The Motor Sports International Garage show in full, Saturday September 22 1990 and the only show with Dan Peters (of Mudhoney fame) on drums. Kudos to the uploaders and all credit where due. 2 1/2 weeks later Dave Grohl would be Nirvana’s drummer and he was in the audience for this show. The turnaround was even faster than that: despite having told Peters he was a full member of Nirvana, the chance at Grohl was too good to miss and Cobain was on KAOS Radio on Tuesday September 25 announcing Grohl was Nirvana’s new drummer.
It also ended a spell in which Nirvana had been relatively static. They’d auditioned around a dozen individuals for drums; they hadn’t yet concluded a major label deal; their output on vinyl/cassette was still strictly limited – Big Cheese/Love Buzz, Spank Thru, Bleach, the Blew EP, ‘Mexican Seafood’ on Teriyaki Asthma, ‘Do You Love Me?’ on a Kiss covers compilation, Sliver/Dive only just out that month. They’d been quiet on the live front too: since the end of the tour in May, they’d only played eight shows – Dale Crover on drums for a run with Sonic Youth and STP, an all-girl punk band from New York.
The show itself was a winner. Here’s a chunk from ‘I Found My Friends’ for fun:
Dan Peters’ anointing took place at a now-legendary September show at the Motor Sports International Garage in gloriously irreverent company guaranteed to ratchet up the excitement.
BLAG DAHLIA, THE DWARVES: We didn’t give a fuck about the Pixies or the Vaselines or David Bowie. What kind of dipshits would like that?! The Stooges, GG Allin, and Paula Abdul were our grunge-era heroes . . . Nirvana were big fans of the Dwarves’ bass player, Saltpeter; they knew he could really play. They never expressed any support for the rest of us that I am aware of, but Kurt never wore women’s clothes onstage or jumped into a drum kit until we had done both things numerous times in Seattle and nationwide.
DUANE LANCE BODENHEIMER, DERELICTS: The Dwarves, they borrowed our drum kit the first time they came up—destroyed it, and we got into a huge fight then made up the next day and became best friends. I think that was a Halloween show. I was dressed up as a girl and when the Dwarves were playing I lobbed a bottle at Blag and hit him right in the forehead. He chased me around . . . A lot of people didn’t like us just because we were dicks, not intentionally so but . . . when you’re drinking and stuff . . . We weren’t violent—it was mostly internal violence, we would fight with one another a lot. Me and Neil [Rogers] would get into it onstage—don’t know what caused that, love the guy to death, best friends, always were.
Certainly Nirvana playing in dresses wasn’t an uncommon move. Many minds thought alike.
DANA HATCH, CHEATER SLICKS: There used to be a big pile of trash in the back of that club and I’d look for some kind of prop to use onstage. That night I found this old Big Ethelt–ype dress and put that on. Merle [Allin, bassist at the time] gave me a wig he had and his girlfriend made up my face so I played in drag. When Kurt wore a dress on SNL a few years later I liked to say he got it from me, but it was hardly an original idea when I did it.
The show kicked in with the Derelicts.
DUANE LANCE BODENHEIMER: I’ve no idea how we ended up on the bill with them—we just said, “Yeah, OK, wow . . . we’re playing . . .” I had no idea how many people were going to be there—to us it was like a fucking arena . . . I remember walking out and seeing all those people, I got serious stage fright—it was awesome . . . When I came out there were a lot of rocker-type people there. I think I said some stuff like, “All right then, you long-haired hippies . . .” just talking some shit, stage banter, trying to be charming. A good show, a lot of our friends upfront yelling at us, calling us rock stars. There must have been over a thousand—to us that was . . . wow. To bands used to playing on average a hundred or less, that was scary.
Then the Dwarves kicked off.
BLAG DAHLIA: There was a charged atmosphere that night, that’s for sure. We were more concerned with getting enough gas money to get home, though. We drove up from San Francisco at Sub Pop’s suggestion for what turned out to be $100. None of the supposedly cool indie bands on the bill or allegedly cool Seattle promoters offered us anything else. But hey, they were the “nice” guys and we were a bunch of real “assholes” from California . . . I know that there was general fear of us because of the bloodshed at our shows, and a general fear of our onstage nudity and the female nudity on our record covers. Seattle was, and is, a very asexual place. Although, I always managed to get my dick sucked there!
DUANE LANCE BODENHEIMER: Somebody threw a whiskey bottle and hit the Dwarves’ bass player in the face—he started bleeding. They had that whole violent aura about them—very confrontational.
BLAG DAHLIA: I would have loved to have seen Nirvana that night. I had enjoyed their sets several other times all over the country. Unfortunately, our bassist was struck with a bottle thrown from the audience during our set and I spent the rest of the show at the emergency room with him. Concerned promoters, our label, and fellow bands on the bill all pitched in to help though, it was really beautiful . . . Psych! No one from Seattle helped out or gave a shit . . . The vibe around the band that night at Motor Sports was more like dumb-ass drunk ex-jocks from Aberdeen in Kmart flannel shirts. And because it was the Northwest, fat chicks.
The Melvins tore it up and finally Nirvana burned it down.
DUANE LANCE BODENHEIMER: Kurt was really passionate . . . lot of punks didn’t like them, hated that “grunge” word too—I can’t stand that word. But Kurt was a purist, he loved punk rock; what they did was honest rock ’n’ roll. He loved all types of music—loud, dirty, real, honest lyrically. The really hardcore punk rockers weren’t big fans. It was simple, raw rock ’n’ roll. Krist came up to me after the show and was like, “That was a great set!” He was really nice. There’s a story before that when he and I were at a show, Poison Idea was playing, a fight broke out—Krist got in a fight, I tried to step in and help and he told me, “Fuck you! Mind your own business!” so he got his ass kicked, he was hurt, and I walked up to him, “Yup . . . should have let me help ya.”
It was only here, in Autumn 1990, that Nirvana finally overtook their former mentors by ceasing to compete on someone else’s turf.
BEAU FREDERICKS, SAUCER: For me, Nirvana was a good live band then, but they could not match up to the Melvins as a heavy intense rock trio. The Melvins were consistently crushing it live, as I am sure Nirvana would agree. Nirvana came into their own when they tapped into their melodic gifts.