On April 8, 1994, I posted the following post to the newsgroup alt.society.generation-x:
In 1989 I gave Calvin Johnson of K Records a call. Calvin and I both went
to Evergreen at the same time, back in 1983-85, and every so often we say
hello. Calvin told me that his band, Beat Happening, was about to play a
show out on Steamboat Island, 10 miles or so away from Olympia, WA, and
he’d put me on the Guest List if I wanted to go. Beat Happening would be
opening for the Melvins.
Well, it sounded like a fun evening out, so I drove my Mazda down from
Seattle with my friends Heather and Rick. It was about an 85 mile drive.
We reached Olympia, then turned onto Hwy. 101, west toward the ocean
beaches. We turned off the highway a few miles later, and drove through the
woods for what seemed a very long time, until we found a grange hall in
the middle of nowhere.
We parked and went in, to the overheated room packed with black
leather-clad kids. We had to spend the evening going between the hot room
and the very cold outside, just to stay at a tolerable temperature.
Beat Happening opened, and they were fine and funny as always. BH are an
acquired taste, but most of the crowd there had acquired it and bounced
Then their set finished, and I climbed up onto a table at the side of the
room to watch the next band, a band I had heard of but never seen, Nirvana.
Nirvana amazed me. I had expected just another Sub Pop “grunge” noise
band, and I’d never really been into that side of the Seattle scene. I
preferred the PopLlama bands, groups like the Posies, Young Fresh
Fellows, and the Fastbacks. But Nirvana was just great — powerful,
intense, loud, melodic, and more. I was really impressed.
That was the only time I ever saw them live.
The Melvins played after them, and, frankly, didn’t impress me. In my
mind, Nirvana stole the show that night.
One more quick memory:
We got a new “alternative” radio station in Seattle in August 1991. A few
weeks later, I was driving to Tower Records, when the dj announced
“here’s the first song from Nirvana’s upcoming album.” Then the
now-familiar chords from “Smells Like Teen Spirit” began, and it just cut
through everything that had been playing. It sounded so good that I
stopped the car in Tower’s parking lot and sat and listened to the whole
It’s been 10 years, and Nirvana’s music still “cuts through everything” else on the radio. I still miss those days of the late ’80s and early ’90s, when it seemed as if Seattle musicians ruled the world.