Rocket Queen: Bleach Bond

Nirvana's influence is prevalent even among SoCal stoner-rockers.

Halfway through Fu Manchu's set at Neumos last Saturday night, the band pulled out "Superbird," an ode to the Plymouth muscle car from their 2003 album No One Rides for Free. One wouldn't think a Southern California–based stoner rock band would exhibit echoes of early Nirvana, but I immediately grabbed my notebook and scribbled "Fu Blew," so I'd remember the similarities between the thickly bubbling bass lines coming from the stage and "Blew," the opening track from Bleach.Granted, my ears were particularly susceptible to picking up such congruencies simply because Bleach has been on my brain nearly nonstop for the past several weeks. Elsewhere in this issue, SW music writers explore the 1989 album's highly anticipated reissue on Sub Pop (next Tuesday, Nov. 3), via both firsthand experience (see producer Jack Endino's account of the recording sessions and bassist Krist Novoselic's interviews) and retrospective analysis (see Bleach expert Gillian G. Gaar's essay).November 3 is also the date that Universal/DGC will finally roll out official DVD and CD releases for the band's much-bootlegged performance at the 1992 Reading Festival. Widely regarded as one of the most exhilarating Nirvana performances ever recorded, Nirvana: Live at Reading will be available in a CD/DVD combination or a CD-only edition, with a double-vinyl format to follow on Nov. 17. The exhausting 25-song set list is a marvel of endurance but, more important, a great joy to watch, simply because it's so uplifting to see a band eventually undone by tragedy having what appears to be the time of their lives.Because it was shot just 12 days after Kurt Cobain's daughter Frances Bean was born, perhaps the optimistic worldview that new parenthood can induce was at play. Maybe he and the rest of the band were just thrilled to finally be playing the prestigious British music festival. Or it may have just been one of those magic moments when crowd energy and the artistic zeitgeist are conveniently tapped at the same time. Whatever the cause, Live at Reading is both a treasure and a triumph—and a document that will comfort fans who never had the privilege of seeing the band live.While the Reading recording is invaluable, it sure would be nice to have an official full-length release of one of Nirvana's more legendary hometown shows. Eighteen years ago this week, they played the Paramount Theatre on Halloween night, with Bikini Kill and Mudhoney opening. Ask anyone lucky enough to be there, and you'll get an earful. BlöödHag frontman and Grudge Rock mastermind Jake Stratton recalls being even more impressed by Mudhoney. "The crowd was going crazy the whole time," says Stratton. "[Mudhoney bassist] Matt Lukin was saying 'Don't applaud, just throw money,' and people showered the stage with cash, which Mudhoney picked up before playing any more songs." Some of Nirvana's material from that show has showed up in a variety of other contexts, namely in the video for "Lithium" and in DGC's Live, Tonight, Sold Out!! compilation of live performances and backstage footage, but it would be an excellent slice of history to have the entire evening and all three bands on one DVD.Though I'd argue that house parties are the place to be on Halloween, Seattle clubs always manage to throw together a handful of entertainingly appropriate rock shows for the holiday. The Funhouse is sure to be overrun with punk-rock zombies when Dead Vampires and Misfits cover band Glenn or Glennda? takes the stage, while the Tractor Tavern in Ballard has a drag-friendly lineup with the annual appearance of Halloqueen, a letter-perfect Queen cover band known for insanely faithful, over-the-top sets. Also of note on that bill is 70 Proof, a guitar-heavy tribute band that kicks out a cornucopia of '70s rock jams with above-average results, thanks to an all-star lineup that includes members of the Presidents of the U.S.A. (namely guitarist Andrew McKeag and drummer Mike Musburger) and recently retired Supersuckers guitarist Ron Heathman.As for myself, I'll be spending Halloween night behind the mike at KEXP, ushering in the inaugural edition of Seek and Destroy, my new metal show with co-host Tanner Ellison. Should your house-party soundtrack require a hard-rock upgrade, please tune in to 90.3 FM, where we'll be conjuring songs from the dark side from midnight to 2 a.m.rocketqueen@seattleweekly.com

 
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