Saturday, May 21, 2022

Riverfront Times relives my 21st birthday ... with Nirvana

St. Louis alt-weekly Riverfront Times recently published an oral history of one of the best concerts I ever attended (yes, I was really there). My main memories of Nirvana and Urge Overkill playing Mississippi Nights on October 16, 1991 are that it was my 21st birthday, I had one beer because that was all I could afford and my friends couldn't afford to buy me any more, the entire UO band walked right past us as we entered the venue, and much of the crowd famously got on stage at Kurt Cobain's invitation.

Here's how some of the others in attendance remembered it in the RFT article:

  • It had been less than a month since Nevermind was released and this may have been the last small, 1,000-person-size venue the band would ever play.
  • Jim Utz, who I remember from his days recommending great music to me at the Granite City Vintage Vinyl shop, saw UO the night before in Columbia, Missouri, recommended St. Louis vintage clothes to UO, and got comp tickets at Mississippi Night from the band because of it.
  • Nirvana beautifully opened its set with “Jesus Doesn’t Want Me for a Sunbeam.” The place went "batshit" when the second song, ”Aneurysm,” kicked in. "It was one of those times where I was being lifted off my feet merely from the fact that I was crammed between hundreds of people pogo-ing at the same time." Me, I was leaning on a high stool in the back slowly sipping my one birthday beer, but even from there, it looked like the whole building itself was bouncing.
  • When security tried to remove one of the first kids from the stage, Cobain called for everyone to come on up. The six or so members of the security staff then hid outside, claiming the crowd was "possessed."
  • Before the show, Cobain had mentioned to his bandmates that Guns N' Roses had recently started a riot while playing in St. Louis, and he would like to do that too.
In the end, Nirvana was able to finish up the show for us, going late into the night. Mississippi Nights, which I've occasionally gone back to in hopes of standing on hallowed ground, doesn't even exist anymore. It's apparantly a parking lot, and it's been tough to even locate its actual old location, which I've tried to do at least a couple of times.

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