“Punk as Fuck,” a short film about grunge photographer Steve Gullick.
‘Everybody Loves Our Town’: The Audio/Visual Experience!
To celebrate the trade paperback release of my book Everybody Loves Our Town: An Oral History of Grunge (out this Tuesday, March 13; order info here), I’ve rounded up video clips of 10 of the musical performances discussed in the book, along with corresponding excerpts (note: all page numbers are for the paperback edition). Hope you enjoy the ELOT A/V experience!
1. Mudhoney headline the Sub Pop Lamefest, the Moore Theatre, Seattle, June 9, 1989
BRUCE PAVITT (Sub Pop Records cofounder) The manager of the Moore Theatre had actually sent most of his security guys home because he was convinced that nobody was gonna show up. So when the local youth went off at the show, stage-diving and everything else, the security staff on hand was overwhelmed. Mark Arm very famously kicked a security guard and knocked him right off the stage. That show ignited the city’s youth and put Seattle on the map. (p. 200 of the paperback edition)
2. L7 and Cat Butt singer David Duet cover the Sonics’ “Strychnine,” the Commodore Ballroom, Vancouver, August 27, 1990
DAVID DUET (Cat Butt singer) I checked myself into a five-day-detox wino hospital. Stayed there about three days. L7 was playing down the street, and I convinced the nurse to let me out, that it would be better for me to go play rock and roll, and she did. It was amazing. I hobbled down the street, got on stage with L7, did a Frank Sinatra version of “Strychnine” ‘cause I was so looped out from all the medications they had me on, jumped in the van with L7, went to Canada. (p. 225; video is from Canadian tour)
3. Pearl Jam’s first show (performed under the name Mookie Blaylock), the Off Ramp, Seattle, October 22, 1990
DAVE KRUSEN (Pearl Jam drummer) A week later, we played a show. It was at a place called the Off Ramp, and we were called Mookie Blaylock. I didn’t know anything about basketball, so I did not know who Mookie Blaylock was. I remember somebody asking, “Why Mookie Blaylock?” And Jeff answered, “Michael Jordan is just not very cool-sounding.” (p. 269)
4. Nirvana debut “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” the OK Hotel, Seattle, April 17, 1991
KURT BLOCH (Fastbacks/Young Fresh Fellows guitarist) That show at the OK Hotel was legendary! There were a few genre-defining shows, and certainly that was one of them. I remember standing next to Nils Bernstein, and then, “Hey, here’s a new song, blah blah blah.” They started playing “Teen Spirit,” and Nils and I looked at each other like, Holy fuck! This song is unbelievable. (p. 278)
5. Screaming Trees trash the stage, Roskilde Festival, Denmark, June 25, 1992
BARRETT MARTIN (Screaming Trees drummer) After Roskilde, something shifted in the way we were perceived: as being real brutish, tough, beating people up, looking for fights, fighting amongst ourselves. But it was a distortion of reality. I’m not saying that it didn’t happen on a small scale from time to time, but you wouldn’t have the energy to keep going if you did that all the time. (p. 338)
6. L7 singer/guitarist Donita Sparks throws a used tampon at the crowd, the Reading Festival, England, August 30, 1992
JENNIFER FINCH (L7 bassist) People were throwing mud at us when we were playing. Donita was like, “Fuck this!” and went behind her amp and pulled out her tampon and threw it into the audience. It was hysterical. That’s something we used to do, growing up: drive around and pull our tampons out and throw them at people that made comments. It’s the ultimate kind of “fuck you.” (p. 369)
7. Journalist Everett True wheels Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain onstage, the Reading Festival, England, August 30, 1992
EVERETT TRUE (U.K. music journalist) I was trying to walk in a straight line, and so I start pushing Kurt towards the mic, and he reaches up and grabs me. I thought, Oh cool, he wants to have a mock fight onstage like we always used to have. So I start kind of punching him, and he’s saying, “No, you asshole, you’re pushing me to the wrong microphone.” (p. 370)
8. Pearl Jam’s drunken MTV Singles film premiere party performance, the Park Plaza Hotel Ballroom, Los Angeles, September 10, 1992
DANNY BRAMSON (Singles music supervisor) The show started, and Vedder goes out onstage begrudgingly. He’s got a bottle in one hand, and he grabs the mic and his opening words are “FUCK HOLLYWOOD!” That set the tone for the entire evening. (p. 390)
9. Nirvana play MTV Unplugged, Sony Music Studios, New York, November 18, 1993
ALEX COLETTI (MTV Unplugged producer) At the end, I asked them, “Is there anything else you wanna try? We don’t have to use it.” I didn’t even dare suggest “Teen Spirit.” And Krist and Dave were kinda brainstorming, and Kurt just looked at me and said, “How do I top that last song?” I remember reaching to my headset and going, “That’s a wrap. We’re done.” (p. 436)
10. Alice in Chains play MTV Unplugged, Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Majestic Theater, April 10, 1996
MIKE INEZ (Alice in Chains bassist) Layne that night was so haunting. His voice, especially his performance on “Down in a Hole,” it still brings a tear to my eye. There was a couple times I had to pull my eyes off of Layne and remind myself, Hey, I’m at work. Instead of being a fan here, I better concentrate on my bass chords. He was just so mesmerizing. (p. 486)