This is by far the era of music from the class that I’ve been most exposed to.
Hype and the readings brought to light how angry the “scene” was once they began being marketed and sold. In Pearl Jam’s Twenty movie, there is a significant portion of the film dedicated to Pearl Jam self destructing their own publicity, and these readings/Hype give a good background on the feelings that would make them do this. There were so many groups that were dedicated to having fun and making music/putting on a performance, and so many of them were left by the wayside when popular culture came to town. Vedder’s guilt is included in Hype, and the angst of the locals related to being called “grunge” is largely understandable now. Their way of life that they really had not put too much thought into was being judged by outsiders who suddenly deemed themselves experts. It was sold to the nation, often making a caricature of the trends here (flannel & long johns out of necessity versus flannel & long johns sold to make money as a fashion statement). Pearl Jam’s song Corduroy comes to mind. What I wonder is if there were any groups that didn’t mind the commercial appeal really and rode the wave to success less begrudgingly? Groups like Creed come to mind, but I wonder if there are more examples of derivatives rather than groups being influenced by the music.
Another thing that was of interest to me is how I can access and learn more about the thousands of lost groups from the mid to late-80s that are documented in the trading cards segment and also listen off by the interviewees. Has their music and message largely been lost? Is there an online database (like the one shown in the film) that is still accessible? Is there a human database or a museum/collection? And this seems like a great project to do, document all of these lesser/not known groups.
What I also wonder is if there were parallel or at least similar scenes present in other cities, but for some reason Seattle became the standard? Or was theres something truly unique about our scene? (I think it is the latter, the combination of the weather, the history, the distance from America’s origins, the industry, just everything).
This quote was very interesting: “capital cloaked itself in the rhetoric of rebellion and revolution.”
Questions for special guest:
Where can we access or learn more about the many NW groups that were left behind and shut out by the commercial scene that developed?
How did you feel personally by the commercial wave? How did it impact your psyche and where you lived/worked?
How did the music start? Boredom? Was there a lack of seriousness, or did it depend on the person?
How political was the scene? Was it social justice themed (world hunger, corruption, war), or personal justice themed (anxiety, depression), or neither, or simply too disjointed and diverse to characterize as a whole?
Was there a cohesiveness to the scene in terms of genre, and could you find subgenera or styles?
Did commercialization kill the small radio and fanzine scene? The “underground”?