After we reached out last week asking readers to share their favorite times at Seattle’s Showbox music venue, which may be torn down for development, we got dozens of heartfelt responses. Here are just some of them.
(Responses were edited for clarity and length.)
“I went to my very first concert at the Showbox. I was 15 and saw We The Kings with my friend. It opened up a whole new world of musical art for me. A girl asked my friend and I if we needed to use the restroom and said that she would lead us there herself if we did. With the smallest friendly interaction, the layout and feel of the Showbox soon became that of comfort and excitement for something I thought as a child was a scary experience. I will always hold my first concert experience there close to me for every concert I attend. You can’t forget your roots!”
— Jessica Vangel
“Without a doubt the January 1992 Pearl Jam show is my favorite memory. I bought 5 tickets for me, my older brother, and three college buddies, and most of us were front row. The show was amazing and I will never forget the intensity on display by frontman Eddie Vedder. PJ used clips from the show for the Even Flow music video, which shows Eddie climbing across the theater before dropping into the crowd. Pretty amazing experience and especially cool that the Showbox could serve as a launching pad for some of Seattle’s best artists.”
— Scott Merlino
“I lived in Seattle in the early 2000s. I saw so many shows at The Showbox — The Breeders, Cat Power, Bright Eyes — I was there a few times a week, every week. Hands down, though, my favorite show was Pearl Jam — seeing them play in Seattle, at such a small venue, was an incredible opportunity.”
— Rachel Herman
“Not so much a memory, but a family legacy. In 1946, my grandmother, a registered nurse in Seattle went to go dancing with her girlfriends at the Showbox. In walked in the tallest guy in the place, dressed in his Navy uniform. My grandma at 99 years old could still recall the moment she laid eyes on my grandfather, and the fact that he was a marvelous dancer. They met and fell in love at the Showbox. Our family history begins at the Showbox, and grandma would be devastated to know that such a magical place was destroyed for condos.”
— Andrea Nicole McGuire
“A few years ago, my sister and I went to see Passion Pit perform. I had an anatomy final the next morning, so I spent most of the time in line studying for the big test. It was one of the first shows that my sister and I ever saw together, and it was my first time seeing Passion Pit live. It’s always been one of my favorite memories.”
— Katherine D. Morgan
“So many great shows but two very special nights were seeing the Police after their first record came out. They were so raw back then and Stewart Copeland was just pounding the drums. Amazing show. Also Joan Jett and the Blackhearts opening for the Ramones. What else do I need to say.”
— Rob Andrews
“The rain may have welcomed me to the city, but it was the Showbox which completed my Seattle initiation. I remember stepping into a dim space, whose walls were steeped in the kind of music that sticks with you. That night when Pete Yorn took the stage it didn’t feel like a concert in a brand new place, it felt like home.”
— Morgan Chesky
“The last time Prince came to Seattle, I saw two shows in one night. A life-changing experience. I will never see a performer who can sing, dance, entertain and play a guitar like Prince. My mind is still blown to this day. SAVE THE SHOWBOX!”
— Russell Nash
“The Showbox was where my boyfriend and I had our first date when we met back in high school. We saw Black Flag, and it was also the first concert either of us had ever gone to. The concert got out at almost 2 a.m. on a school night and we got Dick’s afterwards with our last $5. It was one of our best nights together. We just celebrated our 4 ½ year anniversary.”
— Angel DeLisi
“The kind and caring security staff. One got me an alcohol wipe after a girl bit me. Another showed great concern for my friend that got drugged and was incredibly polite to us while making sure my buddy was safe instead of treating him like a drunk. They got him in a cab while I enjoyed the show. An evening with Amon Amarth was my favorite show there. First time I ever saw a band play through an entire album, take a quick break, and then come back out and play like 15 more songs. All the time in the Beautiful Showbox!”
— Brent Sindelar
“When we were dating, I told my wife that I loved her for the first time. It was during a G Love concert!”
— John Bishop
“I arrived early to see Symphony X, one of my favorite progressive metal bands, live for the first time. I was lucky enough to somehow get in the very front, right up against the railing in front of the stage.
I had been feeling pretty depressed on that night, and almost didn’t go… But something inside me told me I’d regret it, so I went anyway.
About halfway through the concert, I was already having an amazing time and glad that I came, when the lead singer, Russell Allen, jumped down from the stage and up on to a box on the other side of the railing, where he leaned over and gave me a giant hug while he was singing. I don’t know why he chose me, but it was an awesome moment that I needed very much, and will always remember.”
— Brian Armstrong
“I’ve seen 49 concerts at the Showbox and have many wonderful memories. My favorite was seeing Nada Surf in 2013 with my daughter, who was 15 at the time. Through some strange coincidence across generations, we were both really into the band. Death Cab for Cutie was the surprise opening act, which we both love as well. We stood right up front at the stage, sang along, and shared an amazing evening.”
— David Lee
“Standing in the photo pit, between my little brother playing onstage during his open for Blue October, and teen girls behind the line screaming his name.”
— Jennifer Matthewson
“About nine years ago, my best friend Barb (now deceased) and I went to go see a friend’s band play at the Showbox. I was recently divorced and struggling. We were enjoying the evening and music when I saw a guy there that I had a little crush on. We giggled like kids (well into our 30s at this point) and she jabbed me in the ribs and told me to go talk to him. He went outside to go smoke with his friends and I followed them out of the bar area, down the long hallway ramp and out the glass doors to the street outside where I promptly chickened out and ran back inside to a laughing Barb. Thank heavens he noticed me being a lurking idiot. We’ve been married for 8 years.”
— Gina Orr
“Over a dozen years ago, I was sitting in the Green Room of the Showbox having drinks with a friend when I heard the most stunning sounds coming from an ongoing concert. The thumping of the kick drum overhead followed by one of the clearest voices I have ever heard, ‘The glove compartment is inaccurately named/And everybody knows it….’ I rushed to the bar and asked who was playing. It was Death Cab for Cutie! This marked the beginning of my longstanding love for the band and, more specifically, the vocal and songwriting prowess of Ben Gibbard. Coincidentally Death Cab for Cutie’s latest song release ‘Gold Rush’ encapsulates how it feels to witness all of the supposed progress in our hometown: ‘Oh how I feel like a stranger here/Searching for something that’s disappeared.’ Over the years I experienced so many great bands at The Showbox: Stereolab, Clinic, Badly Drawn Boy, Minus the Bear, etc. The venue helped form the backdrop of my coming of age, the loss of which would be yet another sad excavation, a deep carving out of the very soul of the city, a striking loss of our history.”
— Kelly Hall
“I loved watching bands when they were ascending in popularity because we knew the band would never play a ‘small’ venue ever again. These packed shows were so much fun. The Shins, My Morning Jacket, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and Franz Ferdinand are a few great concerts that immediately come to mind. Watching Soundgarden reunite as Nudedragons was pretty awesome too.
The Showbox is a Seattle treasure and it will be very disappointing if condos and apartments replace a venue that brought people so much joy.”
— Trent Mitchell
“Macklemore and Ryan Lewis Concert. I was 13, my mom dropped me and my four friends off for my first Showbox concert. Macklemore’s finale was as Raven Bowie for ‘And we danced,’ I think I may have cried it was so fun. A memory I will never forget.”
— Lauren Benveniste
“Coldplay, from the Showbox stage: ‘The Beatles had a number one hit the first time they came to Seattle. But this one got us to America. This is “Yellow.”‘”
— Blaine Stare
“In the late 1970s and early 1980s you didn’t even check to see who was playing, you just went to the Showbox on Friday/Saturday night. There were always great bands playing, whether they were local, national, or international. The number of top-notch first wave Punk bands that played there was amazing. My memory of the exact dates is getting dim, but in the 1979/1980 timeframe I remember seeing the Ramones, Iggy Pop, the Police, the Squeeze, 999 — I could go on and on with the bands.
The two that stick out the most for me were: 1) the Ramones, who had to play two shows in one day because the band had gotten sick and cancelled the show the night before. I went to the day show, and I thought the building was going to crumble due to hundreds of people doing the pogo together at the same time.
2) Iggy Pop, who wrapped his microphone on his belt and surfed the top of the pogoing crowd and dropped down right next to me and my friend Wayne. He then pulled out his mic and started singing. Wayne shared his spliff with Iggy, and then we boosted him back up on top of the crowd so he could surf back onto stage. Eventually someone threw some kind of a firework on stage that caught the drapes in the back on fire. The management tried to clear the club, but no one left. They did get the fire out and Iggy and band came back on stage. He was wearing a salad bowl on his head and commenting on how crazy we were for refusing to leave a club that was on fire. Once he started playing again, the place went absolutely crazy.”
— Al Dams
“In September of 2005, Death Cab for Cutie and Harvey Danger played a benefit for those effected by Hurricane Katrina. I noticed a cute girl standing by herself between sets, went up and made a joke. She laughed and we watched the rest of the show together. I got her number, and we were married a couple of years later. We now have a three year old son.”
— Seth Howard
“For decades I had wanted to see Heart live, but never could get tickets or time to do so. I was new to Seattle and my husband had just passed away. I was deeper than down. A new friend needed help moving and in a quarrel with his friend he took back his extra ticket to see Heart at the Showbox, which was intended as a birthday gift. He offered the ticket to me and we went to one of the best shows in the finest small venue I had ever been to. No matter where I moved in the club, it was an outstanding spot . Being 6’4″ didn’t hurt. I’m a New Yorker who has been to many, many shows in small venues, but Showbox tops them all for sightlines. Sound quality was fantastic too.”
— Brian Baxter
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