A&E Pick of the Week

Welcome back to Arts & Entertainment Pick of the Week, in which our writers share some particularly interesting events, shows or something else that caught their eye.

Summer is precious. When not choking on wildfire smoke, spending as much time outdoors while avoiding manual labor is my top priority during these fleeting, immaculate months. So many pristine summer nights I’ve spent inside hot and sweaty clubs wishing the speakers could hit decibels high enough to actually blow the roof off.

It hasn’t happened yet, though Wimps came damn close at the Clock-Out one summer.

With live music still easing its way back, even some of our favorite ceilinged clubs are yet to crack their doors open, and those that have are still ramping up their calendars. Fortunately, there are options for taking in the sounds and cool night air at the same time.

In addition to SoDo’s roof-deck dance mecca, Monkey Loft, two venues outside Seattle proper are hosting clutch outdoor shows, filling a critical niche while some music fans are still hesitant to cram inside clubs again.

Alma Mater, Tacoma

Two weeks ago, a friendly, energized crowd spread out on Alma Mater’s rooftop as buzzy Tacoma rockers Enumclaw were set to play their first public show, opening for mosh-rap sultan and esteemed poet degenerate Glenn. The sound of skateboard trucks clacking against the blacktop cut through the house music as friends and fans kicked back on a few sections of lounge-y patio furniture, waiting for the band to take the tiny stage with views of the Tacoma Dome and the industrial waterfront in the background.


Rooftop events aren’t exactly new to the Tacoma venue/complex, which also built out a pandemic-era restaurant patio on the ground floor that hosts DJs, drag shows and live music. But the up-top area — accessible through the alley up the hill and behind the venue — has a laid-back, DIY feel with bartenders peddling canned beer out of an Igloo cooler while some of the top local acts perform under blue skies.

After the Glenn-Enumclaw doubleheader lured an amiable mix of hip-hop-raised skater punks and a few indie-rock oldheads in the know, Seattle favorites Chastity Belt and The Black Tones were slated to headline shows of their own that sold out well in advance. Alma Mater brass plan to keep the weekend rooftop gigs rolling through mid-September with an eye toward reopening their primary club, Fawcett Hall, in October.

In the meantime, I suggest soaking up the good vibes and sunshine (while you still can) when Tacoma R&B smoothy Will Jordan — whose luscious 2020 project “Be Good” was a little slept on amid a weird pandemic year — hits the roof Aug. 13.

Drunky Two Shoes BBQ, White Center

Closer to Seattle, Drunky Two Shoes’ White Center outpost has been holding it down with its honky-tonkin’ beer garden stage. Former Tractor Tavern booker Greg Garcia has corralled a quality mix of local talent extending beyond the usual juke-joint fare expected from a barbecue restaurant. Though back in June, the blues-rocking Betsy Olson Band — featuring Seattle staple Sera Cahoone on drums — had a packed patio hollering like it was their first show in a year (which it likely was), dishing out three-alarm-hot guitar licks over mealy grooves.

Meanwhile, the inked-up barkeep kept the crowd sufficiently hydrated, pulling pints from behind a funky bar built out of an Airstream.

Drunky’s patio and its ample seating have a solid slate this weekend with jammy organ trio McTuff on Friday (July 30), plus power pop quartet Bread & Butter and garage-psych vets Acapulco Lips on Saturday (July 31).

Alma Mater, 1322 Fawcett Ave., Tacoma; 253-507-7289, almamatertacoma.com

Drunky Two Shoes White Center, 9655 16th Ave. S.W., Seattle; 206-829-9540, twoshoesbbq.net