SEATTLE – A new photography exhibit showcases never-before-seen images from the grunge movement, including the only known still photos of Pearl Jam’s very first concert.
They were taken by professional photographer Karen Mason-Blair – but at the time, she was an amateur.
"I would definitely say I was a fan girl with a camera,” she said. "I was just like, ‘I'm going to try to take some photos, maybe this will work out.’"
At shows where crowds sometimes totaled less than 20 people, Mason-Blair snapped images of musicians who would become the biggest names in grunge.
"Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Screaming Trees, My Sisters Machine,” she said, looking around her gallery show at The Piranha Shop in Seattle’s SODO neighborhood.
The Flannel Years, presented by Treason Gallery, showcases 33 of her insider images.
Most of them were stashed away in her personal collection for 25 years, including shots she took at Pearl Jam’s first concert on October 22, 1990.
She had gone to support two of her friends in the new band and didn’t expect much.
"Next thing you know, Eddie starts singing and you're like, ‘Oh my gosh, this guy can sing!" she said.
There are also studio shots of Mother Love Bone and Soundgarden, as well as a rare shot of Kurt Cobain, smiling.
"People didn't see it often, but this is really who he was,” Mason-Blair said.
The Flannel Years is free and open to the public through June 12.
Mason-Blair’s work is also available for purchase.