In 1990 I had never heard of Nirvana, in fact, not many had. The only people that were familiar with them were the ones that were lucky enough to know them from their Sub Pop Record days. Most of those people were from the northwest. They and some real audiophiles, but not me.
The grunge genre hadn’t really hit the map yet, better yet, “Alternative Music” was still, get this, alternative! It wasn’t everywhere like it would be in the near future. It was still “our secret” to many of the die-hards.
At this time I had a “very, very close friend” that worked for Nirvana’s label. One week she was attending their label meetings in LA. At about 2 AM, my telephone rings. “What the .. ?” I’m thinking… Then I start thinking it might be bad news. I hope not. It wasn’t. I pick up that big ol’ heavy phone off the wall and hear, “You won’t believe this band that just played for us.” I still remember the excitement in her voice. The label was showcasing new talent and Nirvana had just played for them. “I’ve never seen a band, or a house have energy like this before. It was just unbelievable.”
You have to remember too that record people aren’t like your normal crowd. They’re probably the hardest people in the world to get to show raw emotion. From them, you’re more likely to get a, “seen that, heard that” feeling than anything else. So when she described the crowd’s response, I knew something was special.
That call was almost twenty years ago, I remember it like it was yesterday.
A couple months later, Nevermind is released. It does OK near the start but isn’t blowing people away yet. Remember, you don’t create a new genre overnight.
Nirvana then made a trip to Chicago. They played the Metro. The Metro is a tiny, maybe 800 capacity venue that has a wonderful history. In fact, the first band ever to play Joe Shanahan’s club was REM back in 1982. It was named Cabaret Metro at the time.
Lucky me, I get to go to the show. I’m in a reserved prime viewing area. This is especially cool since it’s a general admission cattle room. I remember the show.. again, “like it was yesterday.” What a spectacle, and yes… “I’d never seen a band, or a house have energy like that before.” I now knew what she meant.
Back then I was also becoming a fan of an, at the time, hardly known beverage called Jagermeister. You may of heard of it by now. It was early 1991and it was just becoming known in the States. After the show, my friend had to host a “Meet and Greet” with the band downstairs from the Metro in a little bar called the Smart Bar. There wasn’t many people there and I had a chance to talk to the band members at length. At the end of the night she gets the itemized bar bill. She looks at it and starts laughing when she sees, down at the very bottom, six shots of Jagemeister. She knew it was me since no one had heard of the stuff yet. “Yup” I fessed up, “Kurt and I did three shots together.” Little did I know at the time that I was speaking to the guys that would influence music more than any other act for the next twenty years, but I had a feeling…..
The video playlist below contains nothing but live versions of songs from Nevermind, enjoy!
All songs written by Kurt Cobain except where noted.
- “Smells Like Teen Spirit” (Cobain, Novoselic, Grohl) – 5:01
- “In Bloom” – 4:14
- “Come as You Are” – 3:39
- “Breed” – 3:03
- “Lithium” – 4:17
- “Polly” – 2:57
- “Territorial Pissings” – 2:22
- “Drain You” – 3:43
- “Lounge Act” – 2:36
- “Stay Away” – 3:32
- “On a Plain” – 3:16
- “Something in the Way” – 3:55
- Kurt Cobain – lead vocals, guitar, photography
- Dave Grohl – drums, vocals
- Krist Novoselic (credited as Chris Novoselic) – bass guitar, vocals
- Chad Channing – cymbals on “Polly” (uncredited)
- Kirk Canning – cello on “Something in the Way”
- The “Nirvana Baby” is now in his 20s. Who is he? Where is he now?
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