Sub Pop is 20 and aging Gracefully
20th Anniversary Festival
Saturday, July 12th and Sunday, July 13th
Marymoor Park, Redmond, WA
By Ben Allen
Seattle record label Sub Pop came to fame in the late 80’s/early 90’s as the ultimate showcase in the “Seattle sound,” which later became known as “grunge” or “punk/garage” or whatever you want to call it.
Over the years, the label has continued to release quality material that spans the wide musical landscape. Everything from over the top noise destruction (Wolf Eyes) to electronic Indie-pop (The Postal Service) has been fair game. In more recent years, the label’s roster has mellowed significantly with bands like Fleet Foxes, Grand Archives and Blitzen Trapper exemplifying a new, post-hippie folk vibe.
No matter the musical style, the label’s emphasis has always been on exceptional artists, regardless of their widespread commercial appeal. Luckily for the label, some of these great bands have garnered some widespread success, most notably The Shins, the aforementioned Postal Service and Nirvana’s debut record Bleach, all of which have all sold hundreds of thousands of units.
To celebrate twenty years of outstanding music, Sub Pop is throwing themselves a big ‘ole birthday bash in Redmond’s Marymoor Park next weekend. The roster features a variety of artists throughout the label’s history. Do yourself a favor and soak in the sound of the reigning label of cool.
It’s a miracle Mudhoney didn’t become one of the biggest bands of the early 90’s grunge explosion. Taking a cue from The Stooges, and consistently putting out raw, nasty rock records, the band has become a Pacific Northwest institution. This year saw the re-release of 1988’s essential Superfuzz Bigmuff and the new The Lucky Ones LP.
Iron and Wine
Sam Beam’s Iron and Wine is music to ease your pain and soothe your soul. Early recordings included sparse, acoustic gems often featuring only guitar and voice. 2007’s The Shepard’s Dog has thicker sounds filled out with more instrumentation while maintaining the laid-back vibe.
Incredibly, this will be The Vaseline’s first performance on American soil. Sadly, the band is most famous for being a huge influence on Kurt Cobain (Nirvana covered three of their songs). Any listen to their tunes show their pop songwriting style and chops stands on its own.
Mesmerizing, classic heavy rock with a twist of psychedelic noise mayhem. Absolutely captivating live, Seattle’s Kinski suck you in with their hard rocking, loud and sweaty performances.
Green River released the first ever record on Sub Pop and is widely considered the first grunge band. Known more for the bands it spawned (Pearl Jam and Mudhoney), it will be interesting to see if their first performance in 20 years holds up to expectations and delivers the goods.
The Grand Archives LP was released this year with a ton of positive reviews and hype, which is understandable because the album is damn solid. You’ll find yourself transported back to the sunny folk/pop bands of the mid 60’s; listening to Grand Hallways is like laying out in the sun with a cold beer on a worry-free afternoon.
Comets on Fire
Although they’ve been a little inactive lately (singer Ethan Miller also fronts Howlin’ Rain, Ben Chasny is busy with Six Organs of Admittance, other members are starting families), Comets on Fire will likely give one of the more exciting performances of the weekend. There are moments during their shows where their songs peak out in a busy, psychedelic mind fuck and remind you of just how good heavy rock can be.