Nirvana & The Jesus Lizard

18 years ago today

July 23, 1993. I was more excited than I'd ever been in my entire life. It had been announced just a day earlier that Nirvana and The Jesus Lizard would be playing at Roseland in New York City as part of the New Music Seminar. There were no radio announcements, no big ad campaign, it was just quietly added to ticketmaster's concert listings and there was a small ad in the village voice. I found out thanks to a phone call from a friend and somehow managed to get a ticket.

Nirvana had not played New York since becoming overnight sensations, and this would be my first chance to see my favorite band, and in a venue that I love. By then, almost two years after the release of Nevermind, I assumed that by the time I got to see them play live, if ever, it would be in some enormous arena, where they would look like pebbles on a beach and I'd have to struggle to hear them over the tens of thousands singing along off-key. But this was exactly what I wanted. Witnessing the power of Nirvana in the same place I'd seen Mudhoney and The Flaming Lips and Screaming Trees. I had also yet to see The Jesus Lizard live, so I was doubly excited.

We got inside and within seconds, we were right up front, being crushed against the barricade. A small price to pay to watch two of the greatest rock bands ever. The Jesus Lizard came on stage, with mad-man vocalist David Yow declaring, 'Hi, we're The Melvins from Seattle'. They then busted into Seasick, and Yow proceeded to jump on our heads, performing the majority of the set crawling on our hands and heads like a drunk looking for a barstool. And what a set it was.

Deaf as a Bat
If You Had Lips
One Evening
Then Comes Dudley
Dancing Naked Ladies

Then Nirvana hit the stage. The show was meant to showcase new songs from their yet to be released album, In Utero, most of which they had only played out a few times, if any. They opened with Serve the Servants and followed with Scentless Apprentice. From there, they tore through some classics. The place went crazy through School and Breed, and sang every lyric to Lithium and Come As You Are. Then they unveiled another new one, Milk It. For the next few songs, a guest was called to the stage. Big John Duncan, a Nirvana roadie and ex-guitarist with The Exploited strapped on a guitar and helped out on Drain You, tourretes, Aneurysm and the debut of Very Ape.

I wish I could say I witnessed the debut of Very Ape which, aside from Frances Farmer, is my favorite song on In Utero, but I just listened from a couch downstairs. I went a little nuts when they played Aneurysm and, knowing I was about to pass out, I somehow managed to break through the crowd, to the back, down the stairs and slumped into a couch. At the time, I could have sworn I was there for an hour, but months later, being the Nirvana bootleg collector that I was, I found a copy of the show and realized that I was out maybe 30 seconds. I made it back upstairs, got a coke, and watched them play Blew, Heart-Shaped Box and Rape Me from the back of the club. It's always nice to get two different perspectives at a show.  Now the weird thing about that bootleg that I found of this show is that there were a few floating around, and the one I got my hands on was absolutely, dead-on, my experience of the show. It was as if the person recording it had planted a mike on me. First of all, Aneurysm cuts out mid-song and the recording resumes at the beginning of Very Ape, but even more coincidentally, as Nirvana got to the newly added bridge for Rape Me, I started trying to get close to the stage again. Unfortunately, there wasn't much opportunity for that, and the closest I could get was on the right side, below the vip section. As they played All Apologies and the acoustic set, starting with Polly, Dumb and Something in the Way, all I could hear was Courtney Love blabbing away, telling people she wasn't Courtney, she was Tina Yothers from Family Ties, which you can also hear on the recording I found. You can also clearly hear me and a friend I had bumped into while trying to move up scream "Yeah" when they start Dumb, which was my favorite song at that moment in time.  

For the finale, they played Where Did You Sleep Last Night? live for the first time. Amazing.
For the encore, Teen Spirit and Endless Nameless.
18 years later, still the best night of my life.