Behind the ‘Hype!’ of the nineties Seattle music scene on Amazon Prime

Hype! (1996), Doug Pray’s look at the Seattle music scene explosion of the eighties and nineties, takes the hype with bemused humor but treats the music with respect.

Looking behind the media over-exposure and beyond the grunge sound, Pray reveals the musical legacy that inspired bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Mudhoney and the test tube-like environment of the local music scene that spawned their national breakout. Packed with witty interviews with band members, record execs and Seattle music aficionados, much of the film places a welcome spotlight on the bands that didn’t become part of the national phenomenon of the “Seattle sound”—Fastbacks, The Gits, Tad, The Young Fresh Fellows (on a tour of Japan, of all things)—with plenty of live clips and recordings in support. It’s nice to be reminded that Seattle music didn’t begin with Nirvana and end with Soundgarden.

Pray displays a sardonic sense of humor and his love of the music is infectious. You don’t have to be a fan to enjoy this ebullient rockumentary, and if you’re not careful Pray’s infectious love of the music may even make you one.

Features performances by Blood Circus, Coffin Break, Crackerbash, Dead Moon, Fastbacks, Flop, Gas Huffer, The Gits, Hammerbox, Love Battery, The Melvins, The Mono Men, Mudhoney, Nirvana, The Posies, Seaweed, 7 Year Bitch, Some Velvet Sidewalk, Soundgarden, Supersuckers, Young Fresh Fellows, and Zipgun, and includes Nirvana’s the first live performance of grunge anthem “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”

Not rated, featuring adult language

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Also on Blu-ray and DVD and on SVOD through Amazon Video, iTunes, GooglePlay, Fandango, Vudu and/or other services. Availability may vary by service.
Hype! (Collector’s Edition) [Blu-ray]
Hype! (Collector’s Edition) [DVD]

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The 2017 Blu-ray and DVD from Shout! Factory is remastered from original elements and includes a new commentary track from director Doug Pray and the retrospective documentary Hype! 20 Years After plus commentary by director Doug Pray and producer Steven Helvey from the original DVD release, bonus interviews, bonus performances by Mudhoney, Supersuckers, Pond, and The Gits (with optional director commentary), and a “Hate Cartoon” from artist Peter Bagge.

Sean Axmaker is a Seattle film critic and writer. He writes the weekly newspaper column Stream On Demand and the companion website, and his work appears at, Turner Classic Movies online, The Film Noir Foundation, and Parallax View.

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