In early 1990, Alice in Chains were still a young Seattle band with only a couple years of practice and one EP under their belt. All that would change when their slow-burning debut LP Facelift hit shelves on August 21st that year and gained traction through performances and well-received (but far from meteoric) success upon its release. The real kick came for AiC when the video for "Man In the Box" showed up in regular rotation on MTV a few months later
One such performance before mainstream success came knocking was the seemingly unofficial album release show that happened in their hometown's Off Ramp Cafe–famously the home of Pearl Jam's first show but unfortunately demolished earlier this year amid the gentrifying landscape of Seattle and so many other cities across the U.S.
On grainy VHS footage, the band of fresh-faced longhairs kicks shit off with a raucous version of "It Ain't Like That," making it just two minutes in before a thrilled audience member comes up to stage dive. They whip through an abbreviated set — which oddly didn't even include "Man in the Box" but featured a wild run-through of "We Die Young" (at 17:45) — and between songs, an elated Layne Staley grinned ear-to-ear while the packed house took turns coming up to high-give him and offer up support. The 37-minute set becomes increasingly rowdy as the band members strip down to their undershirts and bare chests, and by the time they made it to the psych-metal "Queen of the Rodeo," the crowd are tumbling over one another to take a plunge headfirst into the undulating mass of fans.
Three decades later, Facelift is a grunge and metal classic remembered as the spark that lit the career of one of heavy music's finest-ever acts. Take a trip back in time for an eight-song look into the ferocity, skill, and god-given charisma that secured that legacy, tragic as it may be, and imagine yourself in that packed house watching history unfold.
1. It Ain't Like That
2. Put You Down
3. Real Thing
4. Bleed The Freak
5. We Die Young
8. Queen Of The Rodeo