On December 13, 1993, Nirvana performed at Seattle’s Pier 48 for a special MTV concert dubbed “Live and Loud” … an apt name considering it was 70-odd minutes of the most roiling, raucous music ever captured by our cameras.
Sets were destroyed, cameras spat upon, and, at the end of the it all, amidst all the carnage, Kurt Cobain invited the crowd onto the stage, resulting in pure chaos. It was, in just about every sense of the term, a definitive Nirvana show, one that was (understandably) edited down for broadcast on the channel. But on September 24, fans will finally get to see the “Live and Loud” set in all its fury.
The show — and never-before-seen rehearsal footage — is being included in the deluxe, twentieth-anniversary reissue of In Utero (it will also be available as a standalone DVD), and all week, we’ll be unveiling exclusive sneak peeks at moments from Nirvana’s legendary performance … beginning today, with a live version of In Utero’s first single, “Heart-Shaped Box.”
Like the album itself , this version of “Box” captures Nirvana operating at the peak of their abilities: the song stalks and skulks, with Cobain bleating through the fuzz, Krist Novoselic adding the pounding pulse, and Dave Grohl bashing with aplomb. New guitarist Pat Smear adds extra punch, and supplies backbone to Cobain’s world-weary yowls.
In essence, Nirvana were planning “commercial suicide” with In Utero, and though they didn’t quite pull it off (the album debuted at #1 on the Billboard chart and has been certified five-times platinum), “Heart-Shaped Box” still stands as perhaps the best example of their master plan. Here is a decidedly minor, angry, abrasive song — with an eerie, off-putting video to boot — full of vitriol and vigor, and yet, despite all that, it still managed to become one of alternative rock’s defining anthems. Such was the unique, once-in-a-generation power of Nirvana, the rare band capable of being great even when they didn’t intend to be.
But enough talk; here’s “Heart-Shaped Box,” presented as it was intended to be: Live and Loud.