Review: Come As You Are, a covers show for Nirvana's Nevermind, at Hi-Dive, 9/24/11
One of the obvious highlights of last night's exceptional Nirvana covers celebration in honor Nevermind's 20th anniversary was when Eric Halborg of The Swayback told us we knew the words to the third song the band played and invited anyone up who knew the words to sing along. Plenty of people who had performed earlier in the evening including Le Divorce's Kitty Vincent and Joe Grobelny, Il Cattivo's Brian Hagman, Hearts In Space's Ezra-David Darnell and John Baxter got up there.
Tom Murphy The Swayback and friends covering "Smells Like Teen Spirit"
Those without the nerve or desire to do so still did so from the floor and seeing everyone really putting themselves forward in performing one of the true classic rock songs of the last quarter-century without any self-consciousness was a special moment of the whole show.
Tom Murphy Courtney Did It
Things started off with what would have been Science Partner but was, instead, Courtney Did It because only Tyler Despres from Science Partner was part of the band that took to the stage. The confused looks on the faces of some people would have been worth the price of admission alone when Courtney Did It played "Heart Shaped Box," "Come As You Are" and "Sliver" like some kind of weird jazz lounge band. A conceptual joke? Perhaps but musically completely legitimate even if it wasn't the full-on grunge show some people probably hoped to catch. Despres even, at one point, asked if Jeremy was there. Some of us laughed.
Brian Hagman of Il Cattivo told us a story about how he bought a Cannibal Corpse album the same day as Nevermind and that the Cannibal Corpse album was excellent but so was Nevermind. Opening with "Negative Creep," Il Cattivo was completely convincing and almost scary with how close to the original all four guys were able to pull it off. It was like these four guys were playing a song they wrote instead of a cover. The Il Cattivo set ended with "Territorial Pissings" including the quasi-sarcastic opening sequence of that The Youngblood's lyric. Hagman's always been a madman on stage, completely consumed by his performance and fortunately he was joined in that by Matty Clark, Matt Bellinger and Jed Kopp.
Tom Murphy Il Cattivo
For Night of Joy's set, this writer posed as Everett True and pushed Valerie Franz, wearing a bad blonde wig and hospital gown to boot, to the front of the stage in a wheelchair in a sort of recreation of the famous footage of Nirvana at the 1992 Reading Festival. Naturally, when Franz got on stage, she imitated Cobain standing up and then falling flat before getting to the set proper. Drummer Fez Guzman had already taught himself the entire Nirvana discography while growing up playing for ten years in Fissure Mystic prior to his stint in Night of Joy and it showed because he didn't seem to miss a single move and executed everything perfectly.
Tom Murphy Night of Joy
Bree Davies (full disclosure: Davies is a contributing Westword writer) and Franz were as raw as you should be if you're going to cover Nirvana and any mistakes made were completely in keeping with the original band live. "About a Girl" and "In Bloom" were excellent, but "Paper Cuts" was darker and more scary than it seems when you're just listening to it on an album. Night of Joy's set ended with a song the band has played before with "Radio Friendly Unit Shifter" where it sounds more like Killing Joke than Nirvana.