Some memorable days from the early ‘90s
May 14, 2021 3:42 PM   Subscribe

Kind of like hearing the cover versions done by Post Modern Jukebox for the first time.
posted by wmo at 3:46 PM on May 14, 2021 [1 favorite]

Is there a TikTok for everything now?
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:51 PM on May 14, 2021 [6 favorites]

The Cherub Rock one seems to have gotten copyrighted, as the cool kids say nowadays.
posted by signal at 3:59 PM on May 14, 2021

Interesting, because they’re all explicitly tagged with the songs that they clip. I mean, that’s kind of the point of Tiktok. Perhaps Billy Corrigan is taking a Prince approach to content.
posted by Going To Maine at 4:02 PM on May 14, 2021

What it was like hearing Freedom by Rage Against The Machine in 1993

Flashback to a moment in my university dorm explaining to a member of the campus Reform Party [the Canadian one] what Rage was on about in the songs that he was blasting on his stereo.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 4:10 PM on May 14, 2021 [15 favorites]

Cute...The 90s really were the decade of the quiet /loud song dynamic, huh? Has anyone tried to hybridize the EDM drop with a quiet/loud pop song yet?
posted by Jon Mitchell at 4:38 PM on May 14, 2021 [4 favorites]

Kind of like hearing the cover versions done by Post Modern Jukebox for the first time.

are you ok
posted by mhoye at 4:43 PM on May 14, 2021 [18 favorites]

The 90s really were the decade of the quiet /loud song dynamic, huh?

I know I'm biased, but I thought that was forefronted by The Pixies in the 80's.
posted by mollweide at 4:55 PM on May 14, 2021 [21 favorites]

for the absolute literalist;
what it looked like hearing The Replacements for the first time
posted by bartleby at 4:58 PM on May 14, 2021 [7 favorites]

Creep's certainly not their best work—that came later—but when Thom Yorke slides into falsetto and then just so effortlessly slides right back out of it into that beautiful wailing cry of "run"… man, it still gives me goosebumps.

I can still clearly remember being 90% certain I was hearing a brand new talent on the scene, with the other 10% desperately hoping I wasn't wrong and this magic new sound wasn't a one-hit wonder.
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 5:14 PM on May 14, 2021 [5 favorites]

Two of these things don't seem to be quite the same as the other two, cultural significance wise.
posted by biffa at 5:31 PM on May 14, 2021 [2 favorites]

Don't be coy. Which two of our favorite bands suck?
posted by clockwork at 5:48 PM on May 14, 2021 [22 favorites]

I know nothing about the tik tok of this but the Creep mention brings me right back to my youth.

I was 14 when Radiohead opened for Alanis Morisette in 1996*. The tour started in my hometown of Buffalo and I was so pumped to see Radiohead because of their song Fake Plastic Trees which was featured on the soundtrack to Clueless. Mostly it was a great time but I do remember being super teenage angsty about the loudness of the impatient drunken folks screaming "AlANIS!!! WE WANT ALANIS!" throughout their set.

(*the 90s was weird as far as who opened for who and how famous those people were a few years later. I also went to see Veruca Salt open for Bush the next spring.)
posted by RobinofFrocksley at 5:48 PM on May 14, 2021 [6 favorites]

re: unexpected 90's openers. My immigrant parents were too worried to let me go with a friend to a concert held at a local park to see a band called Smashing Pumpkins open for another band called Red Hot Chili Peppers. I am an old lady with my own kid and I can see and empathize with their worry and the sacrifices they made for me and I adore them to pieces, but MOM I AM STILL REALLY MAD ABOUT THIS.
posted by BlueBlueElectricBlue at 5:59 PM on May 14, 2021 [59 favorites]

Don't be coy. Which two of our favorite bands suck?

Controversially -maybe- I would say that one of these is in a different league from the others, and it’s Smells Like Teen Spirit because it basically created the future of music in the nineties.
posted by Going To Maine at 6:01 PM on May 14, 2021 [4 favorites]

What it was like hearing...

"West End Girls" in 1984
"One Night in Bangkok" in 1984
"She Bop" in 1984
"Detachable Penis" in 1992
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 6:16 PM on May 14, 2021 [18 favorites]

What's funny is that I definitely remember where I was when I heard SMTS for the first time, and probably also Creep.

(OK fine, I'll tell you the Nirvana story, since you are almost certainly throwing up your hands and saying "well, where were you?" I had traveled up to Massachusetts by bus to visit some girl at a different college. When I first met her she was a classical-music conservatory brat, but at her cool liberal arts college she was a burgeoning hipster, and one of her new friends was a college radio DJ. We sat down in her dorm room to talk and she immediately put Nevermind on the boombox, and was like "HAVE YOU HEARD NIRVANA!?" and I said "Wow, that's really good, but can we turn it off? It's, like, really distracting.")
posted by anhedonic at 6:43 PM on May 14, 2021 [4 favorites]

I know exactly where I was when I heard "Cherub Rock" and "Freedom": room 101 in West Dorm, Harvey Mudd College. Art, the senior who lived across the hall from me, had both those albums on constant repeat all through my sophomore year.

I mostly listened to The Samples in my room.
posted by RakDaddy at 7:02 PM on May 14, 2021 [4 favorites]

What it was like hearing...

"Detachable Penis" in 1992

In the car, listening to 91.3 WSGR broadcasting from the basement of SC4. I almost drove off the road, I was laughing so hard.

*lights candle for WSGR*
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 7:02 PM on May 14, 2021 [16 favorites]

Smashing Pumpkins open for another band called Red Hot Chili Peppers

I saw Smashing Pumpkins open for Buffalo Tom. I also saw Jon Spencer Blues Explosion open for Buffalo Tom.

Also, /pendantic: I think he's living some revisionist history here. I find it hard to believe that anyone who had heard of The Pixies in '91 had not already heard of Nirvana. Bleach came out in '89, two months after Doolittle, and two years before Nevermind. And though Doolittle was certainly more popular than Surfer Rosa, they still weren't extremely well known. I remember having an extra ticket to see them live on that tour and I could not find anyone to go with me. I ended up bringing someone from school who'd never heard them and he spent the entire show in the coat check room "trying to get away from the noise." (Pixies were certainly a dreadful live band. I saw them live twice and they were absolute shit each time. Their openers on those tours, My Dad is Dead and Pere Ubu respectively, positively mopped the floor with them.)
posted by dobbs at 7:08 PM on May 14, 2021 [7 favorites]

In college, back in the 80s, in Charlottesville, I saw Dave Mathews band in a bar, I think it was the Mineshaft, before anyone knew they were going to be DMB. What was it like hearing them for the first time? Well, there were about 40 of us in the bar, and I can honestly say that I semi remember saying to a friend, "If I wasn't so fucking drunk, these guys might be good. But being as I am fucking drunk, these guys are loud. Whose turn is it to buy the next pitcher?"

Fast forward about 15-20 years. Without going into details, I have met Dave Mathews and have spoken to him more than, "Glad to meet you. I love your music." At a so called after party after one of his shows in Florida, we were sitting at a table taking shots of tequila as one does at 2 am after a show. Dave sat down with our group. Turns out the empty chair was next to me. We got to talking and I told him the story above about the first time I saw the band. I knew he was listening and had a sense of humor when he said, "Great story. Well, whose turn was it to buy the beer?"

(And, when I next spoke to him 2 years later, the only thing he said to me was, "Seriously, whose turn was it?" I am friends with a good friend of his so I think he remembers me in context.)
posted by AugustWest at 7:08 PM on May 14, 2021 [10 favorites]

A friend of mine was working as a pizza delivery person in Seattle when Nevermind debuted, and described driving around all night and hearing SLTS playing in EVERY apartment he was delivering to...
posted by Sing Or Swim at 7:09 PM on May 14, 2021 [8 favorites]

I find it hard to believe that anyone who had heard of The Pixies in '91 had not already heard of Nirvana. Bleach came out in '89, two months after Doolittle, and two years before Nevermind.

Oh, that was definitely my experience (Pixies, then Nirvana). First of all, Doolittle was a much bigger record, sales-wise and press-wise, than Bleach. The Surfer Rosa EPs had primed the critics, so Doolittle was like their Nevermind.
It got decent hype in Rolling Stone and college radio play where I was. And then they followed up with Bossanova, a month before Nevermind (August '90 vs. Sept '90). I was really obsessed with the Pixies, and then I heard Nevermind in the story that I just told.
posted by anhedonic at 7:23 PM on May 14, 2021 [1 favorite]

I once went to an art installation which was a band playing "Smells like Teen Spirit" over and over and over again all night - only taking breaks for other bands to come in and play "Smells like Teen Spirit" in their own way.

I was there for 2.5 hours and still liked the song. It's a great song.

Though my favourite version was the Lemon Bucket Orkestra Klezmer/Eastern European folk version.

Also, since when do people my age have grey beards? Oh, since for a while now...
posted by jb at 7:24 PM on May 14, 2021 [8 favorites]

Unleash this guy on reliving the first time you heard "Head Like A Hole".
posted by GuyZero at 7:27 PM on May 14, 2021 [28 favorites]

My favourite version of Creep was always the acoustic version, especially with this animation.
posted by jb at 7:30 PM on May 14, 2021 [4 favorites]

The first time I heard Teen Spirit I was approximately 12 years old and in the bedroom of a cool older kid on my block I knew from riding BMX freestyle bikes around the neighborhood. He had taken a liking to me and introduced me to all sorts of cool new music, but to his credit mostly endured my endless begging of him to let me play Civilizations and Stunts on his 486 PC with a Soundblaster 16.

I recall thinking Teen Spirit was ok. It didn't really catch me that hard. Lithium was my fav on that album. I was more interested in Gwar and NWA at the time.
posted by glonous keming at 7:32 PM on May 14, 2021 [1 favorite]

The first time I heard the Pumpkins it was not Cherub Rock, but Today. A girl had asked me if I'd heard them before or not, and then tethered us together with her ear buds for a couple of wonderful minutes as we watched each other listen.
posted by Kabanos at 7:35 PM on May 14, 2021 [7 favorites]

I can still remember growing up in a place where your radio options were classic rock, bar rock and slightly more recent bar rock, and what a revelation it was the first time I heard Ice-T’s “new jack hustler”.
posted by mhoye at 7:40 PM on May 14, 2021 [4 favorites]

do the entire Violent Femmes debut album
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:00 PM on May 14, 2021 [20 favorites]

That guy has the perfect face for this.

I don't remember the first time I heard Smells Like Teen Spirit - I think Nirvana had been creeping up on me slowly. Most of my (guy) friends were in bands that sounded like Nirvana, and as someone said above, I was amazed when they became so massive. Somehow, no one begrudged them anything, and they really did change the music scene entirely for a minute.

I do remember the day I heard that Kurt Cobain died. People were calling me because I was known to have kind of a crush on him. I went to a Liz Phair concert that night and she dedicated Explain It To Me to him, which was perfect.
posted by maggiemaggie at 8:26 PM on May 14, 2021 [4 favorites]

I find it hard to believe that anyone who had heard of The Pixies in '91 had not already heard of Nirvana.

I first heard the Pixies on (I think) a single CD with both Surfer Rosa and Come on Pilgrim; I want to say it was 1989. I didn't hear Bleach until after Nevermind had come out.

Tangentially, I don't think Bleach is very good. There's some clear promise on it, but it's a both uneven and marred by some fairly mediocre drumming.
posted by Slothrup at 8:27 PM on May 14, 2021 [5 favorites]

The first time I listened to the Chilli Peppers is when they opened for Rush.
posted by clavdivs at 8:49 PM on May 14, 2021 [1 favorite]

I do not recall the first time I heard “Smells Like Teen Spirit” but I do recall the most memorable time (if that’s not a tautology). In 1994 I was playing in a folk duo in Canada with a singer-songwriter whose admiration for Stan Rogers just this side of pagan fucking idolatry. One evening we were at an open stage and noticed that in the audience was fifteen-year-old Nathan Rogers, Stan’s son (Stan had died when he was four, I suppose). Later Nathan took the stage for a few songs.

Nathan is a well-respected recording artist these days. To me, he is eternally that floppy-haired teenager bashing out SMTS on his dad’s guitar while my bandmate sat alongside me gripping the table with white fingertips at seeing what he viewed as a holy relic being mistreated. For him, that evening was like seeing someone using a Stradivarius to pound nails.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:52 PM on May 14, 2021 [10 favorites]

For him, that evening was like seeing someone using a Stradivarius to pound nails.

Heh. What he didn't realize is that Barrett's Privateers and SLTS are basically the same bar song, if you think about it.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 9:13 PM on May 14, 2021 [5 favorites]

Unleash this guy on reliving the first time you heard "Head Like A Hole".

yea I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing first time I heard head like a hole.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 9:38 PM on May 14, 2021 [5 favorites]

I remember going to the local Sound Shop so my friend could but the sheet music for a new band he'd heard of. Then we listened to Smells Like Teen Spirit for like three hours straight and couldn't believe this song existed.

I remember hearing Head Like A Hole and discovering electronic/industrial/techno music through it. Also, my of fetish wear.

I remember watching MTV after midnight and hearing "I saw my penis laying on a blanket" and immediately thought I needed to find this fucking band.

I didn't really get into RATM until college. I remember learning the songs because a friend of mine would do the "Lights out/Guerilla radio/Turn that shit up!" in a Mickey Mouse voice and I could never forget it.

Smashing Pumpkins was a band that I got laid to. Literally. They played a concert and Corgan threw a hissy fit and walked off stage, so my girlfriend and I went and had sex in the bushes under William Falkner's study.

I would buy CDs religiously. I discovered music by the bucketfuls. Our parents let us buy whatever we wanted, and I remember hearing Violent Femmes for the first time and desperately wondering why they turned me on so much.

I was such a music kid in the 90s. I wrote a music column for the college paper. I worked for an alternative radio station for years. Now, I put my put music on and watch my 5- and 6-year old kids rock out to Queen and Bowie and Lincoln Park and I just want to sit down with them and tell them that their dad once listened to The Crow soundtrack for four days straight when a girl broke up with him, and that it's ok to love music so hard that you don't know what to do but sit there and let it consume you.
posted by gwydapllew at 9:55 PM on May 14, 2021 [15 favorites]

I remember Smells Like Teen Spirit - 1st day of summer football practice and a guy brought in the tape. And we listened to it constantly for like 3 weeks.

I remember NIN - from David Letterman talking about their set at Lollapalooza or some other concert - just in awe at the destruction.

I remember Rage- on Night Flight, the video for Killing in the Name of - with some guy flipping off the camera, which was really rare in those days to see on tv. I remember Freedom - at the Embassy Suites for a regional UIL event, a classmate had that and Agent Orange.

I remember Smashing Pumpkins - Today was my class song, and it had all the terrible '70s rock aspects I disliked. Mellon Collie was decent, it brought me back in.

I remember Radiohead - thought Creep sucked, but High and Dry and Fake Plastic Trees were great.
posted by The_Vegetables at 9:57 PM on May 14, 2021 [1 favorite]

see a band called Smashing Pumpkins open for another band called Red Hot Chili Peppers.

if the show sucks, you can make soup.
posted by kaibutsu at 10:22 PM on May 14, 2021 [22 favorites]

I grew up as a geeky kid in a small town, and I went to nightclubs because that's what everyone else did who was trying to be cool. And my God, how I wanted to be cool. I viscerally remember hearing Creep for the first time, when I was about 15 or so, at a nightclub in the next town over - just how fucking *loud* it was, how raw, how jarring. I just loved it. LOVED it. Loved being there and hearing it and feeling it and suddenly thinking that, huh; there may actually be a place for me somewhere out in this world after all.
posted by StephenF at 10:30 PM on May 14, 2021 [4 favorites]

this sparks joy
posted by deadbilly at 10:51 PM on May 14, 2021 [7 favorites]

I'm pretty sure I first heard "Smells Like Teen Spirit" when the video premiered on 120 Minutes on MTV. I wasn't a huge fan of Bleach but I was primed for the new record because Nirvana had opened for Dinosaur Jr. at the Gothic Theater in Denver and everyone I knew who saw the show agreed that 1) Nirvana blew Dinosaur Jr. off the stage and 2) their new material was unexpectedly great. I bought the LP on day one, but it wasn't until a couple of weeks later that I realized the world was changing -- I turned on the TV and found the video for "Smells Like Teen Spirit" playing at the top of the hour in the middle of the day. Nirvana had been pushed into heavy rotation on MTV and it felt like I had slipped into another dimension.
posted by Mothlight at 11:06 PM on May 14, 2021 [4 favorites]

Metafilter: I'm angry, but I'm learning.
posted by alex_skazat at 11:17 PM on May 14, 2021 [12 favorites]

It's too easy for me to pinpoint the first time I heard SLTS. Quick trip to wikipedia, and I see it would have been some time around midnight Jan. 11/12, 1992 on Saturday Night Live. They were introduced by the host Rob Morrow (who?), and while I wasn't as impressed by their second tune, I went out first thing Sunday morning in the snow to buy myself Nevermind on cassette.

And as far as I know, I still haven't heard two of the those four songs.
posted by morspin at 11:22 PM on May 14, 2021

Patrice O Neal on the importance of creep (1:55)
posted by eustatic at 11:54 PM on May 14, 2021 [3 favorites]

I have a friend who told me the story of living in a student flat in the late 80s. One of her housemates was a reclusive guitar player who would disappear into his room and eventually emerge with a song that was so reliably miserable that it became a joke amongst the house mates. One day they asked him if he could write a happy song and he came up with this. A few years later she turned on the radio and heard the composition that had finally prompted that request to cheer up: “Creep”.
posted by rongorongo at 1:27 AM on May 15, 2021 [12 favorites]

The young women's chorus version of Creep, in case you're in the lucky 10,000 who are today years old.

Bonus: Storm Large's cover of Pixies's Where Is My Mind that's still so good after all these years, I almost want to go see live music again.
posted by bartleby at 1:27 AM on May 15, 2021 [8 favorites]

I saw Nirvana in a club in Montreal 3 days before Nevermind was released. Only 260 of us but through the drunken haze I remember everyone dancing with massive idiot grins on their faces because the gig was so good and so much fun. That would be when I first heard the song for the first time.

Still one of the best gigs I ever went to.

Also, my favourite cover version of the song is by Patti Smith.
posted by Phlegmco(tm) at 2:00 AM on May 15, 2021 [4 favorites]

Nirvana were still just another Seattle band that sounded like all the other ones after Bleach came out (Soundgatden, Mudhoney, and TAD had already hit SF by then). Sonic Youth came to town on the Goo tour and this Nirvana band happened to be opening and I still remember walking into The Warfield 15 minutes into their set while the scariest most intense band with this singer with ratty blond hair was just emoting on stage and blew everyone away. I went back to re-evaluate Bleach with respect. A couple weeks later Nevermind dropped. Room 3G at Kingman Hall in Berkeley played it a dozen times the day it came out. The Pixies were already huge at this point, even on the West Coast.

I’ll still never forgive the rock critic for SF Weekly for dissuading me from checking out this up and coming band with some buzz about them who would be playing One Step Beyond (a garage sized all ages venue in Santa Clara). To paraphrase the blurb, Gina something-or-other described Smashing Pumpkins as yet another boring “shoe gazing fuzz guitar band” and she just couldn’t take anymore. A couple weeks later I heard Gish for the first time. I remember running to my friends apartment across the way with the CD and some weed. “Stop what you’re doing *right now* and listen to THIS.” The guitars sounded like caramel.

In retrospect, SP were a bit derivative and Corgan turned out to be an ass, but Gina what’s her face, who was too cool for the zeitgeist, missed. Rock critics had so much power before the internet.

We’ve all shared our first time with Loveless before here I’m sure. But *that* was the real head explosion moment. Actually, it was the Glider EP which preceded it and had the song Soon on it, but now I’m being a pedant.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 2:47 AM on May 15, 2021 [6 favorites]

Just googled, it was Gina Arnold who withheld the Smashing Pumpkins from all the cool Bay Area kids.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 2:51 AM on May 15, 2021

I remember I almost bought Nevermind just because of the cover - I had never heard of the band. That would have been epic! But I heard it on MTV first, instead. Now Pearl Jam should also still be sending muffin baskets to someone at MTV: I remember they pushed their videos hard, on whatever the indie rock Gen X hour was called, I forget, for a pretty long time before the band broke big. Like the VJ outright evangelizing about how great Pearl Jam is.
posted by thelonius at 4:00 AM on May 15, 2021

Or, y'know, just hears for the first time.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:22 AM on May 15, 2021

The first time I heard Creep it was on the radio and I thought it was a Smiths song I'd never heard, which perturbed me at first because I've never liked the Smiths (How Soon Is Now aside).
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:27 AM on May 15, 2021

I have heard each of these bands on classic rock AM. When these songs were new I remember hating classic rock AM with a white hot fury, all they play is commercial bullshit and boring nostalgia for dinosaurs!

And here we are.

now, entertain us!! yeah!!!
posted by adept256 at 6:37 AM on May 15, 2021

I should do one of these for Liz Phair. I was 14 or 15—just old enough to get it, but still young enough to nervously giggle at F-bombs.
posted by pxe2000 at 6:53 AM on May 15, 2021 [4 favorites]

I almost bought Nevermind just because of the cover

The baby on the cover, by the way, is now thirty. Spencer Elden, now a Los Angeles artist, has never (at last report) met either Novoselic or Grohl nor has he seen any compensation beyond the $200 his parents got for the 15-second photo shoot in 1991. He has admitted that it has given him a great pick up line: "Would you like to see my penis again?"
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:02 AM on May 15, 2021 [14 favorites]

The nineties were a weird time for my music listening. I hated the cd format, so pretty much stopped buying new music around the beginning of the decade, but still listened to some of course. But that makes dating when I heard popular songs for the first time tough.

I remember first seeing Smells Like Teen Spirit on MTV and thinking it was nifty enough and I'm sure MTV is probably where I first heard Smashing Pumpkins, who stood out, but weren't much my thing. Creep I don't remember "first hearing" at all, but I do remember first reading about Radiohead and how great they were, so was interested in hearing them, only to find I had already with Creep and Fake Plastic Trees and was taken aback because they didn't do much for me at all. (My own fault surely, given the acclaim they've had from people who know about music, but I don't think I'll ever be able to appreciate Thom Yorke's singing. Even distorted by effect, it just bugs the crap out of me.) Don't remember the first time I heard Freedom either, but I do recall well the first time I heard Rage Against the Machine as an anarchist bike punk friend of mine had me listen to them.

I guess I'd just had enough of that kind of band format by that point, after Sonic Youth, The Pixies, Throwing Muses, and others I'd been sated in that, so for me the big memory moments of the time were more stuff like Morphine, Massive Attack, Portishead, Outkast, Stereolab and other electronica, jazzy and/or folky stuff then the guys with guitars band thing which I went through in the eighties. Not saying that was the better route, just mine fit to my age and interests.
posted by gusottertrout at 7:03 AM on May 15, 2021 [2 favorites]

The first time I'd heard Portishead was shortly after I'd read a magazine article about "a band that did 60's spy-movie music", and then the long version of 'To Kill A Dead Man' popped up on Muchmusic.
posted by ovvl at 7:53 AM on May 15, 2021 [3 favorites]

I consume most of my media with the sound off, and I am quite impressed with how well these translate with no audio!
posted by TheCoug at 8:13 AM on May 15, 2021 [1 favorite]

I was an undergrad when Smells Like Teen Spirit came out. I had just biked home from campus and walked into our off-campus shack. One of my housemates had MTV BuzzFeed on, and the video for it came on just as I arrived, the very first time I heard the tune. I watched it, and immediately left the house and biked to the record store (remember those?) to buy the CD (remember those?). Only time I've ever been struck by a tune in a way where my reaction was OMG I must own this recording right now.
posted by mcstayinskool at 9:22 AM on May 15, 2021 [1 favorite]

Portishead; I probably saw the video for "Sour Times" on MuchMusic, and I went out and rented (yeah) the CD. That night as I was listening to it in my room I had the door open, and one by one housemates or friends walked by and were like "what the heck is THAT?" and by the end of the album I had four or five people sitting in my room for an improptu listening party.
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:28 AM on May 15, 2021 [3 favorites]

I remember hearing Teen Spirit and Creep for the first time the way I heard a lot of that era for the first time... staying up late on weeknights to watch Post-Modern MTV. Teen Spirit made no impression on me beyond "cool, I probably won't like the album though" and I hated Creep. Especially how it being in constant rotation for months was that many fewer Cure videos or opportunities to hear other new stuff I might like. Post-Modern MTV was only six videos a night! Stop wasting one slot on Creep again!

I also remember going to the record store around then and the employee trying really, really hard to get me to buy Nirvana's Nevermind and the Beastie Boys' Check Your Head. I walked out with Foxbase Alpha by Saint Etienne and Shepherd Moons by Enya... he really had no chance. I knew what I liked. Although I always like to hear "Come As You Are," that's a great one.
posted by lefty lucky cat at 10:40 AM on May 15, 2021

My moment for Nirvana 1991 came on the playground as a kid. At the time I had a friend who was obsessed with Vanilla Ice. Nirvana was how I learned that some music is better than other music.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 10:43 AM on May 15, 2021

As someone who was between 16-18 when these songs were released,
I related to that TikTok video a little too well.
Never thought those words would come
out of my mouth.
posted by Chocomog at 10:51 AM on May 15, 2021

I saw his reaction to RATM the other day. I chuckled. Hadn't know there were more.

The first time I heard SMTS I was a junior in college in my off-campus apartment. One of my old high school friends had come up from my home town to visit for the weekend, and it was Saturday morning. I was making pancakes while she put on MTV, and I thought it was a new song by The Pixies until Kurt started singing. By the 2nd chorus, I was yelling at her to stop jumping on my couch. I liked the song, but not enough to destroy the furniture.

The year before I was cleaning my little basement flat with MTV on one rainy day, and had to stop sweeping because I heard Layne Staley's voice for the first time (it was Alice In Chains' "Man in a Box"). I was compelled to double-check whether or not he was black. As a young black woman, there was a split second between my hearing the voice and turning to see the TV that I thought, "Hooray, new black rock band!"

I went out and bought the CD later that day, though.
posted by droplet at 11:03 AM on May 15, 2021 [2 favorites]

I had this friend who had a friend who was a socially awkward guy in his 40s who was organizing an Utne Reader magazine club so he could meet single women. He wanted to get married in the worst way, and have heirs to leave his estate (he was wealthy). Anyway, he invited me to dinner, and I cautiously accepted because he seemed like a nice guy. So he made a lovely dinner with an amazing burgundy, and he put "Nevermore" on. The music started, and as I remember staring in shock at the CD player and thinking "How is this guy playing THAT music?" I had never heard anything like it.

I went out the next day and bought the CD, but don't worry, I didn't marry him. I still have the CD.
posted by acrasis at 11:07 AM on May 15, 2021 [1 favorite]

Now, after reading through this, I feel a need to connect
with all my 90's music family here:

SLTS - I just moved back to the United States from Germany, where my stepdad was stationed for three years.
We moved into a house off of Fort Campbell because housing wasn't available yet. I was listening to the Austin Peay College Station and SMTS came on. I was so blown away, I called in the radio station to ask what it was and ask if they could play it again. They told me they already had people requesting it all afternoon.

Smashing Pumpkins - My friend Megan in high school had a copy of Gish. Absolutely adored the album.
I never thought SP brought anything new to music, they were just good at the rock formula. However,
Siamese Dream is always my favorite. Came out in the middle of the summer after I graduated from high school. Spent so much time in friends' rooms, listening to that over and over.

Rage - Never really got into. Mostly, the meatheads would listen to it and
not understand the meanings of the songs. They never resonated with me the way
they did with everyone else.

Creep - Yep, all about the choruses. Interesting that the album it came from was their weakest.
Still can't really listening to the song too much, as it was constantly played. Same thing for me with REM's
"Losing my Religion".

Portishead - Holy shit, that was out of nowhere for me. I was already into
electronic music with Aphex Twin and the Orb, but they are so atmospheric,
kinda noir, worn, a dusty layer on everything. I also found out that liking this
album meant girls thought I was cooler. Nice.

MBV- Loveless. Probably for me the most timeless off the list.
First time I heard it was on 120 Minutes on MTV, like at 12:30
in the morning. I actually found myself saying "WHAT THE FUCK IS
THIS"? Bought Loveless a few days later. Now, I'm waiting on my Loveless
LP to be imported from England. Never lost my love for them.

Thanks for this, I enjoyed it.
posted by Chocomog at 11:14 AM on May 15, 2021 [1 favorite]

this all starts for me somewhere between seeing the full page ad for Sonic Youth "daydream nation" in Thrasher magazine, hearing "It's the end of the world as we know it" by R.E.M. and The Pixies "Dolittle" release (thru MTV), a search indicates that all happened somewhere in the miasma of late 1988 - this all primed me for what came next.

Also, I'm feeling old, but that might be the recent hip replacement talking.
posted by djseafood at 11:15 AM on May 15, 2021 [1 favorite]

I also have that what the fuck everything just changed memory about "Sour Times", but weirdly while I remember exactly where I was sitting in my tiny shitty apartment I cannot now for the life of me remember if I saw it on MTV, heard it on the alternative radio station, or someone played it for me.

All of these are directly in my sweet spot, though. I graduated high school in 1990 and aside from MTV did not really watch TV for the next few years, going to a music-heavy university and just hanging out in places with sound systems and no TV. So so many WTFHOLYSHIT moments in music in the next few years. Partly just so much was going on, but also having left high school and mixing with new people whose high school music had been very different from mine. As a good example, I'd heard of the Pixies before then but it had not really caught fire with me until around 1992.

I find it hard to believe that anyone who had heard of The Pixies in '91 had not already heard of Nirvana.

Information was just so unequally distributed. I'm sure I knew people who were listening to Bleach, but it just never quite made it out of their bubble and into mine, and if mentions were showing up in the music magazines and alt-weeklies it never stuck in my brain.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:28 AM on May 15, 2021 [3 favorites]

I find it hard to believe that anyone who had heard of The Pixies in '91 had not already heard of Nirvana. Bleach came out in '89, two months after Doolittle, and two years before Nevermind.

I heard the Pixies before I heard Fugazi, I heard Fugazi before I heard Nirvana.
Central USA perspective.
posted by djseafood at 11:44 AM on May 15, 2021 [4 favorites]

Oh we're telling old timey stories? At age 18 In about Sept of 1991 I couldn't find anyone to go with me to see this band called Nirvana. I liked Bleach but the new album wasn't quite as good, and little overproduced but still decent. This was at the Marquee in NYC. The Melvins were opening who I was more excited for.
I got my roommate to come along and we got the the venue hours early but tickets weren't on sale yet. So I walked around the the side entrance and saw Kurt Cobain, asked him when they were playing and he said not for several hours. So I said maybe I'd come back later. I never came back, I skipped the show. A month later they became the biggest band of the 90s. Oh well!
posted by Liquidwolf at 11:54 AM on May 15, 2021 [3 favorites]

Holy shit, this is wild. My worlds are coming full circle. Jacob is an old friend of mine from way back in the day! We were in our first band together. He's a fantastic actor and comedian, well worth a follow on the social media and if you're in the L.A. area and they are doing live comedy again . . . go see him.
posted by kaiseki at 12:27 PM on May 15, 2021 [3 favorites]

I heard SLTS on WSOU in high school and it blew my damned mind. The Seton Hall DJ who played the song was also having a hard time explaining why this track, which didn't at all fit with the stations format, was so important but it was obvious as soon as you started listening. I didn't know what I was listening to but I knew that hair metal suddenly felt very, very stupid.

Cherub Rock was the soundtrack to multiple happy periods of my life. That entire album was a sticky, emotional blessing.
posted by 1adam12 at 12:50 PM on May 15, 2021 [2 favorites]

The thing that is so weird to me which has happened over and over when I've listened to new music, is that as an 80s kid who liked Van Halen and classic rock, my first impression of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" was undifferentiated drum/guitar noise and incoherent screaming. But now when I listen to it, the vocal melody and words seem right out front and the chord changes are crystal clear and the whole thing seems as smooth and clean as any other classic rock song.

I used to sometimes ask myself about certain music "Why are the vocals so buried in the mix?" but then I'll listen to it a dozen times and the vocals are almost all that I hear.
posted by straight at 12:55 PM on May 15, 2021 [3 favorites]

> But now when I listen to it, the vocal melody and words seem right out front and the chord changes are crystal clear and the whole thing seems as smooth and clean as any other classic rock song.

Yeah, when I got to university in the fall of 1992 I had juuuuuuuust started edging out of my classic rock phase, so when someone on my floor in residence lent me a couple of albums by The Pixies and PJ Harvey (Dry and Trompe Le Monde, IIRC) both of them registered as unlistenable noise at the time.
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:27 PM on May 15, 2021 [1 favorite]

It was my exposure to Alice in Chain's "Man in the Box" in 1990 that made me realize that music was changing. A friend brought in a cassette of Facelift to work and told me that I had to listen to it. It didn't sound like anything I had heard before.

I didn't really pay attention to music before I entered college in 1991. It was certainly an exciting time to begin to learn about more that I could hear on the radio.
posted by Quonab at 1:44 PM on May 15, 2021 [2 favorites]

I don't remember hearing "Smells Like Teen Spirit" for the first time. It was just kind of there in the background, like at school dances? My fin de siècle memory is pretending that I'd bought Modern Life is Rubbish and Suede at Rough Trade instead of at the Virgin Megastore. I suppose I can admit that now, under a pseudonym, down here where no one reads the comments.
posted by betweenthebars at 5:53 PM on May 15, 2021 [7 favorites]

Nirvana played at a club in the next neighborhood to where I was living at the time in 1991 but we were new parents and couldn't out. Sadly that club is now a Porsche dealership.
posted by octothorpe at 7:07 PM on May 15, 2021 [1 favorite]

I remember "Smells Like Teen Spirit" for the first time (I was in the green room of the school theater during play practice in December 1991). I was fifteen and I was a committed shoegaze girl (the album that changed my life that year was "Loveless"), but I remember trying to figure out if thought Nirvana was a guilty pleasure or not, but I liked it, and it sounded huge, not just sound but like, "this is going to be huge" huge)

By the time, "Creep" came around a couple years later I was already pretty jaded and had mostly decided any band on a major label was at a teense suspect. So like most everyone I know I wrote Radiohead off as a British grunge wannabe (not unlike Bush a year later) at a time when the most interesting things coming out of the the UK were definitively not even close to grunge.

I was wrong of course, but I do remember when "OK Computer" came out a few years later and impressed all the critics I was , at first, like "That terrible British grunge band with the weird orange haired guy?" Then I bought the record and loved it and had to reappraise things.

I never could figure out Rage Against the Machine (still haven't). Just not for me.
posted by thivaia at 7:43 PM on May 15, 2021 [3 favorites]

1997. playing Syphon Filter and cranking Overkill.
posted by clavdivs at 8:15 PM on May 15, 2021

Yesss! A friend linked me the RATM Freedom one earlier today. That was always a favourite off that album, to the point of sticking it on the pub jukebox and outro be damned! Yeeeah, right!
posted by I'm always feeling, Blue at 9:05 PM on May 15, 2021

I'd love to see one done for what it was like hearing early jungle/drum'n'bass the first time too. Blew my tiny mind!
posted by I'm always feeling, Blue at 9:12 PM on May 15, 2021

1999, damn, lost two years.
posted by clavdivs at 9:49 PM on May 15, 2021

I liked Bleach but the new album wasn't quite as good, and little overproduced but still decent.

Nevermind never seemed overproduced to me, but I wasn't coming from punk. I think the band had some reservations on these lines as well, initially. I think the record has probably one of the three best studio rock drum sounds, ever.
posted by thelonius at 10:00 PM on May 15, 2021

Still can't really listening to the song too much, as it was constantly played. Same thing for me with REM's "Losing my Religion".

To me, this is odd as I -- in my early twenties that year -- barely recall "Creep." I do agree on "Losing My Religion though, although that was less about radio airplay and more about being the only one in the band who had a mandolin; the REM fan singer really wanted that song in the set list so I had to play it over and over and over again.

I was working for Sony selling Walkmans and boom boxes and such that summer, and there were, it turned out, two contemporary CDs that my coworkers and I could all reach consensus about: REM's Out of Time and Fishbone's Truth and Soul. These are the soundtrack of that year for me and any number of album tracks from these (Change, Mighty Long Way, Me in Honey, Belong), are far more evocative of the early nineties than Radiohead or RATM.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 5:05 AM on May 16, 2021 [3 favorites]

I remember buying OK Computer and Primal Scream's Vanishing Point on the same day, taking them home to my shitty basement student apartment, getting high and throwing Vanishing Point on. It instantly became part of my headphone masterpiece rotation, but when I tried to listen to OK Computer after that it was such a relentless bummer I turned it off halfway through and my fandom for Radiohead basically never recovered. This isn't meant to be a dig at Radiohead, because obviously they're a great band, but from that day forward they just weren't my cuppa tea anymore.
posted by The Card Cheat at 5:32 AM on May 16, 2021

I was 10 years old and living in Iceland when Nevermind came out, and it didn’t really trickle down into my cohort from older siblings until the summer after, when a kid at YMCA summer camp had it on cassette. Most of it didn’t make much of an impression on me, except for “Stay Away” and “Territorial Pissings”, which I really liked. Later on I went back to Nevermind and really loved it.

Oh, and on the subject of unexpected 90s openers. For about the two years before Ágætis byrjun came out, Sigur Rós would be the opening band for every non-Icelandic indie band that played in Reykjavík. By that point they had written the songs from the album, and had worked out their sound. Most of the bands they opened for are largely forgotten today, (e.g. Fuck), but I would go to see every single foreign alternative act that came through Reykjavík, so I saw Sigur Rós play probably 20 times during that time. And every time you’d spot the headliners in the audience with a look of “oh shit I have to follow this” on their faces.

The two acts that managed to use that to their advantage were Will Oldham and Low. The former was playing in a fairly small, dingy bar, touring for I See a Darkness. He came out with his band, and they started off playing very softly, so the whole audience had to come pretty close to hear, and everyone hushed and listened, enraptured.

Low went the opposite route. Because, by that point, Sigur Rós had released Ágætis byrjun and become the biggest band in Iceland, the Low show had been moved from a small venue to the concert hall in which the national symphony orchestra performed at the time. They went full rock n’ roll, transforming for one evening into Led Zeppelin in their pomp. They were the only band to blow Sigur Rós out of the water, on their home turf no less. To be fair to Sigur Rós, they had equipment trouble. But still, it would’ve been Low’s night irregardless.
posted by Kattullus at 6:20 AM on May 16, 2021 [8 favorites]

^ I discovered Low and Oldham at about precisely the same time (pretty late, maybe mid 2000s, and it's Low's Christmas that gets about us much play as the Pogues "Fairytale of New York" as is tradition). Cool read!

I will never forget the frantic urgency I experienced, to track down the soundtrack to "Pump Up the Volume" and find out more about what turned out to be the Pixies "Wave of Mutilation" (UK Surf). Given the year, those of you of the age know what it meant to live in a place (rural) and getting your hands on music. And I learned how to make-out to Frankie Goes to Hollywood's "Welcome to the Pleasuredome" so that will flow through my blood till I die.
posted by elkevelvet at 10:14 AM on May 16, 2021 [3 favorites]

I bought the Nevermind cassette because of SLTS, and liked it well enough but felt it was just mixing punk and some country and some alt stuff, it didn't really feel as innovative as Dirt, Blood Sex Sugar Magic, Psalm 69 or Badmotorfinger. I'm completely over R.H.C.P., but still feel the same way about that era's Alice in Chains, Ministry and Soundgarden.
posted by signal at 11:07 AM on May 16, 2021

Tom Morello approves, apparently.

I was half-asleep the first time I heard Nirvana. I used to sleep with the radio on. The best music got played late at night, and it gave me strange dreams. Anyway: it was morning, I was just waking up. I heard that scratchy guitar opening riff. And suddenly the drums EXPLODED and I was VERY WIDE AWAKE.

(Weirdly, the first time I heard the Pixies was during an interview with Bono from U2. He suggested that the DJ play "This Monkey's Gone to Heaven".)
posted by davidwitteveen at 2:59 PM on May 16, 2021 [1 favorite]

The music of the late 1900s did have a certain rough sparkle to it
posted by gottabefunky at 11:15 AM on May 17, 2021 [1 favorite]

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