Best Of

Best of Music & Entertainment

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Chris Bovey illustration

Best Outdoor Concert of the Past Year
PHOEBE BRIDGERS, SPOKANE PAVILION
The queen of millennial folk-rock bummers delivered the best show under the stars in 2022. In front of a packed age-spanning crowd, Bridgers tore through a set of the songs from her star-making album Punisher and her stellar debut Strangers in the Alps with a combination of poetic grace and sorrow-filled angst. As someone who was a fan of Bridgers before she'd even put out her first LP, it was a thrill to see hordes of teens tearfully singing along with every word of her beautiful prose. While we may have felt deeply seen when she crooned, "Jesus Christ, I'm so blue all the time," at least for one night we felt bliss in our communal sadness. (SS)
2nd PLACE: Tenacious D at BECU Live at Northern Quest
3rd PLACE: Brett Young at BECU Live at Northern Quest
NORTH IDAHO'S BEST: Kaleo at Festival at Sandpoint

Best Live Music Venue
BECU LIVE AT NORTHERN QUEST RESORT & CASINO
You know a venue is hitting the sweet spot for folks when it's only open for limited stretches during the year and still ranks No. 1. It's safe to say that people in the Inland Northwest love their outdoor summer concerts, as Northern Quest's musical hotspot came out on top. BECU Live delivers what fans crave: very good outdoor sound, seating that's not a pain, food and drink options, and — most importantly — great artists performing. Last year saw everyone from Tenacious D to Maren Morris to Goo Goo Dolls, while the upcoming 2023 slate features Counting Crows, Boyz II Men, Ghost, Jason Mraz and more. (SS)
2nd PLACE: The Fox Theater
3rd PLACE: Lucky You Lounge
NORTH IDAHO'S BEST: Nashville North, Post Falls

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Erick Doxey photo
The former Beatle gave us all the feels when he got back together with John Lennon for a duet.
Best Indoor Concert of the Past Year
PAUL McCARTNEY, SPOKANE ARENA
Beatlemaniacs got to cross a major item off their bucket lists last year when none other than Sir Paul McCartney himself graced the Lilac City to kick off his Got Back tour in May 2022. I was one of them, and it truly did go down as a once-in-a-lifetime experience to never forget. Paul, here?! In Spokane?! Even now, it takes a second to sink in... Among the night's many highlights from a nearly three-hour set was the Lennon-McCartney "duet" for "Get Back," featuring newly isolated vocals of the late John Lennon, recorded during the Beatles' final rooftop performance back in 1969. (CS)
2nd PLACE: Backstreet Boys at Spokane Arena
3rd PLACE: Iron Maiden at Spokane Arena

Best Radio DJ or Team
DAVE, KEN & MOLLY, KZZU
Dave Sposito, Ken Hopkins and Molly Allen have been a staple on local airwaves for decades, so much so that they feel like family to the station's loyal listeners. The trio appears on 92.9 KZZU every weekday morning, cementing themselves into morning routines throughout the Spokane area as well as making it known that they're dedicated to doing good within the community via their annual Christmas Wish program, through which they make Christmas brighter for families in need. (MP)
2nd PLACE: Jay & Kevin & Slim, Coyote Country
3rd PLACE: Electric Bender with AnT_EyE, KYRS

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Young Kwak photo
Amplified Wax owners Mandy and Jimmy Hill have recorded everyone from national to local acts.

Best Recording Studio
AMPLIFIED WAX
Recording music and putting it out into the world can be an incredibly stressful process. Amplified Wax does its best to alleviate some of those anxieties. The incredibly professional spot in downtown Spokane can serve as a one-stop shop for artists — recording, mixing, mastering, and even graphic design and promotional materials for albums and singles. With past clients including everyone from national standouts like Myles Kennedy and Tech N9ne to local favorites like the Nixon Rodeo and Jango, Amplified Wax can handle pretty much any style under the sun. (SS)
2nd PLACE: Panoramic Dreams
3rd PLACE (tie): Spokane Public Library, SpoKast

Best Arcade
CHAOS ARCADE
While there are a few options for great retro arcade gaming around, no locale focuses on the modern arcade experience quite like Chaos Arcade. Unlike some of the other top arcades, Chaos has an array of skill machines that spit out tickets in exchange for prizes — giving folks that nostalgic Chuck E. Cheese-esque throwback experience. Add in the Chaos Café's offerings, ranging from boba tea and sweet frappes to beer and booze, and you've got a spot that appeals both to kids and grown-up kids-at-heart. (SS)
2nd PLACE: Jedi Alliance
3rd PLACE: Gamers Arcade Bar
NORTH IDAHO'S BEST: The Blue Shell, Coeur d'Alene

Best Record Store
4000 HOLES
Unless you're digging crates for something highly specialized, one sign of a good record store is to be slightly overwhelmed as soon as you walk in the door. That's certainly the case upon entering 4000 Holes. While the shop doesn't hide its fondness for classic rock — especially the Beatles — there is an absolute trove of vinyl to explore regardless of genre affiliation. The friendly and knowledgeable staff can help guide those feeling overload anxiety, while pro collectors can spend hours blissfully riffling their way through the worn LP jackets. (SS)
2nd PLACE: Resurrection Records
3rd PLACE: Total Trash Records & Sound
NORTH IDAHO'S BEST: The Long Ear, Coeur d'Alene

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Joan Marcus photo
Hamilton has won Tony Awards, a Grammy, a Pulitzer Prize and now — finally — a Best Of.

Best Touring Broadway Musical
HAMILTON
Alexander Hamilton. His name is Alexander Hamilton. And there's a million things he hasn't done... but topping our reader's poll is not one of them. It's no shock that the one true musical theater sensation in recent memory didn't throw away its shot to blow away Inland Northwest audiences after its long-delayed (thanks, COVID) arrival. Lin-Manuel Miranda's historical hip-hop musical is loaded with undeniably memorable and varied songs, frenetic rap flow, and complex characters. It felt fresh whether you were a traditional theater patron for whom hip-hop almost feels like a foreign language or a kid energized by seeing non-stuffy music and diversity presented on a grand stage. (SS)
2nd PLACE: Hadestown
3rd PLACE: The Book of Mormon


THE VOTERS SPEAK!

Best Escape Room
UNIT 55 HORROR GAMES
"I love the fact it's a family-run establishment. All the extra time they put into every event, the fine details in the art, in the makeup and the actor's passion, among many other things, is why I always come back." (Amy S.); "Always something completely new and inventive!" (Makenzi K.); "Scary and fun!" (Barbara M.)
2nd PLACE: Think Tank Escape Rooms
3rd PLACE: 59: Escape Adventures, Post Falls

Best Band, Mostly Covers
BRUISER
"Outstanding musicians that play something for everyone. Pop, rock and country." (Jason G.); "Amazing band! Variety of music! Their lead singer is phenomenal!" (Amanda M.); "Well-seasoned musicians that kill it every time they hit the stage." (Todd W.)
2nd PLACE: The Rising
3rd PLACE: The Moops

Best Hip-Hop Artist/Group
EXZAC CHANGE & MATISSE
"They are HANDS DOWN the best hip-hop artists we have in Spokane! Spreading that positive message to the people!" (Tif S.); "Best hip-hop duo in the state! Their recent show at Lucky you was so fun!" (Chris B.); "Love the community!" (Zachary H.)
2nd PLACE: Jango
3rd PLACE: T.S The Solution

Best Local Comedian
DEECE CASILLAS
"He can do anything from family friendly to crude humor — nothing throws him off. He's truly a joy to be around. I booked him once, would def do it again." (Desiree A.); "He is awesome! Loved seeing him at Spokane Comedy Club!" (Ramona K.)
2nd PLACE: Dan Cummins
3rd PLACE: Harry J. Riley

Best Gaming/Comic Book Shop
MERLYN'S COMICS AND GAMES
"The coolest vintage comics! The vibe in this shop is the best. I appreciate that they are an independent book shop. Not only vintage comics and games, but also some pretty obscure new stuff that I would not find anywhere else!" (Lynda W.); "John Waite is a good soul and provides a great space for young people." (Cheryl C.)
2nd PLACE: The Comic Book Shop
3rd PLACE: The Gamer's Haven

Best Local Play of the Past Year
NEWSIES, SPOKANE VALLEY SUMMER THEATRE
"The dancing was phenomenal! So much energy from so many local young kids. Awesome!" (Jeanne F.); "It was a spectacular show with a killer Broadway set and fantastic dancing, singing and acting." (Erin W.)
2nd PLACE: The Rocky Horror Show, Stage Left Theater
3rd PLACE:
The Wizard of Oz, Spokane Civic Theatre
NORTH IDAHO'S BEST:
Mamma Mia!, Coeur d'Alene Summer Theatre

Scoops and Bowls @ Manito Park

Sat., July 13, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
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