Spin weighs in on Alaska's music scene

Matt Sullivan

Spin magazine contributor Jeff Weiss and photographer Nathaniel Wood visited Anchorage in October to learn more about the city's nascent indie-rock scene. The story is now on Spin's website and paints a picture of a burgeoning music community far removed from the traditional hotbeds of buzz bands, and one that moves at a different pace.

Almost everything but fish and oil has to be imported — including bands. National tour itineraries don't include Alaska. The flight is long and expensive, and only Anchorage and Fairbanks and maybe Juneau can support a mid-sized show. So artists at their peak rarely pass through. When I joke that it must be an ideal setting to catch the Goo Goo Dolls, (Daniella Cortez) Alvarez (Anchorage Press entertainment editor) tells me that they were here last month. Sell-out. 

This scarcity of live music has created a permanent demand. Everyone remotely interested in seeing bands wants to see everything because there's a chance the act will never return. Metal heshers attend Garth Brooks concerts. Nostalgia lingers from No Doubt's bravura performance in 2000. The Cold War Kids are treated like they actually ended the Cold War. No less than five people breathlessly invoke next month's Portugal. The Man homecoming show. Still, Anchorage itself has mostly churned out nothing but metal, bluegrass, and bar bands with high aspirations and no expectations.

Not sure what Goo Goo Dolls show is being referenced here, but elsewhere there's a scene at Tap Root with the Meg Mackey Band, Young Fangs and the Sweeteners, then there are mentions of the Modern Savage, Whipsaws, Jack River Kings, Ghost Hands and Historian, whose Nate Hurst is described as having "a damaged archangel yawp, one of the best new rock voices since Jim James."

Read the full story here.


Matt Sullivan