Watch a four-piece Nirvana kickstart the grunge revolution in a tiny US record shop

(Image credit: LiveNirvana YouTube)

In February 1989, Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain decided that his band needed a second guitarist to fill out their sound. Drummer Chad Channing suggested that his childhood friend Jason Everman could be a perfect fit for the band, and the guitarist played his first gig with the newly-expanded Aberdeen, Washington rockers at a dorm party at Evergreen State College on February 7, 1989.

Everman's recruitment benefitted Nirvana in another way too: when producer Jack Endino invoiced Sub Pop for his work on the trio's debut album, Bleach, the band's new guitarist offered to settle the $606.17 bill. 

Bleach was released by Sub Pop on June 15, 1989, and one week later, the four piece hit the road to promote the album, playing their first gig on the tour at the Covered Wagon Saloon in San Francisco on June 22. The following evening, at 6pm, Nirvana played a free in-store gig at Rhino Records in Westwood, Los Angeles, performing songs from their newly released debut set, plus as the as-yet-unreleased Dive, which had been demoed with Everman during an April studio session, and a brand new song titled Polly.

It wouldn't be one of Nirvana's best-attended shows, or become one of the band's most-talked about performances, but, with the benefit of hindsight, the gig can be viewed as a pivotal one for Cobain's band with the newly confident quartet delivering a powerful, richly melodic set which served notice of their irresistible momentum.

Watch the show below:

Unfortunately, Jason Everman's future would look markedly less bright: following Nirvana's New Music Seminar show  at the Pyramid Club in New York on July 18, Cobain cancelled the remaining tour dates, and told Everman his services would no longer be required. Everman went on to join Soundgarden, playing bass, but his stint with Chris Cornell's band was equally short-lived. In 1993, he went on to join the US Army, where he served with much greater distinction.

Paul Brannigan
Contributing Editor, Louder

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Born in the North of Ireland, Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.