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LISTS: Top 10 Nirvana Moments

LISTS:  Top 10 Nirvana Moments (photo)

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Fifteen years ago today, with a suicide note and a shotgun by his side, Kurt Cobain’s dead body was found in his Seattle home. A coroner’s report suggested that Cobain had taken his life a few days earlier–probably on April 5. At the age of 27 Cobain had musically achieved beyond his wildest dreams (do you think a chain-smoking janitor really thought he’d ever be called the “voice of a generation”?). The Nirvana frontman would have gone on to accomplish more, but how much more, we’ll never know.

For youngsters just getting into music, they’ll hear the phrase “the band that saved music” over and over again. A handful of indie music purists may disagree, arguing that Nirvana was the right band at the right time–with many alternative, punk, college-rock, and indie acts before them leading the groundswell. I think of it like this–in the early 90’s there was a SWAT team surrounding the house of mainstream music and Nirvana was the band that kicked down the door, with all the other SWAT members (both older and younger, good and bad) to follow.

All in all though, it’s like arguing about who invented pizza. Who cares? Nirvana’s success cast a spotlight on many unheralded indie acts (and inspired a slew of others), and in the end, was that such a bad thing?

Celebrating the life and times of Kurt Cobain and crew (what up Krist Novoselic, Dave Grohl, and all of Nirvana’s other drummers–and, oh yeah, Jason Everman and Pat Smear!), here are the Top 10 Nirvana Moments of All-Time:

10. Nirvana Perform “Smells Like Teen Spirit” For The First Time (April 17, 1991)
If Nirvana was the “band that changed music,” than “Smells Like Teen Spirit” was the song that helped them do it. The first time they play it live is at a gig at the OK Hotel in Seattle. Kurt Cobain opens up the festivities by saying, “Hello, we’re major label corporate rock sell-outs.” “Smells Like Teen Spirit” goes on to become one of the most popular rock anthems of all-time.

9. Krist’s Brother Brings Kurt Over (1982-1983)
In the early ’80s, Robert, the brother of Krist–then Chris–Novoselic brings his friend Kurt Cobain over the house. Cobain asks about the noise coming from upstairs and Robert tells him it’s his brother Chris, who likes to listen to punk rock music. As Michael Azerrad writes in his book Come As You Are, “Kurt thought that was very cool and filed the information away.” Without a 6’7″ funnyman/body guard/best friend by his side for an extra morale boost, there’s a good chance Cobain and Nirvana never leave Aberdeen.

8. Top of the Pops (November 28, 1991)
The world of pop music was in for a surprise when Nirvana was asked to perform on England’s Top of the Pops television program. Behind the pre-recorded, instrumental track of “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, Kurt Cobain does his worst Johnny Cash impression as Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl join along in the fun, mockingly (and hilariously) attempting to play their instruments. Half of the studio audience is into it, the other half appears to be really confused.

7. The Motor Sports International Garage Show (September 22, 1990)
Fans of Nirvana talk about this show in the same way baseball buffs talk about Bobby Thompson’s “Shot Heard ‘Round The World.” I wasn’t at either event–especially since the latter took place in 1951–but have heard and read lots about them throughout the years (the stories get more Paul Bunyan-like every time you hear ’em). In September of 1990, Nirvana had never played to a crowd this large before–15,000–and a drummer named Dave Grohl is in attendance, who just three days later auditions with the band and becomes their permanent drummer.

6. “In Bloom (October 1992)
By the time Nirvana was ready to release their fourth and final music video from Nevermind, many mainstream music fans had them pinned down as an angst-ridden, doom-and-gloom band with no sense of humor–“In Bloom” proves otherwise. Nirvana give their unique take on pop superstardom by parodying a black-and-white performance of an Ed Sullivan-like variety show. Cobain, Novoselic, and Grohl ham it splendidly, and also throw some cross-dressing into the clip, just to get a rise out of the homophobic meathead crowd that had jumped onto the Nirvana bandwagon.

5. He’s Gonna Make It (August 30, 1992)
Amidst rumors that Nirvana was breaking up, not to mention Kurt Cobain’s questionable mental and physical state at the time, the band makes a scheduled appearance at the annual Reading Festival. Many fans, doubting that Cobain will even show, is rolled out on stage in a wheel chair. Krist Novoselic addresses the sea of the people, “With the support of his friends and family, he’s gonna make it.” Cobain stands up, sings a Bette Midler tune, and collapses on the stage. He then rises to his feet and leads Nirvana in a performance that Novoselic calls his highlight of the year. If Cobain dressed in a hospital gown wasn’t funny enough, the band later performs Boston’s “More Than A Feeling” (Boston had said “Smells Like Teen Spirit” was a rip-off of their hit song). Cobain also delivers a classic line of stage banter during the set: This is our last show–until the next one.

4. Nirvana Unplugged (November 18, 1993)
For anyone who thought Nirvana songs couldn’t fly without a wall of feedback and pummeling drums, they were in for a shocker when the band went acoustic (with drum brushes too) on MTV’s Unplugged. Though Nirvana parts ways with their punk-rock sound for a night, they still remained true to their D.I.Y. roots by performing on office chairs, covering Leadbelly and Meat Puppets songs, dropping F-bombs, and going through their entire set just once.

3. 1992 VMA’s (September 9, 1992)
During the 1992 MTV Video Music Awards, Nirvana not only ruffles the feathers of MTV executives when they begin playing the opening chords of “Rape Me,” instead of “Lithium,” but also manage to piss off Axl Rose–the biggest rock star of the time–by getting into an arguing match with him backstage and mocking him during their live performance. Rose may have been ticked off, because earlier in the year, Nirvana decline his invitation to open up for Guns N’ Roses, and kindly say no when asked to play his birthday party.

2. Nevermind Goes #1 (January 11, 1992)
Outselling U2, Hammer, and Garth Brooks, Nirvana’s Nevermind knocks, Michael Jackson’s Dangerous out of the top spot on the Billboard 200 chart, inspiring many fans of indie-minded music to proclaim, “Finally, we won!”. A few years earlier, imagine if someone told you that The King of Pop would be dethroned by a garage band form the Pacific Northwest. You’d be like: Wait, what!?

1. Insert Your Favorite Moment Here (19??-20??)
Since Nirvana’s music became so personal with so many different people–inspiring a legion of bands throughout the ’90s and ’00s–everyone has their own Top-Nirvana moment. Kurt Cobain’s power-chord guitar playing and cryptic-yet-relatable songwriting was the first artist who made me want to play an instrument. I also cherish all the Nirvana moments from high school on. In college, there was a group of meatheads (what else would you call a bunch of guys who ripped hall-phones out of the wall and made a habit of kicking out the bathroom windows?) who got into Nirvana’s Unplugged album. They would listen to it non-stop, with their doors wide open. My roommate and I, both dedicated fans of Nirvana, decided to blast their rough-around-the-edges debut album, Bleach, every time they listened to Unplugged. We quickly got the reaction we were looking for when one of the bandwagon Nirvana fans yelled, “Turn that shit off.”

Kurt would have been proud.

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Hacked In

Funny or Die Is Taking Over

FOD TV comes to IFC every Saturday night.

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We’ve been fans of Funny or Die since we first met The Landlord. That enduring love makes it more than logical, then, that IFC is totally cool with FOD hijacking the airwaves every Saturday night. Yes, that’s happening.

The appropriately titled FOD TV looks like something pulled from public access television in the nineties. Like lo-fi broken-antenna reception and warped VHS tapes. Equal parts WTF and UHF.

Get ready for characters including The Shirtless Painter, Long-Haired Businessmen, and Pigeon Man. They’re aptly named, but for a better sense of what’s in store, here’s a taste of ASMR with Kelly Whispers:

Watch FOD TV every Saturday night during IFC’s regularly scheduled movies.

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Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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Okay, so you missed the entire first season of Stan Against Evil. There’s no shame in that, per se. But here’s the thing: Season 2 is just around the corner and you don’t want to lag behind. After all, Season 1 had some critical character development, not to mention countless plot twists, and a breathless finale cliffhanger that’s been begging for resolution since last fall. It also had this:

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The good news is that you can catch up right now on Hulu. Phew. But if you aren’t streaming yet, here’s a basic primer…

Willards Mill Is Evil

Stan spent his whole career as sheriff oblivious to the fact that his town has a nasty curse. Mostly because his recently-deceased wife was secretly killing demons and keeping Stan alive.

Demons Really Want To Kill Stan

The curse on Willards Mill stipulates that damned souls must hunt and kill each and every town sheriff, or “constable.” Oh, and these demons are shockingly creative.

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They Also Want To Kill Evie

Why? Because Evie’s a sheriff too, and the curse on Willard’s Mill doesn’t have a “one at a time” clause. Bummer, Evie.

Stan and Evie Must Work Together

Beating the curse will take two, baby, but that’s easier said than done because Stan doesn’t always seem to give a damn. Damn!

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Beware of Goats

It goes without saying for anyone who’s seen the show: If you know that ancient evil wants to kill you, be wary of anything that has cloven feet.

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Season 2 Is Lurking

Scary new things are slouching towards Willards Mill. An impending darkness descending on Stan, Evie and their cohort – eviler evil, more demony demons, and whatnot. And if Stan wants to survive, he’ll have to get even Stanlier.

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is now streaming right now on Hulu.

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SO EXCITED!!!

Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”

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IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?


Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!


Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.


Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 

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IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.