NIRVANA’S EPOCHAL HEADLINING SET, atop the bill they curated, at the 1992 Reading Festival, is celebrated in the latest MOJO magazine, with new interviews with many of the bill’s key acts, including Foo Fighters’ (then, Nirvana's) Dave Grohl.
Beset by wind and rain that turned the festival site into a mudbath, August 30, 1992 was nonetheless transfigured by an extraordinary set by the Seattle-based three-piece, playing what turned out to be their last UK show. However, getting to the stage, after a year of chaos in the Kurt Cobain camp, was a miracle in itself.
“In the 12 months since we had played the 1991 Festival so much had happened,” Grohl tells MOJO. “We had these incredible highs and incredible lows. Kurt had been in rehab, we hadn’t played together; Kurt was living in Los Angeles, Krist and I were up in Seattle. The band was just fractured in more than a few ways. We were expected to come back together to do this gig, and it was really touch and go.”
Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love’s child Frances Bean had been born less than two weeks previously, amid accusations regarding the pair’s hard drug use – most notoriously in a Vanity Fair profile published earlier in the month. Rumours backstage at the festival suggested that Nirvana might not show at al.
“I remember bumping into people who were saying, ‘What are you doing here?’” says Grohl. “I said, ‘We’re f**king headlining!’ They’re like, ‘Oh I thought you cancelled!’ I’m thinking, What the f**k is going on?!”
Among the artists contributing their recollections of being pelted with mud and even playing some music, there’s Nick Cave, L7's Donita Sparks, The Melvins' Buzz Osbourne, plus members of Pavement, Eugenius, Teenage Fanclub, Björn Again and more.
“I thought, ‘Oh fuck, our name’s Mudhoney’,” says the latter’s Mark Arm. “That’s a magnet. I said, ‘In America we have this game called baseball and people learn to throw accurately…’ Right then a dirt clod hit me in the face. Of course, I had forgotten all about cricket…”
For more Reading memories, check out MOJO 287, on UK newsstands now. It includes an exciting FREE CD: 15 tracks of inflammable underground rock and sub-pop, 1989-1992, starring Afghan Whigs, Pavement, Mudhoney, The Jesus Lizard and more.