It's hard to imagine that once upon a time, Kurt Cobain wasn't the voice of a generation, or grunge's foremost martyr. A long time ago, he was simply the guy who fronted a great band called Nirvana, and brought thick, fuzzy metal/punk distortion to great pop songs. He had already established himself as his generation's poet/songwriter/critic when he shot himself on April 5, 1994, but even if he hadn't, his death would have canonized him as one of the great ones, a member of the infamous 27 Club. (April 5 could be called "the day grunge died" -- Alice and Chains singer Layne Staley also died on the day, in 2002.)
Back when Up on the Sun was in its infancy, our own Benjamin Leatherman wrote about a YouTube video he'd uncovered, featuring Nirvana (with drummer Chad Channing, not Dave Grohl) performing at defunct Phoenix club the Mason Jar. In honor of the 19th anniversary of Cobain's death, here's his write up from 2008:
A decade ago, I used to be big-time into collecting bootleg concert videos of my favorite bands. I'd habitually visit stores like East Side Records in Tempe or Shirts 'n' Things in Mesa to scope out their latest tapes, or log onto eBay to buy up shakily-shot VHS vids of groups like the Jesus Lizard, Scratch Acid, Dead Kennedys, Nine Inch Nails, and Rage Against the Machine.
These days, I generally don't pick up bootlegs anymore (except for the occasional rare find on eBay) since my thirst for illicit footage of performances has been more than satisfied by YouTube.
As my friends and co-workers can attest, I'm kind of a whore for YouTube, constantly spending my free time digging through the online video powerhouse for music stuff, old TV shows, and various and sundry other clips. I've also occasionally come across shitloads of cool videos relating to music in Phoenix in some fashion or another, like weird interviews, third-generation copies of concert films, or other oddities.
To wit: I recently came across a bunch of clips of grunge vanguards Nirvana performing at now-defunct Valley rock club the Mason Jar way back in the day. The gig depicted went down on February 19, 1990, when the pre-Dave Grohl version of the band was doing a West Coast tour with fellow Seattle rockers TAD.
As evidenced by the clips (as well as "The Nirvana Video Guide"), the set 14-song set was a mix of songs from Bleach, the Blew EP, and even one from Nevermind ("Polly"). The video guide also mentions that bassist Krist Novoselic "opens the show by announcing 'Hi, we're a Motley Crue cover band,'" and eventually stripped down to his underwear during the show.
See the full performance on the next page.
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