Watch Nirvana deliver a powerful performance of ‘Aneurysm’ at a hometown show in 1991
Halloween night is always a big deal in America but for Kurt Cobain and Nirvana, it was a bigger night than most. Not only were the group about to perform at the Paramount Theatre in Seattle for a raucous hometown show but they were doing so as bonafide rock stars.
The group were only a few weeks into the release of Nevermind but already the success of the group felt guaranteed. The album had only been around for a few weeks but had already sold over 500,000 copies. Things had changed.
Nirvana arrived at the venue as hometown heroes. Buoyed by major record labels and huge sales already in the bag Kurt Cobain, Krist Novoselic, and Dave Grohl prepared for a fun evening. It saw the group deliver a stunning 19 song set that was perfectly interspersed with playful moments between audience and artist.
The crowd had a hefty dose of friends and family and ensured moments breaking the perceived barrier between the band and their audience was heavily diminished. Despite this high percentage of friendly faces in the Paramount Theatre, there was also a high amount of newly found fans. “There’s more cameras in here than a 7-Eleven,” joked Krist Novoselic. “So two percent of you people are in costumes,” Dave Grohl said, observing the audience. “Personally I think it’s very lame unless you’re all supposed to be punk rockers?”
After opening with Vaselines’ cover ‘Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam,’ a song Nirvana would later make famous on MTV’s Unplugged, the trio then kicked things up a notch with the intense performance of ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ B-side, ‘Aneurysm.’
In the video below, Nirvana burst through the riffy intro like a juggernaut with a thyroid problem as they crash around the stage. Eventually, the song simmers to a gentle roll as Novoselic’s bass rings out across the stunned audience, “Come on over and do the twist,” sings Cobain, “Overdo it/Have a fit.”
The track was written about Cobain and the moment a girl made him so nervous that he vomited. It provoked the lead singer’s visceral expression as he works his way through bodily functions to find himself a stricken love song. Lyrics such as “love you so much it makes me sick” and “she keeps it pumpin’ straight to my heart” punctuate that point.