A concert was held in the Husky Union Building (HUB) on the evening of February 25, 1989. The all-ages show ($4 for students with ID and $6 for the general public) featured a lineup of young groups represented by a young and local record label known as Sub Pop. While the first three bands (The Fluid, Skin Yard, and Girl Trouble) had already garnered some attention through previous album releases, the final band, less than 2-years-old, was largely unknown. This band, which performed a collection of covers and originals from their yet-to-be-released debut album, Bleach, was Nirvana.

Seattle has produced a diverse array of musical talent over the past century. Jazz greats Jelly Roll Morton and Oscar Holden emerged from the jazz nightclub boom along Jackson Street in the prohibition years and Seattle-born Jimi Hendrix had his first gig at the Central District’s Temple De Hirsch Sinai in 1959. Hardcore Seattle punk bands established in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s such as Solger and The Fartz were able to pave the way for what most consider the defining musical movement of Seattle: grunge.

While Kurt Cobain himself declared grunge to be dead à la t-shirt in 1992, the underground, DIY spirit which allowed the genre to flourish in Seattle persists, especially in and around the UW.

UW student and bass player for local band Velvet Q, Mallory Herbst, explained the significance of Seattle’s musical history in her decision to attend the UW in an interview with The Daily in November 2018.

“It’s what drew me to Seattle probably in the first place, like one of the reasons I moved here was like, I knew there was a good music scene, and like I was into the kind of music that was played in this area,” Herbst said.

On-campus events such as ASUW’s Fall Fling and Spring Show, which have featured Seattle-based bands such as La Luz and Naked Giants in the past, continue to demonstrate the university’s support of local artists.  

“It’s an invigorating nervousness and I felt so much more in that show than I had in a long, long time,” UW student Wilson Rahn said about performing at the 2018 Fall Fling with his band, Gypsy Temple in an October 2018 interview with The Daily. “It was a really amazing experience because … basically I was rocking out at the Naked Giants show so I remember that and I was just like, ‘Oh my God I get to do that!.’”

Aside from UW-sponsored shows and traditional venues, many students also maintain Seattle’s fabled DIY-music scene by opening their homes to all-ages concerts, or house shows, which often feature UW-affiliated bands and draw young people from across the city.

“There’s a pretty strong house show scene in the U-District and just that tradition has definitely influenced us in giving us a place to play and creating a vibe that we want to play for,” UW student and guitarist for the band Waxer, Peter Stoessel, said in a January interview with The Daily.

Many local artists agree that no venue can compete with that of a Seattle house show.

“The people are always fantastic, like the crowds and the people running it and the show experience is totally unique . . . there’s no other show experience like it; it’s awesome,” Jason Kincy of the local band Simple Minded Symphony said in an interview with The Daily in February.

While perhaps none of these groups will rise to the fame of Nirvana and Hendrix, their talent is obvious and there is no doubt that the U-District will continue to be a haven for that diverse and ever-evolving Seattle sound.

Reach writer Sophie Aanerud at specials@dailyuw.com. Twitter: @thesraanerud

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