Our study in Fall contrast continues with clean-cut prep, worn-in leather, streamlined stripes, and woodsy plaid from some of our favorite Designer Collections. Photographed at Kubota Garden, a 20-acre sanctum of lush pines nestled amongst the stark pavement of south Seattle. [See part 1 of this series.]
Style Profiles. In honor of our twice-a-year Men’s Shop Catalog dropping this month, we decided to profile 6 real men of style and substance. Here, cool-under-pressure chef Shaun McCrain.
Every man should know his way around the kitchen: how to take over the tongs at a friend’s barbecue, pull off your grandma’s family-secret marinara, whip up a chivalrous morning-after omelette…you know—the basics.
Professional chefs like Shaun McCrain, on the other hand, can turn the simple act of eating food into a mind-altering experience. Visit McCrain’s Seattle restaurant, Book Bindery, and although the humble maestro insists his MO is simplicity, the five-way flavor combinations in his modern twists on comfort food are enough to induce a quadruple take—and general feelings of astonished well-being.
We spoke to chef McCrain about paying dues in Paris and New York, design principles as applied to plating, and real-life kitchen tips that every man can use.
FARM TO TABLE. “I grew up in the Pacific Northwest. We lived on a small farm, raised our own meat, had a lot of vegetables. I was always around food without realizing it. My dad doesn’t cook. He was like, ‘I’ll just let Shaun do it, and if he messes up, we have more we can go pick.’”
TRIAL & ERROR. “Book smarts help you understand what you’re doing. Street smarts get your hands and body moving in the right direction. It’s hard to be able to physically do what you’ve read. You’ve gotta burn some things before you figure out how to cook them right.”
AMERICAN IN PARIS. “I sent my résumé to what I thought were the top 20 restaurants in Paris and got four responses. Three of them being, ‘Sorry, we don’t have room,’ and one being, ‘Sure, show up, work for free.’ That was my foot in the door.”
LIVE AND LEARN. “I left Seattle thinking I knew everything. I was 19 or 20 years old. I went to a bigger city, a nicer restaurant, and realized how much I didn’t know. It was very humbling…but I decided that if I really want to progress and learn, that I need to constantly be humbled—so I can learn from the best.”
FIRST IMPRESSIONS. “Plating and presentation are important, because they’re the first thing a person sees. I like to do bright colors, clean lines, something that’s very appealing to the eye. And then, when you do take that first bite—it should taste even better than it looks.”
CONTRAST AND COMPLEMENT. “I think items should complement each other. It’s a lot about textures, so if you have one thing that’s soft, then I want something else that’s gonna bring some crunch…a little burst of pickled onion, or a crispy crouton.”
WHY I LOVE MY JOB. “The craziness of it. Every day is different. You don’t know if the truck carrying your lamb up from Oregon broke down, and you’re scrambling to find a replacement, or your dishwasher breaks, or you have a high-profile guest coming in who you know likes to eat certain things. So it sparks that fuel, that drive of always keeping busy, always trying to stay on top. It’s easy to fall behind in the kitchen unless you have that ‘stay on top of it’ kind of attitude.”
THE BEST THING I EVER ATE. “It was at a Japanese restaurant in New York, called Masa. Simple sushi rice, rolled in shaved Italian white truffle, with just a pinch of fresh-grated yuzu and a little salt. Just simplicity at its best, but the ingredients were prepared perfectly.”
MY MORNING ROUTINE. “A cup of coffee…and maybe a Pop-Tart. Strawberry. Frosted. I spend all day walking around tasting things; it kind of curbs your appetite. [The staff and I] don’t sit down and eat a family meal until about 4:00. So in the morning, I just need to put something in me, whether it’s sugar or coffee or whatnot.”
WHAT TO PACK FOR LUNCH. “When I think of lunch, I always think of sandwiches. They don’t need to be boring. Go to the store, and buy some great charcuterie and good bread. Most of the time, those items are sold in portions that are more than one sandwich worth, so you’ll have enough for a couple days—or a very large sandwich.”
THE SECRET TO A GOOD SANDWICH. “The bread. The crust…whether it’s more of a rustic style with pieces of grain, or if it’s just a nice, crisp baguette that kind of snaps in your mouth when you eat it.”
HOW TO IMPRESS A DINNER DATE. “First, find out what they like. Nowadays, there are so many dietary restrictions, food allergies. Subtly figure out. Ask questions. Have an idea, rather than going in like, ‘Hey, I like steak, so I’m gonna cook steak’—and then finding out she’s pescatarian. That’s a date that’s not gonna end well.”
AND IF YOU BLOW IT… “Part of learning and growing with someone is making those mistakes. It could be the best meal they’ve ever had, or it could be terrible—but the whole experience of going through the process of doing something for someone is what it should be about.”
— — —
Next time you’re in Seattle, be sure to sample Shaun’s work at Book Bindery.
(We recommend the steak. And the duck.
And definitely the Stumptown-coffee semifreddo.)
We can all agree that traditional film photography is a near-lost art that must be preserved. However, it’s only through the wonder of cell phones and Instagram that we’re able to bring you a glimpse of our latest Men’s Shop video as it unfolds.
Yin and yang. Light and shade. Concrete and jungle. Life is a study in contrasts—and your Fall wardrobe should be, too.
To fully meditate on Fall’s dense tweeds, intricate knits, revved-up leather, and sturdy workwear, we took our favorite Designer Collections to Seattle’s historical, 20-acre wooded oasis, Kubota Garden—as well as the surrounding urban sprawl. The conclusion is clear: Fall’s best clothes feel calm, cool and collected, whether you’re in nature’s domain or the wilds of the city.
Last night outside our flagship store in Downtown Seattle, retired speed skater Apolo Ohno—the most decorated US Winter Olympian of all time—joined the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Quincy Jones, Ken Griffey, Jr., Bill Gates, and other highly esteemed Northwest natives, receiving his own plaque on our ‘Seattle Walk of Fame.’
While other plaques on the sidewalk surrounding our store depict imprints of our Walk-of-Famers’ shoes (a nod to Nordstrom’s origins as a shoe store), Ohno’s captures the motion of his ice-slicing skates:
Having won eight medals over the course of three Olympics, Ohno’s no stranger to high honors—nor avid fans, as was apparent from his easy demeanor in greeting an adoring public following the brief induction ceremony (which was hosted by none other than Pete Nordstrom, pictured up top on the left).
Before reading our exclusive Q&A below, check out a video of Ohno in action, gliding for Gold in a 1000-meter showdown decided by milliseconds. Come February, you can catch him in action again at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia—this time as an analyst with NBC Sports.
MEN’S SHOP DAILY: Having grown up here in Seattle, do you have memories of Nordstrom? APOLO OHNO: “I have many memories of Nordstrom. My dad used to take me here shopping growing up, back-to-school stuff—and I shop at Nordstrom now. So it’s always been a part of my life. To know that it’s a Seattle-based company is awesome.”
MSD: What does it mean to be immortalized outside our flagship Seattle store? APOLO OHNO: “It’s an honor, it really is. We have so many international tourists come through our great city all the time, and they see these people, and these footsteps. Some really amazing people have been cemented forever in history here, so for me to be named next to them—it’s an honor.”
[Ohno mingled with fans young and old after the unveiling.
Cool Quiksilver shirt, kid.]
MSD: You’ve accomplished a lot of amazing things in your life. What would you say has been your proudest moment? APOLO OHNO: “The Olympic space, for me, is one that has always touched my heart, because it was the one single focus of my life for 15 years straight. It’d have to be the Olympic Games.”
MSD: As far as fitness and exercise—what training advice do you have for average guys at home? APOLO OHNO: “Stick to the circuit training. Leave the slow cardio alone. We all don’t have a lot of time—I’d say on average, most of us have an hour or less in the gym. So just hit it hard. Always change up your routine, keep it fresh, keep it fun—and always challenge yourself.”
[How dapper is Ohno's dad (center)?]
MSD: What are some of your personal style essentials (besides a skin-tight bodysuit)? APOLO OHNO: “You always have to have a good jacket—a sports jacket, that fits—no matter what. You have to have a nice pair of shoes. Jeans and pants for me are always difficult, because my legs are so big—so they’re tight, even when they’re supposed to be baggy.” [Shop special sizes: Big & Tall]
MSD: You look sharp today. What are you wearing? APOLO OHNO: “Let’s see…I’m wearing Armani. Zegna pants, Louis shoes.”
[One of many surprised passersby.]
MSD: What’s your favorite thing about hosting the GSN game show Minute to Win It? APOLO OHNO: “On Minute to Win It, the number-one thing is, I get to see people win real money. And the excitement you see, and the stories you hear about how that money’s going to change their life, or what they’re going to put it towards, are pretty amazing. We’ve seen people get married, we’ve had people want to put money towards a charity in memory of their brother, we’ve had ex-military people who served our country—there’s really an incredible array of stories on the show. So I’ve gotten to meet some really amazing people.
MSD: What are you most looking forward to at the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia—where you’ll be breaking down the action as a member of NBC’s broadcast team? APOLO OHNO: “In 2014, I’m looking forward to short-track [skating]. All the speed skating events, that’s my favorite. I mean, I also love downhill events and skiing, but short-track, to me, is the ultimate. I’ll be there, every single day.”
[Our blog editor, asking the tough questions.]
MSD: You’re the most decorated Winter Olympian in US history. What advice do you have on being a gracious winner—and on your approach to life and work in general? APOLO OHNO: “I definitely haven’t won every single race—so I know what it feels like when you don’t win, and I know what it feels like when you do. And I think you appreciate it that much more. I lived in a sport where you’re not guaranteed to win every single time, no matter how good you are. So when you do, and those medals get hung around your neck, it feels pretty amazing. And towards life? I’d say: Work hard, play hard, and just enjoy every single step of the way.”
[A plaque on the wall outside our flagship store, shedding light
on the 'Seattle Walk of Fame' installation.]
[A few of Ohno's fellow Seattle Walk of Fame alums. Clockwise from top left:
Jimi Hendrix, Mariners legend Ken Griffey, Jr., Microsoft's Paul Allen and Bill Gates, NBA great and former SuperSonic Lenny Wilkens.]
Special thanks to Apolo Ohno.
Follow him on Twitter here.
[Photos by Jeff Powell. Interview and first photo by Justin Abbott.]
Back in 2007, Seattle’s Sub Pop Records started Hardly Art Records, a label within itself, with lower financial stakes and a pop-rock fixation. The two labels reside in the same building in Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood on 4th Avenue. Rock duo Deep Time is a fairly recent addition to the Hardly Art roster—an outlier from Austin, Texas, whereas most other Hardly Art bands are from Seattle, the Bay Area, or New York City. Their oddly-shaped songs are worth a listen. They charm, puzzle, and then are gone.
Deep Time played the Hardly Art showcase at the Sub Pop Silver Jubilee. Band leader Jennifer Moore was kind enough to grant us a quick interview.
MEN’S SHOP DAILY: Being from Austin, how do you feel about SXSW? Does it feel musically important to you, or is it one big Doritos ad? DEEP TIME’S JENNIFER MOORE: “Big ol’ Doritos ad, with close-ups of the chips, and canned music playing very quietly in background.”
MSD: Austin seems to have a lot of ‘meat-and-potatoes’ rock bands. Does it feel like you are way out on a limb down there, with your left-field approach? JENNIFER MOORE: “Austin is pretty rock-heavy, especially the garage variety. But there are tons of little scenes in Austin, and they do mix a bit. There’s a group of ten or so local bands we play with regularly. So we get a lot of support from that group, even if it’s tiny.”
MSD:How much pressure does Hardly Art put on you to make money? JENNIFER MOORE: “Zero. It’s been really nice working with Hardly Art. They mostly just seem excited about putting out music they like.”
[Deep time drummer Adam Jones]
MSD:What was your favorite thing you experienced at the Sub Pop Silver Jubilee? JENNIFER MOORE: “People watching was pretty satisfying! The concertgoers were all over the place, age-wise, with lots of weirdos, and parents, and teens that looked like maybe they were at their first concert. But everyone seemed especially pumped to be there.”
MSD:Please recommend some restaurants in Austin. Have you been to Paul Qui’s place, qui? What about tacos and Tex-Mex? JENNIFER MOORE: “We have not been yet. We are saving our pennies, but we have been to Uchi, which is kind of an epic eating experience. Chapala off Cesar Chavez Street is our favorite taco/Tex-Mex place. It’s also very affordable. One meal at qui equals 70 at Chapala.”
Last week, we offered an overview of Sub Pop’s greatest hits, both legendary and recent. Today, in our continuing tribute to 25 years of Sub Pop, we dig deep into the rocky underground that gives the Northwest label its name (Sub Pop = Subterranean Pop). We can think of no better tour guide than Robin Stein, a killer photographer here in Seattle, a good friend of Men’s Shop Daily, and a lifelong follower of Pacific Northwest music.
[Above: Earth photographed by Art S. Aubrey.
Below: U-Men by Rachel E. Tillman.]
While Sub Pop is widely known for its massively successful releases from bands like Nirvana, The Shins and Fleet Foxes, the legacy and scope of the label cannot be simply summarized by those artists alone. Sub Pop has long been a true promoter and purveyor of the decentralized underground world of Subterranean Pop. Here are some highlights from their back catalog that you may have never heard—but should. They’re selected to represent the legacy of music in the Pacific Northwest, as well as the grand scope of Sub Pop’s output. In no particular order:
1. The U-Men – ‘Dig It a Hole.’ Performing throughout most of the 1980s, The U-Men predated anything that anyone would or could call Grunge. Their song ‘Gila’ is featured on the first Sub Pop compilation, Sub Pop 100. The U-Men draw on the sludge and aggression of LA hardcore bands, the jarring start-stop rhythms from post-punk bands like Wire, and the wacked-out insanity of twang-weirdos The Cramps. ‘Dig It a Hole’ is on the aggressive side of the U-Men, and was never released by Sub Pop until many years later on the soundtrack to the film Hype. Nevertheless, this particular track foreshadows much of the aesthetics embraced by many Seattle bands in the years to come.
2. Green River – ‘Ain’t Nothing To Do.’ Green River might be the best example of the musical tension that went on to form the style that came to be known as Grunge. They’re a fast, heavy, punk band but with an overlay of glam-metal guitar solos. While this tension was ultimately the band’s demise (Mark Arm and Steve Turner went on to form Mudhoney, while Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament formed Pearl Jam), it just might be that Green River is the perfect blend of punk’s aggressive carelessness and metal’s heavy virtuosity. ‘Ain’t Nothing To Do’ is a classic teen-boredom anthem. Listen for the lyric that calls out being bored by the University of Washington’s old college radio station, which is now KEXP: “… I’m so sick of FM, even KCMU…”
3. Girl Trouble – ‘Wreckin’ Ball.’ Go back into the history of music in the Pacific Northwest, and you’ll find it deeply rooted in classic garage bands—The Sonics, The Wailers, The Kingsmen, Lollipop Shoppe—mostly coming out of Tacoma, Washington. Twenty years later, Girl Trouble continued this tradition of Tacoma’s classic Northwest garage rock. ‘Wreckin’ Ball’ comes from their first Sub Pop release, Hit It or Quit It from 1988. Also worth checking out is their song ‘Neko Loves Rock ‘n’ Roll,’ about their good friend, former Girl Trouble go-go dancer and Tacoma native, Neko Case.
4. Steven Jesse Bernstein – ‘Come Out Tonight.’ Bernstein was essentially the poet laureate of Seattle’s music community throughout the 1980s. While suffering from mental illness and drug addiction, Bernstein gained legendary status as an intense and outrageous performer and poet. His writing reflected the gritty character of Seattle before the tech boom of the ’90s. Bernstein often took up residence in the hotels and boarding houses of Georgetown, the location of this year’s Sub Pop Silver Jubilee. This recording, featured on Sub Pop’s 1988 compilation Sub Pop 200, is a filthy pop-culture diatribe with the repeated, haunting refrain of “Cheri, Cheri, baby, won’t you come out tonight?” and the wonderful, barked line: “I am secretly an important man.”
5. Dead Moon – ‘Johnny’s Got a Gun.’ The members of Dead Moon have been playing in bands throughout every era of Pacific Northwest music, starting with Fred Cole’s 1960s psych-garage band Lollipop Shoppe, to their most recent incarnation Pierced Arrows. What’s most notable about the band is that Fred and Toody Cole, both grandparents in their 60s, are still one of the best touring rock bands out there, possessing a rabid and dedicated fan base all over the US and Europe. Most of the Dead Moon catalog is recorded, pressed, and released on their own label, Tombstone Records (they run their own record cutting lathe). Sub Pop released a posthumous Dead Moon discography, Echoes from the Past, covering highlights from the band’s nearly two-decade run. ‘Johnny’s Got a Gun,’ sung by Toody, is a revolutionary warning song. Also check out the hard-to-find Cat Power cover of the song above, a 7″ definitely worth digging for.
6. Hazel – ‘Day-Glo.’ Hazel was a band from Portland, Oregon, featuring the paired vocals of Pete Krebs and Jodi Bleyle (Team Dresch, Free to Fight), along with bassist Brady Payne and full-time, free-form dancer Fred Nemo (I was once told that Fred could recite vast James Joyce passages on request). Hazel played throughout the Northwest all through the late ’90s. I probably saw this band perform more than any other while growing up. Side note: My first AOL screen name (dayglo269) is a reference to this song—perhaps embarrassing, but telling.
7. Eric’s Trip – ‘Girlfriend.’ This track is from the first album I ever bought on vinyl. Eric’s Trip (named after the Sonic Youth song) was a fuzzy four-piece from Moncton, New Brunswick. Their simple, distorted pop songs encapsulated a low-key blissfulness. This band always made me idealize the magic of Canada’s Maritime Provinces. Julie Doiron and Rick White of Eric’s Trip each went on to release music individually in later years; both of their solo albums are well worth a listen.
8. Beat Happening – ‘Red Head Walking.’ While Sub Pop is known for being a Seattle record label, all of this really started in Olympia, Washington, around the Evergreen State College’s free-form radio station KAOS. Bruce Pavitt started writing his Subterranean Pop ‘zines and releasing tapes with Calvin Johnson as a contributor. Johnson’s pivotal lo-fi group Beat Happening released several records on Sub Pop over the ensuing years. His iconic vocal style and the simple instrumentation from collaborators Heather Lewis and Bret Lunsford embraced the DIY methods and ideals of punk, and transposed it into something far less aggressive, yet still transgressive. Beat Happening laid the groundwork for so much music to come; their influence is unmeasurable. Johnson continues to run Olympia’s K Records, and maintains a complete online digital version of all of the original Sub/Pop fanzines.
9. The Monkeywrench – ‘Great Down Here.’ If there ever was a ‘supergroup’ for Seattle, it was definitely The Monkeywrench. Featuring Mark Arm and Steve Turner (Green River, Mudhoney), Tom Price (U-Men, Gas Huffer), Tim Kerr (Poison 13, Tim/Kerr Records) and Martin Bland (Bloodloss), The Monkeywrench is a straight-up garage-punk band. Awesome. If you’re on the tour of ‘grunge supergroups,’ by all means start with The Monkeywrench—and you might as well forget about Temple of the Dog.
10. Earth – ‘Teeth of Lions Rule the Divine.’ While Earth maintains a legendary status amongst fans of Drone and Doom Metal, the average Sub Pop fan is likely unfamiliar with the long legacy and influence of Dylan Carlson’s musical career. I’d recommend approaching this 27-minute track more as a meditative and minimalist dirge. Earth is truly a product of the environment here in the Pacific Northwest—reflecting the wet and uniform grey skies of winter, with a slowly roiling undercurrent of volcanic activity. We are living on the Ring of Fire after all…
Last week, we showed you the fruits of our labor during Seattle record label Sub Pop’s 25th-anniversary music festival—by way of some first-class Seattle street style. Today, we have a subset of those shots that our team wanted to present separately as a special report: Below, individuals who are doing their part to foster a new golden age of Seattle music.
Photos by Robin Stein (pictured above right). Words by Andrew Matson.
Ian Judd. “Seattle’s vibey-est, smallest concert venue (and vintage store) is Cairo in Capitol Hill. Judd is the genius who books the music there. While he’s at it, he hand-picks some of the best bands for his label, Couple Skate (Naomi Punk, The Numbs, Weed). Basically, come to Cairo on any given Saturday night and see what will be happening next year in Brooklyn.” [Pictured with a friend who looks kind of like this guy. Click small photos to enlarge.]
Larry Mizell, Jr. “It’s safe to say Larry is the voice of Seattle hip-hop. The host of weekly show ‘Street Sounds’ on Seattle’s crucial (and streaming worldwide) radio station KEXP, he’s also the columnist behind ‘My Philosophy’ in Seattle’s alt-weekly The Stranger, an emcee in the band Don’t Talk to the Cops, and an artist manager. Fun fact: Mizell, Jr. is also the son and nephew of Larry and Fonce Mizell, legendary jazz-fusion producers.”
Sasha Morgan & Alex Kostelnik. “Sasha works in radio relations at Sub Pop and promotes concerts on the side. Alex runs 20/20 Cycle—a bike shop where pricing can sometimes be negotiated, and intimate concerts occur by Sub Pop-related acts including Mount Eerie and White Rainbow. As far as independent culture in Seattle goes, you’re looking at a power couple.” [Click small photos to enlarge.]
[Text by Andrew Matson. Andrew writes about music and culture for publications including The Seattle Times, NPR, and The Stranger—follow him on Twitter here. Photos by Robin Stein—see more of Robin's work here. Individuals pictured do not endorse Nordstrom. Intro photo by Melia McGee.]
We’re still recovering from the awesomeness that was Sub Pop’s Silver Jubilee music festival last Saturday—and, we’ll continue to roll out exclusive interviews, photos and favorite Sub Pop playlists as we celebrate the legendary Seattle record label’s 25th birthday for the remainder of the month.
Today, we present for your enjoyment a throng of street-style photos, captured both in the wild of the crowds as well as in our own mobile photo set—sponsored in part by our friends at Topman and Topshop.
The crowd (and food-truck scene) in Seattle’s Georgetown ‘hood at sunset. That’s the former Rainier Beer brewery (now used as studio space) on the right.
L: An amazing day-glo x leopard look in the crowd.
R: Sailor stripes at Father John Misty.
Matt Korvette with stylists Margaret McMillan Jones and Danny Mankin.
— — —
The candid photos from here up are by Men’s Shop creative director Strath Shepard—who bravely wandered the festival grounds pink and sunscreen-less, camera in-hand.
Below, our friend and extremely talented photographer Robin Stein ran an all-day photo booth where Nordstrom friends old and new alike could cruise through, don some Topman or Topshop gear if they so chose, and go blue-steel for an impromptu #streetstyle session:
L: The family that rocks together, rolls together. (Cool pink socks, young sir ma’am! Sorry for the oversight, kind reader.)
R: Sub Pop digital communications manager (and Bob Seger fan) Sam Sawyer, and Nordstrom social media manager (and taco connoisseur—proof here and here) Lily Wyckoff.
Nordstrom Men’s Shop was proud to be part of our hometown’s history on Saturday, when we had the chance to co-sponsor Sub Pop’s Silver Jubilee, a 25th-anniversary celebration of the legendary Seattle record label. With the motto “Going out of business since 1988,” Sub Pop has found success and made history by following their collective gut instinct. It’s a way of doing things that we greatly admire—and think our founder John W. Nordstrom would have appreciated, too, when he set up shop in Seattle back in 1901.
Below, check out some crowd-sourced proof that it all really happened, via Instagram—and read an account of the day’s events by Seattle-based music writer Andrew Matson.
[Instagram photos: L by @babydeerie, R by @veronicanett.
Intro image by @_mayyyc.]
For Sub Pop Records’ massive 25th-anniversary Silver Jubilee—co-sponsored by Nordstrom Men’s Shop—the legendary Seattle independent music label shut down the Georgetown neighborhood of their home city, and about 20,000 people (my guess) came to give praises to Ra, the Sun God. It was hot as hell and we need that around here. (It rains a lot, not sure if you’ve heard.) We also raised an IPA to the label that brought us Nirvana.
From the looks on faces, Seattle loved it. Pounding music from three stages, ricocheting around a closed-off Airport Way, Georgetown’s main drag. It hurt in a good way.
[Instagram photos: L by @ylanag, R by @laurakstyle.]
Old-schoolers (and their kids) flocked to Mudhoney, who yelled lyrics about supporting independently owned businesses. Built to Spill soloed majestically, and a single dream was woven together between the Jubilee-goers, who experienced what only Doug Martsch can do with an electric guitar. Soundgarden did not perform—despite rampant rumors on Twitter that the Seattle icons, one of Sub Pop’s very first acts circa 1987, would play a secret late-night set.
Sub Pop president Jonathan Poneman and vice president Megan Jasper strolled the concrete like royalty. Founder Bruce Pavitt was everywhere, probably struggling to connect the day’s packed streets and epic performances to his humble Subterranean Pop fanzine from Olympia, Washington, back in the ‘80s.
[Instagram photos: L by @timbasaraba, R by @nclrmrz.]
It’s amazing what Sub Pop has done: Put its black-and-white stamp on grunge, on indie rock, and on alternative comedy (there was a Jubilee comedy showcase Friday at Seattle’s Moore Theatre, headlined by Eugene Mirman). None of that existed in a codified way before Sub Pop. But then again, some of the major businesses in Seattle (Starbucks, Microsoft, REI) started in people’s garages as a co-op, or in home offices as a start-up, addressing specific needs—and grew to be cultural icons. Maybe serving micro-communities is just the model here in the Pacific Northwest…and sometimes lightning strikes.
[Instagram photos: L by @scotteverett, R by @sarandipity2.]
So, what’s the next move for Sub Pop? What’s the next wave of music? There’s been no clear era-definition since the tail end of indie rock, with The Shins and Band of Horses. A handful of relatively newly-signed acts showed the way forward at the Jubilee. By my estimation, the future of Sub Pop sounds like:
[Instagram photos: L by @zlog, R by @sub_pop. Click left image for a short video clip.]
Shabazz Palaces(L), the mbira-featuring Seattle hip-hop duo. They shared peeks at their upcoming album, and the new music was uptempo and dance-y. Their old music was ghostly and dirge-like. The balance was spiritual, microphone short-outs and all.
King Tuff(R), the real-deal Holyfield on electric lead guitar, possible savior of American rock. Tuff zoomed from one gem to the next, giving his set a mixtape-like feel. There was some Jeff Spicoli in there, a little Big Star, a sprinkling of Ramones. Perfect.
[Instagram photos: L by @sub_pop, R by @ponyboat. Click right image for a short video clip.]
clipping.(L), a Los Angeles trio who makes ‘hip-hop’ in the most Throbbing Gristle sense of the word. Their emcee yelled about poverty and family drama. I realized in the moment that I feel a similar way about clipping. as I do about the TV show Homeland. I’m into it, but man, it’s tense.
Father John Misty(R), whose stage sound was mixed better than everyone else’s. His jam “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings” might just be eternal. It sounded amazing in the environment, singer Josh Tillman’s low tenor voice ringing through the industrial alleys of G-Town.
[Instagram photos: L by @bloodyamateur, R by @henritmodefesta. Click right image for a short video clip.]
On that note—young Pacific Northwest rockers digging the gnarly art of their forebears—I left Georgetown. It felt like the circle of life was complete, the next phase of Sub Pop coalescing between my ringing ears.
Stay tuned for much more Sub Pop Silver Jubilee content—
from band interviews to street style—in the days to come.
[Main text by Andrew Matson. Andrew writes about music and culture for publications including The Seattle Times, NPR, and The Stranger. Follow Andrew on Twitter here.]