If you were to look at a timeline of Nirvana’s existence, there are bound to be more than a few events that would stand out. Sure, the moment that Kurt Cobain met Krist Novoselic and started the band is pretty special, and that time they released Nevermind is pretty cool too, but the introduction of Dave Grohl as the group’s fifth and final drummer is one arguably one of the most important moment’s in the band’s history.
As Rolling Stone reports, it has now been 27 years since Dave Grohl performed his very first show with Nirvana.
Following their formation in 1987, Nirvana quickly went through four different drummers, including Aaron Buckhard, Dale Crover, Dave Foster, and Chad Channing, who would be featured on their debut record Bleach in 1989. The band had just begun to rehearse with a session drummer named Dan Peters in late 1990 when Buzz “King Buzzo” Osborne of the Melvins introduced Kurt Cobain to Dave Grohl, heralding the beginning of Nirvana’s populist period.
Having played in the Washington, D.C. punk band Scream from 1986 until their initial 1990 breakup, a 21-year-old Dave Grohl made his way over to Seattle, Washington where he would go on to be a part of rock history. Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic had already seen Dave Grohl play with Scream previously, and after auditioning for Nirvana in September of 1990, he was asked became a member of the band.
On October 11th, 1990, Nirvana played their first show with Dave Grohl at the North Shore Surf Club in Olympia, Washington. While the beginning of the show was hampered by three seperate power outages, the band continued on, playing through some of their early hits, including ‘About A Girl’, ‘School’, and early versions of the Nevermind tracks ‘Breed’, ‘In Bloom’, and ‘Stay Away’. The group also showcased their versatility, playing covers of songs by bands such as The Vaselines, The Wipers, DEVO, and Shocking Blue.
“It wasn’t that we were unhappy with Dan (Peters) drumming, it was just that Dave has qualities which match our needs a little closer,” said Kurt Cobain that same month. “He takes care of the backing vocals for a start. We were blown away when we saw him playing with this band called Scream a few months ago and Krist and I agreed that we’d ask him to join Nirvana if we ever had the chance.”
While the footage of Dave Grohl’s first performance is raw and primal, it’s hard to believe that in just under a year, Nirvana would go on to record and release Nevermind, a landmark album in the history of rock and roll, and one of the biggest selling albums of all time.
Check out footage of Dave Grohl’s first performance with Nirvana below, in addition to a full audio recording of the gig, and the concert’s setlist.
Nirvana – October 11th, 1990 Setlist
‘Son Of A Gun’ (The Vaselines cover)
‘Molly’s Lips’ (The Vaselines cover)
‘D-7’ (Wipers cover)
‘Been A Son’
‘Floyd The Barber’
‘About A Girl’
‘Love Buzz’ (Shocking Blue cover)
‘Turnaround’ (DEVO cover)