2017 was full of incredible club shows for the Emerald City, and RMR had the pleasure of visiting a countless number of them at plenty of different venues. We truly are spoiled to have a phenomenal selection of Seattle clubs.
Compiled below is a thorough and efficient listing of our top five Seattle Clubs for the true music lover. If you haven’t been, don’t miss a chance to visit these clubs in 2018.
Robin and I have spent a good part of this last week debating how to rank these Seattle clubs. We’ve collected reviews from many Seattle club-goers to make sure we could provide the best list possible.
Until today, we haven’t had an “official” list. There is one club in Seattle that ranked on a poll by DJ Mag, but the issue with DJ Mag is the fact that it is merely a popularity contest, and votes can be purchased. Hardly fair, right? Many clubs are guilty of claiming to be the best, but we hope to set the record straight.
Instead of focusing on one or two facets of going out clubbing, Robin and I have created a scorecard of five key factors: artists, atmosphere, crowd vibe, location, and price. Each of these segments has a maximum of five points. 1st place receives five points, 2nd place receives four points, 3rd receives three, and so on. The total number of points from all five categories determines the ranking of that club on our list.
This way, individuals can see the strengths and weaknesses of each club. Some club goers do not care for what kind of artists are booked, others don’t care so much about the location, the price, etc. We leave it up to the individual to judge based on what experience fits best for themselves.
Top 5 Seattle Clubs
#5 Aston Manor
Artists: 4th (2 points)
Atmosphere: 1st (5 points)
Crowd Vibe: 5th (1 point)
Location: 4th (2 points)
Price: 5th (1 point)
Total Score: 11 points
Without a doubt, the most impressive decor and best overall layout of any Seattle club can be found at Aston Manor. Situated in the industrial district of the city and themed as a speakeasy set in the 1920s, and stepping into the club is like stepping back in time. There’s only one difference. If folks from the 1920s heard the music playing at Aston, they’d think they had just walked into hell. Well, we look at it more like heaven.
One of the first things you will notice inside this club is the beautiful spinning chandelier hanging from an incredibly tall ceiling. At peak moments of the night, find yourself in a snow of confetti as it falls down marvelously from above. This does a great job of ramping up the vibe and adding to the moment.
Of course, every club has its downsides, and we have noticed that the lines to buy drinks can be very long. Even worse, this club can charge some of the highest prices in the city for certain drinks, such as a $15 Trashcan, for instance.
As far as the crowd goes, it can vary from night to night. It’s not horrible, but we have experienced our small share of pushing and rude guests. Aside from that, parking can be a bit tricky in this area as well.
Aston Manor easily scores the fifth spot on our list because of the classy environment that isn’t seen with most Seattle clubs. If you really want to get your money’s worth, however, you’re better off visiting one of our other four picks.
Artists: 1st (5 points)
Atmosphere: 4th (2 points)
Crowd Vibe: 4th (2 points)
Location: 5th (1 point)
Price: 4th (2 Points)
Total Score: 12 Points
If you want to catch the biggest names in dance music, Foundation Nightclub is one of the only venues to pull those names in Seattle. Thanks to their partnership with USC, guests of Foundation can expect to see three shows a week from bass and house artists that carry radio recognition.
SUBstance Wednesdays bring the bass, Resonate Fridays bring the party, and Elevate Saturdays bring a more uplifting touch to spice up any week. Even Foundation’s opening DJs are very talented artists. Another nice thing about this club is that, if you happen to meet a promoter, you might find that you have an easier time getting guest listed here than you will at other clubs.
This will come in handy when it comes time to buy drinks, as we have experienced higher drink prices than most Seattle venues, with lighter pours. Unlike any other club we have visited, and probably due to the crowds, the sound of drinks hitting the floor occurs frequently. This leaves the floor very sticky. There’s also an unknown odor that floats around near the stage. Still, all this can be ignored when one focuses on the clubs beautiful LED panels and lasers.
Everyone and their brother wants to see the big names this club brings so it can be a little crowded for certain shows. If this is something you are determined to avoid, try checking this club out on a Wednesday night when it is less busy.
It should also be noted that there have been numerous break-ins in the parking lots near this venue, which is why we’ve placed this club low in terms of location. In reality, this is an occurrence that could happen anywhere in Seattle, but unfortunately, we’ve noticed more problems with it here.
Overall, we feel confident placing this nightclub at number four thanks to the artists that play here. If, however, Foundation is sold out on a night that you’d like to go out, or if you’re not interested in the specific artists playing that night, we have three other clubs that we highly recommend.
#3 Monkey Loft
Artists: 5th (1 point)
Atmosphere: 5th (1 point)
Crowd Vibe: 2nd (4 points)
Location: 3rd (3 points)
Price: 2nd (4 points)
Total Score: 13 Points
If you want the most flavorful selection of drinks, a low-key environment to groove with your friends, and the best view out of any club in Seattle, definitely hit up Monkey Loft.
With three levels, two bars, and one dance floor, guests can roam around this venue with ease while still hearing tunes. There are comfortable couches all around the interior, so it doesn’t have to be a choice between dancing, or just chilling out. The Loft even has a rooftop patio with incredible skyline views of Seattle!
As far as the drinks go, the Monkey Loft’s menu of house mixes adds amazing flavors with any type of hard alcohol, with something to satisfy every palette. Where else can you buy a drink that is marketed as, “Truly meant for the Gods?”
Our only gripe with this club is that the roof is closed until 2 am on most nights, but there are certain events where this is not the case. Big names don’t tend to come to this club often, which is disappointing. On the other hand, we have all experienced how a club can lose its charm, due to a bigger traffic of people coming only to see a specific artist. We instead revel in the intimate setting that Monkey Loft offers.
We recommend checking this club out, especially during the warmer months of 2018, for its patio access. This club is one of the absolute best in Seattle for its unique, laidback and friendly attitude.
#2 Q Nightclub
Artists: 2nd (4 points)
Atmosphere: 3rd (3 points)
Crowd Vibe: 3rd (3 points)
Location: 2nd (4 points)
Price: 3rd (3 points)
Total Score: 17 Points
Q is another nightclub which brings plenty of good artists through its doors. Although these artists may not be quite at the tier that Foundation usually pulls, Q makes up for this with its extra space. There’s plenty of room at this club, which is one of its greatest assets. Even when the crowd gets packed at the front, you can still find space on the sidelines without being far from the stage.
This club has several bars, so getting a drink is usually not a huge challenge. You will find that they cost about the normal price for most clubs. There is, however, a guaranteed line to get into Q, as well as the bathrooms. Parking in this area is alright, not terrible. It is likely you will be parking a few blocks away and walking, though. And thanks to this being a developed area of town, there are plenty of restaurants to visit before going out, and a supermarket to pick up any incidentals that may arise.
Q’s Funktion One sound system is unparalleled when it comes to audio quality in Seattle. We took points off for atmosphere only because there isn’t much of a visual aspect. It is unique to see projections on each wall, but with such amazing sound and pretty big names, it doesn’t do the trick like the LED panels do at most other clubs.
The vibe of this crowd definitely ranges from night to night but is usually pretty decent. We’ve never had any uncomfortable moments at this club, and the staff has always been courteous to us and our friends.
Overall, we rank this club best for its location, crowd vibe, and price. On top of that, given that the club brings in decent artists, we’ve ranked Q second on this list.
#1 The Underground
Artists: 3rd (3 points)
Atmosphere: 2nd (4 points)
Crowd Vibe: 1st (5 points)
Location: 1st (5 points)
Price: 1st (5 points)
Total Score: 22 Points
Located in the oldest section of Seattle and buried below street level in the historic Seattle Underground, here you can hear anything from some of the best artists in Trance to many of the top local DJs in the city. This club also earns admiration for supporting new and rising event companies, which focus themselves on the musical experience and their fans. Supporting the local scene is something that not enough clubs are trying at.
For the best night out and musical experience in the city, this club has you covered. With limited ticket sales, a manager that refuses to oversell or skimp out on the customer’s experience, and diehard fans who visit every chance they get, you can expect to have the best experience possible at The Underground.
At The Underground, you can grab a nice, stiff drink for the same price you would at any bar, and dance your ass off below ceiling-mounted LED panels. There is no pretentious dress code or VIP area. This does a good job of keeping snobby people out of the club and allowing the club community to be more genuine and whole. On top of this, flow toys are not only allowed but encouraged. People can come simply come as they are.
Artists worldwide have given this club shoutouts on their podcasts, sending thanks to the promotion team for what they regard as one of the best venues in Seattle. Most of the bigger names that come through refuse to end their sets on time because they want to keep the vibe going at this place. If you can stay with the show until the very end, sometimes near 4 am or later, you are treated to a meet and greet and photo with the artist.
The only downside to this club is the number of panhandlers in this area of Seattle. This is almost entirely avoided by staying in the venue. That aside, Pioneer Square isn’t a bad place to visit. There is plenty of parking near The Underground. On a busy night, you might find yourself having to park about two blocks down at the worst.
Both Robin and I have had our favorite club experiences at The Underground, thanks to Seattle Trance Alliance, Aether, Safe Escape Events, and many unparalleled shows that we’ve been a part of since this clubs birth. If The Underground isn’t the best club in Seattle for its artists, atmosphere, and crowd, it certainly is the most unrecognized for its qualities.
This club list was created by music lovers, for music lovers, and we speak from our hearts when we say that we made this list to improve the Seattle music scene, not divide it. Please do not be discouraged if you have not seen your club on this list, or are unhappy with the results. We look forward to seeing what every Seattle club accomplishes in 2018, and we hope that next year’s list only gets better!
RMR’s Official Top Five Clubs In Seattle:
#5 Aston Manor (11 Points)
#4 Foundation Nightclub (12 points)
#3 Monkey Loft (13 Points)
#2 Q Nightclub (17 Points)
#1 The Underground (22 points)
Stay tuned for an inside scoop on the best shows coming up in 2018! Make sure to let us know what you think about our first official best Seattle Clubs Awards, and what venues we should reconsider for next years’ ranking.