I Saw Nirvana Play to Two Hundred People, in 2014
Grohl / Smear / Novoselic reunite for an intimate performance at a small Brooklyn venue
Nirvana with Joan Jett - "Smells Like Teen Spirit"
First of all, I'm pretty hammered, which is only semi-acceptable in the real world. But that's not where I came from. The place that I just left was total fantasy, where an all-star cast of musicians gathered around to help eulogize and celebrate a great band that disappeared a little too soon. With booze. And lots of it. Oh yeah, they played a shit ton of songs too. And it has been a long, long, long time.
Directly after their induction into the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY, Dave Grohl, Pat Smear, and Krist Novoselic trucked it on over to Saint Vitus, a 230 cap room in Brooklyn to play an intimate, invite only show of all Nirvana songs at the venue. I heard about the set at around 9PM that night, and confirmed with several sources before leaving the Godflesh show I was attending (yes, one legendary band for another) to head over. I was lucky and made it in. Most did not.
After setting up tons upon tons of gear, more than I have ever seen in the popular Brooklyn venue, Grohl, Smear, and Novoselic took the stage with Joan Jett and kicked it off the right way with "Smells like Teen Spirit." The room full of jaded invite-only attendees went fucking apeshit, understandably. Jett gave tribute to the fallen Kurt Cobain on stage, as did all of the guest stars throughout the night: Mascis (Dinosaur Jr.), Annie Clark (St. Vincent), John Mccauley (Deer Tick), and Kim Gordon (Sonic Youth). The 15+ song set spanned the entirety of Nirvana's career, with breaks to swap out vocalists/guitarists and for quick, whispered lessons on how the songs went. Maccauley and Grohl seemed the most prepared, but to be fair maybe the pint glass of Makers Mark was Novoselic's handicap.
Nirvana with Annie Clark - "Heart Shaped Box"
"That's the middle part of completely different song," Dave Grohl quipped to Novoselic, smiling before breaking into another track.
Everyone was seemingly zonked out of their minds at the venue, including a teetering Annie Clark and a giggly crowd pogoing along to the Seattle band's classic output. I joined, and tried my best not to slam into Mascis, Carrie Brownstein, Butch Vig, Jack Endino, and countless others as I maneuvered around the venue. I did OK, but was too knee deep in whiskey to really take score.
Hands down the best moments go to mega-ripper J Mascis, who tore through "School" and "Penny Royal Tea," solos and all. What a fucking guitar god. Kim's vocal only performance of "Aneurysm" was similiarly badass and inspired.
In all, an insane evening that I never thought I would ever see in my lifetime—the members of Nirvana reforming to play their old favorites. It was all a big, whiskey-soaked dream. Shit this cool doesn't happen in real life, does it?
Nirvana with J. Mascis
Smells Like Teen Spirit (with Joan Jett)
Breed (with Joan Jett)
In Bloom (with Joan Jett)
Territorial Pissings (with Joan Jett)
Drain You (with J. Mascis)
Penny Royal Tea (with J. Mascis)
School (with J. Mascis)
Lithium (with Annie Clark)
About A Girl (with Annie Clark)
Heart Shaped Box (with Annie Clark)
Serve the Servantsm (with John Mccaluey)
Scentless Apprentice (with John Mccaluey)
Tourette's (with John Mccaluey)
Aneurysm (with Kim Gordon)
Negative Creep (with Kim Gordon)
Moist Vagina (with Kim Gordon)