13 Best Things To Do in Seattle in September 2018

Our hand-picked list of best bets for entertainment this month, featuring Bumbershoot, Brandi Carlile, Seattle Art Museum and more
Mark Tobey’s 1929 oil on canvas, “Middle West (American landscape)” is part of SAM’s New Topographics

This article appears in print in the September 2018 issue. Click here to subscribe.

New Topographics
Through 12/30
Treating utterly pedestrian buildings as if they were imposing natural phenomena—say, placing a sweeping mesa in the background and a trailer park in the foreground—was a new approach to photography in 1975, when New Topographics was launched in Rochester, New York, at the George Eastman House. For this exhibit, SAM is combining photos from the original show with new, thematically related work by other artists. Times and prices vary. Seattle Art Museum, downtown, 1300 First Ave.; 206.625.8900.

Whim W’Him
Three choreographers handpicked by company dancers provide the work for Whim W’Him’s season opener, Choreographic Shindig IV: Chicago’s Alice Klock, who is also a painter and tattoo designer; Omar Román de Jesús, whose 2017 work Daniel was inspired by working with children on the autism spectrum; and Brendan Duggan, who, asked for three words that best describe his choreography, chose “delicate, detailed, distilled.” 8 p.m. Prices vary. Erickson Theatre Off Broadway, Capitol Hill, 1524 Harvard Ave.; 800.838.3006.

Native Gardens
In this intiman adaptation of Washington, D.C., playwright Karen Zacarías’ acclaimed one-act comedy, white Republican and Latino Democrat neighbors clash over the border between their yards; can you say “allegory”? Times and prices vary. Floyd and Delores Jones Playhouse, University District, 4045 University Way; 206.315.5838; intiman.org.

Becoming American
Through 9/30
Inhabited by Salish peoples, “discovered” by the Spanish and the site of the last British/American territorial dispute (the “Pig War” of 1859), the San Juans are emblematic crossroads of American history in microcosm. Both sides’ former military camps on San Juan Island—the English Camp and the American Camp (both part of San Juan Island National Historical Park)—thus make telling venues for this multi-genre exhibit of work by artists from Jasper Johns to Eyvind Kang, which will spill over to Seattle galleries Specialist and Studio E. Times, prices and venues vary. See becomingamericanexhibition.com  for details.

Courtesy of Northwest Film Forum 

Local Sightings Film Festival
Northwest Film Forum’s 21st annual showcase of new work by Northwest filmmakers (from Alaska to Montana, the Yukon to Oregon) offers screenings surrounded by a rich schedule of artist talks and networking events. Times and prices vary. Northwest Film Forum, Capitol Hill, 1515 12th Ave.; 206.329.2629.

A conflict between two ex-lovers on the surface conceals (barely) an examination of class, gender and privilege underneath: David Hare’s three-hander was written against the backdrop of Thatcherism. How will it read in our current political climate? (For more about this production see page 90.) Times and prices vary. ACT – A Contemporary Theatre, downtown, 700 Union St.; 206.292.7676.

Lake Street Dive
Not many bands can boast appearances on A Prairie Home Companion, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and at the White House (notably in 2016). Members self-describe as “genre-less,” but lead vocalist Rachael Price’s intimate delivery falls somewhere on the Joni Mitchell/Carole King spectrum. 7 p.m. Prices vary. Chateau Ste. Michelle, Woodinville, 14111 NE 145th St.; 425.488.1133.

Maestro Morlot at the podium. Photograph by Brandon Patoc

Seattle Symphony
Seems like just yesterday (it was 2011) that Ludovic Morlot popped up out of nowhere, all boyish and fresh-faced, to write the Seattle Symphony’s next chapter. And now, he’s leaving. He’s chosen two Russian blockbusters by Khachaturian (with pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet) and Mussorgsky for his final season-opening gala. 5 p.m. Prices vary. Benaroya Hall, downtown, 200 University St.; 206.215.4747; seattlesymphony.org.

Rachel Mars 
This british artist’s original Philip Glass–flavored music for a female a cappella quartet is the engine that drives Our Carnal Hearts, her brashly theatrical examination/celebration of envy—or as she puts it, “A toast to our competitive spirits and a rumbling dance for the ugly gutter-tramping parts of our souls.” Times and prices vary. On the Boards, 100 W Roy St.; 206.217.9886ontheboards.org.

Bumbershoot fans spread out on the Seattle Center grounds. Photograph by David Conger

Bumbershoot is supposed to be a festival, but it’s always had a slightly melancholy end-of-summer vibe—and it doesn’t help that it’s named after an umbrella, callously reminding us that eight months of rain are around the corner. Bold-face names in this year’s lineup include Lil Wayne and Fleet Foxes; other offerings include dance, comedy, theater, visual arts and yoga on the lawn. Times and prices vary. Seattle Center, 305 Harrison St.; 206.684.7200.

Conscious Cartoons International Animation Festival
The top title gets $5,000 in this new international competition for socially minded animated shorts, inspired by a 2017 mini animation festival at Vashon Theatre. Entries were still rolling in at press time, and final screeners were still TBD, but viewers can expect animated films no longer than 15 minutes that “speak to the triumph of the human spirit or to our worst impulses and vilest deeds.” Times and prices vary. Vashon Theatre, Vashon Island, 17723 Vashon Hwy. SW; 206.463.3232consciouscartoons.org.

Emerald City Music
This energetic organization’s third season of chamber music in informal spaces opens with Paul Wiancko’s “American Haiku” for viola and cello—which, despite its title, is funky, outgoing and anything but reticent—and a bit of virtuoso fluff by Giovanni Bottesini (1821–1889), possibly the 19th century’s greatest double bassist. 8 p.m. $45. South Lake Union, 415 Westlake Ave. N; 206.432.0685emeraldcitymusic.org.

Courtesy of STG; Brandi Carlile plays the Moore September 1.

Brandi Carlile
Touring in support of her latest album—many are saying her finest yet, February’s By the Way, I Forgive You—this singer/songwriter from nearby Ravensdale said in a Rolling Stone interview, “We all came to the table with these songs that were hard to talk about, hard to get through.…Maybe there’d be a couple of those songs every couple of records, but never anything like this where every song we chose wound up being hard to sing, hard to talk about.” 7:30 p.m. Prices vary. The Moore Theatre, downtown, 1932 Second Ave.; 206.682.1414stgpresents.org.

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