Milestones, Video — April 17, 2011 at 6:59 am

Milestones: Nirvana plays ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ for 1st time 20 years ago today

Twenty years ago tonight, Nirvana took the stage at the OK Hotel in Seattle, Wash., and played “Smells Like Teen Spirit” in concert for the first time — debuting a song that not only would change the lives of Kurt Cobain and Co., but would, in just a few months time, alter the course of ’90s popular music.

Of the song, Cobain famously said he “was basically trying to rip off the Pixies… we used their sense of dynamics, being soft and quiet and then loud and hard.” It’s an apt homage, considering that Nirvana’s explosive success — and Nevermind’s ushering in of mainstream alternative — was in many ways a culmination of the long road tread by the bands that comprised the ’80s college rock and indie underground universe.

Footage of that debut performance of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” on April 17, 1991 — which you could say was the opening salvo in “the year punk broke” — was included on Nirvana’s posthumous 2004 box set With the Lights Out. Check it out above.






  1. Overhyped pieces of shit. God they sucked.

  2. Then why are you here?

  3. He’s a fly

  4. Curly needs to go out and stop being a lil dick.

  5. JackRussell

    Unfortunately for you Curly, history disagrees with you.

  6. The OK Hotel was ridiculously small. I went to see my friend’s band play there in ’91 and wondered how they could get that place past a fire marshal.

    I feel old. :(

  7. RIP Kurt Cobain. I still miss him even after all these years.

  8. I never liked Nirvana. Out of the whole ‘grunge’ scene, I liked Alice in Chains. I liked Layne Staley’s voice ALOT. I hated this song then and I still hate it now, but I recognize the cultural impact it had on music.

    For me, I think alot of why I didn’t like it was because the music I love and prefer is up in the title band of this website. Out of all the cassette tapes shown up there, there are only 2 that I didn’t own myself on vinyl and/or cassette.

  9. Deny it all you want but God, this is awful. You really have to be the kind of person that needs your thoughts emailed to you to like this shit. This is garbage.

  10. I can’t like Nirvana cos they knew how to write melodies and sold more than 200 albums. It sucks, I really love In Utero, wish I could listen it.

  11. Revisited an old YouTube vid by ethnologist Michael Wesch and realises he name checks ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ approx 9 mins in with discussion of MTV and the idea of “Whatever” of “Meh”

  12. Well…I liked Nirvana and still like it, but I can be objective now and say that this stinks…BIG TIME

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