In the early 1990s, the Halifax music scene inspired an unlikely feeding frenzy for labels in search of heirs to the grunge throne. The Next Seattle looks back at the era when shoegazing power-pop quartet Sloan became the first East Coast Canadian group to earn an international deal, followed by signings for Jale, Thrush Hermit, Eric’s Trip, and the Hardship Post. None of them became the next Nirvana, but it’s fun to revisit these bands’ moments in the sun.
As filmmaker Rob Lepper explains on his blog, The Next Seattle had been in the making for two decades before he finally released it last May. Though it’s only 30 minutes long, the short doc boasts an impressive selection of vintage live footage, show posters, and stories from people who were there for this brief burst of excitement—people like MuchMusic host Mike Campbell, who shares the surreal experience of being asked by a Levi’s executive visiting Halifax to go “where the kids hang out.”
Of course, a music scene receiving the attention of record labels doesn’t guarantee instant success for everyone. Super Friendz bassist Charles Austin laughs at his memories of playing empty shows on American tours while they remained local heroes back home. The industry buzz inevitably faded, but No Records’ Waye Mason sums up the moment well. Outside of Olympia or Athens, he argues, there weren’t many cities of 300,000 people boasting as many excellent bands as Halifax.