Yesterday marked what would’ve been Elliott Smith’s 48th birthday. Though Smith himself wasn’t around to celebrate, fans of the iconic Portland singer-songwriter were treated to a special gift from Heaven Adores You producer and musical director Kevin Moyer: a newly discovered video of a full New Year’s Eve gig that Elliott performed at the Knitting Factory in New York City all the way back in 1999.
“Sometime in the middle of production (of Heaven Adores You), Elizabeth Racz sent me a giant box full of Elliott Smith related stuff that she had collected over the years,” he explained in the caption. “In that box was so many things – magazine covers, interviews, posters, etc – and a number of VHS tapes…On one of those VHS tapes was the full performance that Elliott did on New Years Eve 1999 in NYC at The Knitting Factory. The show was filmed by a friend of hers who had accompanied her and another friend to the show that night, and with her blessing I am uploading the full previously unreleased performance here.”
Moyer also shared an in-person description of the show from Elliott’s friend and publicist Dorien Garry.
“In typical Elliott fashion he was a little bewildered by being the focus of the night on such a historical NYE. “Is that what people really want to do on New Years Eve?” He felt like he really needed to up the ante and give people some moneys worth. So that meant he borrowed a bunch of bizarre red clothes, a fuzzy bath robe and red knit red hat, as a costume of sort, to jazz it up. He was especially nervous about leading a countdown to midnight, and the Knitting Factory had put a bunch of bottles of Champagne in the dressing room for him to pop and share. Since none of us were exactly seasoned Champagne drinkers he fretted for a minute that he wouldn’t get the bottles opened in time. i offered to start trying to open them a few minutes before midnight and starting taking the foils and twists off the tops. This led to the bottles slowly, and steadily starting to loudly pop open from the dressing room which was a mere 5 feet away from the stage. So as Elliott played a quiet song a few minutes before midnight, a disruptive popping sound starting keeping an uneven tempo and adding to what was a pretty comical night, which was being heavily marketed as the end of the world. It was one of my favorite nights with Eliiott, he pulled it all off amazingly, and the night was a long fun adventure…”
You can watch Elliott Smith’s complete New Year’s Eve show at the Knitting Factory in New York in the video above.