Wednesday, October 26, 2011

20 Years Ago Today

This show went on sale the same week Nevermind was released. If you look at the date on the ticket stub, I actually bought my ticket on the day the album was released (September 24, 1991)… which probably means I bought the album at the same time at Tower Records. Kinda cool, right? Lucky 13 dollars... and it came 2 weeks after THIS other historic Bay Area concert.

The support acts were local San Francisco favorites Sister Double Happiness and those awesome crusty ladies L7. By the day of the show a month later, Nirvana Mania was starting to engulf the world and the show was way sold out; a mob of people were out in front of The Warfield looking for tickets. During the headliner's set I was around the middle of the main floor and the crowd went absolutely berserk during ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’. At some point during the evening my glasses got broken in the crowd action. People were climbing on the drink rail at the back of the main floor and diving off the entire night. It was a fucking great show. “Here we are now.. entertain us..”

Ironically, legendary San Francisco promoter Bill Graham had died the night before in a helicopter crash (on his way back from a Huey Lewis & the News concert.. which made it even worse..). This Nirvana show was one of the final shows he was personally involved with… It was obvious the Bill Graham Presents staff working the show were grieving and there was a large portrait of Graham hanging behind the bar in the lobby. I bought a Nirvana "Flower Sniffin, Kitty Pettin, Baby Kissin, Corporate Rock, Whores" shirt at the merch booth... which I still have.. but since the same shirt was later sold at Hot Topic no one gives a shit now.

Later in the show, as Nirvana came back onstage for their encore, Novoselic said some condolences about the show's deceased promoter… and I've always wondered if someone backstage asked him to do that.. because his tone sounded a bit sarcastic.. something like “This show is dedicated to Bill Graham… you know… Rock Legend…” To be honest, I don’t think many kids at The Warfield that night gave a shit about Bill Graham.

I was way into Nirvana and Grunge initially; the early days reminded me a lot of the early days of the original Old Metal scene, where image didn’t matter next to volume and mayhem. Also, Cliff Burton wore flannel shirts and Kurt Cobain saw Metallica on the Ride The Lighning Tour in Seattle (TRUE!)... Just saying. Unlike most Metal people, I don’t think Nirvana and Grunge caused the downfall of 80’s Metal. I will argue forever that it was the rise and popularity of the bullshit MTV Hair bands that dragged all Metal bands down and caused Metal to become irrelevant for most of the 90’s… but then the same thing happened to Grunge eventually. Either way, I’m glad I was there to witness both pre-MTV Metal and pre-MTV Grunge.

“I’m a negative creep and I’m stoned…”

For those who care, the October 26, 1991 set list was:
  • Jesus Doesn't Want Me For A Sunbeam
  • Aneurysm
  • Drain You
  • School
  • Floyd The Barber
  • Smells Like Teen Spirit
  • About A Girl
  • Polly
  • Breed
  • Sliver
  • Lithium
  • Love Buzz
  • On A Plain
  • Negative Creep
  • Blew
  • Dive
  • Rape Me
  • Territorial Pissings