A collage of scenes from On the Block: DJ and producer cljlamar (left), singer and songwriter Maya Marie (center), resident artist and event volunteer Nya (upper right), and beatmaker and audio producer Third Eye Bling (lower right)

Summer in the South End: An August Roundup of Live Music and Block Parties

by Amanda Ong

Last week, we interviewed some rising local and BIPOC music artists performing in the city this summer. These artists are only some of the many incredible South End singers and musicians, part of a thriving and dynamic local music scene. 

Even as we approach the end of summer, there are still plenty more opportunities to see concerts, attend festivals, and get out to block parties. The Emerald rounded up a number of fantastic events — many of them free — where you can catch live music before summer’s end, and, most importantly, support local artists, vendors, and businesses. 

Though not covered in this list, check out venues like Beacon Hill’s Clock-Out Lounge and Columbia City’s The Royal Room and Rumba Notes Lounge for more shows. For other arts events, check out our August South End Arts Roundup.

Columbia City Beatwalk

Events throughout the summer
The Patio: Rainier Avenue South and South Ferdinand Street

A crowd enjoys a Beatwalk event earlier this summer, dancing in the street while smiling
A crowd enjoys a Beatwalk event earlier this summer. (Photo: ArtBy FREDERICK)

For 28 years, Beatwalk has offered incredible live music in Columbia City every summer. The free, all-ages events feature local musicians hosted by neighborhood businesses. On June 24, it had its first Pride-themed Beatwalk. The final two Beatwalk events are on Aug. 20 and 28. Check out its Facebook page for more details as they are announced.

On the Block

Aug. 13, 1–9 p.m. 
East Pike Street and 11th Ave.

While technically a pop-up market with vendors selling handmade goods, vintage clothing, and street fashion, On the Block also features art activations, live music, and DJ sets. On the Block is free and happens every second Saturday from May to October at 11th Ave., between East Pike Street and East Pine Street on Capitol Hill. The Aug. 13 event will include DJ Dark Wiley and musical co-curators Dadabassed and Vitamin D. Follow On the Block on Instagram for performer announcements. 

Hai! Japantown

Aug. 13–20, 1–5 p.m.
Historic Nihonmachi/Japantown

This annual block party celebrates businesses and community in historic Nihonmachi/Japantown in the CID. Participating businesses, like Kobo at Higo, Itsumomo, and Pioneer Barber, will have special happenings, and live music will be provided by Seattle Kokon Taiko.

Madaraka Festival

August 13–14
Pier 62, 1951 Alaskan Way

The eighth annual Madaraka Festival returns Aug. 13 and 14 at Pier 62 downtown, featuring African foods, art, and a star-packed lineup of musical artists from Kenya, Senegal, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and South Sudan, as well as local performers. Hosted by One Vibe Africa, Madaraka Fest seeks to foster connections between Africa and Seattle’s African diaspora communities, and all are welcome to attend. Read the Emerald’s recent preview of the event for more details. The festival is free with RSVP

Othello Park International Festival 

Aug. 14, 12–6 p.m.
Othello Park, 4351 S. Othello St. 

This 14-year-old community celebration takes place at the Othello Park and Playground, one block east of the Othello light rail stop. There will be live performances from neighborhood groups like Northwest Wushu Martial Arts, Samoan Siva Dance Group, and the Washington Diamonds Drill Team. Over 90 vendors will be in attendance, featuring local and handmade goods, food from Delish Ethiopian Cuisine, and more. Check out the Emerald’s recent preview of the event


Aug. 19–20, 5–10 p.m.
Jefferson Park, 3801 Beacon Ave. S.

Back for a second year, Bazzookafest brings together a lineup of incredible Black artists, including Shaina Shepherd, Bijoux, Rainbow Coalition Deathcult, Da Qween, and more to be announced. The free fest kicks off on Friday, Aug. 20, with the Bazzooka Ball by queer collective BeautyBoiz. Music guests take the stage on Saturday. There will also be a market with all-BIPOC vendors. 

Reggae on the Way

Aug. 20–21, starting at 2 p.m.
Airport Tavern, 5406 S. Tacoma Way, Tacoma
Tickets start at $50 

Fan of reggae? Look no further than Tacoma’s annual tradition of Reggae on the Way, filling up two blocks between LeMay – America’s Car Museum and the Tacoma Dome in South Tacoma with two days of full reggae music. See music groups like reggae-rock Iration, hip-hop duo Atmosphere, Hawaiian reggae-pop ensemble Kolohe Kai, and Jamaican singer-songwriter Protoje. Single-day and multiday tickets are available through the See Tickets website.

CID Block Party

Aug. 20, 3–9 p.m.
900 S. King St.

Chinatown-International District’s Block Party is a one-day music and arts celebration of the many Asian American communities in the area. There will be an art walk, food walk, auto show, beer garden, and, later that evening, an outdoor movie at Hing Hay Park. The lineup of musical guests is yet to be announced, so check the official website or Instagram account for current info. 

South Sound Block Party

Aug. 26–27
Port of Olympia, 1210 Marine Dr. NE, Olympia
Tickets start at $35 

Fifteen live bands, games, food trucks, and a beer garden, all right on the beautiful shores of the Puget Sound. See acts like Courtney Marie Andrews and Bully, as well as local acts, like The Cave Singers and The Home Team. Tickets are on sale on the South Sound Block Party website, with options for single-day and multiday passes.

White Center Block Party

Aug. 28, 12–6 p.m.
16th Ave. SW between Southwest Roxbury Street and Southwest 100th Street
Free; wristbands for additional purchase

After a series of vandalism and arson in 2021, neighbors and local businesses decided to come together to celebrate with the first White Center Block Party. Now in its second year,the White Center Block Party continues to be a free, family-friendly event that helps support local businesses, bars, and restaurants. While the event is free, wristbands are available for purchase on the White Center Block Party website that give special discounts at participating vendors. Follow its Instagram account for announcements about vendors and performers. 

99.9 KISW Presents: Pain In The Grass 2022

Sept. 2–4
White River Amphitheater, 40601 Auburn Enumclaw Rd.
Tickets start at $25

Auburn’s Labor Day weekend will see a major rock festival. This year’s lineup includes Incubus, Sublime With Rome, Alice in Chains, Breaking Benjamin with Bush, Sammy Hagar & The Circle, George Thorogood and the Destroyers, and many more. Tickets are available for purchase on Ticketmaster.But before Pain In The Grass begins, anyone can get a head start at the Pain In The Grass Kickoff Party on Wednesday, Aug. 31, at the Moore Theater with The Pretty Reckless and Seattle-based Ayron Jones.

Amanda Ong (she/her) is a Chinese American writer from California. She is currently a master’s candidate at the University of Washington Museology program and graduated from Columbia University in 2020 with degrees in creative writing and ethnicity and race studies.

📸 Featured Image: Some scenes from On the Block: DJ and producer cljlamar (left), singer and songwriter Maya Marie (center), resident artist and event volunteer Nya (upper right), and beatmaker and audio producer Third Eye Bling (lower right). (Photos by Luis Orozco of exthindvisuals, courtesy of On the Block.)

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