the impact at home, Schueler said he hopes the event entices some folks who haven’t been to see live music in some time.

“We’re hoping it’s going to feel like a party,” Schueler said. “The KEXP community can come together and see each other, maybe some of them for the first time in a while.”


Featuring Sons of Kemet, Tomo Nakayama, !!! (Chk Chk Chk). Noon-7 p.m. Aug. 6; KEXP at Seattle Center, 305 Harrison St.; free; all ages, bar with ID; masking strongly encouraged;