Food & Drink

Backstory: Inside The Showbox’s Hidden Graffiti Room

A secret room in The Showbox is a time capsule of the city’s rock history

By Lena Beck May 3, 2019

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This article originally appeared in the May 2019 issue of Seattle magazine.

This article appears in print in the May 2019 issue. Click here to subscribe.

The Landmark: The graffiti room in The Showbox

The Location: Downtown, The Showbox, 1426 First Ave.

The Backstory: The Showbox—Seattle’s legendary live-music venue where everyone from Duke Ellington to Mudhoney has performed—has been well known to Seattleites since it opened in 1939. But a significantly smaller crowd is familiar with a small attic space located in the club, one that’s hidden on the other side of a small ceiling hatch in a backstage storage room.

It’s a narrow loft containing spare amps and rogue music stands, covered in doodles and signatures from musicians who hung out there in the ’70s and ’80s. Back then, the attic was a party spot for young Showbox employees, which included founding members of grunge bands such as Malfunkshun and Green River (the latter split off to form Pearl Jam and Mudhoney, among other groups), who were able to score gigs for their bands to play the venue. In the attic space, there’s even a spoon bent around a pipe, a nearby scribble attributing it to Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love. The object’s provenance remains unknown, just as The Showbox’s fate, currently under threat of redevelopment, remains uncertain. What is known is that The Showbox is a place that has left a mark on many people over the years, and where some of them have left a mark of their own.

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