Rapper Post Malone Performs a 15-Song Set of Nirvana Songs, Paying Tribute to Kurt Cobain

Nir­vana’s cul­tur­al stay­ing pow­er is a tes­ta­ment to the cross-gen­er­a­tional mag­ic that hap­pened when Kurt Cobain, Krist Novoselić, and Dave Grohl played togeth­er for only a hand­ful of years in the 90s. Their influ­ence goes far deep­er than 90s nos­tal­gia for a grunge trend or the celebri­ty sta­tus of the late Cobain. Now almost 30 years after the front­man’s 1994 sui­cide, we see that influ­ence on a gen­er­a­tion born too late to see him live — one influ­enced more by hip hop than gui­tar rock and far less inter­est­ed in chal­leng­ing the cap­i­tal­ist sta­tus quo.

For artists like rap­per Post Mal­one, born July 4, 1995, Cobain is a major song­writ­ing influ­ence, even if Post Mal­one’s music sounds lit­tle like Nir­vana. “I loved Kurt so much,” says Mal­one, “and he’s been such an inspi­ra­tion to me, musi­cal­ly.” To prove his love, he’s tat­tooed Cobain on “two dif­fer­ent parts of his body,”  Shel­don Pearce writes at The New York­er, though Cobain might not have “rec­i­p­ro­cat­ed the love — the rapper’s stint shilling for Bud Light prob­a­bly wouldn’t fly, and Cobain once said white artists should leave rap to Black artists because ‘the white man ripped off the Black man long enough.’ ”

But that’s the thing about idols: once they’re gone, they no longer get a say in who wor­ships them and how. Last year, Post deliv­ered a Nir­vana trib­ute to ben­e­fit the UN’s COVID-19 Sol­i­dar­i­ty Response Fund for the World Health Orga­ni­za­tion. He did so respect­ful­ly. Backed by Travis Bark­er on drums, Bri­an Lee on bass, and Nic Mack on gui­tar, he hon­ored Cobain by don­ning a flower print dress, and by ask­ing his daugh­ter, Fran­cis Bean Cobain, for per­mis­sion to do the 15-song set. “I could nev­er want to offend any­body,” he told Howard Stern, “by try­ing to show sup­port, so I just want­ed to make sure that every­thing was okay — and it was okay, and we raised mon­ey for a good cause, and we got to play some of the most f*cking epic songs ever.”

Court­ney Love expressed sup­port, writ­ing, “Goose­bumps… Go have a mar­gari­ta Post Mal­one. Noth­ing but love from here.” Grohl and Novoselić also gave Mal­one their full approval. The for­mer Nir­vana bassist wrote that he was “hold­ing emo­tions back the whole show.” In a lat­er inter­view, Grohl com­ment­ed, “Even the die-hard Nir­vana peo­ple that I know were like, ‘dude, he’s kind of killing it right now.’ ” And they were right. Above, see the one-off band play “Fran­cis Farmer Will Have Her Revenge on Seat­tle,” “Come As You Are,” “About a Girl,” “Heart-Shaped Box,” and more clas­sic Nir­vana songs. The livestream raised $500,000 (includ­ing match­ing funds from Google) to help fight COVID-19 around the world.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Watch Nir­vana Per­form as an Open­ing Band, Two Years Before Their Break­out Album Nev­er­mind (1989)

How Nirvana’s Icon­ic “Smells Like Teen Spir­it” Came to Be: An Ani­mat­ed Video Nar­rat­ed by T‑Bone Bur­nett Tells the True Sto­ry

The Record­ing Secrets of Nirvana’s Nev­er­mind Revealed by Pro­duc­er Butch Vig

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

by | Permalink | Comments (0) |

Sup­port Open Cul­ture

We’re hop­ing to rely on our loy­al read­ers rather than errat­ic ads. To sup­port Open Cul­ture’s edu­ca­tion­al mis­sion, please con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion. We accept Pay­Pal, Ven­mo (@openculture), Patre­on and Cryp­to! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.