If you saw a strung out heroin addict in a hospital gown tipping over towers of amplifiers, chances you were at one of two places. The Schmitt Music in Roseville or at home watching “Live At Reading,” the newest Nirvana bootleg turned formidable rock DVD. It was ranked by Kerrang! as the most important concert ever, and after watching it I saw why.
Speaking out of technical proficiency, the concert was terrible. The mixer of this particular performance (Nathaniel Kunkel) should be locked away for treason to music. The whole concert has way to much bass, the treble is non-existent (unless you count the earsplitting feedback between songs). The whole tone of the concert feels as though it was lifted out of a third rate Black Sabbath cover band.
Raw emotion and failed attempts at humor make the atmosphere pleasantly skeptical. The concert opens with a stunt by Kurt as he is rolled onstage in a wheelchair through a somber introduction by Krist Noveselic (bassist). The stage falls under an awkward silence for a few seconds before the opening riff of “Breed” reverberates throughout everyone’s skull. It has begun.
After a string of relatively unknown songs to open the set, the band starts an orgy of six of their most well known songs. During “In Bloom,” Kurt flubs up terribly and has no problem showing it. He shoots the audience a look as if too apologize, but he is quickly overcome by anger. They recover and play “Lithium” amazingly, coaxing a choir of thousands of angst-ridden teens from the audience.
During the set, they unveil a song titled on the spot as “The Eagle Has Landed,” in reality it was just a slightly faster version of “Tourette’s.” The song is dedicated to the hundreds of bootleggers in the audience.
Suddenly they launched into “More Than a Feeling” by Boston, before digging into “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” In the middle of the classic hit the lights go low, and the band dancer (Tony Hodgkinson) goes especially crazy. He bore a striking resemblance to yours truly, and for a moment I wondered if perhaps I was a groupie in a previous life.
It wouldn’t be a true Nirvana concert without homage paid to the murderous Courtney Love. Cobain coaxes the audience to exclaim “We love you Courtney!” before diving into a subdued version of “All Apologies.”
I never knew that Nirvana did covers so well; they ended the show with three of them by relatively unknown bands, before delving into the fabulous climax of “Territorial Pissing’s.” The song begins with the infamous chorus from the Youngbloods song “Get Together” before delving hellward into an ironically violent guitar riff.
The crowd goes absolutely insane and blurs into one nineties piece of Eddie Bauer clothing. At that moment everything became tangible, the sweat, the energy, the brilliance, everything. Nirvana used the catchy hook unlike any band before it, as a weapon.
This is by far the best concert DVD I have ever seen, and although I have already spoiled most of it, you still must see why Nirvana should go down in history as the band that killed the Beatles, made not bathing cool, and showed us that two chord songs can be intricate.