Nirvana wasn’t always the Nirvana that you know and love. Even though they didn’t exactly have the longest career, the band went through a variety of different lineup permutations and sonic evolutions. In their earliest form, they were a grimy punk band, totally lo-fi, intent on disrupting the norm and making a lot of noise in the process.
While there’s a lot of official material out there documenting the band’s later live career once they hit the big time, earlier footage is far more scarce. It’s exactly what makes this newly unearthed, full-length clip of the band performing inside of an empty Radio Shack in their hometown of Aberdeen, Washington so compelling. Recorded on January 23, 1988, literally the day after the band laid down their first demo tape, the live show above is a fascinating glimpse at one of the biggest bands of all-time at an almost embryonic state.
With Dale of the Melvins bashing away on the drums, lead singer and guitarist Kurt Cobain and bassist Krist Novoselic mime their parts from their freshly laid down demo tape. The whole thing is at turns cheesy and intense. Even at this early point in his career, Cobain in particular maintains an entirely engrossing presence.
Weirdly, the very next day, the band returned to the same Radio Shack to mess around with some of the store’s glowing orbs.
You can watch the early Nirvana performance above.