Year Candy: The top 10 Seattle music stories of 2012

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From local institutions celebrating 10-year anniversaries to new arrivals making big waves, there were plenty of great stories coming out of the Seattle music scene. Here’s a look at the top 10 biggest stories in the local music scene for 2012.


10. Barboza opens

A new music venue popped up in the basement of Neumos this year. Barboza not only provides the scene with another place to see live music but it  also gives former Crocodile talent buyer Eli Anderson a new venue to develop, making it an interesting club to watch for years to come. 

9. Reignwolf makes a big splash

I’ve already declared 2012 The Year of Reignwolf so there isn’t much else that needs to be explained here. But in case you weren’t paying attention, Reignwolf had a pretty massive year and his legend will only continue to grow as time passes.

2011.07.23: Capitol Hill Block Party, Seattle, WA

The crowd at Capitol Hill Block Party

8. Festivals continue to excel

Every major festival did something a little different this year. Sasquatch! added a stage spotlighting local hip-hop, Block Party became more community oriented and Bumbershoot forged new partnerships. All of these changes led to success and shows that these fests are willing to take risks and make changes which can only be viewed as a good thing in a highly competitive music festival market.

Analysis: Sizing up Seattle’s summer music festival offerings

7. You can drink, but don’t dance

Washington state has some pretty odd liquor laws and one of the strangest was repealed this year. It was a law that didn’t allow musicians to drink onstage because they were considered employees of the venue while performing. So that law went away, which is great, but another strange law popped up which is cause for concern. The “dance tax”  is a tax on any establishment that charges a cover and provides people an “opportunity to dance.” That means any local club or bar that charges a cover has to pay up and in some cases that could mean paying a lot of money in back taxes. Yikes!


6. Sad clown

Unfortunately not every news story that came out of the local music scene this year was a good story (see # 7 above). While Barboza opened and provided a new venue for live music, The Funhouse, home to many amazing, beer-drenched rock ‘n’ roll memories, was forced to close on Halloween. However, there is a slight silver lining to this story. According to a post on the venue’s Facebook page, the owners of The Funhouse are looking for a new location and hope to reopen soon.

5. The surprise that was King Animal

Sure Soundgarden reunited in 2010, but the reunion isn’t the big story here. The big story is the band’s first album in more than 15 years, King Animal, is a really good rock record. It’s pretty safe to say that nobody expected Soundgarden to completely flop with their comeback album, but it’s also safe to say nobody thought the record would be this good. As an added bonus the band is touring behind the record which includes two local shows (woo-hoo!).

Fist listen: Soundgarden’s King Animal


4. Double digits

Two local institutions, Three Imaginary Girls and Sportn’ Life Records, turned 10 this year. TIG, Seattle’s sparkly indie-pop press (and where I got my start as a blogger), celebrated throughout the year with events like their annual Christmas party and a screening of Hype while Sportn’ Life, home to some of the city’s best hip-hop artists, held a big birthday bash at Barboza that saw the return of D. Black (who now performs as Nissim). Both bring such wonderful things to the local music scene and the fact that they’ve been able to sustain themselves for 10 years speaks volumes to quality of Seattle’s music scene.


The past meets the future. Pat O’Day at Jet City Stream. Greg Roth photo.

3. Internet killed the radio star

Jet City Stream took to the virtual airwaves in April and during its eight months of existence it has managed to do some pretty great things. From helping resurrect the career of Marco Collins and saving the career of Shawn Stewart, to hosting intimate Jet City Stream sessions and making the Rainier Brewer a place worth visiting, the JCS crew worked hard to make itself a valuable and important part of the local music scene.

Jet City Stream hits the airwaves

2. Return of the Mack

The first full-length from Macklemore and Ryan Lewis is humorous (“Thrift Shop”), serious (“Starting Over”) and it features one of the most socially and culturally important hip-hop songs released in the past decade (“Same Love”). Add to that national TV appearances on Ellen and Jimmy Fallon and the recent news that “Thrift Shop” landed in the Billboard Top 10 and you’re looking at something special here. And yes, I’ve waited all year to find an excuse to write “return of the Mack.”


1. Love wins!

The passage of Referendum 74 was a huge local and national story. And while Music for Marriage Equality wasn’t the sole reason for its victory at the polls, it sure as hell didn’t hurt its supporters cause having the likes of Ben Gibbard, Pearl Jam, Brandi Carlile, Macklemore, Shabazz Palaces and just about every other major player in the music scene in its corner. Seattle’s music community has always been able to get behind good causes, and what better cause to fight for than equal rights for everyone when it comes to love? MME fought hard to win this civil rights battle and their efforts paid off on election day witha victory that will hopefully help influence the rest of the nation when it comes to the issue of gay rights.

Travis Hay

About Travis Hay

Travis Hay is a professional music journalist who has spent the past 14 years documenting and enjoying Seattle's diverse music scene. In 2009 he established Guerrilla Candy and is currently the site's editor and publisher. He has written for various media outlets including MSN Music, the Seattle-Post Intelligencer, Seattle Weekly, and others and was the founder and editor of defunct music site Ear Candy.