Exploring Olympia’s Still-Burgeoning Music Scene

Gone are the days of Olympia, Washington’s claim-to-fame musical groups. Or is it? From Sleater-Kinney and Tom Kha to Macklemore, many locally-grown successful musical operations have disbanded or transplanted into other cities. Often written off as a hippie-infested liberal bubble, Olympia actually has an amazing expanding scene for music across genres. Recently the city has been getting more big-name artists and filling shows; AfromanSecret Recipe, Soulacybin, and Wassuop have all played in the small city since the new year.

Over the exciting weekend of June 2nd, the city was graced with performances of Craftal (an Olympia resident), Slug Christ (Awful Records), and Crimewave. These drastically different artists have one clear link — their music gets you hypnotically groovin’ and dancing. While Craftal cooks up glitch, Slug and Crimewave rap about religion, depression, drug abuse, suicide, and of course, TURNING UP. This is another thread that ties together what we experienced this weekend- a fantastic time dancing and entranced by quality music.

The infamous Slug Christ (Charles ‘Chaz’ Paul Bell) [cred:http://www.metrolyrics.com/slug-christ-overview.html)

Albeit depressing, the lyrical content of this emotionally infused “horror (t)rap” is not too different from Kurt Cobain’s use of lyrics. Kurt spoke to the individual through his lyrics and forced his audience to experience his suffering, see through his eyes and into his scrambled head. The poetic musings of these hip hop artists infuse elements of grunge, rock, and metal, as well as a variety of other genres into their music.

Interestingly, the moody themes conveyed by this music brings us back to Sleater-Kinney.

“Should I eat something sweet instead
Wash away all those things we said
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
How many doctors will it take before I disintegrate?” –Youth Decay (2000)

Worthlessness, depression, and other mental illness are stigmatized and these lyrical choices assist in pulling back the veil of shame surrounding them. It’s so hard to talk about, apparently, that artists sometimes have to hide the meaning of songs behind pop beats and catchy melodies. On the surface, dark music may seem detrimental societally but it actually has some important benefits.

We hope the Olympia scene will keep up the awesome momentum and set up more amazing shows. What Olympian artists are you getting down to? Let us know in the comments below!

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