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Seattle is one of those cities that’s straight up synonymous with music. Ray Charles, Quincy Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Heart, Nirvana, Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Sir Mix-A-Lot, and Macklemore and Ryan Lewis just scratch the surface of the city’s various scenes over the last 80-odd years. That deep history led to the Experience Music Project opening up in Seattle Center, a museum, interactive music space, and gift shop that celebrates the sounds that shape our lives.
As great as the EMP is (you can legit go there and lay down tracks in a studio with your crew) it’s just a surface-level look the Seattle’s rich musical history. It’s a repository and a damn good one. But if you long to dive deep into the history of one of these subcultures — grunge being the obvious first choice and the sun that the Emerald City’s sound revolves around — you’ll have to go further. You’ll need to travel to the dirty, bleach-soaked, scruffy source and see the city’s music haunts with your own eyes.
Where to start? The below six entries are all venues that have proven themselves over time. These are the hallowed halls the likes of Chris Cornell, Kurt Cobain, and Eddie Vedder cut their teeth in. Just a quick note before we dive in — we’re not including any classic venue that’s no longer a music venue. So places like OK Hotel and The Vogue (currently an apartment complex and hair salon, respectively) missed the list. This is where to get your old school fix while seeing live shows. Maybe you’ll even discover what’s next.