Snapshot: ’90s Grunge


Boots. Big chunky black boots topped by worn, torn denim, wrapped in flannel and embraced by a weather beaten leather jacket. That’s the messy, sexy, I don’t care but damn I’m hot look that comes to mind whenever anyone mentions the word Grunge. The iconic style sauntered onto the catwalk in the early 90s, however it was inspired by the uniform flung on by musicians who ironically never cared about making a fashion statement. To them, it was all about playing some music and rocking out.

Let’s take it back to the mid-80’s in Seattle, Washington. Amidst the growing disconnect between youth and society, the musical genres of punk and heavy metal coupled to birth the alternative rock sub-genre love child that is Grunge. Thick on the distorted electro guitar sound with some fuzzy feedback effects, grunge centered around deep lyrics that often spoke of feeling caged in by physical, emotional, and social restraints, and having a deep yearning to break free.

What made grunge bands so unique was their determination to keep everything solely about the music. Stripped away were the flashy clothes, sets, and gimmicks, leaving them raw and open for all to see. Hordes of teens and young adults flocked to them in waves, and record labels soon followed. With that, the once underground genre came into the light, slipping right into the 90’s mainstream.

Leading the charge of Grunge’s popularity was the Kurt Cobain fronted Nirvana. Their album Nevermind was so successful that it knocked Michael Jackson’s Dangerous off the Billboard 200 to become #1 with hits like Smells Like Teen Spirit and Come As You Are. Many others joined Nirvana in the spotlight, including Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, and Soundgarden.

Sadly Grunge didn’t maintain its top seat as musical trends began to evolve and change, and in the midst of that musical shift, bad press and tragic deaths followed, leading to many bands dismantling. Now, in the 2010’s, they are beginning to reemerge, with Pearl Jam having already gone on tour and Soundgarden’s recent release of Live to Rise for the film Avengers. These legendary bands helped pave the way for newer grunge bands to slide onto the scene as well, including The Cringe and Slothrust. So though it wasn’t able to maintain the hype of the early 90’s, Grunge never really left. It just went back to the underground, waiting for the right moment to make its reappearance. Grunge’s comeback is imminent. As for me and my black boots, we can hardly wait ;)

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