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Seattle Music Map

An Insider's Guide to Seattle's Music History

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Sub Pop started as a tiny cassette-oriented label founded by DJ Bruce Pavitt in the early 1980s. Pavitt teamed with Jonathan Poneman in 1987 to produce a maverick, globally influential post-punk phenomenon. Sub Pop’s ironic take on “corporate offices” in Seattle’s Terminal Sales Building, at 1932 First Avenue, became the launching pad for early releases by Nirvana, Soundgarden, Mudhoney, and many other eventual ’90s grunge icons. The label continues to thrive with an increasingly eclectic roster of alternative pop stars.


In the shadow of the Space Needle, Belltown evolved during the go-go 1990s from an edgy industrial area where underground arts flourished to a mecca for Gen X bohemians and dot-com entrepreneurs. It’s now a highly walkable hub of boutiques, eateries and nightspots.

4. The Crocodile Café: 2200 2nd Ave. The Seattle rock scene’s home away from home, this is where Pearl Jam, R.E.M. and other heavies play secret shows and many touring acts regularly land. Death Cab for Cutie got its start here. Featured in the 1996 film Hype!

5. KEXP 90.3 FM & 91.7 FM: 113 Dexter Ave. N. Begun as tiny 10-watt KCMU in 1972, the station has evolved into a nationally significant cultural force – an early leader in both the “modern rock” format and, more recently, in Internet radio. A 2001 Webby award winner for Best Radio Website, KEXP has loyal fans tuning in on their laptops from here to New Zealand, but you can listen over the airwaves while you’re in town.

6. Black Dog Forge: 2316 Second Ave. Pearl Jam and Soundgarden rehearsed in the basement of this artisan blacksmithing studio, where many of Pearl Jam’s stage sets were created. The forge’s alleyway was a hangout for artists and punks.

7. Teatro Zinzanni: 2301 6th Ave. Described once as “the Moulin Rouge meets Cirque du Soleil,” this modern day dinner theater pairs top talents like Ann Wilson of Heart and El Vez, the Mexican Elvis, with gourmet meals prepared by celeb chef Tom Douglas.

8. The Vogue: 2018 1st Ave. Nirvana played its first Seattle show in this former crucible for the Seattle sound, opening for Blood Circus in April 1988. The original venue now houses the rock and roll hair salon Vain; the club survives, now featuring gothic music and burlesque, at 1516 11th Ave. on Capitol Hill.

9. Trianon Ballroom: 218 Wall St. Built in 1927, this dance hall featured top jazz era orchestras including those led by Seattle’s Vic Meyer and Gay Jones – the latter cut the town’s first ever jazz record.

Seattle Center Belltown Belltown Belltown Seattle Center Belltown 1) Marion Oliver McCaw Hall 2) Seattle Center International Fountain 3) Experience Music Project (EMP) 4) The Crocodile Cafe 5) KEXP 90.3 FM & 91.7 FM 6) Black Dog Forge 7) Teatro Zinzanni 8) The Vogue 9) Trianon Ballroom 10) Benaroya Hall 11) Myers Music 12) Pike Place Market 13) The Showbox 14) The Triple Door 15) Eagles Auditorium 16) The Edgewater Hotel / Pier 67 17) Ivar's Acres of Clams / Pier 54 18) New Orleans 19) The Central Saloon 1) Dick's Drive-In 2) 10th & E Pike Street 3) Cornish College of the Arts 4) Coryell Apartments 5) Jimi Hendrix Statue 6) Volunteer Park 7) The Blue Note / Local 493 Black Musicians' Union Hall 8) Viretta Park 9) Garfield High School 10) Ballard Avenue 11) Daybreak Star Cultural Center in Discovery Park 12) KRAB Radio - Jack Straw Productions 13) The Blue Moon and Rainbow Taverns 14) University of Washington 15) Roosevelt High School