Tonight in Seattle:  

Is there a moratorium on covering Nirvana in Seattle?

Last night I saw Of Montreal put on one of the craziest and funnest shows I've ever seen* (watch out for Chris B's review!). I was having the time of my life, until they decided to close with "Smell's Like Teen Spirit" (which I'd heard that they had been doing quite a bit on this tour). While Kevin Barnes started the song by saying "this means no disrespect", I feel like covering Nirvana in Seattle, especially that song, feels just the opposite. Or at least just really cheesy. I feel like there's a moratorium on doing it, and it's not over yet.

Am I just being a crankypants? Everyone else seemed to be having the time of their lives. All I could think was that they were too young, or didn't grow up here. After the show ended, and I looked visibly irritated, my friend (who just moved here) told me to get over myself. He explained that Of Montreal are the kind of band that always covers songs, and while it used to be the Kinks and the Who, now they have a younger audience, and they have to cater to them (they also covered Franz Ferdinand's "Take Me Out"). Am I really the only one who feels like covering Nirvana in Seattle is inappropriate? If so, do you feel like maybe someday it might not be inappropriate?

For reference, here's a clip of them covering it in New York. 

* Seriously no disrespect Kevin Barnes and co. That was really one of the best shows I've seen this year.

I agree with your friend: get over yourself. Nirvana was just a band. It's perfectly ok to cover them, yes even in Seattle, and bands should do it more often.

And Barnes apologizing before playing SLTS was a totally pussy move; just play the damn song without all the melodrama.

all i know is that the sound at that new york show (based on that youtube clip) was about 4,000 times better than the sound at the showbox. yarrr!

One vote for crankypants. A decade and a half is more than enough time.

Litmus test: it's long enough for KC's contemporaries to have kids old enough to offend Dad or Mom with, say, the new Of Montreal CD cover.

re: Laura: If we have learned anything from YouTube, it's that bad cameraphone audio is the scourge of humanity.

I almost want to agree with you, Keenan. Almost, but not quite. Personally, I wouldn't play SLTS because it's like a cop out; It's the most famous Nirvana song, they're playing it because everyone there KNOWS it. I would like to hear something better, like "Lithium", instead. That would impress me more than SLTS.

But then again, if I were in the crowd, I might have acted like you. Though, I AM a huge snob when it comes to covers, soo... there you go.

Another vote for crankypants...particularly since they are playing it elsewhere and not just pandering to the local crowd.

Patti Smith did a cover of SLTS here and in her case it felt like a tribute to a kindred spirit and thus was very moving.

keenan, I'm picking up what you're putting down.

No one should ever cover Nirvana. It won't get any better.

taking your query at face value (a point on which we couldn't be further apart), at what point does it become acceptable? who gets to make such a decision? silliness.

i like the idea of seeing of montreal cover nirvana particularly because i know they won't do a rote by-the-chords version of it. i do agree, though, that it's a bit of a cop-out to cover that song.

keenan, having first seen of montreal tour in the mid & late 90's (oh, elephant 6), i can assure you that at the least, they're all old enough to get it ;)

laura, you're not the first to complain about sodo, though i rarely heard such concerns about the concrete box when it was the premier. i wonder if the equipment the showbox put in isn't set up properly.

Well, I just saw of Montreal in Portland at the Roseland last night. The sound was amazing, they covered Franz Ferdinand as an encore, but instead of "SMTS" they did "Nevermind" and it was PHENOMENAL. I say no moratorium... that's the closest I'll ever get to Nirvana and I have to say, it fucking rocked my pants off.


seriously? GET.OVER.IT. i am one of the biggest nirvana fans ever - but it's really time for people to get over it. nevermind came out 16 years ago. kurt cobain has been dead for 14 years. they were a band. they created some great music. they are not gods. their music exists on video games and karoake song lists, which i personally find way more offensive than a band covering a song. one of the ways musicians pay tribute to other musicians is to cover their songs. i think it's great they did it and i think doing in seattle says a lot - and its too bad they even had to say "this means no disrespect" - it seems unnecessary - but then again they obviously expected a negative response. seattle is not the first city in america to launch a music scene of epic proportions. as someone who worked in the music industry in new york and lived in seattle and experienced the music industry there (but did not work directly in it) i think the stranglehold the past has on seattle is one of the biggest things holding seattle back today. you can't wrap your arms around a memory.

I had just finished my review of the show and sent it in, so now I can comment freely. I did enjoy Of Montreal's cover of SMTS and thought it was surprisingly faithful.

I, of course, think bands should be able to play whatever they want for their sets, including covers. I'm also in favor of slaughtering every sacred cow there is (preferably in the background of a Sarah Palin interview) and have little emotional attachment to Nirvana (although I did grow up in Aberdeen, WA). Still, though, I think telling Keenan to get over herself is missing the point, as well.

When bands cover songs they can do so for several interesting reasons but I have seen many a band try to cover a Nirvana (or Alice in Chains, or Pearl Jam, or Soundgarden) song in Seattle as a cheap attempt to borrow on those bands' credibility and legacy. Covering Nirvana under those circumstances, to me, is like wearing too much cologne. It's just trying way too hard to get the crowd on your side.

As for OM, by that point (the last 5 minutes of a 2 hour show), if they had to resort to something that transparent to play to the crowd, the previous 115 minutes would have been a waste.

Playing "Under Pressure" bugs me too because it is just too safe - you can't do any damage to the song that Vanilla Ice hasn't already. I bet the only bands who cover that do so at the insistence of their bass player.

the kids who were born when Nirvana was singing the original version of smells like teen spirit are now teenagers. So Yes the moratorium should be lifted. If you are offended it just makes you look like an old lady.

I don't care about whether or not it's "appropriate," I am annoyed by this because it's just a lame song to cover. Tori Amos covered it, and while I'm not a fan of hers by any stretch, at least she did something different with it. It's a song everyone, everyone, everyone has heard so many times, we just don't need to hear it anymore unless you have some kind of reworking or reinterpretation of it that makes it fresh. For example, "Satisfaction" by The Rolling Stones -- Devo and Otis Redding did killer covers of that song and they sound totally different.

Knowing OM covered "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and I missed it makes me even sadder that I missed this show. It sounds so incongruous... yet it sounds like they killed it. I'm going to have to scour YouTube now to hear for myself!

i don't think bands shouldn't be allowed to cover songs, but ultimately when bands play obvious songs that are shrugworthy, people shouldn't be afraid to shrug. boring bands play boring covers; boring bands shouldn't be banned from playing boring and safe covers as much as they should be banned from playing boring and safe music.

I'm not going to lie, their cover of Franz Ferdinand's "Take Me Out" that night was mind blowing. While I think the song might be a bit too recent to be covered the way they did, it was still wonderful. I think I spent more time dancing in the photo pit overall than taking photos...

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