Seattle took music to new heights Thursday as local radio station KEXP got three bands to play atop the city's 604-foot-tall Space Needle in honor of Sub Pop Records' 25th anniversary.
The sky-high concert was capped in the late afternoon by legendary Sub Pop rockers Mudhoney, who played a 10-song set in a cramped "stage" above the landmark's observation deck. Blue skies, the waters of Elliott Bay and the distant Olympic Mountains provided a stunning backdrop for the historic event. (Images were posted on Instagram pages for the Space Needle, below, and KEXP.)
Sub Pop, founded in Seattle by Bruce Pavitt and Jonathan Poneman in 1988, helped launch some of the most iconic acts of the grunge music scene of the late '80s and early '90s, including Nirvana and Soundgarden. Mudhoney's first single, "Touch Me I'm Sick," was released by the label.
Poneman told Rolling Stone there was no more appropriate band than Mudhoney to headline Thursday's event. "Apart from being Sub Pop's prodigal sons, they are and forever will be Sub Pop's flagship band spiritually." And lead singer Mark Arm said he thought the idea of playing atop the Needle seemed "kinda crazy" and he hoped "no one falls off."
A KEXP video on YouTube Thursday night captures the Mudhoney set:
KEXP DJs John Richards and Kevin Cole broadcast live from the Space Needle, and the musical acts, which also included Sera Cahoone and Grant Olsen, were all streamed live on the station's website.
The DJs also interviewed personalities with ties to the Seattle music scene and Sub Pop in particular, including Jack Endino, who produced Nirvana's debut album, "Bleach"; Soundgarden guitarist Kim Thayil; and photographer Charles Peterson, whose images captured the rise of Sub Pop's acts and the Seattle scene. Peterson said earlier on Facebook that he would be going up in a helicopter for the first time in order to capture an unprecedented Mudhoney concert photo. At seattlepi.com, one fly-by image showed the band's unbelievable perch.
"Sub Pop wouldn't be Sub Pop without growing up in Seattle," Megan Jasper, the label's executive vice president, told Rolling Stone. "It wouldn't have had the success or the failures that it has had. I believe it has helped to create and strengthen a music community in the city."
Sub Pop's Silver Jubilee festivities continue this weekend with a free day-long event on Saturday featuring more art and music. Bands such as Built to Spill and J. Mascis of Dinosaur Jr. are among those performing.
First published July 11 2013, 7:18 PM