Up the Downstair

Being a weeklie podcaste from Madison, Wisconsin featuring several remarkable curiosities therein occurring being a compendium of live music from divers artistes

Show #263: Nirvana’s First Show

May 9th, 2014

nirvana 1stlive Show #263: Nirvanas First Show

I meant to write something last month on the anniversary of Kurt Cobain’s death but never got around to it. Better late than never, I suppose.

I first heard about Cobain’s demise while I was at a girlfriend’s house over on Mifflin Street here in Madison. We were channel surfing and ended up on MTV where Kurt Loder was dishing out the bad news with his unnatural, stale elocution. (It’s like he read an elocution book instead of actually listening to good speakers speak.) This was followed by scenes of teenaged girls bawling and the phone numbers of suicide prevention hotlines. While I was shocked, I was hardly surprised given all the reports saying that he suffered from depression and his stints in drug abuse clinics.

Not being a teenager at the time I simply felt badly for Cobain’s friends and family, especially his daughter who was only two years old. I was also sad that Nirvana ended in such tragic fashion as I was a big fan of their music. On that April day Cobain’s death was a tragedy but it didn’t mark the end of an era nor was it a bellwether for pop music. I think that my girlfriend and I both felt like we were witnessing history just as the generation before us did when they heard of the death of Jim Morrison or Janis Joplin but Cobain’s death didn’t symbolize anything about us or our fellow Gen Xers. And so it’s rather odd how it did go on to become a symbol of the end of an era in my life. For my brain, Cobain’s death is a melancholy reminder of the end of my college days. This despite the fact that I would not graduate from college until more than a year later and my life in April 1994 was pretty good as I was in love and about to move in with my girlfriend. It’s just strange how an event from this time would go on to become a symbol for a later period in my life. Brains are truly mysterious.

The Nirvana nostalgia trip began last year with the 20th anniversary edition of In Utero and continued this year with the band being inducted into the Rock’n'Roll Hall of Fame. As the anniversary of Cobain’s death approached, the Seattle Police Department reopened the investigation and released 35 new photographs from the scene of his last minutes alive. With all the hoopla I couldn’t help but spend some time these past couple months casting my mind back to the early 90s.

This being the case, I am going to podcast a couple Nirvana shows. Today we have the first ever Nirvana gig. It was recorded at a house party in Raymond, Washington on 7 or 17th March 1987. (The party was apparently held at 17 Nussbaum Road.) Most of the songs here would eventually be recorded in a studio with a few of them ending up on Incestidcide and most of the others appearing on many bootlegs, with Outcesticide coming to mind first. At this point Aaron Burckhard was on drums and the band have a looser, slightly less serious attitude than they would take on after Bleach. Considering the date and the fact that this was a house party, the sound is quite good.

Later I’ll post Nirvana’s final show from March 1994 so interested parties can contrast what seven years did to the band.

Downer (soundcheck)
If You Must
How Many More Times
Mexican Seafood
Pen Cap Chew
Spank Thru
Hairspray Queen

Download show


As near as I can tell, the earliest video of Nirvana is from 23 January 1988. This show at the Community World Theatre in Tacoma, Washington was captured for posterity by someone with a VHS camcorder.

Related posts:

  1. Reaching Nirvana
  2. Muzzle of Bees Turning Two
  3. Show #203: A Preemptive R.I.P. for Smart Studios
  4. Show #241: Steve Earle Celebrates Progressive Magazine’s 95th
  5. Show #192: Robert Plant '90

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