Tips for Portland, Seattle and Chicago

Hello there, I’ll be doing short trip to US during summer and I will visit at least in Portland and Chicago, possibly also in Seattle. Would be grateful to hear favourite synth shops, venues, book/record shops, teahouses and unexpected non synth related recommendations.


If you go to Seattle, you should really checkout Patchwerks. The people that run it are great.


Oh! Duh! In Portland you have to check out Control Voltage!


Timely thread, as I’ll be traveling in Portland and Mount Hood May 18-26.

Definitely interested in any art (contemporary, smaller gallery) recommendations.

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Hi! Seattleite here!

As mentioned, Patchwerks is great, they’re friends of mine. The Trading Musician is also cool.

Venues: so many, too many to list here. But here are a few of my favorites that aren’t the well-known and highly promoted clubs (like Neumos, Crocodile, Showbox):

  • Kremwerk/Timbre Room (techno/dance, weirdo electronics)
  • Hollow Earth Radio (small DIY space, tendency towards experimental/avant garde shows)
  • Kame House (cool house venue)
    • Black Lodge/Lo-fi/Victory (fun little tucked away strip with three venues right next to one another)


  • Wall of Sound
  • Spin Cycle
  • Everyday Music
  • Zion’s Gate
    (all of these are within easy walking distance of one another)


  • Elliot Bay Book Store


  • Frye Art Museum
  • SAM


  • Pike Place market. You just gotta
  • Eat at Kedai Makan. Thank me later

**also always feel free to message me directly for any other suggestions


Chicago based, my main recs:

Music/Synth Shops:

Rock n’ Roll Vintage
Nerd Audio
Chicago Music Exchange


Smart Bar
Hungry Brain
Sleeping Village
Cafe Mustache


Metropolis (kinda far north, there’s great indian food west on devon though)
Any of the Dark Matter Shops, the coffee isn’t amazing, but the shops themselves are great
New Wave Coffee (in Logan Square where there’s plenty to do/check out)

There’s plenty more, if you have any specific questions feel free to reach out :wink:


I enjoy Dark Matter coffee! while you’re in the neighbourhood check out the empty bottle, the sportsman, and humboldt park for some peurto rican food.

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it’s not that i don’t enjoy it, but i’ve gotten feedback from a few coffee purists that come to chicago that the “dry hopped” and other eclectic roasts aren’t what they’re looking for when searching for “good” coffee

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I live in Seattle, +1 to everything in @jrdnrndl’s post.

Another venue/series worth a look in Seattle is the Wayward Music Series at the Chapel Performance Space. They do quite a few electronic/hardware shows here, though there’s also a lot of non-synth stuff (jazz, free improv, contemporary classical, avant garde). Really beautiful venue, though a little out of the way if you’re just visiting.


As for Chicago, I will add for venues…
Elastic Arts, Comfort Station, The Whistler.

For coffee, my favorites are Passion House, Intelligentsia, Damn Fine in Logan and Wormhole in Wicker Park.

FWIW, if you are by New Wave, don’t go to New Wave if you are looking for legit coffee, Passionhouse and Intelligentsia are worlds better and steps away. New Wave reminds me of a college coffee shop, fun for hanging out when you are younger by the coffee isn’t great.


And duh, also The Hideout. My favorite rock/folk/country venue.


If you like “toys as art” check out Rotofugi in Chicago. I went there to pick up some stuff for my brother a few years ago and I just adored it.



+1 for wormhole, best coffee in town.
Café Mustache, nice vibe and good shows.

Reckless Records (I’m biased, I work at the one in Wicker Park)
Dusty Groove
Laurie’s Planet of Sound

Definitely see who’s playing at Elastic Arts and if you’re into jazz at all, go to the Hungry Brain on Sunday night. That series is always great.

Synth City at Rock N Roll Vintage is probably #1 in town for synths right now. But Nerd Audio and Chicago Synth Exchange are great and run by some nice guys who will surely have recommendations of their own.


And also Experimental Sound Studio has good shows, and if you’re in town at the right time, don’t miss their experimental garage sale. All kinds of crazy circuit bent stuff for sale.


Thanks so far with the tips!

I’ve been to Seattle once and remember visiting a book shop that only carried poetry books, can anyone remember what place is that?

who was I trying to fool, asking for teahouse recommendations… i guess it will be mandatory coffee time in those cities :slight_smile:

I’ve been to Seattle once and remember visiting a book shop that only carried poetry books, can anyone remember what place is that?

You might be thinking of Open Books.

There used to be a great tea house down the street called Kuan Yin, but it closed somewhat recently after 25 years. :frowning:


Portland has the best synth shop ever, control voltage. :heart:


That’s the one! It’s gonna be lethal for my wallet, but there’s no better place to empty ones wallet :))))

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in portland, certainly powells books which is an institution.

for tea, the tea house at the chinese garden is sweet and the japanese garden is worth considering too if you have time. townsends is here and people seem crazy about it. (I drink coffee and my favorite is heart but there are a bunch of good spots.)

bicycling is lovely here.

if you know where abouts you’ll be staying i can give you more ideas… feel free to PM!

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Joshua Abrams and NIS have a record release show at Constellation on June 28th, if you are in Chicago then. I’ve also seen a number of great shows at the and I also can provide plenty more “things to do” - if you have specific questions.

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