09 September 2011

THE MUSIC AND PRESTON BLACK, Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Cow Palace, San Francisco, CA, December 31, 1991

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From Rolling Stone 2/20/92

Performance -- Red Hot Chili Peppers / Pearl Jam / Nirvana
San Francisco, CA, The Cow Palace, December 31, 1991
by Gina Arnold

Every year for the past twenty years on December 31st, San Francisco's famed Haight Street has been overrun by a fluorescence of Deadheads, in town for the annual Grateful Dead show at the Oakland Coliseum. Their inescapable presence on that particular day has long been a frustrating symbol that for much of America, culturally speaking, time has continued to stand stock-still.

On the afternoon of December 31st, 1991, however, the Deadheads finally met their match. They were greeted on the streets by a healthy host of obsteperous young longhairs clad in cutoffs and combat boots, their thighs all bulging from a lifetime spent on skateboards. This new contingent of rock fans had invaded the city not for the Dead, but for the concert featuring Pearl Jam, Nirvana and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and even the most casual observer would have had no trouble deciding which side of youth culture would be more fun to belong to.

An atmosphere of jubilation pervaded the Cow Palace as the 16,000 fans who crowded the sold-out arena celebrated a mass victory for a new popular-rock aesthetic. The victory was articulated by all three bands, each of which dissed their cross-Bay rivals in very specific terms, beginning with opening act Pearl Jam, whose singer, Eddie Vedder, greeted the roaring throng with "Want to hear some songs by the Dead?" The audience booed with gleeful derision, as Vedder burst into an a cappella rendition of Fugazi's antirape song "Suggestion." "Don't go partying on other people's pussies unless they want you to," he said (referring to the Red Hot Chili Peppers' anthem "Party on Your Pussy").

The point was well taken, for despite the rampant Seventies-isms of much of the evening's music -- Nirvana's work is often compared to Blue Oyster Cult's, the Chili Peppers draw heavily on Seventies funksters like George Clinton, and Pearl Jam is equally rooted in other, more staid classic-rock-radio conventions -- there is clearly an entirely different sensibility at work here. One of the most visible differences is a reliance on athleticism to carry each show, and the ingenuity of each band is quite amusing, from Nirvana's impromptu baseball game -- which utilized guitars as bats and amplifiers as balls -- to Chili Peppers singer Anthony Kiedis's long handstand during one of Flea's impressive bass solos. Pearl Jam's opening set was particularly energetic. Singer Vedder climbed up the lighting ladder and, at the set's close, leapt courageously into the audience's maw.

The crowd was impressed, but the night clearly belonged to the next band up, Nirvana, whose new album, Nevermind, hit number one on the Billboard charts that very week. In fact, the record sold so unexpectedly well in the months since the show was booked that its popularity had well outstripped the headlining Chili Peppers by a factor of four to one.

Thus, after the briefest of set changes, Nirvana played a taut forty-five minute set that completely wrecked what was left of the audience's composure. Members of the mosh pit, which stretched from the stage to the back of the arena, were being thrown in the air like clods of dirt caught up in a live minefield. By the time Nirvana threw in its hit "Smells like Teen Spirit" in midset, the crowd had risen up, rolling forward in a relentless wave of motion. The atmosphere was so infectious that even members of the band's own entourage, standing in the comparative safety of the stage wings, periodically lost their heads and leapt off the rim into the boiling crowd below.

Nirvana's set drew largely from its first album, Bleach, but the audience was as familiar with those songs -- "School," "Floyd the Barber," "About a Girl" -- as it was with the selections from Nevermind which included "Lithium," "Breed," and "Drain You." Singer Kurt Cobain, his hair dyed purple for the occasion, vacillated onstage between nearly cataleptic detachment and unnerving inner intensity. The instant the set finished, he and his band mates destroyed their instruments in a cheery display of wanton violence. They didn't just throw them around, either -- they lovingly unscrewed each piece, the better to batter them into little tiny shards, while the audience howled with glee. There was no encore.

When the lights came up, the exhausted audience attempted to marshal its resources to match the Chili Peppers' legendary live force. But when the Peppers appeared -- bassist Flea upside down, lowered to the stage by ropes tied to his ankles -- they seemed to have trouble finding their much-vaunted groove. Despite the two fire-eaters, numerous naked dancers painted in Day-Glo and huge sonic booms that were set off at midnight, the final twenty minutes of the set -- which included bits of Clinton's "Atomic Dog" and all of Hendrix's "Crosstown Traffic" -- were by far the best. Once again, the audience roiled. The final stage diver, Eddie Vedder, took the plunge during an encore version of "Yertle the Turtle."

The Chili Peppers ended up ruling the night out of sheer noisiness and force of character. But it was Nirvana that had already had the last word -- when bassist Chris Novoselic butchered the Youngbloods' "Get Together" as the band ended its set with the song "Territorial Pissings." "Gotta find a way, a better way," goes the manic chorus -- but it was an injunction that had just rendered itself entirely needless. Well before midnight the crowd already had.

Pearl Jam
Red Hot Chili Peppers
SV059 - "JAM LIKE HELL (Platinum Edition)"
December 31, 1991
Cow Palace: San Francisco, CA (Daly City, CA)

Download the show at Sugarmegs.

Source: Nakamichi CM-300s > Sony WM-D6 > analog (master) > cdr > dEdit > dEQ > flac

Taper: M.P.
Editing and Remastering: Allen Robertson
Artwork: Allen Robertson


**Pearl Jam Set**
01 Once
02 (Waiting Room)/Even Flow
03 (Suggestion)
04 Why Go
05 Jeremy
06 Alive
07 Leash
08 (Smells Like Teen Spirit)
09 Porch

**Nirvana Set**
10 intro
11 Drain You
12 Aneurysm
13 School
14 Floyd the Barber
15 Smells Like Teen Spirit
16 About a Girl
17 Sliver
18 Polly
19 Breed
20 Come as You Are
21 Lithium
22 Dumb
23 Territorial Pissings

**RHCP Set (part 1)**
01 Love Trilogy
02 The Organic Anti-Beat Box Band
03 (No Head No Backstage Pass)
04 Suck My Kiss
05 Subterranean Homesick Blues
06 Funky Crime
07 Give It Away
08 Nobody Weird Like Me
09 If You Have to Ask
10 Stone Cold Bush

**RHCP Set (part 2)**
01 (Superstar)/Blood Sugar Sex Magic/(Magic Johnson)
02 I Could Have Lied
03 Subway to Venus
04 (Sexy Mexican Maid)/(Fela's Cock) jam (^)
05 (Fopp)/Special Secret Song Inside (Party On Your Pussy)/(Red Hot Mama)/Me And My Friends
06 Yertle the Turtle/Freaky Styley Medley/(Cosmic Slop)/(Atomic Dog) jam
07 (After Hours)
08 Crosstown Traffic


(^) = includes the New Year's Eve countdown

Recording Notes:
All three sets are sourced directly from the master, including the elusive RHCP set which seems like it has never circulated very much, if at all. Edited to even out some volume adjustments the taper did at the beginning of the PJ and Nirvana sets, smoothed out where the taper paused after "Dumb" and "Me and My Friends", and removed a few pops. There is also an unfixable small cut @ 9:28 of disc 3, track 6.

The total time of the first disc is 80:33. Almost all modern cd burners can overburn to a little over 82 minutes using capable burning software. Check out the net for specifics on what your particular burner can handle, or you can of course separate the two sets onto two discs if you have any problems.

This release should not be confused with SV023, called "JAM LIKE HELL". Basically the differences between that earlier release and this one is SV023 does not include the RHCP set, and there are more cdr extractions in the source lineage.

Also very special thanks to Dominick Gruber in Germany who spent a good bit of time helping me identify all the teases in the RHCP set.

Artwork Notes:
The artwork is designed to fit a 3-cd fat "quad" cd style jewelcase. It could be surely modified to fit two separate traditional jewelcases if desired.

Show Notes (thanks to Five Horizons):
New Year's Eve and three great bands! Ed comments, "If I wasn't in this band, I would still make sure I was here tonight." Ed sings part of Fugazi's 'Waiting Room' as an intro to 'Even Flow.' A driven performance, with a particularly intense version of 'Alive.' Flea of RHCP assists with vocals during 'Leash.' The 'Teen Spirit' teaser (actually the longest teaser I've heard) is followed by Stone's quip, "Just remember, we played it first." Ed performs one of his finest stage dives, repeating it later during the 'Yurtle the Turtle' encore with the Chili Peppers.

This is being distributed by blackredyellow.com in tandem with pj.sidewalkcrusaders.com, and is part of a series of the best Pearl Jam shows in existence. If the artwork is not included, you can find it at blackredyellow.com.

Compiled on another late night by spacedvest on 8/2/04.

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