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Revisit Nirvana perform 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' in a sweaty bar just days after releasing 'Nevermind'

It’s hard to imagine a time when every single note from Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ wasn’t permanently embedded in our brains. But there was such a time when the track was brand spanking new, before it would take on a life of its own, catapulting Nirvana from being an obscure Seattle grunge act to a household name.

Nevermind was the band’s first full-length release on a major label, Geffen, who set the band an ambitious target of selling 250,000 copies of the record. At the time it seemed stupendously optimistic when after the first week of sales, it only reached Number 144 in the Billboard charts.

Following the release of the record, the band set out on a tour of tiny sweaty bars, each providing an intimate crowd each evening, from town to town as they built up a word of mouth following that was just about to explode beyond Geffen’s wildest expectations.

Even though the album had performed poorly commercially across the United States as a whole, in the North West it immediately sold out. It suggested something was happening, with half of the initial U.S. pressing having been sent to that area and yet still it was unavailable for days. The label then put production of all other albums on hold in order to fulfil demand in the region.

Over the next few months, sales increased significantly as ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ unexpectedly became more and more popular. The song’s video had received a world premiere on MTV’s late-night alternative show 120 Minutes and soon proved so popular that the channel was forced to meet demand by adding it to their daytime playlist.

‘Smells Like Teen Spirit‘ would end up peaking at number six on the US Billboard Hot 100. The album was soon certified Gold, by the Christmas of 1991, Nevermind was selling 400,000 copies a week in the US.

In January 1992, the album displaced Michael Jackson’s Dangerous at number one on the Billboard album charts and was the standout record of the year worldwide. Nevermind eventually sold over seven million copies in the United States and over 30 million worldwide.

These intimate shows were truly the last time that fans would see Nirvana in their natural habitat a stinking, grimy and a rather tiny venue that nobody outside of the state would ever have known of. This time they take to the stage at New Haven’s notorious venue, The Moon, which is now sadly apartment blocks.

This would be Nirvana’s only ever show in Conneticut and it was thankfully filmed, so you can devour it in full, it makes for truly sensational viewing to see a band who were only a matter of months, if not weeks, from becoming the most talked about band in the world playing to just a handful of people.