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WATCH: Nirvana Playing ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ For The First Time Live

Written by Michael Carr on September 11, 2015

In news sure to delight grunge fans the world over, video of Nirvana playing their seminal hit Smells Like Teen Spirit for the fist time has just surfaced online.

Taken at a show at the OK Hotel in Seattle in April 1991, in the footage you can hear someone shout “Play Free Bird” before Kurt Cobain launches into the song, tearing out the iconic riff that would catapult the Seattle three piece to global stardom.

Speaking of the song in an interview with Rolling Stone in 1993, Cobain admitted “I was trying to write the ultimate pop song.” That may surprise some who see Cobain as an alternative figure who exemplifies the anti-thesis of the mainstream. However according to Kurt, he was just trying to rip off The Pixies (the riff itself famously being the riff from U Mass backwards).

“I was basically trying to rip off the Pixies. I have to admit it. We used their sense of dynamics, being soft and quiet and then loud and hard. It was such a cliched riff It was so close to a Boston riff or ‘Louie, Louie.’ When I came up with the guitar part, Krist [Novoselic] looked at me and said, ‘That is so ridiculous.’ I made the band play it for an hour and a half.”

You can watch the footage below

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