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.
PREVIOUSLY ON SLICING UP EYEBALLS
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