I arrived at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center at 7 p.m. sharp, the time indicated on the ticket for the first Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony open to the public. Personally, I made the trek to the home of the Brooklyn Nets to see Nirvana‘s induction and the subsequent performance. In addition to Nirvana, Peter Gabriel, Hall and Oates, KISS, Cat Stevens, and Linda Ronstadt were also inducted.
Four hours later, after sitting through lengthy speeches and performances, R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe took the stage to induct Nirvana, a band that was immensely influential for me, but I was never lucky enough to witness live, seeing that Kurt Cobain died two years before my birth. As many of the Hall And Oats fans filed out of the stadium, Stipe’s words hit home, noting that “Nirvana were artists in every sense of the word… Nirvana tapped into a voice that was yearning to be heard. Nirvana were kicking against the mainstream. They spoke truth and a lot of people listened.” Even twenty years after Cobain’s death, the music and the culture are still relevant, especially for a kid like me that was just born too late.
Dave Grohl, not a newcomer to inspirational speeches, made sure to take the opportunity to thank all the Nirvana drummers that came before him (with a special shoutout to Chad Channing, who, for whatever reason, was not inducted with the rest of the band) and that created the foundation that allowed him to be standing on the stage. Krist then approached the microphone to mumble some relative nonsense before Kurt Cobain’s mother gave a short speech remembering her son.
Then came Courtney Love. Instantly, the crowd shifted from cheering to booing. Although I am not the biggest Courtney fan, I still felt bad for her as she tried to pay tribute to her late husband (“You know, I have a big speech, but I’m not going to say it…I just wish Kurt were here”). The band then moved toward center stage where they met Joan Jett to perform Smells Like Teen Spirit for the first time in twenty years. The band was also joined by Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon for Aneurysm, St. Vincent for Lithium, and Lorde for an acoustic rendition of All Apologies, all of which managed not to disappoint. Check out Nirvana’s acceptance speech and some performance clips below.
Smells Like Teen Spirit with Joan Jett
Lithium with St. Vincent
All Apologies with Lorde, Annie Clarke, Kim Gordon and Joan Jett
As the crowd filed out of the Barclays Center, it seemed that the night was only getting started – and the love was definitely felt. In one of the strangest, most unexpected turn of events, the world saw Courtney Love and the surviving members of Nirvana share an embrace. Krist Novoselic later tweeted his thanks to all that shared the stage with him, Courtney included, to which she replied, “Back at you and Dave @KristNovoselic incredible evening, xx” and later, “If I skip the party It’s just coz I’m tired- love you guys in my crazy way @KristNovoselic #hatchetburied #deepintheground.” If that wasn’t enough, this tweet followed:
Seemingly flying high on good vibes, this new incarnation of Nirvana made their way over to Brooklyn’s Saint Vitus. With help from Joan Jett, J Mascis of Dinosaur Jr., St. Vincent, John McCauley of Deer Tick and the cover band Deervana, and Kim Gordon, the band powered through 19 of Nirvana’s most well-known songs until 4 a.m.
We rounded up some of the best video from the night. And man, check out that setlist.
Smells Like Teen Spirit with Joan Jett
School with J Mascis
Heart Shaped Box with St. Vincent
1. “Smells Like Teen Spirit” (with Joan Jett)
2. “In Bloom” (with Joan Jett)
3. “Breed” (with Joan Jett)
4. “Territorial Pissings” (with Joan Jett)
5. “Aneurysm” (with Kim Gordon)
6. “Negative Creep” (with Kim Gordon)
7. “Moist Vagina” (with Kim Gordon)
8. “Lithium” (with St. Vincent)
9. “All Apologies” (with Joan Jett) (Krist Novoselic played accordion)
10. “About a Girl” (with St. Vincent)
11. “Heart-Shaped Box” (with St. Vincent)
12. “Drain You” (with J Mascis)
13. “Pennyroyal Tea” (with J Mascis)
14. “School” (with J Mascis)
15. “Serve the Servants” (with John McCauley)
16. “Milk It” (with John McCauley)
17. “Very Ape” (with John McCauley)
18. “Scentless Apprentice” (with John McCauley)
19. “Tourettes” (with John McCauley)
The full Rock and Roll Hall of Fame performance is set to air on HBO on May 31st.