Nirvana @ Stache’s (Oct 9, 1991)

Originally published in The Lantern (October 11, 1991)

Photo by Chris Cuffaro


STORY BEHIND THE STORY: I was a heavy metal teen, primarily a glam metal teen, in the late ’80s and early ’90s. In 1991, I was writing for the Ohio State University newspaper, The Lantern and had interviewed Susie Hatton, the star of Poison’s “Fallen Angel” video about her upcoming show in Columbus opening for her boyfriend, Bret Michaels. In my memory of the show, the Newport Music Hall (which holds about 1,800) was only about half full, an indication of what was just around the corner. Around this same time, I had been record shopping at Magnolia Thunderpussy and noticed a stack of new cassettes by the cash register. Artie, who worked behind the counter, said something like, “These guys are like a mix of Mudhoney and Alice in Chains. If you like that stuff, you should check this out.” I bought Nirvana’s Nevermind cassette having never heard anything by the band and even on first listen knew that this was something different than what usually graced my cassette player. Nirvana, coincidentally, was coming to Columbus shortly thereafter and just a few days after the Bret Michaels show. Paul was a friend and a fellow college journalist and we decided that we would go check out Nirvana at the local indie rock club, Stache’s, but when going to buy tickets, discovered the show was sold out. The photo editor for the paper was a few years older than us and when he heard that we hadn’t bought tickets in time, he said, “I’ll call the owner. He’ll get you in.” True to his word, Michael called Dan Dougan, said a few reporters from the paper wanted to review the concert and came back to tell us we were all good, our names would be at the door.

Paul and I showed up to Stache’s the night of the concert. I was 20 at the time, Paul was 21. “Our names should be on the guest list,” we told the door guy only to have him say, “Nope. I don’t see your names.” We pled our case. “We are covering the concert for The Lantern. Our photo editor talked to the owner who said we could get into the show.” The door guy said, “Here’s the deal. Give me your licenses. I’ll hang onto them until I can find Dan to ask. If you’re not on the list, you can pay the cover charge at the end of the night. If you were supposed to be on the list, I’ll give you your licenses back and we’ll be all good.” Seemed like a fair deal to both of us and the kicker was that the door guy stamped me as over age meaning I could drink (which I did!). As cliche as it sounds, the show was life changing. I literally stopped listening to glam metal after that night (other than Warrant) for a few years. I let my hair grow longer, I bought Doc Martens, I got my nose pierced. I was a full-on grunge fanatic. Also, at the end of the night, the door guy said, “Dan said you guys are cool. Here’s your licenses.”

This is not the best thing I ever wrote, I’ll admit that. I was young, this is one of the first things I ever wrote. We had limited space so Paul and I co-wrote the review and stuck with the main details. But, while there are hundreds, if not thousands, of people who claim to have been at this Nirvana show in 1991, I have written proof that I really was there although I’ve never been able to find myself in any of Jay Brown‘s photos from that night.


By Chip Midnight and Paul Ruslnko

nir-va-na ; 1 . The final freeing of a soul from all that enslaves it . 2 . Oblivion ; also : Paradise .

The mood of the crowd that saw the sold-out Nirvana show Wednesday night at Stache’s (pronounced lite “stashes” for anyone who doesn’t have a clue) matched Webster’s definition perfectly .

The moshing crowd sweated through Nirvana’s 16-song , 90-minute show that included six songs from the band’s major-label debut LP, Nevermind, on Geffen Records .

Describing the Seattle band’s sound is difficult, but in press materials lead guitarist and vocalist Kurt Cobain says, “All in all , I think we sound like The Knack and Bay City Rollers being molested by Black Flag and Black Sabbath.”

A slew of bands, such as Soundgarden and Alice In Chains, also have come from the Seattle area over the past few years . But Nirvana’s music, while hard-edged, leans more toward the punk side of hard rock, and still contains pop hooks .

From the beginning, bodies were flying in front of and off the stage. When the band broke into its sixth song of the night, its new single, “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” which can be seen on both MTV’s “120 Minutes” and “Headbangers Ball ,” the whole crowd went out of control .

A few songs later, Cobain and fellow band members Chris Novoselic (bass) and Dave Grohl (drums) broke into “Polly,” a slow acoustic number on Nevermind that the band made grittier with the use of electric guitar.

Those in attendance at the sold out show are lucky, they caught a glimpse of a band that has the potential to attract an arena-size crowd in a small, intimate setting. With the demise of Jane’s Addiction, Nirvana could become the next band to come out of the underground and be a force in the mainstream .

In fact, Nirvana will be appearing on Saturday Night Live on Nov. 2, said Monty Lee Wilkes, the band’s tour manager .

Opening the snow was Chicago’s Urge Overkill , with its guitar drenched sound .

Urge Overkill includes guitarist/vocalist Nash Kato, bassist/vocalist Eddie Roeser, and drummer Blackie Onassis, all of whom were dressed identically with black shirts, pants and tuxedo jackets with white lapels. Each member also wore a large gold medallion around his neck .

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