Today marks what would have been Kurt Cobain’s 52nd birthday. During his life, he played live hundreds of times with Nirvana. To remember the legendary rocker, here are five of their most memorable performances.
1. On October 30th, 1992, Nirvana performed their only show in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Upset with the reception their opening act, Calamity Jane, got from the 50,000 fans in attendance, Kurt threatened to cancel the gig. He still went on but spent the set teasing the audience. He’d play the opening chords of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” but then perform a rarity, and the group never actually played the hit song. They also opened the show with a never-before-released track called “Nobody Knows I’m New Wave,” which many fans think was a jam the band made up on the spot.
2. Nirvana showed a different side of themselves in 1994 when they played a set for MTV Unplugged. Hearing the band’s loud songs performed in gentle tones struck a chord with fans. When it was released on CD following Kurt’s death, the album debuted at number one and went on to sell over five million copies. It also won the Grammy for Best Alternative Album. ForUnplugged, the band played hits as well as covers of Meat Puppets and David Bowie, but it was the unplugged version of “About a Girl” that really stuck out. The song wasn’t incredibly popular when it appeared on “Bleach,” but the acoustic treatment brought it to another level.
3. Thirteen songs into Nirvana’s iconic appearance at England’s Reading Festival in 1992 – their last gig ever in the UK – the band played a very unique rendition of “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” They started it by jokingly singing Boston’s “More Than a Feeling,” which has a similar sound to their hit single, then they mashed it up with “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” which included a very rough guitar solo from Kurt played.
4. In 1992, MTV invited Nirvana to perform at the Video Music Awards. The band wanted to play “Rape Me” but the network wouldn’t let them since they didn’t think it was appropriate for the awards show. The group agreed and promised to instead perform “Lithium,” however when Kurt and company took the stage, he started to play “Rape Me,” but only enough of the song to give a few MTV executives heart attacks, then the band played “Lithium.”
5. Nirvana’s final show with Kurt took place on March 1st, 1994 in Munich, Germany. They surprised the crowd by opening their set with a cover of The Cars’ “My Best Friend’s Girl,” and went on to play some of their hits, an acoustic version of “Polly,” a cover of David Bowie’s “The Man Who Sold the World,” and ended with “Heart-Shaped Box.” 35 days later, Kurt took his own life.