[dropcap]T[/dropcap]wenty-two years ago tonight, one of the most incredible concerts in Boston history went down on Lansdowne Street. It was WFNX Radio’s 8th birthday party, and on the bill at Axis were two local faves, Bullet LaVolta and Cliffs on Doneen, a young, pre-Siamese Dream Smashing Pumpkins, and some band that was about to release a game-changing record called Nevermind the very… next… day. That band, obviously, is Nirvana.
WFNX program director Kurt St. Thomas was there, and introduced Kurt & Co. as “the fucking coolest band in the world.” About a year ago, the great rock archivist Duane Bruce, also of WFNX, posted the entire show to Soundcloud; he didn’t record the show himself (he did record them at ManRay a year prior), but somehow ended up with a bootleg copy of the show. Here’s part of his recap:
“Axis was packed to the gills,” Bruce wrote online last year. “Think ‘Green Line on a Friday rush hour with a Sox game at home’ packed. By the time ‘Come As You Are’ starts, the sound quality improves to about as good a bootleg as you could hope for.
“The concrete walls and floor of Axis provided the perfect acoustics for the raw energy. Dave Grohl’s first Boston gig with the band. This is also the first time that they ever played ‘Jesus Don’t Want Me For A Sunbeam’ by the Vaselines. Both Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic comment that “We just learned this one today”. It was a rare night that only a small number (1200+) saw.
I have had this recording as well as the previously released Nirvana show at ManRay for the past 20 years and realized that it was time to share with everyone. One day, I will be gone and they will wind up on the curb. They deserve better than that. It’s rock and roll history. Thank you Maxell for making a quality product that lasted.”
Thank goodness for Duane Bruce. Check out the clip below, as well as the set list, a video clip, and the show itinerary after the jump. Those interested in Smashing Pumpkins’ set at Axis — which was where the House of Blues now sits — can check out a post I wrote for the Phoenix last November.
It must have been pretty incredible to have been in that room that night. Here’s the next best thing.
Nirvana: Live at Axis, September 23, 1991
Smells Like Teen Spirit
Come As You Are
Jesus Don’t Want Me For A Sunbeam
Floyd The Barber
About A Girl
Been A Son (Excerpt)