15 Seattle Grunge Landmarks: The Musical Map of the City

15 Seattle Grunge Landmarks: The Musical Map of the City

The grunge movement of the ‘90s was one of those weird pop culture phenomena that was hyper-localized. Like, no one knows where screamo comes from, but everyone knows grunge was born in some dirty basement in Seattle. It turns out it was a lot of dirty basements.

Central Saloon

All the grunge greats played in this bar, the oldest in Seattle, but it’s most notable for being the venue of Nirvana’s first Seattle show. Luckily, they’d had plenty of practice, because Sub Pop’s Bruce Pavitt was in the audience, and despite the lackluster crowd and the general disaffection of the genre’s thought leaders, he signed them on the spot.

Screwdriver Bar

Nirvana did all that practicing… not here, somewhere else. But they did use the basement of the Screwdriver Bar as a rehearsal space between the releases of Bleach and Nevermind, so it was definitely the better practicing.

Black Dog Forge

Sometimes, bands had to get creative when it came to where they practiced artfully sucking at their instruments. Pearl Jam and Soundgarden did so in the basement of this blacksmithing shop, a trade now as tragically obsolete as they are.

El Corazon

(Warner Bros.)

(Warner Bros.)

Once Eddie Veddar got his enunciation just wrong, Pearl Jam played their first shows at this venue, then known as the Off Ramp. It was also where Soundgarden played their set in the quintessential grunge rom-com (yes, that’s an accurate if improbable series of words) Singles.

Pike Place Market’s Spoonman

(Joe Mabel/Wikimedia Commons)

(Joe Mabel/Wikimedia Commons)

“Spoonman,” Soundgarden’s breakout single from, uh, Singles, sounds as nonsensical as a soundgarden, but he’s just as real. The song is about Artis the Spoonman, who can still be seen tickling the stainless steels on the regular at Pike Place Market.


Nirvana hosted their legendary release party for Nevermind on Friday the 13th at this venue, where they snuck in illegal liquor, started demanding disco, and initiated a food fight that got them kicked out. Of their own party. Re-Bar was also featured in Singles, because apparently you can’t swing a Matt Dillon in this town without hitting a filming location.

Grandview Plaza

Gird your flannels -- it’s about to get dark. In 2002, the music world was saddened but not shocked when Alice in Chains frontman Layne Staley disappeared for two weeks, eventually found dead in his condo at Grandview Plaza. When his unit, 5C, went up for sale in 2014, you’d never know anything more devastating than a total lack of color happened there.

Linda’s Tavern

(Joe Mabel/Wikimedia Commons)

(Joe Mabel/Wikimedia Commons)

Before he climbed into the greenhouse and created a sticky web of conspiracy theories, Linda’s Tavern, known as the “grunge Cheers,” was the last place Cobain was seen alive. These days, they’d rather you focus on their boozy brunches.

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