Seattle Chinatown >> Seattle Community News >> Seattle Birthplace of Grunge
8/9/2007-- In the minds of most
people, Seattle, Washington, is famous for two things: grunge music and
Starbucks coffee. But while it's unlikely that you'll have to leave your home
town for a taste of what Starbucks has to offer, it's certainly true that, in
order to experience the essence of grunge rock and its heritage, Seattle is an
essential place to visit for any self-respecting music buff.
Grunge rock - a form of alternative rock that became popularized in the early 1990s - put Seattle firmly on the road map of any tour of American musical cities. In fact, the roots of grunge rock are so closely entwined with Seattle that the genre is even referred to as 'Seattle Sound' by some - a label that's testament to the success of local grunge bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam.
But while Nirvana and Pearl Jam are often seen as figureheads of Seattle grunge, a variety of bands helped make the genre a universally accepted musical movement. In essence, grunge music in Seattle revolved around Sub Pop - a record label that was propelled to fame by the success of Nirvana, Soundgarden and Mudhoney; eventually becoming synonymous with the Seattle Sound. Other popular grunge bands of the era included Alice in Chains and Temple of the Dog; though few went on to achieve the same global success as Kurt Cobain and Eddie Vedder's explosive outfits.
With a sound that took its roots from Northwestern punk bands, heavy metal and indie-rock, grunge has been closely associated with Generation X in the USA, as both phenomena arose at the same time in popular culture. But while Generation X is marked primarily for its cynical, alienated and pessimistic view of life, grunge music was equally replete with satire and humor, as various releases by Nirvana and Mudhoney, among other, demonstrate well.
While the 'death' of grunge is generally said to have begun with the suicide of Kurt Cobain in 1994, the fundamentals of the grunge spirit still seem to hold true in Seattle's modern musical climate. Many hallmark elements of grunge have stood the test of time and even translated into other music genres - not least the practices of head-banging, crowd-surfing and moshing.
Popular Seattle area bands like The Postal Service, The Shins (both signed to Sub Pop) and Modest Mouse have drawn on a range of local influences and international genres to create a unique sound that proves Seattle's position as an urban musical haven. Stay at any hotel in Seattle and both staff and residents will be able to tell you where to go to witness the best in the modern Seattle musical talents - as well as where you can pay homage to the old masters of grunge.
(Elisha Burberry is a freelance writer who works from home part time)