FEBRUARY 22 Anacortes indie-rockers The Lonely Forest becomes the first band to officially sign with Trans Records, the Atlantic Records imprint headed by Death Cab for Cutie guitarist/producer Chris Walla. Later in the fall, they release the first fruits of their labor with Walla, the Northwest homage “Live There” and the pop-tastic “Turn Off This Song and Go Outside” on a self-titled EP.
MARCH 8 Major-label horror stories and myriad proclamations of the death of major labels still doesn’t stop local indies from making the jump. Erstwhile hometowners Band of Horses announce that they’ll be jumping the Sub Pop ship to release their third album with Columbia Records (Infinite Arms, released May 18, turns out to be a snoozer). In October, longtime Sub Pop signees Iron & Wine also leave the local label for Warner Bros., who will release the folk outfit’s next album in early 2011.
APRIL 16 Fans on Soundgarden’s e-mail list receive a note with an opportunity to buy tickets to a Showbox concert featuring Nudedragons. Yes, anagram geniuses, Nudedragons are Soundgarden, and the iconic grunge band is back together, headlining Lollapalooza in August and releasing a career-spanning compilation called Telephantasm in October.
MAY 29–31 The Sasquatch! Festival forgoes megastar headliners like Björk or Kanye West, instead booking niche indie favorites like LCD Soundsystem, MGMT, Vampire Weekend, and the newly reunited Pavement. All three festival dates sell out two months in advance, and 2010 is the fest’s most successful year to date.
SUMMER Notorious Name Changes: The city’s most outrageous band names disappear into legend, as the Whore Moans become the Hounds of the Wild Hunt and Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head becomes Brite Futures.
JUNE 21 Songs of 2010: Matador releases Learning from local songwriter Mike Hadreas, aka Perfume Genius, which will become the most nationally known and raved-about Seattle release of the year, featuring subtle and heartbreaking tunes like “Mr. Peterson.”
JUNE 29 A barely known folk-rock band called The Head and the Heart releases their harmonious self-titled debut, which will go on to become one of Seattle’s most talked-about records of the year, with the group officially becoming the hype band of 2010. The sextet lands an opening spot for Vampire Weekend at the Paramount in September and confirms a 2011 appearance at SXSW; a deal with Sub Pop is all but official.
JULY 13 After temporarily reassembling for a one-off reunion show at the Showbox, Carissa’s Wierd releases a career retrospective called They’ll Only Miss You When You Leave: Songs 1996–2003 via Hardly Art.
JULY 13 Mayor McGinn unveils the Seattle Nightlife Initiative, calling for improved club safety, a resolution on noise issues, an expansion of late-night transportation options, and a potential revision of liquor service hours.
AUGUST 28 Vampire Weekend outrages thousands of Northwest fans by canceling their Marymoor Park show after making fans wait 90 minutes after the last opener. The drive to Redmond was made worthwhile thanks to killer opening sets by two of Sub Pop’s finest, Beach House and the Dum Dum Girls.
SEPTEMBER 2 Sub Pop announces its surprise signing of local experimental hip-hop duo Shabazz Palaces, whose debut full-length is slated for a 2011 release. “It’s in the initials. We SPs need to stick together,” said Jonathan Poneman.
SEPTEMBER 4–6 Bumbershoot has its most A-list lineup yet, with headliners Bob Dylan, Weezer, and a warily welcomed Courtney Love, but the business end of things aren’t as successful. The festival experiments with a new tiered ticketing system, with a new “economy” ticket option—$22 a day to see everything but the mainstage acts, as opposed to a $40 all-inclusive ticket—didn’t go so well. One Reel, the fest’s parent nonprofit, says the economy tickets ended up selling only 38 percent of what they’d hoped, and low numbers at the turnstile forced One Reel to lay off eight of their 14 full-time festival employees. A new, unannounced ticket structure will be implemented for Bumbershoot 2011.
OCTOBER 5 Songs of 2010: Kill Rock Stars releases the self-titled third album from New York finger-tapping shredder Marnie Stern, which contains the fiercely poignant “For Ash.”
OCTOBER 9 SW‘s REVERB Local Music Festival takes over Ballard with performances by the Young Evils, Wild Orchid Children, Lisa Dank, Ravenna Woods, and scads more. Reverb, KEXP, and a flood of voters send REVERB Festival performers Massy Ferguson on an all-expenses paid trip to Reykjavík, Iceland, to play at the Iceland Airwaves Festival the following week. Post-trip, Massy Ferguson bassist Ethan Anderson told us that “The thing I can tell you about Icelandic people is you have no hope of pronouncing their names.”
OCTOBER 21 Spokane quartet the Globes officially signs with Barsuk Records, which will release the band’s full-length debut in 2011.
OCTOBER 24 Sub Pop executive Andy Kotowicz is killed in a car accident at age 37. The Andy Kotowicz Family Foundation is formed to support Kotowicz’s wife and 3-year-old daughter; Foundation efforts include a benefit show at the Showbox and a charity auction featuring items donated by Pearl Jam, Jack White, the Foo Fighters, and more.
NOVEMBER 26 Hardly Art folk duo The Dutchess & the Duke play their last local show ever at the Tractor Tavern. “The past two years have been disastrous, personally,” says Jesse Lortz of his band’s breakup.
NOVEMBER 30 A day after announcing their Sub Pop record deal, the supergroup Mister Heavenly—consisting of members of Islands, Man Man, and Modest Mouse—opens for Passion Pit at the Moore Theatre and shows off their surprise guest bassist, actor Michael Cera.
DECEMBER 2 Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba’s I Speak Fula, the first release for Sub Pop’s new world music imprint, Next Ambiance, is nominated for a Grammy in the Best Traditional World Music category.
DECEMBER 15 MTV’s $5 Cover Seattle premieres online and features behind-the-scenes (and occasionally staged) footage of acts like the Moondoggies, the Maldives, Champagne Champagne, and the now-defunct Weekend. Filmed nearly two years ago, the faux-reality series is a time capsule of a Seattle scene that has since greatly evolved.
DECEMBER 15 Mayor Mike McGinn announces that KEXP will be given a Seattle Center location in the Northwest Rooms, close to The Vera Project, to be used for a “complete music center.” KEXP’s executive director Tom Mara says the station will spend 2011 designing the space, and that the earliest the move will happen is late 2012.