An estimated 150,000 visitors converged on Seattle Center for the three-day series of official opening concerts for the $240million Experience Music Project, the brainchild of Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, who commemorated the opening by smashing a glass replica of a Fender Stratocaster.
Metallica, Dr Dre, Eminem, Snoop Dogg, Filter, Kid Rock and the Chili Peppers kicked-off the first night’s festivities in front of a capacity crowd of 30,000 in the city’s Memorial Stadium. Highlights of the five-hour show included Eminem, responding to press rumours about the state of his marriage, introducing a blow-up doll as his estranged wife Kim, and the Chili Peppers‘ appearing for their encore wearing just one strategically placed white sock each.
Headlined by Matchbox 20, the following night’s concert included a greatest hits set from Beck (with an 11-piece backing band) and a rare performance by Eurythmics who were personally asked to play by software tycoon Allen.
Seattle‘s music scene was well represented on the third and final day with stellar performances from Screaming Trees, The Strychnines (featuring Mudhoney‘s Mark Arm, Steve Turner, Dan Peters and others), Built To Spill, Young Fresh Fellows and The Fastbacks. Former Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic acted as master of ceremonies for the day, introducing the acts.
In addition to the main concerts, there were also many free shows and workshops around Seattle Center over the weekend featuring legends such as Patti Smith, Bo Diddley and The Kingsmen, as well as rising local talents like the Murder City Devils, Maktub, Heather Duby and Hovercraft.
The Experience Music Project – located in a controversial building designed by architect Frank Gehry – began life ten years ago as a small Jimi Hendrix museum where Allen intended to showcase his collection of Hendrix memorabilia, believed to be the most complete in the world. It now has approximately 100,000 artefacts covering all aspects of American music and rock ‘n’ roll. Included in the museum is an exhibit called ‘Northwest Passage’ which traces the history of the Pacific Northwest‘s music scene from its early days, through ‘Louie Louie’ and grunge, right up to the present day with Sleater-Kinney. Included in the exhibit are handwritten lyrics by Kurt Cobain and assorted items of memorabilia from Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Alice In Chains and Nirvana.