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Photo from the author’s collection

The “For Lease” signs in the windows don’t offer any hint of the historical significance of the property at 207 Second Avenue South, just a short walk from Seattle’s Pioneer Square and CenturyLink Field. In May of 1983, it opened its doors as the Metropolis, the short-lived but highly influential all ages club.

Among the Seattle music scene’s heavy hitters who cut their teeth running or performing at the Metropolis during its brief run were Susan Silver (Alice in Chains and Soundgarden manager), Steve Turner and Mark Arm (Mudhoney), Duff McKagan (Guns n’ Roses), Bruce Pavitt (co-founder of Sub Pop Records). Charles Peterson took photographs of the bands and audiences at the Metropolis, years before grunge became a household word.

Greg Prato interviewed many of those who were involved with the Metropolis for his book Grunge Is Dead: The Oral History of Seattle Rock Music. The whole book is worth a read, but this quote from Mark Arm captures the importance of the Metropolis for the people who were there: “It was a place for touring bands and local bands alike. Mr. Epp played there — Hugo paid us $100 the first time. We were like, ‘Oh my God, I can’t believe we made $100!’ The Metropolis was a musical incubator for the kids who were on the cusp of becoming twenty-one. Several of those kids would end up in Soundgarden, Green River, Girl Trouble, Skin Yard, Feast, the Melvins, and Nirvana.”

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