On July 13, Sub Pop Records honored its 25th anniversary with a Silver Jubilee in the record label’s hometown of Seattle. Several bands performed at the festival in honor of the groundbreaking company, including one of its first signees, the prominent grunge band Mudhoney, which joined Built to Spill, Father John Misty, and other Sub Pop artists.
In the mid-80s, Sub Pop began as a project of college student Bruce Pavitt, a transplant from the Chicago suburbs who had an obsession with the music being released on independent labels across the country. What started out as a fanzine evolved into a series of mixtapes, and then turned into a full-fledged label signing mostly local bands, including the aforementioned Mudhoney, Soundgarden, and, most notably, Nirvana. With these three bands, Sub Pop became synonymous with grunge and the Pacific Northwest, helping to kick start the movement that would take over popular music in the 90s.
To this day, Sub Pop Records remains a significant force in the industry, having sparked the careers of indie rock megastars like The Postal Service and The Shins, as well as Seattle-based folk rockers, Fleet Foxes. This year also marks a special anniversary for The Postal Service, which released its debut album 10 years ago. The group, led by Ben Gibbard, is on tour through early August.
The iconic group Mudhoney, who Kurt Cobain cited as an influence, will also play several dates through the fall. Fresh off the release of “Vanishing Point,” the group’s ninth studio album (and sixth with Sub Pop), Mudhoney also is celebrating its 25th anniversary. One of the label’s more recent additions, the dream pop-oriented Beach House, is also in the midst of a cross-country tour that ends this month with a show at the State Theatre in Portland, Maine, on July 31.
The label has even added several massive comedic acts to its ranks, including “Arrested Development” star, David Cross. The musical parody group Flight of the Conchords released its self-titled album on Sub Pop, a record that eventually became the label’s third platinum album (after Nirvana’s “Bleach” and The Postal Service’s “Give Up”). The duo is back on tour this summer as co-headliners of the Funny or Die Oddball Comedy and Curiosity Festival with Dave Chappelle.