The grunge movement’s connection to Seattle has been well documented, and every now and then we get a piece of new evidence to remind us of the scene’s roots. That’s the case in a fresh video posted to Alternative Nation, capturing an early performance by thrashers Alice in Chains on Dec. 1, 1989 at Washington State University.
“I’ll tell ya, our parents are real proud of us tonight,” the group’s 22-year-old frontman Layne Staley tells the crowd, assembled in Pullman, Washington, a college town just shy of 300 miles outside of Seattle. “They never thought we’d make it to college—but here we are.”
That comment spurs the band into its second song of the night, a raucous version of its then-unreleased breakthrough single “Man in the Box.” Making the high-octane performance more impressive, Alternative Nation writer Tim Branom observes that concertgoes that evening “had probably never heard the song before.” In fact, the WSU gig came shortly after Alice in Chains inked a deal with Columbia Records in Sept. 1989 and well before the group released its debut album Facelift in August 1990.
Alice in Chains also caps off the gig with a flannelified cover of the David Bowie glam-rock classic “Suffragette City. “Grainy images and muddled sound aside—this is ’80s technology, remember—the video unabashedly rocks. Read Branom’s excellent essay about the gig over at Alternative Nation and check out the footage below.