A&E Pick of the Week
Editor’s note: Given rising COVID-19 case counts spurred by the delta variant, COVID-19 protocols and other details for events are subject to change. Please check your event’s website for the latest information, and heed local health authorities’ safety recommendations as they’re updated.
Our last Labor Day weekend was unusually quiet, absent the marquee concerts that compete with Airbnb getaways for end-of-summer entertainment budgets. The pandemic that silenced summer’s last hurrah is very much not over, but the days when you could hear a pin drop in dormant Seattle music venues are.
This year, Labor Day brings about the biggest concert weekend our region’s seen in roughly two years. The bulk of Greater Seattle’s outdoor music spaces will come alive, led by the return of the Washington State Fair’s concert series, the inaugural Day In Day Out festival at Seattle Center and the Green Day-led Hella Mega tour coming to T-Mobile Park. Across the Cascades, the Dave Matthews Band will resume its longstanding tradition of “Labor Dave weekends” at the Gorge Amphitheatre, jam-rocking the scenic venue for three nights.
Still, there’s a strange mix of jubilation and anxiety in the air as the delta variant casts a shadow on the concert industry’s big comeback. What would have been this weekend’s biggest gig of all — even more “mega” than the Hella Mega tour — was scrapped when country kingpin Garth Brooks called off a short-lived Lumen Field show over COVID-19 concerns.
Throughout the past year, I’ve cringed every time the phrase “the new normal” was deployed in stories about people shaking ankles or working remotely. (I write this from the comfort of my sweatpants.) But handing my vax card to Neumos’ masked-and-gloved doorwoman, who was suitably dressed for a rock show or a hospital room, I couldn’t help but feel like the music world might finally be settling into some sort of “new normal” for the foreseeable future.
“I really wanna touch you more, but I feel like I’m not supposed to,” These Arms Are Snakes singer Steve Snere told the dutifully masked fans who packed the club. One song later, the post-hardcore troupe’s physical frontman lunged into the crowd, caught by the hands of dozens of strangers.
Granted, my crowd-surfing days died during the (younger) Bush administration, but that’s a hard pass from me. Yet as once-routine activities like concerts resume, everyone needs to determine their comfort levels. For those ready for live music in the new (ab)normal, here’s a breakdown of the biggest outdoor gigs during a stacked Labor Day weekend, including any COVID-19 protocols in place.
After last year’s aborted drive-in plans, the Washington State Fair’s concert series returns to the grandstand, with space cowboys Steve Miller Band getting Friday’s first toke. The fair’s country bookings are usually the more compelling and this comeback year’s no different, with bona fide country queen Carrie Underwood, armed with a new album of gospel covers, leading the charge. 7:30 p.m. Sept. 4; Washington State Fair, 110 Ninth Ave. S.W., Puyallup; $95-$160 (includes fair admission); masks required both indoors and outdoors; thefair.com
Dave Matthews Band
Just like old times, DMB devotees trek to the Gorge, lured by the Wallingford music giant’s rootsy blend of jam-friendly pop rock. Weekend passes are sold out, but single-day tickets remain. 5 p.m. Sept. 3-5; Gorge Amphitheatre, 754 Silica Road N.W., George; $49.50-$195; proof of full vaccination or negative coronavirus test taken within 48 hours of entry required; livenation.com
Day In Day Out
With Bumbershoot still hibernating, the Capitol Hill Block Party crew holds down Seattle Center’s Labor Day weekend slot with a fledgling mini fest that looks like a smaller, grassier version of what they do on the Hill. Electronic star Kaytranada and synth-pop staples Chvrches headline the two-day bash under the Space Needle alongside Portland’s top rap export Aminé, Big Wild and the pride of Burien, Travis Thompson, who dropped the biggest album of his career this summer. 3:30 p.m. Sept. 4-5; Fisher Green and Pavilion, 305 Harrison St., Seattle; $85-$240; proof of vaccination or negative coronavirus test within 48 hours required; dayindayoutfest.com
Green Day, Weezer, Fall Out Boy
This three-headed rock monster wraps its stadium-sized Hella Mega tour at the Mariners’ home, concluding the North American leg of a mission trip aiming to prove that rock ‘n’ roll still sells, baby. With three decades of hits among them, the rock gospel messiahs ought to have the sonic power to pull it off. 5:30 p.m. Sept. 6; T-Mobile Park, 1250 First Ave. S., Seattle; $39.50-$159.50; masks required in stadium’s indoor areas; ticketmaster.com
Megadeth and Lamb of God
For something a little heavier than Weezer’s current “Van Weezer” phase, try this pairing of twin metal titans. OG thrash gods Megadeth and death-groove destroyers Lamb of God joined forces to lead summer’s heaviest metal tour, bolstered by metalcore luminaries Trivium and Hatebreed. 6 p.m. Sept. 5; White River Amphitheatre, 40601 Auburn Enumclaw Road S.E., Auburn; $25-$114.50; livenation.com
Tower of Power and WAR
If nothing sounds worse than an evening of headbanging, these ’70s staples open Chateau Ste. Michelle’s abbreviated season in far more soothing fashion. Like most of the Woodinville winery’s shows, tickets are sold out, but the current climate feels ripe for potential StubHub bargains. Chateau Ste. Michelle has dropped its previously announced vaccination/negative test requirements. 7 p.m. Sept. 5; Chateau Ste. Michelle, 14111 N.E. 145th St., Woodinville; sold out; ste-michelle.com