If you haven’t already caught all of these…
Archive for November, 2015
This is 114 1/2 Pear Street. Kurt Cobain lived with Tracy Marander in one half of the house (the right as facing), then he moved into a small one room cabin at the rear.
Across the Montage of Heck soundtrack, Cobain strains his voice, never letting loose his full force or volume. Partly it’s because, over an acoustic rather than the roar of a full band practice, the sound would be too stark – it would overwhelm his playing. Yet also, in such a small living space, every sound could be heard and would be fully exposed. Instead, he marked later intentions, where his yells would go – a guide in place for when he could later let rip.
That’s where the brief intervention of ‘Scream’ stands as a neat juxtaposition. One of Cobain’s signature elements – his scream – is isolated and captured in this single, solitary moment, otherwise absent. And what a scream too. It further emphasizes the distinction between ‘domestic’ Cobain (non-screamer) and ‘public performance’ Cobain (screamer) which the Montage of Heck project has so neatly picked out. The differences between the persona of Cobain and the private individual.
The Kurt Cobain – Montage of Heck: the Home Recordings soundtrack ultimately felt no more intrusive or voyeuristic than scrabbling through a painter’s paint palette – the ‘voyeur’ comment is shown to be just another cliche tossed at every posthumous project, not just Cobain’s. These are all the elements of his songs, these are sound recordings with artistic intent behind them, they’re part of his art – they’re not chunks of CCTV footage recorded without Cobain’s awareness.
Cobain’s vocal work stands out on the record. Cobain said many a time that he came up with the music first – that extends to the vocals too. Something like ‘the Yodel Song’ shows him finding the sounds that fit the music long before he considers creating actual words. It’s like he’s writing a second song, first, the instrumental music, then the vocal melody – the rise-and-fall cadence showing where he might stretch for a note, where he might go from murmur to roar – then, finally, he converts those sounds into words/lines slaved to the initial tune. The music – meaning both the instrument and the vocal – is of far more significance than the words just as he always said.
The CD era did infinite harm to the coherence of albums with forty minute triumphs being replaced by forty minutes, plus filler, plus repetition, plus flabbiness – a seventy minute mainstream album is always at the limits of endurance. The soundtrack works for me because of the sheer variety therein; it neatly avoids the trap. Something still at the level of a first attempt or ad-lib, is replaced by a more developed instrumental, in turn passing to a song that’s reached the point of having a vocal line, then on to something that has made that next stage of having words too. The (brief) bursts of experiment are a neat contrast and, likewise, the spoken word pieces too maintain the uncertainty over “what comes next?” These interventions and deviations keep the surprise factor high throughout.
If they do come to do a Cobain ‘singer-songwriter’ record (which would seem a viable proposition) I hope they keep it down to 40-50 minutes. Anything over that consisting of song-follows-song-follows-song-follows-song would lack drama. The deviations within the soundtrack appeal and I can’t see how else one can really showcase the scale and variety of what Cobain was doing in a more polished record. Incidentally, whatever mixing was done, it sounds great – the sound is far crisper than I would have expected from cassette tapes originating in the damp north-west anywhere between 20-25 years ago.
The balancing act of ‘Rehash’ next to ‘You Can’t Change Me’ stands out for me. ‘Rehash’ features lines related to the typical bar band/cover band scene that dominated the Aberdeen/Grays Harbor area. What’s telling is that when Cobain barks “chorus!” it’s not a note for the future, it’s a deliberate lyric – he already has a chorus (i.e., “rehash!”) What he’s actually doing is parodying the local bands who just wanted to do impressions of Van Halen in a formulaic way hence ‘rehash’ and hence the lyrics “solo! Chorus!” – it’s the same point he made later with the title “verse chorus verse”, that there was a cookie-cutter song approach he felt was tedious.
On ‘You Can’t Change Me’ or ‘Been a Son’, by contrast, he really is making notes about the development of the song. Placing ‘Rehash’ and ‘You Can’t Change Me’ next to one another is a neat trick of arrangement as it calls out Cobain’s self-knowing comment on his way of creating songs. He’s using his approach to marking song structure to resolutely different effect.
‘Rehash’ fits into Cobain’s ’86-’88 spell of writing songs marking his disdain for aspects of his surroundings. This whole record is loaded with musical ‘ghosts’; they’re a real joy. A casual listener might wonder why Cobain kept all these random pieces, but the impression is reinforced that Cobain genuinely listened back to these pieces and cannibalised aspects that caught his ear and imagination. Again and again brief wisps of a later Nirvana song come through like hints at ‘Sliver’ and ‘Stay Away’ for instance. One can see that ‘She Only Lies’ acts as a potential origin point for the core riff in ‘Sappy’ while ‘Poison’s Gone’ bears markers that would later show up in the demos of ‘Old Age.’ It’s an indicator of Cobain’s deep listening, his ability to tease out a crucial motif and to turn off-the-cuff ideas into something deeper and more developed.
In other places a single line might point toward the future, for example in the way ‘You Can’t Change Me’ echoes the chorus of ‘Swap Meat’ or how the word ‘recess’ creeps in alongside ‘rehash’ and ‘rehearse’ before he explicitly smacks “smoke hash” down at the end of ‘Rehash’ to show he’s knowingly playing with the word and how it might sound in his mouth, working it over, chewing on it, trying it on for size. No wonder people thought he was mumbling or incoherent when sounds were so malleable to him.
There’s a further sense of him finding his voice by testing others in the way he did very explicitly on the ‘Fecal Matter’ demo. He’s regularly testing what he could do with his voice whether that’s through his story-telling tone, the voice he uses for poetry, the different singing styles he attempts. Behind the tale of the ‘lazy slacker’ there’s this deeply active guy working hard and thinking about where everything could go.
Outside of the overt tribute of ‘And I Love Her’, other points seem to show Cobain learning from songs that caught his eye. There’s an apparent snatch from Shocking Blue’s ‘Venus’ in the ‘Rehash’ riff for one (thank you Marcus.) The way snags from one or another place in Cobain’s work appear in fresh contexts also entertains, whether that means the “why is that so groovy?” line taken from ‘Spank Thru’; or the bullying scene from ‘Beans’ (on ‘With the Lights Out’) reappearing as a distinct (and extended) element here; or his fixation with using sped up tapes to create squeaky helium voices… For the first time I’ve realised this wasn’t just a one-off, this was an approach to creating new voices Cobain enjoyed – something fun and worth a smile.
Sub Pop refused to let Cobain break the mood of ‘Bleach’ by putting ‘Beans’ on. Yet that song meant enough to Cobain that he pushed them to include it – he didn’t fight for anything else to be a part of that record, he even let Sub Pop choose the order of songs. Similarly, Nirvana’s very first single ‘Love Buzz’/’Big Cheese’, a first chance that he absolutely needed not to screw up…But he insisted on splicing pieces of his ‘Montage of Heck’ into the recording. That’s how key these playful elements were to him – he wanted them slammed right into the art of his first releases.
Cobain vented dissatisfaction with ‘Bleach’, most overtly with ‘Nevermind’, with ‘In Utero’ too (he told Azerrad he felt the record was barely different from ‘Nevermind’) – he was never wholly pleased with any of them because, ultimately, there was always a gap between his desires and his politeness. ‘Montage of Heck’ demonstrates the other Cobain that was always there in the background agitating for squeaky toys to be added to songs, for randomness to replace the grind of regularity, responsibility and compromise. I think he’d have loved this release for boldly stepping away from the expected, the norm, the tedious professionalism that left him cold again and again. This was who Cobain was when he was alone and who, in his own telling, he would have liked to have had the bravery to be in public with no apologies, no politeness, no pulling his punches at the last minute as he often did.
I heard some f***tard say something about “if this was any old eighteen year old and not Cobain we wouldn’t care about this.” Well, any child under the age of six months looks pretty much like any other kid and has no massive distinguishing characteristics – but a parent/sibling is still entitled to love THEIR child more than that of a friend or random stranger. Yes, I care about this recording because it’s Kurt Cobain and because that’s someone, a music, a topic, I care about. There’s no apology to be made for that and the denigration is meaningless. Origin matters.
Krist Novoselic, in his eulogy to Cobain, stated “Kurt had an ethic towards his fans that was rooted in the punk rock way of thinking. No band is special, no player royalty. But if you’ve got a guitar and a lot of soul just bang something out and mean it. You’re the superstar.” I remembered those lines a lot while listening to this record.
Do you need another Eighties’ vintage hard rock/hair metal demi-god or 2000s commercial hip hop bling merchant lauding it over you? Do you want to believe that great achievement only comes from the mythical 1% of magic geniuses who we should feel lucky are willing to share their gifts with we lucky mortals? I don’t. When I look at Cobain I see a mortal with few chances in life who worked hard, took chances, made something happen. I had hoped he’d killed the rock star image dead but it was resurrected in new form to reinforce the divide between creators and consumers.
That’s another element missing from critiques of the record. I’ll talk later sometime about the obvious criticisms that can be made of the commercial approach of the record label to this release, but in essence this isn’t anyone else’s work, this is Cobain. We’ve had the rock star major label Cobain image; the martyr Cobain image; now here’s a Cobain previously unseen – and some people are uncomfortable realising that they don’t like the person they see. The whimsical, DIY, ad-libbed, in development, noise-addicted, poetic Cobain. It’s amazing it’s taken twenty years to finally meet this guy on record – “hello Kurt, nice to meet ya.”
If I heard an 18 year old who could put something this intricate together – I’d be impressed and I’d encourage them to keep going, to keep ignoring the haters and those with nothing but spite to share. Cobain took the base metals present on this release and shaped them into gold through persistence and experimentation. Anyone could do this – and that feels great. That’s alchemy – and it’s a magic open to anyone who wants it.
I’ll have more to say next week but this is a starting point. I’ll confess I’ve found the snarky remarks of various music sites a true yawn populated with the endlessly repetitious cliches that always emerge when a posthumous recording is released. The simple truth, ultimately, is that there’s no way any post-death recording will live up to the hopes and dreams of fans; will compare to the finest moments in an artist’s back catalogue; will provide comfortable certainty over an artist’s intentions.
I would say two things; I think Brett Morgen has made a very valid audio accompaniment to the film. His thinking is clearly in visual/live action terms – that this is a day hanging out with Kurt Cobain in his apartment in Olympia somewhere between early 1987 and mid-1991 – and it’s that picture in one’s head that matters, not audio fidelity, not song development, not whether anything here should be part of one’s essential Cobain playlist. Most of what a musician or artist does on the road to a classic is inessential – if you just want the ‘finest’, then cool, go buy the greatest hits and skim the main albums then go listen to something else. This release is about an honest portrait of an unpressured day in the company of someone who created for the hell of it, constantly and regularly.
The second thing, however, is that Morgen has quite clearly been left to act as the fall-guy for decisions taken elsewhere. There’s no way this should have been promoted as ’31 tracks’ – even if strictly accurate – given most of the pieces here are interludes and mood-adding sound effects. I’ve never gone with the eternally tedious “oh everything a record label does is wrong!” position but on this occasion there have been clear failings.
The proliferation of approaches led to over-complexity which has disappointed and upset supporters of the release (including myself.) Some cities got to experience the (genuinely great) cinematic experience while many didn’t – OK, I could live with that, it happens. Then the U.S. TV showing meant that region has waited months for the DVD while Europe, on the other hand, got the DVD months ago but will have to pay again to get the extras which will now emerge on the U.S. edition – I’m less chuffed with that but, OK, whatever, I don’t watch extras more than once…
But the soundtrack announcements were abysmal. As recently as this week I received an email from a fan still confused over what music was available on which of the five formats emerging (double LP, cassette, deluxe CD, standard CD, digital download) and whether he could even buy the 31 track release in his country. A failure to simplify the global message, to ensure clarity, has spread confusion and made fans less willing to view the soundtrack kindly. For at least a fortnight I had no idea what I was going to have to do in order to ensure I got all the music. The communication was pathetic.
Similarly, there’s obviously been a kneejerk decision “it’s Kurt Cobain – that means Uber-Treatment!” An automatic decision to load up formats and approaches when there’s no way a collage of this nature requires or deserves it. What Morgen seems to have handed to the record label was a 31 track continuous experience, a sound collage mimicking Cobain’s own penchant for mashing up sounds and material, and what the record label has done is artificially slice it into a ‘non-deluxe’ release which makes no sense, has no artistic validity, has no rational reason for being – then a ‘super-deluxe’ that is hugely redundant, loaded with ephemera, provides nothing extra for its egregious price.
As an addendum; again, I’m not someone who sympathises much with whinging about price. Most music releases cost no more than a few cups of coffee. I believe the creativity of individuals is worth money – just as any individual’s daily labours lead to a wage. Musicians are among the people most likely to end up without medical coverage, without retirement funds, without savings and without stable employment – yet a world without their efforts would be a dreary, sad and feeble one. They deserve support far above ‘electronic tips’ or a demand that their efforts should only exist as a sideline to “a real job.” Musicians do far more than most jobs out there to make life better and more livable – that should be recognised.
…In this case though, the division of the record into three price points – standard, deluxe, super-deluxe – makes absolutely no sense. It’s the only time I’ve agreed with the view that exploitation is occurring in the Nirvana release schedule. It would also have helped if someone said “this is NOT a singer-songwriter album!” before all those who think ‘lo-fi’ means Ed Sheeran got involved.
Brett Morgen’s audio vision should have been allowed to exist as a single artistic vision – released months ago – and appreciated for it’s own whimsical pleasures. I think what’s he’s done is valid, is in line with Cobain’s visions and desires (look at the cut-up nature of Live! Tonight! Sold Out! as well as the ‘Montage of Heck’ collage for a sense of how much Cobain enjoyed splicing things together), is great fun…And I feel Morgen has been let down and left to swing.
Uncertainty is a beautiful thing. Legends are created not through predictability, but through blank white space into which a reader/viewer/fan can inject wish fulfillment, a gap in knowledge allowing fans to participate and have some degree of ownership over the question of ‘what might have been?’
It’s hard, after twenty years of sainthood, to rewind the clock to ’94 and realise that there’s nothing in the Nirvana story making Cobain’s ‘legend’ status inevitable. That isn’t to say that it wouldn’t/couldn’t have happened without his death – but there’s fair reason to suggest that untimely death was crucial.
Firstly, the commercial picture. Remember the premier bands of the early-to-mid-Nineties? Pearl Jam, while garnering more respect than they acquired back in the day, haven’t had a multi-platinum album in the U.S. since 1994’s Vitalogy. Soundgarden’s multi-platinum sales for Badmotorfinger and Superunknown stalled in 1996. Stone Temple Pilots’ Purple (1994), Hole’s Live Through This (1994), Alice in Chains Jar of Flies (1994) Smashing Pumpkins Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness (1995) – the heyday of the grunge/alternative bands ended not long after Cobain’s death. The torch passed to a new generation, bands like Green Day – Red Hot Chili Peppers are the only other enduring success story.
The question is whether Cobain’s death played a role in the deflation of the enthusiasm around the ‘alternative nation’ or whether it would have ended anyway. That’s open to debate. Most musical movements, however, barely last half a decade before losing the masses. Tastes change. The ‘cult of the new’ demands something fresh.
Secondly, in terms of musical trends, Nirvana’s rise was the final act not only of punk but of the dominance of the guitar in popular music. Rock n’ Roll had overtaken Jazz as the world’s premier musical form sometime in the early Sixties just as Jazz had usurped Classical. The mid-Nineties saw Hip Hop become the world’s most crucial and effervescent creative form. In terms of commercial success, global presence, artistic influence – Hip Hop superseded rock music. Rock is now where Jazz was in 1970 – full of life, new twists and strains springing up, but no longer visible to mass audiences. Nirvana may have survived as one of the world’s biggest ROCK acts – but one of the world’s most important creative entities? Nope.
Thirdly, the rise of the Internet shattered the music industry. Numerous critically respected rock acts passed back to indie labels as part of a mass clear-out in the early 2000s. Most of the rest didn’t renew their contracts or weren’t given the choice of staying with a major label. That isn’t as important as it used to be but sales are no longer what they were for most artists. Measurements of ‘career longevity’ show that bands aren’t surviving as long, aren’t staying in the spotlight as long. Everyone is smaller even if the smothering of social media, Instagram, Twitter, whatever with certain attention seekers makes some characters seem bigger than they really are in terms of commercial power.
That brings us to Nirvana as an entity – there’s very little indication whether Nirvana would endure. The opposite is true also, there’s no indication that Nirvana was definitely over. Everything happened too fast in 1994 for any final conclusion to be drawn. In many ways ’94 was a repeat of ’92 with tour cancellations, overdoses, Cobain vanishing from the public eye, future plans in the calendar but no certainty, casual studio visits but no big intentions. With that in mind it’s impossible to say whether, with Cobain’s survival, there may have been a new Nirvana album in 1995, 1996, 1997 – or whether Nirvana were done and the era of Foo Fighters was about to begin.
In terms of Cobain’s album-ready material, by his own admission the cupboard was threadbare. Most finished studio works had been released or long abandoned. That doesn’t mean there might not have been some revivals – half of In Utero was filled with songs from before Nevermind – but there’s no indication of him feeling much affection or use for songs like ‘Old Age’ (given away), ‘Sappy’ (already released in ’93), ‘Clean Up Before She Comes’ (abandoned in the late Eighties and never attempted in studio.) His new material in ’93-’94, true songs as opposed to jams like ‘The Other Improv’, consisted of two tracks; ‘Do Re Mi’ and ‘You Know You’re Right’. It doesn’t mean he was done, Cobain was fully capable of writing songs at speed – but he would have been starting almost from scratch. Attempts to fill imaginary tracklistings with old leftovers are fun but fly in the face of the care and attention Cobain paid to the music he put out – who knows?
As for direction; it’s a mystery. Acoustic? Vague statements and a home demo of ‘Do Re Mi’ provide little support for that idea. The opportunity to work with members of R.E.M. also doesn’t suggest an acoustic route given R.E.M. were busy working on ‘Monster’ – one of their most amped-up records (heck, it even had room for Thurston Moore to bust electric on it.) Electric? Well, ‘You Know You’re Right’ was Nirvana-by-numbers (though cool!), messing around with new effects boxes earlier in ’93, all the jams and noisy tracks created in late ’92/early ’93 – it could all suggest Cobain’s sound heading back toward the heavier sounds of pre-pop Nirvana…Or it could be nothing. Preparation for a new album was already well behind:
And that’s the reality of it all. A 48 year old Kurt Cobain would not be the zeitgeist owning figure of the mainstream that he was briefly in ’92-’93. That ground, in 2015, would still be owned by Kayne West, Young Thug, Nikki Minaj and others. The likelihood is the path of Nirvana would have followed that of all the other multi-million sellers of the early Nineties – there’s no reason for Nirvana to be the one band immune to the shifts in music culture and commerce. That doesn’t mean that a fully functioning Cobain wouldn’t have continued as an effective underground force…
…And that’s where the fun is. Anyone can choose whether they feel Cobain in 2000, 2000, 2015, would have been a strung-out yet occasionally great Johnny Thunders figure; or an eternally productive and collaborative Thurston Moore; or a forgotten death in a squalid room like Layne Staley; or just a respected circuit player like Mark Arm or Eddie Vedder.
Rather like this video – neat concept. I noticed that Damien Binder of Second Child is working on his next album – he’s a really nice bloke so wanted to share the crowd-sourcing link given the target is only $3,000 and he’s two-thirds of the way. It’d be great to smash it plus I fancy a copy of the record so this is entirely selfishly motivated(!)
You’ve not heard of Second Child? Ah! Well, Nirvana’s support on February 9, 1992 at the Logan Campbell Centre in Auckland, New Zealand. I dug back into my transcripts from the “I Found My Friends” book to pull out some of the material from Damien about Second Child, the Nirvana show, his life n’ times…
“Chris Van de Geer and Luke Casey had the name Second Child originally when I joined in 1987. Luke and I were still at school at the time and one day he told me about some guys he was jamming with in Titirangi (outer western suburb of Auckland) and that they were looking for a singer. I turned up to meet some pretty serious Goths (Chris and his friend Paul who played bass) who were friendly enough. I couldn’t sing to save myself at the time but the rest of the band took me on because apparently I was into it and had the right attitude. I was lucky they were open to me given my skills but then again they were into the punk ethics of DIY with a ‘there are no rules/teach yourself/untrained is best’ mentality so I was in. I was bursting to perform and express myself and these guys were happy to let me do it. Besides one else wanted to be the front man so it worked out.
On reflection the name Second Child fit well though we thought of changing it a few times. Chris and I were both middle children in our families, and despite it not being a conscious thing, the concept of middle child/second child syndrome was something we evidently related to. It stuck and we grew into it I guess.
By 1990 we were a strong part of the punk/alternative scene in NZ but this scene was not large by any means and we often struggled to find places to play. Sometimes we would organise our own gigs with other bands at local community centres/halls. For a time I worked at a famous Auckland venue called the Gluepot and that connection helped us set up gigs for Second Child. Once for a short period, management paid us $300 dollars for a Thursday night provided we brought in an audience. This was amazing to us as we rarely if ever got paid. Around then a terrific guy called Kirk Gee started to manage us. He had been to a few of our shows and really liked what we did. He worked as a writer among other things at Rip it Up magazine, which was the local monthly rock bible in those days.
Murray Cammick ran the magazine and also had his own record label called Wildside. Murray was something of a local legend in the NZ music industry. He’s a more than slightly eccentric fellow, but a good guy and a real hardcore music fan. I remember he was always trying to get me to listen to Otis Redding at every opportunity. Kirk talked us up to Murray a lot and convinced him to sign us (though we never signed anything). I realise now how important it was to have someone like Kirk in our corner. True believers in what you do make a big difference especially if they are connected! I think he secretly financed a tour we did once, driving us in a van around the North Island of NZ. I guess we thought the label was paying for the tour (or more likely didn’t think about it at all) but when we found out this was not the case and confronted him he wouldn’t take a dollar from us. In 91 we ended up putting out our first album ‘Magnet” through Wildside.
There wasn’t any major radio behind the band at that time except for BFM (college radio equivalent). One of the DJ’s there, Simon Coffey helped get us gigs with other bands early on while Lisa Van de Arde, who hosted a NZ only content show on B called ‘Freak The Sheep’, was a fervent supporter and got us airplay and interviews which helped a lot.
Elsewhere there was self-released underground press like Stamp magazine. We had a fan in Stamp’s editor Jonathan King and also in John Russell who wrote for various underground music zines and later, for Rip it Up. Both championed Second Child, through writing reviews and features. In the process, while being valuable allies they would also become good friends. Jonathan in particular was a strong force in our development. He would later go on to direct nearly all of the bands videos as well as videos for my solo records.
When “Magnet” (7 song EP) came out it was only on vinyl in a very limited pressing. We didn’t exactly set the charts on fire but we drew well live and we had some memorable shows around its release. Musically we changed quite a bit afterward. I think we had been a little uptight, as you are naturally when you are finding yourself, so gradually we loosened up a little. After it’s release we started listening to different music and inevitably different influences crept in. Our line up at the time of the Nirvana show was Chris (guitar), Theo Jackson (who had recently replaced Barbara Morgan on bass after she left), Jules Barnett on drums and me (vocals and guitar).
Later we would have a variety of drummers. Luke Casey even came back to play on a few recording sessions before we settled around 95 on Ben Lythberg who would play on our first full length album “Slinky.” Ben was a really laid-back relaxed guy and an unfussy yet powerful and tight drummer…Beside finding new members Chris and I had started to get into more melodic guitar music starting with Husker Du/Bob Mould and SST bands through to The Pixies, Sub Pop label bands, Afghan Whigs and early REM to name a few. I got turned on to Dylan in a big way (better late than never!) around this period too so our tastes changed and we became interested in more formal rock songs with choruses etc rather than the 8min-never-repeating-the-same-part-twice epics that we had become known for.
Looney Tours were the company who brought Nirvana out and the Logan Campbell Centre held about 2,000 people. We used to call it the Logan Concrete Centre because it sounded like shit in there — not exactly known for its warm acoustics. The Powerstation where I believe the gig was originally to be staged was a much better, more intimate venue. It could hold 800-1,000 at most.
At their sound check, which we were present for, I recall Kurt said, “I want cd quality sound” over the mic to the sound person. He seemed a little annoyed at what he was hearing back through the monitors. I don’t recall much, if any interaction with them. It lingered with with me that he/they seemed rather sullen and exhausted and played that way too. Their performance was workman-like but lacking any great enthusiasm. As I said they looked like they weren’t that thrilled to be there. Jules Barnett recalls “Nirvana opened with Negative Creep, Kurt walked out onto the stage, slung his guitar on and said “Hello…this is a song off our first album, which you can buy at Really Groovy Records “[sic]. Their set was okay enough, however not very energetic…Krist jumped around in his bare feet while Kurt was much more subdued. ‘Smells like Teen Spirit’ was right near the end — if not an encore- and got the most rapturous applause during the opening chords.”
I don’t remember even seeing them much before and definitely not after. They kept pretty much to themselves.
Chris (guitar) recalls ”We didn’t get to meet or hang out with them, we watched sound check and yeah, they were pretty subdued and exhausted I think the NZ show was on the tail end of their tour, they had basically just blown up in NZ with Teen Spirit crossing over to being number 1.”
We were possibly the last stop in nowheresville that they had to be before going home so I think they did 1 or 2 songs as an encore and got the hell out of there. Kurt especially looked tired and depleted. A friend told me he visited Real Groovy Records (a once famous Auckland record store) either the day prior or after the gig and bought a copy of a record by the NZ band The Axemen.
As far as our performance I thought we went down really well. It was the first time Second Child had played together on a stage of that size and it was slightly strange being that far away from each other compared to tiny stages that barely fit the drums, let alone the band that we were used to. We were accustomed to having the audience in our faces but after I met some people who said they were blown away by us. It was certainly a thrill however to be in front of that many people and I felt pretty at ease with it after a few songs.
I learned a valuable lesson that night. Don’t ever, if you are supporting a big band, say this is our last song! I think that got us the biggest cheer. I in turn promptly told the crowd the fuck off, serious young man that I was. I hadn’t yet developed my inimitable stage banter at that stage it seems!
A somber finale song, a track in support of the Red Cross Japan tsunami appeal: