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Nirvana in Victoria–the show (almost) no one saw

Cobain plays The Forge

Kurt Cobain in Victoria. Photos by Al Ford.

Nirvana in the early days

Nirvana in BC

As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, the idea for Save Me, Kurt Cobain was in part sparked by a 2012 news story in the Victoria Times-Colonist about Harpo’s, a cabaret where I used to see bands like The Dead Milkmen and 13 Engines. I even interviewed some of them as a student journalist. The bigger bands used to play Victoria on less than peak nights of the week before hitting Vancouver, as did a rising band called Nirvana in March of 1991. Harpo’s Cabaret was booked that night–and the managers couldn’t rejig the schedule–so Nirvana, a band many wise music gurus predicted were the Next Big Thing, played The Forge (a club I am sure I  also went to at some point, but I won’t be bragging about it). The club was uninspired, let’s say, tucked in the belly of a hotel–and is long gone. Attendance was sparse at the Victoria concert, which supposedly included an AC/DC cover band as opening act. This show became a key plot point in my novel.

I had seen  grainy online photos from the gig, but none with attribution until I noticed a post from Al Ford, who is now program director at Jack FM radio in Vancouver. Al, who met Nirvana and interviewed them back then, kindly gave me permission to run the photos on my website. I guess Kurt Cobain was learning his craft while we were learning ours, as journalists.

6 responses to “Nirvana in Victoria–the show (almost) no one saw”

  1. Veronica Tangent says:

    My friend got free tickets to the show from CFUV.
    The Forge had a diagonal path through it, with a diamond of tables and chairs on either side. Standing at the end of the path, at the bar, sipping our beers, we could watch the left side, full of now-almost-extinct metal heads, and on the right, proto-hipster indie rockers who I assumed were mostly UVIC students.
    Opening band was AC/BC. Good cover band. The left side roared with approval.
    Visually, the most vivid memory I have of Nirvana was that the two guitarists were bent over, like they were used to playing in a basement with low ceilings. I liked the raw sound, with a few minimal pedal changes (must have been SLTS?). I also remember thinking “I like this band. Too bad they will never make it. No band I ever like makes it.” Ooh, alas poor me.

  2. Nick macioge says:

    I listened to the show at the side / alley door with my dogs Bones and Winslow. One of my greatest memories

  3. Garb says:

    I saw em. Yeah that’s right. Me. They were at
    at the old Chinese grocery down the street from the Forge. I had been listening to bleach a bunch and approached Kurt. Told him how cool it was to meet him in person, but I didn’t want to be a douche and bother him and ask him for photos or anything.

    He said, “Oh, like you’re doing now?”

    I was taken aback, and all I could say was “Huh?” but he kept cutting me off and going “huh? huh? huh?” and closing his hand shut in front of my face. I walked away and continued with my shopping, and I heard him chuckle as I walked off. When I came to pay for my stuff up front I saw him trying to walk out the doors with like fifteen Milky Ways in his hands without paying.

    The girl at the counter was very nice about it and professional, and was like “Sir, you need to pay for those first.” At first he kept pretending to be tired and not hear her, but eventually turned back around and brought them to the counter.

    When she took one of the bars and started scanning it multiple times, he stopped her and told her to scan them each individually “to prevent any electrical infetterence,” and then turned around and winked at me. I don’t even think that’s a word. After she scanned each bar and put them in a bag and started to say the price, he kept interrupting her by yawning really loudly.

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