Nirvana’s Home Videos: Watch Nirvana Rehearse in Krist Novoselic’s Mother’s House (1988)

When Nir­vana hit it big I was in high school, a punk-rock purist with lit­tle time for their MTV revi­sion­ism or the fact that they inspired teen rebel­lion from peo­ple who’d nev­er heard “Teenage Kicks.” But even though I was trapped in a late-70s time warp, I found myself at home alone when no one else was lis­ten­ing slip­ping in a tape (that’s right, cas­sette) of Nev­er­mind and nod­ding my head. Cause, I had to admit, they were pret­ty damn good. When I got my hands on their debut, Bleach, I dug it even more, espe­cial­ly “About a Girl.” It’s still the tune that comes to mind unbid­den when I drift back to mem­o­ries of the band. And despite the cultish hype sur­round­ing Kurt Cobain’s sad end and his band­mate Dave Grohl’s rise to pop star­dom, I appre­ci­ate them for what they once were—a real­ly excel­lent garage band—talented, unpre­ten­tious, melod­ic, devoid of flash and ego and able to deliv­er the rock in one of the most impres­sive of con­fig­u­ra­tions: the pow­er trio.

Few places are Nirvana’s garage chops more in evi­dence than in home video of their ear­ly days, shot in grimy prac­tice rooms, stages, and the streets of Seat­tle. In the video above from 1988 (record­ed at Krist Novoselic’s moth­er’s house, Aberdeen 1988), the band bangs out a ver­sion of “About a Girl” with mut­ed feroc­i­ty. Strobe lights strobe, some dudes lounge around the door­way, and Cobain shouts the lyrics with his face pressed to the wall. It’s a per­fect lit­tle doc­u­ment of the band, look­ing more or less like they always did, but with­out light­ing banks, TV cam­eras, and scream­ing fans dis­tract­ing from their lo-fi fuzz-rock appeal; all that machin­ery that seemed so ridicu­lous sur­round­ing these guys. But we know that sto­ry.

The setlist of songs per­formed appears below:

0.07 Love Buzz

2:21​ Scoff

3:18​ About A Girl

6:17​ Big Long Now

10:38​ Immi­grant Song

13:17​ Spank Thru

16:19​ Hair­spray Queen

20:07​ School

22:58​ Mr. Mous­tache


Josh Jones is a doc­tor­al can­di­date in Eng­lish at Ford­ham Uni­ver­si­ty and a co-founder and for­mer man­ag­ing edi­tor of Guer­ni­ca / A Mag­a­zine of Arts and Pol­i­tics.

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