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Alaska Concerts & Events

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One of the few United States outside of the continental land mass, Alaska is the largest and most sparsely inhabited state in the union. With terrain ranging from mountains to forests, most locals and tourists entertain themselves with outdoors activities such as biking, skiing, and kayaking. Despite its remote atmosphere, interesting things have been happening in Alaska’s music scene in the last decade or so. Continue reading to figure out how this state known for its military, fishing, and railroads has evolved with its music.

Alaska’s music scene is something to discover.

Because of its geographic isolation, not many people in the lower 48 states know about or hear about concerts in Alaska. This is the beauty of Alaska’s music community. Many cities and states have a reputation or pop culture notion about what one will find there. Whether or not these conceptions are totally accurate, listeners have some idea of what to expect. Tennessee is known for country; Michigan is known for Motown; Washington is known for grunge. What is there in Alaska’s music scene? Adventure. For listeners who like to discover something for themselves, this state is a great destination.

Alaska has an eclectic music scene, including hip hop and folk musicians.

Because Alaska is a relatively small community, the arts are eclectic, and music is no exception to this trend. On weekends, a venue’s lineup can consist of performers from any number of genres, such as queer punk, hardcore, shoegaze, folk, indie, and metal.

Two popular genres in Alaska are folk and hip-hop, perhaps an unexpected combination. Folk is one of the deepest musical traditions in the United States. Alaska’s weather may seem incompatible with music festivals, but cities such as Fairbanks and Anchorage host around 30 folk festivals annually, according to the Alaska Folk Music organization. This speaks to the intense, motivated following the genre has in Alaska. At the same time, the Alaskan hip-hop community has expanded in recent years with artists like Leak Leisure, Lee Jones, and DJ Allegiance in the scene. None of these artists are attached to a rigid, generic conception of genre, as jazz, piano, and other sounds influence their work.

Other artists that speak to Alaska’s multifarious spirit include Alaska Thunder Fu*k’s rock and hip-hop, Cousin Curtiss’ folk rock, Divides’ melody-driver hardcore, Historian’s modified rock, Jonathan Bower’s lyric-focused guitar tunes, Orion Donicht’s one man show, Pretty Birds That Kill’s garage pop with electric edge, and Seth Boyer’s multi-instrumental skill and good ol’ fingerpicking.

Locals and tourists who are seeking the concert experience in Alaska should expect a realm mix of sounds. You never know what you will get at the town dive bar or coffee shop.

In Alaska, music lives on because it is a community effort.

Only a couple nationally recognized bands come from Alaska: Portugal. The Man, Builder and the Butchers, and 36 Crazyfists. Coincidentally, each of these bands relocated to Portland, Oregon. Left behind in Alaska are some little-known bands that liven up cold, dark days and their loyal listeners. Even in Alaska’s bigger cities such as Anchorage, there is only one gear shop (Mammoth Music), one record store (Obsession Records), and one instrument store (Horn Doctor Music Store). With such limited resources, large distances, and frigid weather, it is a wonder that there is a music scene at all in the state.

What makes Alaska defy odds is its devoted community, especially the venues that keep welcoming musicians into perform. Crossroads Lounge is one of these places. It is dated with wood paneling, an old jukebox, and free self-serve hot dogs. This joint does not even have a stage. However, listeners love the ability to be right up next to performers during concerts. Koot’s as another significant venue. The club is employee-owned, which speaks to the community investment that Alaskans have in their music scene. For people who want to participate in concerts that are part of the community’s lifeblood, Alaska ticks the boxes.