Live and Loud with Nirvana

As a young chemist working in the shadow of the Space Needle in Seattle, I was living my dream, analyzing wastewater samples by day and playing grunge rock at night. Except for the annoying facts that I was making only eight bucks an hour with a bachelor’s degree and having to live twenty-six miles from work, i.e. an hour and a half commute home, life was good.

Yes, that wage was a kick in the gut after four years obtaining a degree in Chemistry, but it was the prevailing wage in the hub of the environmental movement. After I got hired, the human resources person showed me the six-inch stack of resumes I’d beaten out for the job.

There were two other guys in the same position as me, and we were the first degreed employees the firm had hired. The others working there were ‘analysts’ with little understanding of the concepts behind the duties they performed from Standard Operating Procedures. Most of them were also immigrants from other countries.

My two buddies and I kind of took over our lab, installing a massive home stereo system and blasting Rage Against the Machine and Tool at ear-splitting volume. The looks on the faces of those timid European women during “Killing In The Name Of” were priceless.

When concerts rolled around, we turned on the radio, and we figured out how to win tickets to almost every show. The standard giveaway method for the stations was, “Be the first caller when you hear ‘Outshined’, and you’ll win two tickets to Soundgarden at Kitsap County Fairground.”

So… in the closing seconds of each song, we would call in and get in the phone system. If the next song started, and it wasn’t ‘Outshined’, we hung up. If it was, we were very likely to be the first caller. Early on, we discovered our system worked, and we won tickets to some great shows.

‘Live And Loud’ was probably the best, because it was ‘win to get in’. No tickets were sold. The show was put on by MTV and held at an unusual spot – a warehouse on Pier 51 on the waterfront.

From the moment we entered, it felt strange. The show was taped December 13, 1993, but was to be broadcast as a New Year’s Eve show. The Breeders opened the show and sounded thin and instrumentally challenged. Cypress Hill followed and were energetic, but annoying. They were joined for one song by members of Pearl Jam’s rhythm section.

Nirvana hit the stage with unusual heaviness and played sixteen songs, ending with a full fifteen minutes of noise and instrument destruction. Kurt Cobain beckoned the crowd to rush the stage with some freaky looking arm movements, but they were more comical than inflammatory.

One more note – Pearl Jam was supposed to play, too, but after some critical comments of them by Cobain in the press, Eddie Vedder developed a sudden cold.

It was a great show, even without Pearl Jam. I know I didn’t say all that much about it, but you can watch it for yourself on YouTube. Here’s a scan of the newspaper I saved from the day after.


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