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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Summer concerts show that Spokane is so much more than country now

Cypress Hill performs at the U.S. Pavilion in August 2021. The Pavilion is one of many Eastern Washington venues that have attracted artists from a wide range of genres.  (Libby Kamrowski/ THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)

Spokane has always struggled to compete with Seattle’s music scene.

Fans often find themselves making the five-hour trek across the Cascades for a chance to see their favorite artists live – and instead of a one-night event, big concerts like Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour or Harry Style’s TPWK Tour become weekend experiences for everyone who must travel from the east side of the state.

Spokane has always had its fair share of high-profile country music performances. But recently, this region of the Pacific Northwest has made a name for itself as a destination for a variety of musical genres – big names in indie, pop, and hip-hop alike are all starting to take interest in Eastern Washington’s unique concert venues.

The Pavilion recently drew in names like Lord Huron, whose song “The Night We Met” has over 1.2 billion streams on Spotify alone, and four-time Grammy nominee Phoebe Bridgers played the venue last summer.

Last summer, popular folk band The Lumineers played at the Gorge Amphitheatre – and the concert was met with so much success that they’re coming back again this September.

It’s becoming clear that when artists perform in the greater Spokane area, whether at Northern Quest Casino, the Knitting Factory, The Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox or elsewhere, musicians are taking advantage of each location’s distinct character. And often enough, they enjoy it so much that Spokane reappears on their list for the next tour.

Word is spreading – Eastern Washington venues are the place to be.

With that said, here is a preview of some of the next big names coming to Eastern Washington this summer:

Two-time Grammy Award winner Jason Mraz is coming to the Northern Quest Casino on Monday to promote his newest album, “Mystical Magical Rhythmical Radical Ride.”

Many will recognize his 2008 hit single “I’m Yours,” which spent a then-record 76 weeks on Billboard’s Hot 100. This won’t be his first time performing in Spokane – his last tour “Ladies and Gentlemen, an evening with Jason Mraz and Raining Jane” came to Spokane’s First Interstate Center for the Arts in 2019.

Also coming to Northern Quest Casino is Swedish band and pop-metal phenomenon Ghost, whose song “Mary on a Cross” earned over 379 million streams on Spotify when it went viral on TikTok this year, even though the song was released in 2019.

Widely known for their theatrical and occultish performances, they first came to Spokane four years ago, and will return on Aug. 5.

That same weekend, Aug. 4-6, the Watershed Country Music Festival will be underway at the Gorge Amphitheater. Cody Johnson, Keith Urban and Luke Bryan will headline the festival.

Their shows will come just a week after Boygenius visits the Gorge on July 29. Boygenius is a side-band for solo artists Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus and Julien Baker. This will be their second collaborative music tour and Bridger’s second Eastern Washington show in the past year, following her August 2022 concert at the Pavilion.

Exactly a year after Bridger’s first performance, Noah Kahan will be playing on Aug. at the Pavilion in an already sold-out show supporting his third studio album, “Stick Season.”

Kahan gained much of his mainstream success on social media when he released clips of the album’s title track The song, and the album, went viral months before its release.

Kahan grew up in Strafford, Vermont, and his folk-pop music candidly explores the experiences of growing up in a small town.

Also coming to Spokane this summer is Noah Cyrus, who will play at the Knitting Factory on Aug. 27. Despite the looming success of her older sister Miley Cyrus, Noah Cyrus’ musical career has thrived away from Miley’s shadow. She’s been able to find a foothold in the music industry of her own volition: Her hit song “July” released in 2019, and it has since amassed almost 750 million streams on Spotify.

On the other end of the genre-spectrum, Soulja Boy will be performing at the Knitting Factory on Aug. 9, just two and a half weeks prior to Cyrus. He rose to popularity when he released songs “Crank That (Soulja Boy)” and “Kiss Me Thru the Phone” in 2007 and 2008, respectively.

Fellow hip-hop artist Lil Jon will be performing on Aug. 23 at the Kootenai County Fairgrounds. Like many of Soulja Boy’s songs, Lil Jon’s early 2010s hit single “Turn Down for What” is a staple at parties and clubs. It has over half a billion Spotify streams.

Isabelle Parekh's reporting is part of the Teen Journalism Institute, funded by Bank of America with support from the Innovia Foundation.