When Nirvana took the stage at Seattle’s Pier 48 in December, 1993 to film MTV’s “Live and Loud” concert, their In Utero album had been in stores for three months … though not all of those stores were happy about that fact.
Especially big-box retailers like Wal-Mart and Kmart, who deemed the title of the In Utero track “Rape Me” offensive, and declined to stock the album unless a change was made. Eventually, Nirvana would relent, re-naming the song “Waif Me” on the album’s packaging, but the controversy would continue for months — to the point where, during an interview with MTV News , the band were forced to clarify that it was “an anti-rape song.”
“I thought we made our stance on rape clear within the last year-and-a-half,” Kurt Cobain deadpanned. “Most anyone who knows about us knows we’re pretty much anti-rape at this point.”
So, yes, Nirvana clearly had a complicated relationship with “Rape Me” … which probably explains why they derived some perverse pleasure from performing it during “Live and Loud.” And, as the iconic concert is set to be released on September 24 as part of the deluxe, 20th-anniversary edition of In Utero , we’re bringing you the full performance of the song.
Witness, for example, the way the Seattle crowd cheers wildly when Cobain rifles through “Rape Me’s” opening chords; it’s pretty clear most of them thought they were about to hear “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” something he was no doubt aware of. Or the way he launches headlong into the song, yowling through the chorus and trading vocals with drummer Dave Grohl, all while Krist Novoselic bounds across the stage and second guitarist Pat Smear provides extra snarl. They attack the song with vigor … seemingly delighting in playing it as loud and possible, to drown out the detractors, if not silence them completely.
It’s just part of an amazing hour-plus performance, all of which will be featured on the “Live and Loud” DVD. In the lead-up to the In Utero reissue, we’ll be rolling out more moments — including exclusive rehearsal footage — but today, sit back and watch “Rape Me,” part performance, part performance art.