Monday, November 17, 2008

Nirvana's "Nevermind" record release show

Nirvana
Live at Beehive Records in the U-District
9/16/91, free and all-ages




Nirvana was already a somewhat big band around Seattle before the release of "Nevermind" rocketed them onto the world's stage. Their debut album "Bleach" had sold a couple thousand copies, local college radio station KCMU would regularly blast "Recess," and they were getting bigger drawing shows, including huge crowds at University of Washington HUB and International Sports Garage in 1990. The same year, while local heavies TAD were recording in the studio and left for a dinner break, members of Nirvana with Dan Peters of Mudhoney drumming laid down a few tracks on TAD's equipment. Those songs became 1990's "Sliver" single (the flipside was "Dive"), which was decidedly more pop than Nirvana's debut album. The "Grandma take me home" line repeated again and again at the end of "Sliver" pretty much got stuck in the head of anyone that listened to it. So it was no surprise that the "Sliver" single (released in the US by Sub Pop and Glitterhouse in Europe) really jumpstarted the band's career outside of the Northwest. It broke the top 100 in the UK, was written about in Melody Maker by Everett True, and started getting airplay outside of college radio in the US. Nirvana had gone from an opening band to headlining band pretty quickly, but that was nothing compared to what would follow.

I was working in the mailroom of the Seattle monthly music paper The Rocket when we got an early review copy of Nirvana's "Nevermind." There was cassette tape of the album making the rounds through The Rocket staff and everyone was dubbing a copy. Funny sidenote: the paper's owner Charles Cross later went on to write a Nirvana book, but I swear he didn't like "Nevermind" at the time and had to be talked into featuring Nirvana on the next cover by the younger staff at the paper. The new album definitely followed in the path the "Sliver" single had hinted it and seemed like a really catchy album blending heavy rock and pop. The single "Smells Like Teen Spirit," was released to the public, I'm pretty sure first being played by local station The End. It was an instant hit. Then an announcement came out that the band would play a free record release party at Beehive Records in the U-District. Sweet! Beehive Records for most of it's lifetime had been Peaches Records, but had recently been bought out. I was going to school at the nearby University of Washington and had a shit ton of friends that worked there and pretty much visited daily to rent movies and record shop. I remember it being the place where I bought my first Dwarves album, "Toolin' for a Warm Teabag," the one with the skull and crossbones on the cover, only the crossbones were made of giant cocks, ha ha ha!

So anyway, the free show was announced in a few days and everyone on the planet was planning on going. Great. It was about 8 blocks from my apartment, so my girlfriend and a few friends and I drank some beers, then cruised over for the show about an hour before Nirvana was to play. The place was packed solid. The record store staff barely knew how to deal with the situation, I'm sure tons of shit got stolen that day. By the time Nirvana played the place was chaos, kids were crowd surfing over the record stacks, the whole store became a moving mosh pit. My girlfriend couldn't handle it anymore and went across the street for a beer at the Blue Moon, so I squished up front and rocked out. Fun, crazy show!

Afterward the band hung around for an hour in the parking lot talking with kids and signing autographs. I watched a girl pull out one of the coveted white vinyl copies of "Bleach" (the first 1000 were on white) to have the band sign and then drop it in a big mud puddle. Ooops. I had brought two records with me to have them sign, a live bootleg 7" and the "Sliver" single. What kind of idiot brings a bootleg to have a band sign? Why, that's me! Kurt Cobain signed it: "I hate fucking bootlegs... Kurt" and then stabbed a pen through the cover where the hole in the center was. Awesome! For some stupid reason I sold the bootleg about a year later for $17 to some kid when I needed beer money. I hope he held onto it, it's probably worth a ton now. I still have the "Sliver" single signed by everyone in the band that day and cherish it, as well as the memories of that day.

10 comments:

Jon said...

Was it Beehive at the time or was it still Peaches? I remember too little of that show other than having a good time and a pizza fight on the Ave prior to walking down to the show.

meghan said...

I am unsure if we had changed our name at that point. I worked that show and it was pretty fun. I really thought it was going to be much more insane. Here is the thing -- I worked the indigo girls show the month before that crowd more much more insane. It was wacky butch girl climbing onto the CD racks -- far more volatile.

Kevjones30 said...

Actually, the song is called "School." I could see why you would make that mistake -- the chorus goes "No recess! NO RECEESSSS!"

Dan 10Things said...

I often confused school and recess as a kid too :) Yeah Meghan, I thought it may have still been Peaches, but digging around for the date on Nirvana fan sites led me to believe it was indeed renamed Beehive by that point. You worked there? Did I know this? Damn... I knew a bunch of people that worked there, artist Jay Barber, Troy, Debbie, Carl, Lenny, Liz... a bunch of the people I partied with in college.

Rossy said...

What a great post !! Wish i could of been there, really funy about the bootleg etc...Nirvana where ment to play london and my mates bought a ticket, but sadly it never happened due to kurts death...i held onto the ticket for a while but also sold it for beer money..shit wish i'd kept it.

Great blog, really enjoying it !!

Meghan said...

I remember the name change was based on the 3 stores (u-dist. ballard and silverdale) leaving the Peaches LLC. that I think had filed chapter 11.
Yeah, I worked there off and on for a long time. For the last year or so I only worked one shift to get a discount and free movie rentals.
Peaches folks just had a reunion about 6 months ago at the Blue Moon.

Moshe said...

Actually the chorus is no recess and as I was a kid I always used to get confused and thought of it as it had peaches but anyways now I know it and thanks for posting.

Anonymous said...

http://www.flickr.com/photos/johnleachphotography/2396544884/

Adam said...

My friends and I took the bus up to Seattle to see this show and missed it! We did get to hang around in the parking lot with them though and get stuff signed. Krist Noveselic and/or Dave Grohl drew a funky looking spine on the back of my friend's t-shirt. Meanwhile Kurt Cobain drew a stick figure woman on the gynecology table in the inside cover of the Blew EP with the words "Oh no, something natural!" written below for my other friend. We had a good time even though we missed the show.

Les Chaps said...

I think the Peaches to Beehive change was at the earliest late 90, early 91. But it was likely Beehive by that show.

Wow, forgot some of those names ... Lenny, Kelly ... long time ago.