Not many videos have surfaced from 1988 or earlier. Probably not too many people were interested in Nirvana at this point. The videos that have surfaced show a sloppy band, who aren't very proficient. In other words, your local bar band. But in 1989, with a deal with Sub Pop and a national tour, we see a much tighter band. Videos from 1989 show us small clubs with fair sized crowds. The videos tend to be shot close or over the heads of the crowd.
If You Must / Downer / Floyd the Barber / Papercuts / Spank Thru / Aero Zeppelin / Beeswax / Mexican Seafood / Pen Cap Chew / Anorexorist / Hairspray Queen / unknown (Raunchola?) / Moby Dick Jam
Quality:This is shot from the back of the venue on a tripod with no zoom. The view never changes. As it's shot from so far away, there is no detail to the picture. There are people at the front of the stage whose heads block part of the band. But once again, it's so far away it doesn't matter. As it's the earliest video that's surfaced, it's interesting to watch. But sometimes the only stage lights that are shining are on the drummer which means the picture is really dark.
Notes: This video is the complete show. It is also known as 1/23/88. There is a small crowd in attendance. After the first song, the band gets no response from the audience. The crowd does get into songs later in the set, with Spank Thru getting one of the bigger reactions. The band is fairly tight, but there are still some sloppy drum fills here and there. Another sign of a band new to playing in clubs is the time between songs where the band talk to each other, leaving the audience to wait. The band starts Hairspray Queen, but has to stop after the first verse as Krist's bass has stopped working. When the song comes to a halting end, the crowd starts booing. Krist asks if he can borrow a bass. Audio from the video should be fairly easy to find. All known audios of this date are supposedly dubbed from the video.
Quality: Other than some clips that were shown in April 1994 on American Journal shortly after Kurt's death, this video hasn't surfaced. The tv show got the clips directly from the video Eric Harter taped. Eric was the manager of the local Radio Shack at that time. So the available clips are good quality, as long as you can find a low gen copy of this show. Also, while the actual complete video is supposed to be 15 minutes long, the American Journal story is only 5 minutes long, and also has footage of Eric talking about Nirvana, and giving a copy of the video to Courtney.
The video features various points of view - closeups of Kurt with the band in the background, mid length views of Kurt, and scenes with the whole band. As these are only clips, and they were shown following Kurts death, I'm curious if there are close ups of anyone else in the complete video.
Notes: The band plays in an Aberdeen Radio Shack after it has
closed for the evening. At this time, the band was still known as
Ted, Ed, Fred.
Smoke effects are achieved by people blowing cigarette smoke in
front of the camera - very creative, but not all that impressive.
According to Eric, the camera was set on a table while filming,
and the colored lights used were the ones on sale at the store.
It's great to see a young Nirvana, especially when Kurt seems to be
having a good time. At one point, he comes
jumping into view,
and lands in the middle of the picture. Let's hope the entire video
shows up. It looks like a great view of a young band still excited about
playing music and the possibilites in the future.
**Please realize, I do not own this video, and can not provide you with a copy of it.**
School/ Love Buzz/ Floyd The Barber/ Mr. Moustache / Paper Cuts/ Mexican Seafood/ Spank Thru/ Aero Zeppelin/ Sifting
Quality: This is the more complete verison of the video. When trading for it, be aware that some copies are horrible. There are glitches, jumps, and color loss. Better copies, which are blurry but without jumps, glitches or color loss are out there. The taper is not very close to the stage. He appears to be standing on something (maybe a table?) near the rear of the venue. Consequently, we don't get a very close picture.
Notes: There aren't very many people at this show. Kurt has a very long hair, which is pulled back into ponytail. He also wears a winter hat, which falls off as he's swinging his head around. He has equipment problems at various point during the show. Krist ends up playing in his underwear late in the set.
School/ Floyd The Barber/ Paper Cuts/ Mexican Seafood/ Spank Thru/ Aero Zeppelin
Quality:The shorter version of this show is circulating in much better quality than the version above. It's clear, and doesn't suffer from any glitches, jumps, or color problems. Most of the video is pretty distant as the taper appears to be near the back of the hall.Notes: Love Buzz, Mr. Moustache, and Sifting are missing from this tape. There is also a shot of a poster or ticket for the show - which refers to the band as Ted Ed Fred at the beginning of the video. Krist has been playing without a shirt. But near the end of the show, Krist decides to play in his underwear.
School/ Floyd The Barber/ Love Buzz/ Big Cheese/ About A Girl/ Sifting/ Spank Thru/ Dive/ Polly/ Negative Creep/ Blew
Quality: The audio is bad for the first three songs. The video is well shot, and very close. There are head shots of each band member. The taper moves about to shoot from various positions in the store.
Notes: The record store is very small, and so is the crowd. The band is jammed into a small area at the back of the store. There are some good shots of Jason, who has a heavy metal style of play, complete with the requisite head tossing. The band seems to be having a good time playing, and there is a short clip of what may have been a question and answer session after they finished playing. We even get to see Kurt smile, a very rare thing indeed. The video does have some cuts in it. But I am unsure whether the taper just shut the camera off to move around, or whether the video in circulation is cut. I suspect the former.
School/ Floyd The Barber/ Love Buzz/ Scoff/ About A Girl/ Spank Thru/ Paper Cuts/ Mr. Moustache/ Big Cheese/ Polly/ Sifting/ Blandest/ Dive/ Negative Creep/ Blew
Quality: This is shot from the back of the room, over the heads of the crowd. When the taper can keep the camera in focus, the picture is sharp. But that isn't always the case, which is too bad as this would be a nice video if he had used auto focus, or been better at focusing. It's still not too bad though. The lights shining on the band are very bright. There are a few glitches during the video. The closest shot is head to waist. Usually the taper shoots the entire stage rather than closer shots.
Another show with Jason, (who is quite the hair tosser), on guitar. The stage
is really small. There isn't even enough room for Jason, Kurt and Krist to
stand next to each other. At the start of Blandest, Chad comes in off beat.
Kurt has to adjust to him, and seems to shake his head in bemused disgust.
After Blew, the band stomps on their instruments. Krist breaks a beer bottle
on stage, and Kurt jumps into the drums.
There is a video screen in the right side of the shot, which appears to be the same picture as what we are seeing. However, at one point in Dive, the taper is only showing the screen, which still has the band playing on it. Is there another video of this show out there, or was the camera not taping, but just supplying video to the screen for the crowd to see?
School/ Floyd The Barber/ Love Buzz/ Dive/ Blew
Quality: The color is washed out. The taper used manual focus, and sometimes can't focus correctly. Too bad, as when he focuses and zooms in the picture is very nice. This is shot from the back of the crowd. So there are shots of the entire band , and shots of each member of the band. Well, except for Chad who's hidden behind Kurt and the drums. You can't see Kurt when he drops to his knees - the heads of the crowd are in the way.
Notes: The first thing to note, is that on my copy, it appears that the taper put the time on the video at beginning and end. If these times are from the taper, and are correct, then Nirvana played a 50 minute set, not the 20 minute one that everyone has. Anyone know whether the taper has the whole set on video, or if he just taped 20 minutes of it? At least he managed to get the bizarre drunk incident. The band is on a tiny stage, playing to a good sized crowd. They actually have an announcer give them a short intro. The band seems to be enjoying themselves, and Kurt is throwing himself around during guitar solos. Jason has huge heavy metal hair, which he constantly tosses around. He even ends up looking a bit like Sideshow Bob during one massive hairtoss.
There is a truly bizarre occurance during Floyd the Barber. A drunk guy walks out from the back of the stage and gets in Kurts way. With a beer in his hand, the drunk starts dancing, and very badly I might add. Then he grabs one of the bands mics, screams into it, and takes it off the stand. He proceeds to stumble around the stage, getting in the bands way, and pissing them off. As Krist is playing, he starts trying to push the drunk offstage with his butt. The drunk, rather than get pushed off the stage, starts moving towards Kurt. Kurt is trying to sing, but his guitar is in the drunks way. The drunk puts out his arm and pushes the neck of Kurts guitar, while Kurt is trying to play. He has to step back from the mic to get out of the drunks way.
At this point, things get ugly. It appears that the drunks stumbling around has unplugged Kurt's guitar. Kurt bends over to try to fix the problem. At this point, Jason walks over and shoves the drunk into Kurt while he's still trying to fix his guitar. The drunk does an Elvis stance, and puts his hand over Krists bass strings. At this point, Kurt comes flying across the stage plowing into the drunk, driving him into Krist. Total chaos descends on the stage at this point. Jason shoves the drunk back into Kurt. Kurt grabs the drunk. Krist steps back out of the way. And as a finale, Kurt, Jason, and security, who have finally shown up, bodily shove the drunk off the stage into the crowd. Jason rips off his guitar, and jumps in after the him.
The rest of the set goes off without any more surprises. At the end of the show, Jason jumps on Krist's back. Krist leans over to try to knock Jason off, and Kurt jumps on him as well. Jason finally falls off. Kurt is still hanging off Krist's neck, as Jason attempts to hang off his back again.
School/ Scoff/ Love Buzz/ Floyd The Barber/ Dive/ Polly/ Big Cheese/ Spank Thru/ About A Girl
Quality:Good quality video shot from the balcony. The taper gets some good closeups. We also get to see the entire band and stage. The taper has some trouble focusing when he zooms in, but in general does a good job. The sound is very good.
Notes: The video is not the complete show. There are cuts in between most of the songs. Krist and Kurt are having a good time playing. Krist is his usual self, bopping along to the music, and even taking off his shoes. Kurt is especially into it during his solos, falling over several times, and wailing on his guitar.
School/ Scoff/ Love Buzz/ Floyd The Barber/ Dive/ Polly/ Big Cheese/ About A Girl/ Junkyard/ Even In His Youth/ Breed/ Spank Thru/ Stain/ Been A Son/ Negative Creep/ Blew
Quality: This is a nice video. This was shot mostly from the left edge of the stage. The taper does shoot from several different positions throughout the video, eventually ending up on the right side of the stage. The stage lights aren't very bright, so it's a little dark sometimes. There are no obstructions until the taper starts moving to the back of the crowd, and then over to the right, a few rows back. Then there are heads in the way. There are a few cuts in the video. The sound is thin, but okay. There are nice closeups.
Notes: Kurt is into the music, hurling himself around the stage. An early version of Breed with different lyrics appears mid set. Kurt once again, has his guitar come unplugged during a song. As the show ends, Krist hangs his bass from the ceiling, and attempts to get it down by throwing things at it, like one of Chad's cymbols. Kurt ends up knocking it off the ceiling and into the drums.
School/ Scoff/ Love Buzz/ Floyd The Barber/ Dive/ Polly/ Big Cheese/ About A Girl/ Mr. Moustache/ Breed/ Spank Thru/ Been A Son/ Stain/ Negative Creep/ Blew
School/ Scoff/ Love Buzz/ Floyd The Barber/ Dive/ Polly/ Big Cheese/ Spank Thru/ Molly's Lips/ Breed/ Been A Son/ Negative Creep/ Blew/ Verse Chorus Verse / Even in His Youth / Stain
Quality:A complete version of this show is available, but there are cut versions of it also. Check the length of the show before trading. The cut version is 50 minutes and is missing the last three songs. The sound isn't that great, but the picture is decent.
Notes: Kurt has guitar troubles.
Tad's Set: Helot/ Giant Killer/ High On The Hog/ Loser (I've been told some or all of the Tad titles may be wrong. Anyone actually know the songs well enough to verify what the songs are?) ||| Nirvana's Set: School/ Love Buzz/ Big Cheese
Quality: The taper isn't that great at focusing, but when he can focus, it's a pretty good video. He is shooting from the back of the club, over the heads of crowd. When he zooms in, he gets some pretty good closeups. Sometimes the taper tries to keep the crowd out of the video, which makes the shot show only the bands heads, like in this shot of Kurt.
Notes: The first two songs are just Tad. Then a surprise guest- Kurt sings High on the Hog and Loser. The guitar is really loud, and the vocals are really low. The video fades out after each song, or while the band is still playing. You can see the two bands tour t-shirts hanging on the wall. During Big Cheese, Kurt continues his streak of unplugging his guitar while playing. The club is packed. After School, Kurt plays the riff from Pipeline, a sixties surf instrumental. As usual, Chad is rarely seen as his head is just barely visible above the crowd. Krist is sometimes in front of him also.