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Although it's an easy fact to swallow, it's almost hard to visualize that Nirvana had extremely humble indie-rock beginnings. Before they were credited with launching a genre and defining a cultural generation, the band led by Kurt Cobain were just a musically talented group of young dudes who were more or less ordinary in every other way. That reality, which is difficult to imagine given how iconic they are now, becomes quite apparent while watching them rip a gig at a community college in 1989.
Before the unexpected explosion of 1991's Nevermind, Nirvana released their debut LP, Bleach, on June 15th, 1989. Like most of the indie albums released by the then-fledgling Sub Pop, Bleach didn't perform well commercially, which probably wasn't a surprise to anyone involved in the album's rollout. As you can see throughout their 45-minute set at Green River Community College in Auburn, WA, on May 26th, three weeks before the record was released, Nirvana were raucous punks who dressed like deadbeats and practically sounded like a noise-rock group.
Kurt Cobain, then 22-years-old, was rocking hair that flowed well below his shoulders and covered his entire face. He and his bandmates thrashed around on-stage like lunatics, they played loudly and they ended their set with a wall of screeching feed. Although Cobain's preternatural knack for melody still shines through on the camcorder taping of a set that went down in a room with terrible acoustics, the band look like kids having a good time rather than future rockstars.
We all know what happened next, but it's always fascinating to see where they started. Check out the full set, which is chock-full of Bleach songs before anybody knew them, above via YouTube.