Nancy Scott
Krist Novoselic
Publisher Title Transcript
The San Francisco Examiner The sound of shelter from another world Yes

‘Nirvana’ rockers to help Bosnian rape victims.

At first glance, what we have here is such an unexpected connection between two disparate worlds that just putting them in the same sentence is likely to provoke blank stares, suppressed giggles or outright unbelief.

Here are the two worlds: the rock group from Seattle called Nirvana and the rape victims of Bosnia Herzegovina.

And here's the connection: Friday, 7 pm, at the Cow Palace, Nirvana will perform a special benefit concert on behalf of the Tresnjevka Women's Group of Zagreb. Performing with Nirvana will be L7, the Disposable Heroes of Hypocrisy and the Breeders. Proceeds will go to establish a shelter in Zagreb for women raped during the war in Bosnia Herzegovina.

As benefits go, this one appears to be unique.

Rebecca Casanova of the Center for Reproductive Law and Policy in New York reports that she knows of no other similar benefits, and she sees no contradiction between Nirvana's music and Nirvana's conscience. “I can tell you,” she says, “that while they seem to be quite angry, they are very socially aware and conscious. This is an issue they really care about. Chris wrote me a letter a long time ago saying he wanted to do something to help.”

Chris is Nirvana's bass player, Chris Novoselic, a soft-voiced man (on the telephone at least) who would as soon avoid labels for his music, including grunge, a concept that may already be on the way out. “Grunge rock was always a transient term,” says Novoselic. “I never gave much credence to it.”

Novoselic says the group's social convictions were born out of concern for a lot of injustice in the world. “We're not really big activists – we just have concerns that we feel everybody should have. it seems there are a lot of apathetic people in the US, people bogged down in their jobs to maintain that lifestyle.”

In his view, the tragedy of the women of Bosnia Herzegovina “goes beyond war. Through the history of war, women have always been raped, but it's not been an issue even at Nuremberg… What makes this case even more disturbing is that it's part of the policy of ethnic cleansing.”

Members of the groups performing with Nirvana are in entire agreement, according to publicists for the benefit. Jennifer Finch of L7 is quoted as saying: “We find the issue of women's bodies as a battleground unconscionable. We are proud to be involved in any project that will benefit these women and allow them to restore hope.”

Similar sentiments come from Josephine Wiggs of the Breeders. “What struck us about the situation in Bosnia,” says Wiggs, “is that it is not the usual momentary insanity of war, which is grotesque enough. It is a planned, deliberate and institutionalised barbaric policy.”

Non-rock fans may want to know that audiences for Nirvana's concert range, according to Novoselic, from “early teens to the 20s and 30s.” Is it possible that Bosnia may seem pretty remote to them? Will they care about the issue? Says Novoselic: “it's only a 12-hour flight away from the West Coast. Usually things of this caliber go on in the Third World and now it's happening in Europe – the aggressor is clearly identified.”

Novoselic adds that since Nirvana “can't call any airstrikes,” they will play music instead “and make people aware of this issue.”

Tickets for the benefit are available at all BASS outlets.

© Nancy Scott, 1993